The Tree Stands Alone

Today I'm exhausted, just dog tired.
It has been a difficult, emotionally-loaded week.
Shock has worn off and a grave reality has begun to set in.
Just over 10% of our students have been displaced because of flooding and are living in apartments, campers, hotels, with family, with strangers who have become friends by necessity. On Friday, there were lots of tears, because they're tired, too. But I'm also energized because this morning, this happened.

Dressed in a live generously shirt, FISD School Board member Pastor Ralph, knocked on the door at about 9 am with his chainsaw in hand; not too far behind him, a crew led by my friend Carol showed up with their tree removal equipment,

to help us get rid of this Arizona Ash tree that Harvey toppled.

It took our crew about three hours to go from this ...  

to this. 

I was especially touched that this man, Forest, would be a part of our crew as his home was one of the 3,000 houses in our town to flood. His sister lost her home, too, and yet, there he was, in our yard, helping get that tree out of our back yard.

 When the truck filled up, the rest was neatly stacked to the side,
ready for us to fill and carry off a second load later in the week.

It's sad to me, to lose a tree like this, but also interesting to get a sneak peek inside. Pastor Ralph was quick to point out that its rings tell its story; the thin rings were bad years for this guy, the thicker ones, good. It tells a story of survival through tropical storms, a ground saturated with flood waters, hurricane-force winds and the draught.

And finally, it fell right over in Harvey because it was
the last tree standing in what used to be its protective grove.
And so it goes in real life with human kind, too.
When we are surrounded by that community of family and friends
to hold us up when gale-force winds threaten to topple us,
it's a whole lot easier to survive and thrive than when
we, like this tree, attempt to stand alone.

And so, another Harvey lesson is this:
 Life is too hard to go it alone.
Together we're stronger.
All. As one forest.

Last night at our first home game under Friday Night Lights,
we saw evidence of this truth when we played the Kingwood Mustangs.
Many of these teenagers lost not only their homes, but also their school. They are now attending school somewhere else; among their losses, band uniforms and football uniforms. But life must go on, so they borrowed football garb and the band wore casual dress. To honor their burden and support their healing, our band opted to not wear our uniforms, but to go casual as well. A small thing that meant a lot to our friendly rivals, the other Mustang blue team.

And this, the message from our Superintendent
that played on the jumbotron to kick off the game.

So many of you have sent cards of empathy and encouragement; thank you, thank you. Each student that I saw on Friday got to choose one of your beautiful expressions of comfort and love. I coupled them with a reading of Marianne Richmond's treasure, Be Brave Little One, after which we each shared a one-word reflection about the storm and/or the notes.

Out of that natural disaster known as Hurricane Harvey
have come supernatural acts of compassion and care.

We have appreciated every single note, text, email, phone call.
Each one helps us move forward into our healing with hope.
On Tuesday night, our parents at Orientation will be invited
to fill out a card for our school's hope chest.

Faculty and staff have already filled ours out; 
students will be sharing their hopes and dreams, too.

In case you missed my We Are Teachers guest post this week,
click {here} to read about how it went on our first few days back.

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