*It's just a rough draft I'm working on so it might be, well, rough. :)*
Just before sunset on a long forgotten gravel road, I caught a twinkle
of something out of the corner of my eye.
I squinted in the direction of the sinking sun and beheld the outline
of a mighty tree on a high hill.
In all of my years walking down this lonely country road, I could
not remember ever seeing this tree before.
As my gaze rested on the distant tree, my feet began to follow what could
only be described as a.....pull. I was mesmerized. My steps somehow found a path
I had not yet discovered that led to this mighty tree on a hill.
Before I knew it, I was at the base of the massive tree. It rivaled the mighty trees of
my Minnesota prairie. It stood solitude, proud. Anchored as if life itself
depended upon it.
It was still and peaceful. Slowly the sun set as if it were being tucked
in. The wind floated on the tall grass surrounding the tree, as if softly singing
it to sleep.
I heard the prairie wind rustle calmly through the leaves and branches, but as
I looked up, and as my eyes adjusted to the dimming light, I realized those
were not leaves at all.
These leaves were made of paper.
I walked slowly around the base of the trunk. Around the back
side in the light of a setting sun, there was a sign that read "Belong".
Strange. A tree in the middle of nowhere with a sign that read "Belong"?
I stood, baffled. Where had the tree come from? Who put it here?
Then, quite startlingly, something fell on my head and landed on
the ground near my feet.
It was paper from the tree. A leaf-shaped paper with something written
on it. "Tommy". A name. And on the backside of the leaf was one simple word:
I sat down by the sign and turned the paper leaf over and over in my hands.
Belong. The word itself created a tidal wave of emotion that broke over
my anxious heart. I hadn't felt like I really belonged anywhere for years.
Sure, I had existed. I worked. I did the same day to day things on a
day to day basis, but it never made me feel like I fit. Like I was a part of it.
Like I belonged.
I turned that word over and over in my mind as I leaned against the tree.
The tree. Nothing rational explained this tree. Or the paper leaf. Or why I was
sitting here at the end of an unfamiliar path to an otherwise nonexistent tree.
The horizon turned slowly into the color of night as I stood to leave the tree.
As I stood, I lost my balance and used the sign to steady myself. It was only then
that I noticed that this sign said more than just "belong":
"Greetings weary traveler on this road called life.
I am glad you found this place.
There are a million different reasons why people end up here,
but the end result is always the same.
Everyone needs somewhere to belong.
You have questions. Good. You should.
We all seem to have the same questions.
Life questions. Why questions. How questions.
And the most important question:
Where do I fit in and do I fit in at all?
Child, you do. You belong for a million different reasons
in a million different ways that matter greatly.
You have something deep inside that only you can contribute.
That, dear one, makes you unique. Special.
It makes you you.
You have found a place of rest and peace.
This tree has seen many people.
It has been a strong support for those weathering storms.
An old friend to those in the beauty of their twilight years.
A junction for the lost and lonely.
A common bond for all who don't feel that they belong.
Much as you do now. But you have a great deal in common.
You and the many names on this tree.
The weathered travelers, the lonely hearts.
You all have stories to share. Here. At this spot.
You are woven together into a tapestry that binds you together.
Away from the hustle and bustle of a life you settled for.
Now is the time to dream out loud.
Have the courage to dream bigger, live louder, be excited.
You were created to bring color and life into this world.
I should know. I made you that way.
You are mine. You belong."
I read those words again through blurred vision. I belong.
I took the leaf in my hands and placed it back on a branch,
taking great care to be gentle. I didn't know what Tommy's dreams
were, or even who he was. But at some point, he found this tree
as I did. He has a story. He belongs.
And so did I.