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A Shingle In The Tree


If you look at the picture above, something appears to be out of place.  What’s a shingle doing resting in the branches of a tree?  Shouldn’t it be nailed to a roof protecting a house, my house, from the rain and other elements?  How could the shingle do what it was made to do while sitting in a tree?  But this particular shingle had been ripped from its place of residence and deposited onto this tree courtesy of a tornado on our street in April 2012.

At first, this lone shingle escaped my attention.  Too much other damage and debris caught my eyes.  Branches and limbs, multiple pieces of a church’s playground, a section of that same church’s roof, pieces of glass, fences posts, and sections of a fence littered our yard and street.  Even after the initial cleaning, my eyes were focused on the ground, on the pieces of shingles and shards of glass I kept finding in the yard.

One afternoon, after a new roof had been installed, the fence replaced, and a number of other repairs done to the house, I stood in the driveway, looked up at this tree, and saw the shingle.  What was it doing there? My initial reaction was to get a ladder and take it down.

But my feet remained rooted to their spot and I allowed the shingle to remain in its place.  Not out of laziness or a fear of heights, although the idea of standing on the ladder’s top rung wasn’t too appealing.  I envisioned myself reaching for the shingle, something happening (a gust of wind, a loss of balance, or even a slip of the foot), and me falling to the ground head first.  Rather, I left the shingle there for the reminder it was and is to me.

A reminder of what once was.  A time of calm before the disruption.

A reminder of what might have been, of the force of nature, and the brevity of life.  As bad and as frightening as the storm had been, it could’ve been worse.  Much worse.  We were fortunate.

A reminder of what can be.  In the fourteen months since the momentary drop of the tornado, there have been more strong gusts of wind, rain, and snow, yet this shingle has remained in its place among the branches of the tree.

This shingle is a reminder that when you get thrown from the place where you are, the place you think you should be, the move and the disruption, however painful and difficult they may be, might actually send you to a better place, somewhere else to rest and be, a new place to belong.

As I moved from one phase of life to another, unsure of where I might land or what might be, this shingle reminded me that eventually I would find my place.  And then, one day in the future, maybe sooner rather than later, no matter how secure I might feel in this new place, the winds of change would come again, because nothing is permanent after all.

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