Last week I wrote about some recent disruptions in our lives. I thought—perhaps, subconsciously, even hoped!—that would be the end of the chaos for a while. However, we’ve been delaying getting the two large mesquite trees in our front yard professionally trimmed for too long. Last week, we finally had two contractors come look at the trees and bid on the work.

The second contractor said, “See here? The root ball is rising, which means the tree could fall over. And see here? Those are old cracks in your front walkway—you can see where they were repaired—but these are new. Roots are reaching the foundation at this point. It’s time to think about removing these aggressive mesquites entirely.”

Ouch. Those trees have shaded our home—and especially both our offices—for the eight years we’ve lived in the Sonoran Desert. They’ve shielded us from the harsh summer sun. They’ve held birdfeeders, wind chimes, and countless birds, bugs, and lizards. One of them has been a nurse tree for a young saguaro we planted. The idea of removing them entirely was an unwelcome surprise.

The idea of removing those trees carried a deeper personal impact as well. Trees have been important to me spiritually throughout my life. I’ve blogged on their importance and impact in the past. I’ve taken photos of probably hundreds of trees over the past dozen years (and I’ll share some of those images on Instagram this week).

Yet, despite all these impacts, we didn’t hesitate to remove the trees, because it’s time to do so. There is a season for everything under heaven. This seems to be our season for enduring the more radical changes, not the small, incremental ones. So, the mesquites were removed last Friday—a full-day project during which I intentionally gave thanks for their years of strength, shade, and care.

And there will be benefits. As you can see in this “after” photo, an oak tree was being overwhelmed by the mesquites. Now it will have a chance to spread its branches and thrive. By making this change in the winter, the rest of our desert plantings will have the chance to acclimate to direct sun during these relatively cooler months. By summer, they should be thriving as well.

Something else crossed my mind as I pondered our intentional killing of these two trees. Countless trees have been killed in Gaza over the past few months, between the bombing and the need for firewood. I wish I could send Gazans our fresh mesquite wood, but I cannot. Instead, I join the millions who are praying and advocating for this war and others to end. Humans are not the only ones whose lives are being destroyed.

What is your relationship with trees? How might you give thanks for their place in the web of life?

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