No matter how unfamiliar you may be with the Bible, there are certain stories that almost all of us know.
The miracles Jesus performed throughout the Bible are referenced in literature and media about as often as children’s fairy tales. Turning water into wine. Feeding five thousand people from five loaves and two fish. Healing the sick. Raising Lazarus from the dead.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus performs the miracle of healing a blind man at Bethsaida. It’s significant to note that after Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and put hands on him, he asked the man if he could see clearly to which the blind man responded, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
Jesus then proceeded to lay hands on the blind man a second time and his sight was completely restored. He was able to see everything clearly.
Why do that? Why put something in the bible where Jesus has to do something twice before it works? Why would Mark tell a story about Jesus who only got it half right the first time?
Maybe because there was something true about what the man thought he saw the first time.
People are like trees walking. They are rooted in friends or family or God. They are all rooted in something, we just can’t see it with our eyes.
I thought about this theory of people as walking trees often two weekends ago as I embarked on a five-mile hiking/writing course with Vanessa Martir in the hidden paths of Inwood Park.
“Art is the creation of metaphor,” she repeated often throughout our hike. She pushed us to observe our surroundings, to take note of the details and discover the metaphor Mother Nature had planted individually for each one of us.
“How is this a metaphor for you reclaiming your life?” she continued with all the fierceness and passion of the loba that she is as we stopped for a writing prompt a third of the way through.
I noticed how nature, when undisturbed, always finds a way to take back land. This was clear in the lamp posts that were covered in vines with busted glass tops that were sprinkled throughout the man-made paths. It was also evident in the cracks coming through the concrete trails to create a river bed to nourish the forestry nearby. I thought of all this as I responded to one of the writing prompts and wrote this:
“There is a cool breeze washing over me, baptizing me. Mother Nature is cradling me with her whispers – assuring me it will be OK. That my cracks in character are beautiful, like the cracks in the uprooted river bed and the cracks in the bark of the oldest tree in this forest.
The breeze is reminding me that my darkness is beautiful too. That it is a part of me and my roots. The sun hides behind the clouds for a few moments and the breeze becomes stronger, threatening to blow my notes away.
I hold on harder, keep writing and am reminded of my resilience. Bark may break off, cracks may widen, tears will fall – but I’m still here.
I’m still standing.
And I am reminded of that today by nature – by the breeze and the sun and the foliage. That even when I break, I’m still beautiful – roots exposed, tragic and majestic at once. And the pain that I feel, the anxiety that envelops me sometimes – it’s all a part of the process.
It builds my resilience.
The breeze is singing me hymnals as it shakes the branches and leaves, the sounds reminiscent of a rain stick. This is worship. I tell the breeze to keep turning its rain stick. Call the rain, I whisper. I’m ready. I’m ready.”
There is one absolute truth that I have come to realize, embrace and revel in this past week.
We are all broken.
Every human being that walks this earth is broken in one way or another. My brokenness, or burdens, may look different than yours, but there is no doubt that we carry something with us. Some kind of loss or trauma or even genetic disposition that we cannot break free of.
I accept this pain and everything that comes with it. I understand that there are things that I can do and things that I cannot.
Accepting this truth has been my first step in healing and reclaiming my life.
**This is essay 21 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.