I remember when I wrote this piece. It was during a holy week, and I was walking through the park and noticing how the chestnut tree was thriving above the cemetery of unmarked graves of former slaves. The whole scene was vision of the harm we cause, the enormous grief in the hills, and the enduring power of love. I still walk through those hills in holy week and marvel at beauty of the earth that makes this journey so sacred…Alleluia.

With arms outstretched on the hill

An American chestnut tree stands resurrected.

In powerful silence she draws new life from an old stump.

Its blighted roots died with millions

Of her brothers and sisters

A hundred or so odd years ago.

She is a witness to the truth that love thrives,

As she casts a shadow over shallow graves lying

Stoneless and invisible in her valley.

The sunken earth is the only marker showing

Where our brothers and sisters enslaved were laid

A hundred or so years ago.

They were laid to rest in hallowed ground,

Wreathed in wildflowers, acorns and vines.

Laid among scattered paw paws and May apples.

Their graves are filled with the memory of seasons.

Beneath tulip poplars that witnessed

The solemnity of these graveside wakes.

This is the valley in the shadow of death where I am not afraid.

I want to lay down in her green pastures and weep.

This valley holds our broken history in her belly

And the hope of new life that sprouts on hilltops.

On this sacred, holy, ground you can hear

Owls flying at half mast cry out,

“We cannot kill what the creator knows is beloved.”
Nothing is forsaken since love runs deeper than

Shallow graves and dead stumps.

Love seeps through roots into hearts and blesses everything.

Over the shallow graves and under the resurrected chestnut,

We remember our treasure lies in these woods

Where thieves cannot break in and steal or rust ruin.

This land is where our hearts live and

Where we weep for blights, floods, and injustices.

But even if we wanted to hang up our lyre,

The bluebirds and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, like a faithful choir,

Raise a song that makes the weary believe there will be love after death.

The woods themselves join forgotten bodies, blighted stumps, and birds

In “Alleluias” for this sacred, hallowed ground . Amen.

As we walk through Holy Week together, may your soul be challenged and may it find rest. #loveheals

--becca

image credit: pixabay.com