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April 2019 Vol. 15 No. 1

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Jennifer Thiermann

Taking Refuge

My most intimate relationship at age eleven was with a tall ponderosa pine in my backyard. From my neighbor’s low fence I’d reach across to the lowest limb and swing myself up into the tree. The accommodating branches were perfectly spaced for me to climb up to my perch, three-fourths of the way to the top. There, I gazed out a great distance to two huge military hangers miles away.

I was one with that tree, never questioning the compulsion to climb it day after day. My trust was unconditional; I would encircle the trunk with my arms, close my eyes and fall back pretending I was falling. The trunk caught me every time. In storms the tree bent to me. We swayed together as the wind blasted the needled branches and my ponytail.

thinning branches
how do we know
when to stop?