The Tree of Life

Note from Amy: “The Tree of Life,” written by my friend, Stacy Grove, poetically, profoundly, chronicles her experience on a recent mission trip to St. Joseph’s Home for Boys in Haiti. Stacy traveled with a team from Hayes Barton United Methodist Church (Raleigh, NC). I feel compelled to share it with you.

The Tree of Life by Rev. Stacy Grove

Six men and two women …

A team…bound for Haiti

with a desire to serve as called.

How to make a difference???

Equipped with willing hearts,

disaster training, tools & food,

… a strong faith…

with love and prayers of family,

friends and church.

Too much to absorb

Brokenness all around…

showing itself in different form

at every turn.

Our eyes glazed over by myriad images,

too much to behold –

Tap-taps in bright colors,

gray billowing exhaust fumes,

white tents, blue tarps;

trash and ruins.

People bathing between tents

adjacent to city streets;

children begging,

horns honking,

crumbled structures…


Two boys cooling off in the street,

from a dripping drain

on a water truck stuck in traffic.

Women carrying, on their heads, large baskets,

which hold their goods to sell —

They and others walking the street…

walking from here to there

with expressionless faces.

Arrival at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys….

And there it is… ‘The Tree’.

Amidst all the concrete

of houses and collapsed structures.

‘The Tree’

Its rugged grey trunk blending

with grey cement walls;

A vine with large leaves clinging to it;

Its foliage so high above the building it supports;

Barely noticed by the passerby.

Yet to one like me,

who seeks the green of life

in a concrete city,

It is an oasis!

It towers more than eight stories high,

its limbs giving shade,

with leaves that dance in the breeze…

It is a Tree of Life

This is the tree that saved the lives of many!

With all its strength,

it has restrained

the crumbling floors

of a 7 story building.

Three months later it withstands the weight

of two floors against its trunk,

Their remnants still hang over the side.

Large cement chunks dangling

with twisted rebar and electric wiring;

A large piece of flooring wedged into its bark,

40’ above its roots!

Wounded and scarred by the falling debris,

Bowed so much… as it bears the weight of this burden,

This towering tree stands as witness…

to the life of boys,

scarred and burdened by their own life stories;

boys who learn to become family

and are transformed to become leaders.

This towering tree stands in witness…

Of boys in daily prayer, doing chores, or homework;

Of ‘bravos’ and Sunday dart games;

Of St. Joe’s many visitors,

Welcomed with smiles and a cup of water.

This towering tree stands in witness…

Of wounded people becoming whole;

Of drum, song and dance;

Of laughter, love, and transformation;

Of Ben trapped,

Of Bill leaping for life,

Of injury and rescue,

Of so many prayers lifted high.

This towering tree stands in witness …

As people pass below and alongside…

People challenged by the struggles of daily life.

Women carrying water jugs to their homes,

Boys and men carrying 5 gallon buckets…

Of rubble… to the BIG pile.

This towering tree stands in witness…

Of Haitians working together hand in hand

with those from another country

who come to serve…

to tear down that which stands in ruin…

to restore some sense of order

in the chaos that surrounds them;

to build up the spirits of boys and men

… girls and women,

so bent by the harshness of life

and reality of disaster.

This towering tree stands in witness…

As falling rubble scars and bends its backbone,

Its roots planted firmly and

grounded deeply into the earth below;

New growth that blooms from a wounded place.

It is a Tree of Life amidst loss,

It stands alone and ever so tall with dignity.

This towering tree stands in witness…

Of faith that is tested,

Of trust,

Of hard work,

Of sweat and tears,

Of determination,

Of boys who become men,

Of those who are deeply rooted in Christ.

This towering tree stands in witness…

of life… of love… of death…

of dignity… of hope … of resilience…

…of resurrection!

May God bless these people

and offer them an inner calm

amidst their most recent storm of life.  Amen

Written May 2010 by Rev. Stacy Grove

HeartSpace Spiritual Resources

Upon return from UMVIM Early Response Disaster Mission

To St. Joseph’s Home for Boys


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