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My Passover Tree
What a strange Passover day for the girl who isn’t Jewish…
A few days ago I wrote a piece about my admiration for and participation in the Jewish holy days, and about Passover in particular. I talked about God passing over the houses of the Jews and letting their firstborn sons live, while taking the firstborns of all other homes. I talked about how, centuries later, the Jews still celebrate their good fortune, even while in a sea of abuse by other humans, and about how much I love and respect that tradition. And the next day, Passover, I was quiet and contemplative and appreciative for my own good fortune.
The couple that helps me with my garden are a pair of kind souls. You know it immediately when you meet them, and I am a softer person around them (so as not to frighten them off). Recently we were walking through the garden together and discussing my project list for the new year. I love my garden, but there’s a tree in it that I considered my enemy. I pointed it out to them, telling them how I wanted it gone but I don’t like to kill living things. That sentiment is new for me and always surprises me, but it’s authentic. I hate looking at this tree, though. When my friends suggested that they could cut it down and feed its foliage to the goats on their farm, I was all in. I told them I just didn’t want to be there when they took it down.
As I was leaving for a dentist appointment (yes, on Passover), they had started taking down the tree. When I walked out, the lower branches that were already dead had been cut off. As I looked at the tree, I had this overwhelming feeling that I shouldn’t – couldn’t – do it. My beloved neighbors were in their yard; the he in that relationship and I always rib each other, and he had been taunting me with being the tree killer, but today he immediately told me I could fell the tree if I wanted to. That it was okay. But I swear, I looked at the tree and thought it was amazing. Beautiful. Unusual. You can see for yourself how unusual it looks without its lower branches. I told them not to cut it down, and I left to go play the role of Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man at my dentist’s office.
As I was heading to the gate, my neighbor called out, “You know what – everyone’s entitled to a second chance. You are giving this tree a second chance.”
In the car it hit me. I had “passed over” the tree. I had been on the verge of cutting it down for my own visual pleasure. What amazing power I have. What amazing power we all have. I was on a high for the rest of the day, and when I got home, I stood in the yard and looked at the tree and I loved it. Love it, I tell you. So let this be an addendum to my post a few days ago. Every Passover, ask yourself what you can pass over for the benefit of another – even a tree.
For those of you who know and love me just the way I am, I promise this is a one-time Birkenstock moment. It will expire at midnight tonight, and I’ll be back to my old self. No need to call anyone out of concern for what has come over me.