Saturday, August 22, 2015

Four Skinny Trees

"They are the only ones who understand me. I am the only one who understands them. Four skinny trees with skinny necks and pointy elbows like mine. Four who do not belong here but are here. Four raggedy excuses planted by the city. From our room we can hear them, but Nenny just sleeps and doesn’t appreciate these things.

Their strength is their secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the earth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger. This is how they keep.

Let one forget his reason for being, they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around the other. Keep, keep, keep, trees say when I sleep. They teach.

When I am too sad and too skinny to keep keeping, when I am a tiny thing against so many bricks, then it is I look at trees. When there is nothing left to look at on this street. Four who grew despite concrete. Four who reach and do not forget to reach. Four whose only reason is to be and be."

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros 


I was reading this poem with my class last year and just about starting crying in front of them. Goodness, I'm getting emotional as I type now. I was so moved by the author's description of the strength of the trees and how she gets her strength from them. How the author says when she is "too sad to keep keeping" that's when she draws her strength from the trees who have grown despite tough circumstances. 

It was so wonderful to see some of my students moved emotionally as well. I asked them how they could apply this poem and got some really great answers. We discussed how we can overcome our circumstances and how we can make it, even if things seem tough. As a teacher, it was a touching moment. To see my students realize that they can overcome the obstacles in front of them, big or small. 

This also reminds me so much of Jesus. How He went through every temptation possible- through all that concrete- even death, and came out victorious! Because of that victory, I can rely on Jesus' strength. When times get tough, and we don't think we can "keep keeping"; when we feel like we are just one small human against this awful world, we have a glorious savior to rely on. He can be our trees. 

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired and weary,
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not get weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40: 28-31

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