Letting go of a beloved object or a beloved person is always hard. I was introduced to a concept that has helped me to better understand this reality, and indeed, life itself, in a different and beautiful way.
A number of years ago, perhaps 10 or so, I saw a television movie, written and produced by Sally Field, called “Tree.” It told the story of a Rockefeller Center employee whose job it was to find the best tree to be used as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza. While helicoptering over the New York countryside, he discovered the most beautiful evergreen he had ever seen. It was standing alone in a field, tall and perfectly straight. He drove to the property, to find that the tree belonged to a particular nun at an abbey where several other elderly nuns lived. The nun who “owned” the tree, Sister Anthony, eventually told him her story, and why she could not possibly release her beloved tree. She often went to the field and “talked” to “Tree” – yes, that was its name – and found solace.
The young man (I don’t remember his name, but I’ll call him Josh) visited the abbey numerous times, and the two became friends, an unlikely friendship, but one in which each learned much from the other. Ultimately, Sister Anthony made the decision to give the tree to her friend, and they went about the process of cutting it down and hauling it away. When the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center was imminent, Josh persuaded Sister Anthony to attend, and he drove her to New York City. There she saw her beloved tree in all its glory, lighted and beautiful, twinkling like the stars overhead, as she had never imagined it could be. She immediately knew that this was its ultimate destiny, and that her gift of letting go allowed the tree to be all it could be, and allowed herself the joy of the same gift, being all she could be. I cannot find a reference to the movie anywhere. But fortunately, I had the foresight to tape it, and I have enjoyed it every Christmas season since.
Being all we can be is, or should be, our ultimate goal, and it may take a long lifetime to reach that goal. Letting go at the moment of their true destiny and being all they can be, whether a beloved tree, or a person whom we love so dearly, can provide great comfort and wisdom. This concept has helped me to understand, and accept, a great loss. It can also comfort a child who has lost a pet or a broken toy.
Today I found a photo I took nearly a year ago of a fruit tree outside my door. It was taken in May, while in full bloom and very beautiful. Last fall during a freaky fall snowstorm, the tree was severely damaged and had to be cut down. Now all I can see is the stump where it used to be. Its rings indicate that it must have been at
least 25 years old, perhaps as old as this kind of tree usually lives. Nevertheless, there is an empty space, an allegory to loss. But its neighboring tree is ready to bloom, and I will enjoy that. And I will enjoy the photo I took nearly a year ago when it was all it could be.
Are you being all you can be? I’d love to hear your story.