She remembered them scaling it by grabbing hold of the huge trunk and stepping up little boards their father had nailed up. She remembered them disappearing into the branches and staying up there for what seemed a very long time, calling her name.
They knew she couldn’t climb up after them. She was too young. Even as she grew, Kiara wasn’t able to climb that sycamore or any other tree for that matter. She could never manage to scale a tree trunk.
But one day when she was eight, Kiara came upon a massive oak tree in the woods near her house. It was unlike any tree she had ever seen. Its lowest limbs nearly touched the ground, extending from its great trunk like giant arms.
Kiara leaned over one, belly high. She swung her left leg up over it and sat up, straddling it. Then she crouched on the enormous limb, grabbed a sturdy branch above her and pulled herself up.
For the first time, she was climbing a tree! Exhilarated by her ascent, she made it all the way to the top, where she looked out over all the other trees, even a few sycamores.
Kiara felt dizzy but safe in the arms of the tree. She felt as if she had been lifted up to the sky. She imagined herself as an angel, looking down on all of creation.
When she got home, Kiara told her mother about the special tree she had found.
“That’s a live oak,” her mother said.
“A live oak? Aren’t all oak trees alive?”
“Yes, but a live oak stays green all winter.”
“How does it do that?”
“It holds onto its leaves and drops them in the spring.”
Kiara thought about telling her brothers. Maybe they’d want to climb this special tree too. But they were teenagers now and had lost interest in climbing trees.
But Kiara never lost interest in that live oak. She climbed it as a teenager. It was the last thing she did before she left home and moved away.
Now Kiara is old, and her parents and brothers are gone. Every summer, she goes back to the woods near her old house. The live oak is still there. Slowly, cautiously, careful not to disturb its leaves, Kiara climbs to the top.
She is mindful this is the only tree she has ever climbed. She feels so grateful for this old tree. She remembers the day she first saw it. She wonders if she found it or it found her.
Kiara, now old like the tree, holds fast to its branches. She feels dizzy but safe. She looks out over all creation and imagines she’s an angel.