About five years ago we had a large tree that was by the guard station at the front of the school just simply fall over one evening and crush a big section of what was then our music room. There had been no storm or wind, and it was a relatively calm night. So what caused the tree to topple over?
As the tree was being cut away and removed from the roof what became apparent is that originally this was a pine tree. However this was not easily recognizable as it was completely covered with the vines and trunk of another “parasite” tree. This outer shell was sturdy and added much girth and strength to the tree and contributed to its overall size. In fact the “other” tree had become so intertwined and so completely surrounded the original pine tree that it was hard to tell where one started and the other ended.
Ultimately though this is most likely what caused its demise as the original pine tree was not able to withstand the weight that the extra tree added to its root system. The tree itself, though large and strong, was not able to hold up to all the added stress this extra tree system brought to bear on it.
I think there are some valuable lessons that we could take from this fallen tree. The tree on the outside looked thick and strong. The problem for the pine tree is that over a very long time it allowed this other tree to begin to dominate it and in some sense overtake it. The pine tree could have looked at this added tree as something that was giving it strength and making it even more majestic in size. What it didn’t realize is that eventually this would overwhelm it and cause it to fall under the extra weight.
In life we can also do the same thing. Over time we can allow something to become a part of our lives that would appear to give us strength and make us more majestic. This “thing” can actually appear to be “good” for us, but if we allow it to become too much a part of our lives its weight can ultimately cause us to fall. So what “things” could possibly do this to us? I think there are a number of them, but for this article I would suggest that money, our social status, and/or our career are three such “things” that can affect us like the parasite tree. These in themselves are not wrong, but if they become too intertwined with who we are and our identity they can bring the added weight and stress that result in a dramatic fall.
Unlike the pine tree though we do have the ability to untwine ourselves and choose not to let these things dominate and overtake our lives. By itself the pine tree was a beautiful tree that provided shade and was strong on its own merit. Unfortunately it surrendered itself to the parasite tree and tumbled over. My hope is that we stay aware of the “things” in our lives that can overtake us and recognize when we’re at risk of submitting to good things that will ultimately cause us to fall.