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When lightning strikes
A multi-generational family looks at the future!

When lightning strikes … 

Yesterday I watched tree people prune the branches of the magnolia tree in my daughter’s garden in Vancouver, Canada. If you have ever seen a magnolia tree in bloom, it’s an unforgettable sight. This cutting, of course, was in pre-bloom period because the tree had grown too big for its space, dwarfing the rest of the garden. It reminded me of another cutting down -- of a once magnificent oak tree in my long ago Toronto garden. Only in this instance the tree was felled not by men but by natural forces.


When I purchased my home in Toronto some twenty years ago, a very large tree smack in the middle of the garden provided excess shade and obscured my view of the beautiful park filled with small wildlife that adjoined my soon-to-be property. One of the major reasons for buying my two-story cottage, in fact, was the park behind my garden. Rarely frequented by people, in the summer the park was simply gorgeous; in the winter, white snow blanketed the ground and tree branches and remained there, pristine, unlike the slushy grey that covered the sidewalks elsewhere. To me, it represented a country retreat just a few steps away from city traffic. But the tree that obscured it had to go.  Diseased beyond recovery, it would eventually rot away and have to be removed.


It had never occurred to me how costly it is to cut down a tree if you have to hire people to do it. Four hundred plus dollars was a huge dent in my budget in that early 1990s recession because I had expended almost all my resources just to buy the house and second-hand appliances. So I tossed and turned in my sleep worrying what to do about the oak tree.


Then, the very day before I moved in, lightning struck. Literally. During the night I couldn’t sleep, there was a huge storm, and lightning struck down the tree. As I looked at the limbs and branches and most of the trunk of the tree strewn on the ground when I visited the house the next morning, I felt as if there had been a divine intervention just for me. “Thank you, God,” I cried, “thank you for striking down this tree.” Only a small stump remained.


A friendly neighbor came over to view the devastation. “You know, my brother has a fireplace,” she said thoughtfully. “He could use the firewood.” So we made a deal. The brother came over with a couple of guys and his tools to chop up the fallen tree, and they even removed the stump. It was a lot of firewood. And I had a great view of the park.


You never know when lightning will strike. Right now, visiting Vancouver, I have the impression that many people I am encountering here, do not yet realize the depth of the depression now engulfing the U.S. and much of the world. An article in the Vancouver Sun today bannered “Canadian Banks the Envy of the World” (Harvey Enchin, www.vancouversun.com, Feb. 28, 2009, D1). They are more stable because they are more regulated. But my daughter was shocked when a furniture store she frequents closed its doors this week because they buy on terms and can no longer get credit from the bank to do so. After 20 years in business, their business plan is apparently not good enough. And yesterday the son of my daughter’s partner was laid off from his job in construction. Lightning struck.


That’s why I’m writing about my tree. I know from personal experience that sometimes there are benefits from lightning that we do not forsee. They just happen. And that’s why hope and belief in a brighter future come in handy. Thank God.