Don't Be A Silver Maple

In the quiet, calm, dead of night, she was awakened by a loud crack and earth-shuddering thud. Sleeping with the windows open on the warm spring night had been a good idea, but now she was wide awake wondering what had happened. 

I was out of town, and when I got into cell coverage later the next day I had a couple of photos waiting for me from my wife. Our neighbor had a huge silver maple tree that had split apart, dropping 2/3rds of itself on the ground. It just missed his shed, and didn't hit any of our houses either. 

While maple trees are generally good trees, the silver maple is... not as ideal. They provide good shade, produce sap that can be made into maple syrup, and grow fast. But that growing fast has some adverse affects: namely, the wood is weaker than other, slower growing hardwoods. This means that as it gets big relatively fast, they often get to the point where they can't support their own weight and break apart. As branches come off, the inner, weaker wood is exposed and susceptible to rotting out. Several of the huge logs from this tree were hollowed out. 

A crew came in a few days later to cut it up and cut the rest down. I got them to leave the logs on my side of the property line so I could make use of the firewood. Now, having just spent the last couple of days with a chainsaw and a splitting axe, I am sore, and only 1/4 of the way through it. The weaker silver maple wood is also not as ideal for burning. So while I'm doing all this work, I'm aware that what I am producing is lower-grade firewood. It will not burn as hot or as long as an oak, hickory, or ash would, and if you let it sit for too long it will rot. 

Sawing and splitting this wood gives me a chance to think. 

Growing up fast can lead to some hidden weaknesses that don't show up until later in life. If a young boy is saddled with responsibility before he has been able to be the boy, what happens to him? A core element of his identity has been stolen. He cannot be a playful man, a secure man. No, he has to put on the face of an older man. He doesn't have the inner core of strength that comes from his identity as a son.

His wood is brittle, and at a certain point he starts breaking, especially when the wind starts to blow. He drops limbs and has a tendency to become hollow inside. He can put on a show for so long, and then, when you aren't expecting it, the earth around him shudders as he falls. His legacy is low grade.

Men are not trees. We have the ability to heal in ways that trees cannot. We can strengthen our inner wood. We can be restored. A restored man is a rock solid man, who does not break in the wind, has deep roots, and leaves a strong legacy. He is secure, playful, and intentional. He restores the world around him. We can all be that man.

Have you considered the parts of your story that have left you saddled with responsibility, and stolen your sonship? 

What might it look like to open up some of those early wounds to the Healer of stories, and become more restored? 

 


Cody Buriff, Director of Resource Initiatives

 

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