Learning from Laughter AND THE TREES

The first tree we climbed in Taize France in 2008.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann.

It has been eight wonderful years being with Erinn and as I look back I am struck by the trees. Leaves and branches and carpets of needles weave together our love story. At twenty-one, we climbed up an old tree laughing as we listened to the bells ring from the Taize monastery at the top of the hill. That tree led us to the hillsides in Palestine where we fell in love with the Olive trees as we watched them go up in flames from the Israeli-shot tear gas canisters. Soon, we lay together in a hammock beside my mother’s grave held in a circle of cedars imagining a life together. Then we committed our lives to one another under a red maple on the banks of the Tahquamenon River as we broke bread and shared wine. Soon, on a cold April day, we stood in a foreclosed yard covered by budding fruit trees staring up at a house where we would build a life. In that yard, the peas now climb the handcrafted cedar and grapevine arbor that canopied our vows. It was an apricot tree I was pruning when contractions began with Isaac.

These trees have nourished our lives together. We have laughed til our sides hurt, cried at their deaths and transitions, been held in times of sorrow, shared moments of deep intimacy and celebration, and have felt the passing of time and creation of history as we cut the storm fallen cherry tree into pieces that now keep us warm this winter.

These trees matter to whom we have become and we know that we matter to whom they become. Our lives and futures are forever tangled up. A wise friend once led us through a breathing meditation and said that if we were to spend our lives sitting and breathing that would be enough. For our breath keeps the trees alive.

As our marriage and family have become more rooted in a commitment to place, we look to honor the creaturely neighbors in our community. We work to slow down and see the actions of our lives and their effect on our place. So, as the long weeks of pregnancy passed and we brainstormed name after name for this child we couldn’t help but think about the land and water around us.

When we named Isaac, we were struck by the gift of a name meaning “laughter” for we welcomed this kid into our lives with such joy. We also recalled the baptism article my mom wrote talking about Abraham and Isaac and knowing that this child was truly God’s. (not to mentioned the somewhat miraculous gift of conception of both Isaac’s). We are disciples of this faith and this child is our teacher.

This time, we welcome another child- Cedar. Putting aside the fear of sounding new agey, we name this child for a tree whose history is long and lives among us. We think of the woods tucked in the thumb of Michigan where my mom found new life and freedom away from the urban lights and concrete. She named that place “Cedar Spirit” and her ashes remain there. We think of the Cedars of Lebanon in scripture and grieve their destruction. We know the cedars that fill the woods in this state and have been held sacred by so many. We too are disciples of this place and this child is our teacher.

And so we welcome this child into our family- Cedar Martin Wylie-Fahey. Born January 13, 2016.

As I keep writing and reflecting on the gifts of parenting, I am grateful to be learning so much from these children- from laughter and the trees.

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