I got the call Friday night and immediately hopped in my car to drive the 3+ hours home. I've never had to do that. But this was a situation that called for it. Through sobs, a person very dear and close to me related a story of pain, hurt, and despair. She shared with me her experience of living with an abuser. For the past 6 months, she shared a bed with a man whom she feared. She feared not only for her safety, but for that of her child. And in an instant, the abuser had taken the child and vowed never to return her. In a sense, the child had been kidnapped.
My only response was to drive and comfort and seek solutions. And that's what I've been doing for the past 3 days.
The time I spent back home was taxing - emotionally, physically, and academically. The incident could not have come at a worse time - this is the beginning of exam week, after all - in my next to last semester at the University. But in the midst of the pain and the strife, I saw hope. And it came in the form of a Christmas tree.
I live in the northeastern neck of North Carolina. We are very close to the beaches of the Outer Banks. My emergency visit home included visits to Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. Saturday afternoon, exhausted and worn, I made my way out through the shifting sands to stand in the surf and stare out at the sea. Yards before I hit the water, I noticed a formation down the beach. It piqued my interest, so I ambled over to it. There, stuck in the sand, was a tree worn by the sands of time. It retained its roots, buried in the sand. A slender trunk branched out into knobby arms of driftwood. And amidst its branches, there was a tinge of gold and crimson. At its peak, a golden spiral perched. And on a lower knob hung a rusty silver bell.
It was an Outer Banks Christmas Tree. The tree of the beach. I have no clue who adorned the thing, but it brought such joy and inspiration to me on the toughest of days. This simple, magical wonder was a message from the Lord. It was his way of granting me perspective. He showed me beauty and he reminded me that it is he who creates it. All things Good stem from the Lord.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17 (ESV)
This tree brought joy and light to a dark day in my life. And I hope that it does the same for you.