Lumberton, Day Two Clearing Trees

The second day, I was scheduled for tree removal, but instead sat in a traffic jam. One and a half hours. In my eagerness to help, I neglected to adjust for rush hour. So instead of cutting limbs and clearing brush, I arrived late on the job, just in time for an early lunch.

It was a disappointment.


But that afternoon the chainsaws whined and I cleared, dragging debris and large limbs to the street. Sheds creaked as trees rolled. Houses opened to the heavens as limbs were split, dropping to the ground, tarps laid to cover the openings.

Compared to mucking, it was good, clean fun.

719511-fema-rescues-306b6And so was Dave, fun, I mean, and opinionated. He owned the tree business and had been clearing debris for weeks. He and his men started early, in the aftermath of the flood, rescuing power lines from branches so that electricity could be restored.

Dave was clean and sober. Sure that Jesus was right for him, he had tried many other highs but nothing succeeded like the light of Christ.

“I figured my salvation would be the last part of my healing from drugs and it was.”

img_0936I didn’t say, “I figured it too,” because it was none of my business but instinct and thirty years of healing told me he was right.

We talked about addiction. His thirst for clarity and truth in his sobriety reminded me of my beautiful son. Passion for honesty, drove him out of jail and into the arms of Jesus and also into a successful, owner-operator business. He’s stayed there ever since.

I showed him my son’s five year coin, I keep it in my purse, a reminder to pray for addicts always and everywhere.

Often, I’m asked, “What’s that big brass circle?”

“Freedom, a five year pin from Alcoholics Anonymous.”img_0940

I never tell them whether it’s mine. I don’t need to because believe me, it’s freedom for everyone in your family when the back of that demon is broken, whether you’re the user is irrelevant.

Folk’s launch right in, “I don’t drink because my father was an angry, alcoholic and I’m not doing that. God bless you.”

“I’m never drinking because my mother used to pass out at the table, right during dinner.”

“My brother started getting high in middle school. Not for me, ever.”

The stories this coin generates are endless, unique, restorative moments of confession and listening.

By the time I left, Dave and I were buddies. His spirit, wit, wisdom and fierce, love of life, touched me somewhere deep. He cuts down trees with the same abandon my son displays while flying on skateboards. Or mentoring addicts. They are kindred spirits, holding a place side by side in my prayers now.

I drove off as he was cranking his saw to cut down three dog woods that had survived the hurricane but were going to fall to his cutting. I couldn’t witness something that beautiful dying, especially in the wake of so much devastation. I thought that sacredness should live.

We disagreed on this one thing.


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