The Question Tree


Every few months, the Houston greenbelt trails caretakers check the greenbelt for dead trees. It’s important to remove a dead tree before it removes itself – with a crash onto a person walking, running or biking on the greenbelt.

The caretakers work their way through the trails, marking dead trees with large orange spray-painted Xs so that tree removal crews can remove all the right trees.  

I looked up one day while running and saw this tree, the big orange question mark seemingly screaming for my attention. I’ve seen countless orange Xs, and I've seen numbers too -- as low as 23 and as high as 541. But I’ve never seen a question mark. I peered up, up, up from the orange question mark, and near the top of The Question Tree, I saw dead brown pine needles on the branches above my head.


There were forest green needles as well.  

Brown was winning. Definitely winning. But there was some green. 

This tree had been spared the orange X of Death. There was a question. There was a chance. There was hope.

Looking at the tree, I was filled with a sudden desire that The Question Tree win the struggle.  

"Live!” I commanded. (Out loud. Because no one was around, and even if they were, no one cares if you talk to the trees on the greenbelt.)

Deciding that my "Live!" sounded a little bossy, maybe even a little mean for a tree who was trying so hard not to die, I changed my tone. 

"You can do it," I urged.  "Live!"

I moved on, imagining a bright orange question mark emblazoned on my chest, thinking about the times I am like The Question Tree.

Sometimes in life, our thoughts can become heavy and dead-ish. A relationship issue, an illness, losing a job, or a beloved companion -- our daily conditions become too hot and too harsh for too long, life-giving water seems scarce, and we start to struggle. 

Sometimes we start to lose.

But if we listen carefully in these soul-grinding, spirit-crushing times, we can hear a Voice calling to us in tones of Love and Comfort and Confidence:

“Live! You can do this.”

If you're feeling strong and fresh and green today, encourage a friend who isn’t.

And if you're feeling heavy and brown, remember — all the Universe is pulling for you, and The Divine Gardener is whispering in your ear,

Live! You can do this.