by Jenny Harrison
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10 (ESV)
It’s a popular childhood game and one I remember well. Siblings, cousins, and friends would play endlessly when they came to visit. I would run like the wind, ducking and weaving, looking over both shoulders trying desperately to avoid being dragged to the ground by an over zealous participant who was more than ready to give up their “it” status.
And what is a great game of tag without a safe spot? Our safe zone was a magnificent cottonwood tree in the front yard. My dad planted this tree soon after we moved into the humble pier and beam dwelling we called home.
Dripping sweat, gasping for air, with cramps in my legs, I remember the cottonwood being a welcome sight as I ran toward it with all the strength I had left in me. “Safe!”, I would announce as I clung to its vast trunk.
Once at my safe spot, I would lay my head on the trunk. There I would refuel for the next round. I still remember the large shaded area under the tree and the rustling of the leaves as it provided much needed protection from the frequent harsh heat and humidity of South Texas. This necessary rest also gave me a chance to observe my surroundings and plan my next strategy.
When I had sufficiently rested, I could hardly wait to get back into the game. There was just something about the rush of adrenaline that prompted me to press forward, no matter how exhausting.
Years later, when my siblings and I had children of our own, I returned to my childhood home. My two sisters and I were sitting around the kitchen table catching up on current events and strolling down memory lane. We could not help but notice the scene through the living room window.
The cousins were squealing at the top of their lungs. They were red faced and frantically running around the front and back yard. We could not help but grin when we heard the intense laughter and the words, “Tag, You’re It!” and “Safe!”,but what really got our attention was the chosen safe spot. They ran straight to the old cottonwood tree.
My sisters and I looked at each other, smiled and asked, “Who told our children the tree was safe?” After discussion, it was clear none of the moms had let the cat out of the bag. It seems our children came to the conclusion on their own.
The house has since been sold and I have not been to see the old home place in years. I have a feeling that as long as the cottonwood is standing, it will be the designated safe zone for many a child.
At times, I stop and reflect about our childhood play and the cottonwood. While the tree symbolized and evoked varied memories and emotions in each of the sisters, it was clear the cottonwood was significant to all of us. Even today, the memories are so very powerful, they have prompted me to continually evaluate specific areas in my spiritual life. (and it was just a little old game of tag).
What is your strength, constant, and refuge in a world of uncertainty? Where do you run when you are spiritually depleted? How do you fill up when you are running on empty?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11: 28-30 (ESV)
Copyright © 2012, Revised 10/6/13, Jenny Harrison, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007.