• Maggie Wheeler

Small Miracles

I had a small miracle on my mountain this month.

The small miracles really are the most powerful because they are small—set against the odds and the universe, and taking place anyway.

I have a very old hawthorn tree on the mountain. It was quite top heavy, with old branches bending down and cracking near the trunk from the weight.

Last fall, when I had Three Men and a Chainsaw happen in my backyard and mountain to prune out the overgrowth and dead trees, the hawthorn was also trimmed. The old wood kept cracking as the branches were cut off and by the time it held together, there was almost only the trunk left.

I thought it would die.

I thought I would die if it died (Well, maybe not die but be very heartbroken).

You see, I really love the Old Girl. Hawthorns were considered sacred, trees of life in pre-Christian times, because like other thorny trees (apple, for instance) they bloomed for years and grew to a great age.

I read once that having a hawthorn appear on your property is a sign of blessing. I had one pop up in my cedar hedge back in Ingleside years ago. No clue where it came from but I let it be, accepting the blessing offered. Back in those days, I needed all the blessings I could get.

So three years ago when I realized that the old tree on the mountain was another hawthorn, I was thrilled. She was beautiful along the top when she flowered. Then she was only a trunk.

I felt guilty for harming her, and would talk to her while I raked leaves in the fall (Writers can get away with this stuff because we are “creative” and “eccentric.”). Many times, I would climb up to stand under her and—yes—hug her. Say, “Don’t leave me, my love.” (Okay…maybe “nutty” and “weird” are more appropriate. My neighbours are used to me now.)

I had hoped that not only would the hawthorn survive the winter but also bud out in the spring. Not just the two small branches left but also shoots out of the decimated trunk as well to start a renewal.

The Ontario spring was wet, cold and late as we all know. I watched the two branches and slowly they sprang to life again in their own small way. But that was it. At least she was still alive.

Then, this past weekend as I spent it outside with most of my province enjoying the return of the sun, I saw a flash of colour on the hawthorn. Walking up, I found she was sprouting small green growths from what looked like completely dead trunk areas.

I felt a childlike wonder at and affirmation of the power of renewal. This is the inner truth we understand when young, before the world moves in and we join the battlefield. The truth is that we live in a world of constant small miracles. The only change over time has been the lenses we have accepted to use to fashion our “truth.”

That’s the real battlefield, isn’t it?

The Old Girl puts out new greenery almost daily now, bursting forth in her small miracle to remind me of the power all around us to renew, to change, to choose, to re-calibrate our lives and our paths.

One small miracle at a time.

Talk next week,


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