Excerpt (unedited) from Chapter 3
It was a beautiful seventy-five degree sun-filled day in our small town of Pennsylvania. I heard the birds singing throughout our many trees as a small grey squirrel nibbled on an acorn to my right of our property line. I should have grabbed my camera to capture the wondrous sight God granted me. Instead, I took the brief walk under the willow. I felt safe here from the beast inside me that I have concealed from my family, mostly my husband, for the past twenty years. The meaning behind the weeping willow was sacred. Something that only I knew about, as many other things that I kept hidden from the world.
I ducked under the low branches that dangled in the breeze of our valley. I decided to keep the landscaping around my tree as the earth is. Grass and dirt with no flowers so that I can sit under the tree without the worry of stepping on vegetation or any other design I might have chosen.
As I sat down on the ground I felt the cool grass under my legs and fingertips. The grass was soft to touch as the blades ran through my fingers. The earth was so soothing to me in every aspect. Leaning against the jagged bark I felt myself relax for the first time in days. I have missed this old tree these past few days. It seems like life becomes a contest full of the hustle and bustle of business. However, I feel like the one who finishes first actually finishes last. If we don’t take a moment to realize what we have, then we have nothing in the end. Just a blur of memories and a heart filled with regret.
Walking the familiar path to the sacred ground felt peaceful. My demons seemed to be afraid of the willow tree. It was as if they knew that the war between us was soon over. The trepidation of my loved ones discovering the truth has been set free. Now, it was a matter of finding the peace within me that I undoubtedly believed was there for the last twenty years.
I began painting a canvas before them that was full of swoops and turns, revolving around to the center where a lonely young girl stood underneath her only safe haven; the old willow. That same judicious child was placed hidden in its branches, hiding from the hurt that shadowed over her very existence. Feeling like she will never be that perfect girl, exiled from society because she was different.
The weeping willow's branches extend downward cascading around it's trunk hiding anything that may be nestled at its core. It's protection from the outside elements to whomever may be seeking refuge. A tree of refuge... God's refuge. To me, a weeping willow is a symbol of our creator and all of his strength, love and protection. The weeping willow is my refuge just like it is to Jillian Davenport. That's why I chose the willow...