by Anne Campbell

A retired Episcopal priest and psychotherapist, Anne is a volunteer letter writer with the Art of Soulmaking Program.

When I was in my thirties I was separated from my kids’ dad and really struggling. A close friend suggested I take my kids on a short camping trip and lent me some equipment. That began my lifelong love for camping and hiking in Utah’s mountains and deserts. One fairly common desert tree in a drought, lets a significant portion die, but retains one branch with all its leaves. Often those trees grow at the edge of cliffs, where many of their roots are exposed. I found them quite beautiful and I took many photos, one of which I framed and always keep in view on my wall.

I found comfort in the notion that although part of the tree died, other parts endured and grew. That reassured me, back then and through the years that even if relationships or circumstances ended, and I lost something I thought was of central importance to my life, I could endure. I could find a way to grow.

The Art of Soulmaking program brought me to a fuller understanding: That “dead” part of the tree is still part of the tree’s life. It is a crucial support for the tree, grounding it more fully, allowing it to flourish. That marriage which broke up taught me a great deal that helps me be a better friend today… The career I abandoned, that job I lost brought home some hard lessons. I bring these experiences to mind each time I sit down to write a penpal.

Nothing is lost. Everything is bread for our journey.

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