The other side of this tree looks pretty healthy. You would never know that this dangerously hollowed-out oak fortress is suffering by viewing it from the opposite side. I pass it everyday when walking the park. I've never seen this angle or view before. Why? Because today I reverse my walk. Instead of walking north to south, I'm walking south to north. I'm not sure why I change direction, but I do.
My eyes start to water as if I'm some sort of tree hugger in anguish. This towering specimen must be one hundred years old or more. It's leaning severely, its bark is dry and gray, and there's an oozing black substance in the hollow of its core. From the other side though the tree looks vibrant - green leaves growing, branches looking healthy, the ground showing no evidence of insects, fungus or cracked or raised soil. My guess is because of its root system, this tree is somehow still surviving. I put my hand inside the deep cavity and I see that the trunk is in worse shape than I thought. There's very little left around the core. This tree is living a dying life.
There's a bench near by so I sit and just stare at it. I hear birds fluttering around. I even see a nest of scattered twigs and string with baby blue eggs, nestled low among sprigs of new branches.
This tree is really trying. This tree is really holding on for dear life even while it's holding on to the life of the bird's nest. We don't know this tree's struggle unless we take a close examination of its core.
An aborist is needed; a tree expert or someone who knows what to do. The entire tree can break or split if there are cavities or cracks in its trunk. However, the presence of a cavity does not necessarily mean the tree needs to be removed. (I learned this when I had a tree guy come and examine one of my trees in Delaware years ago.) Removal depends on how extensive the cavity is, where the tree is growing and the overall state of the tree's health. A resistograph (an instrument that detects decay and cavities in trees) is valuable here because it can measure the depth of the hollow. Using those results, an arborist uses a mathematical formula to determine if there is enough trunk thickness to keep the tree upright.
Keep the tree upright? No matter if it's dying, leaning and suffering, keep the tree upright? Why does this bother me? Why am I emotional over any of this? It's just a tree, for heaven's sake. Yes, all this is flooding my mind.
Maybe it's because I know personally that the only way I remain upright, is that I have access to THE spiritual resistograph.
The psalmist David knows all about all this. He says, "God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going..." (Psalm 139:1-6 The Message)
David cries out for the hand of the spiritual resistograph, the God who knows him inside and out, to do His diagnosis. God shaped him first inside, then outside, and formed him inside his mother's womb. (vs. 13) God knows David. Inside and out. And God knows you, inside and out. "You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something." (vs. 14)
The day you and I turn our hollowed-out core and lean in and over to the one with the hollow in His hand, is the day we both become upright. No matter what.
"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?" (Isaiah 40:12)
Who is He? This tree knows. He's the one with the spiritual resistograph.