Day Twenty-Six: Deborah
The prompt today being, “Deborah” gave me some trouble to be honest. I did a little research, did a little digging, did a lot of thinking and what kept coming back to me was that tree. Deborah’s tree. It was a place so well associated with her that it took her name,
“She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.” -Judges 4:5
And this got me to thinking about the important of place. There is something to be said for consistency, for predictability, for setting down roots. I’m reminded about how long the Israelites wandered, about the emigration of Jesus’ family both before and after he was born, about the travels of Christ when he began his ministry.
“Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” -Matthew 8:20
It leads me to think again of Deborah and her tree, that place from which she spoke and prophesied and kept cool in the heat of the sun, and kept dry in the wind and rain. It was her place. I have to think there was some comfort there, some authority, some consistency in an uncertain environment. I feel a little envious of that because it brings to mind the number of times we’ve moved in the last few years, the number of “tribes” we would come across. We would try to integrate. We would try to belong. In some places we fit, in some places we stuck out, in some places we were invisible. It goes like that.
And yet in the face of the moves and the transient communities and the shifting landscapes it occurs to me that there is always a tree, always a place to sit and think and plant something new. The relationships we left in Chicago in 2005 were well rooted enough to greet us when we returned in 2012. The friendships we developed in Franklin and Nashville were seedlings, we nurtured and protected them as best as we could for as long as we could. When we return there a few times a year to visit I’m overwhelmed with how warm a reception I feel and I’m grieved at how short the visits seem, how life continues while we’re away and I’m struck by how much I miss these tribes. It’s funny how a place stays with us, embedded in the memory like tucking a note from a friend in a book and then stumbling on it later.
Landscapes change and people grow and move. It happens like that. Sometimes we’re rooted in the place in ways we never knew or expected and I count it all joy in those moments and I hold it close and treasure it up in me, tuck it away for later warmth when the winter comes.