where the writers are
The Shawshank Tree
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

When people ask me about the end of The Crying Tree, I tell them I wanted it to bring forth the feelings I get when listening to the end of Aaron Copelands's Appalacian Spring.

What I don't tell them is what I also wanted to try for were the feelings I get when I watch my favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption.

At its surface, Shawshank Redemption is about the wrongful imporisonment of a man accused of killing his wife. At it's core it is about the human potential to reach up and out of the most unfair, unjust and incalulaby withholding of conditions, and not only emerge whole, but to give others hope of emerging whole as well. 

When the film first came out it was largely ignored by viewers, but now has a cult following, with people going all the way to a dormant prison in Ohio, to see where Shawshank was filmed. And, even more important, to see where one of its most healing scenes was filmed. Where Ellis "Red" Redding (played by Morgan Freeman,) an old man newly freed from prison, finds the possibility of a new life hidden beneath that tree. 

The 140 year old tree stands in a grass field just as described in the film, and its arms reach, reached, I should say out over the field like God's hands might, if you imagine God a tree. It is under this tree that hope emerges and shines its tiny light and says follow me. And I swear, there can't be a person who has seen Shawshank that does not remember that tree - or the feeling it the scene gave. And that's why people from around the world searched for it, just like Morgan Freeman did in the film. And that is why, while listening to All Things Considered tonight, I almost started to cry when I heard the tree had been struck in half by lightning.

If you have never seen Shawshank Redemption, do. 

If you have, do it again. There's power in that film.

Link to orignal Mansfield, OH story about the Shawshank Tree: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/B7/20110730/NEWS01/107300302/-Shawshank-tree-ripped-by-high-wind

Link to the NPR story on the movie Shawshank Redemption: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/04/138986482/on-location-mansfield-ohios-shawshank-industry