Last week, we cut down a big mulberry tree in our backyard. After it had been brought down, sawed into logs and stacked neatly against our back fence, I realized that I was feeling a little guilty. I stared at the huge stump that remained and asked myself, “What right did I have to chop down that tree?” This mulberry had occupied our backyard far longer than we had. In fact, the tree was probably at least as old as my parents.
It was precisely the tree’s size that inspired us to remove it. Its broad canopy dimmed the entire area behind our home, making gardening difficult. With this massive, hydra-branched tree casting such a shadow, it was hard for anything else to grow. We decided that if other plants – including our vegetable garden – were going to have their day in the sun, the ancient mulberry tree had to go.
We had good reasons for chopping down that grandfatherly mulberry. We asked around before we did it, and several people whose opinion we trust encouraged us to proceed. And it seems to have paid off. Now, the sun shines down on the whole yard, and there are almost endless possibilities for what might grow in the years to come. Still, I mourn the emptiness where that big old mulberry stood for generations.
Are there areas of my life where old growth – relationships, habits, institutions or assumptions – might be crowding out the light, preventing new seeds from sprouting? How can I embrace God’s invitation to make space in my life for the new things he is doing, even when it means facing the loss that comes with change?