For twenty years, this tree has provided a shady place on hot summer days, a beautiful foliage display in Autumn, and a favorite vantage point for our cats to look for birds, mice, and moles. On the back side, it’s charred from just above the base to the first big split – a scar from a former neighbor’s thoughtless and reckless trash burning. Blizzards and Nor’easters have taken their toll, and weakened it to the point where it is a potential hazard to two houses, a garage, and the fence. An arborist is removing it today. I am sorry to lose this silent resident that has added so much to my life without much notice or appreciation on my part.

The beauty and impact of many living things are subtle, only coming to awareness when they are no longer present, or soon to be gone. Love and strength come in many forms, some bearing leaves if not audible voices. With gratitude for twenty years of hospitality, and regret for not offering them earlier and often, God be with you, kind neighbor.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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