The Beetle Within Us

avocadoWe had a beautiful avocado tree. We purchased it, and another for friends who live less than a mile away, about 5 years ago, just before these friends returned from a time of living overseas. The first four years of its life with us were spent growing, thriving and providing hope for a future bumper crop of Florida avocados. The tree grew to more than 10 feet tall with shiny, dark green leaves providing a canopy in the back corner of our yard.

We weren’t disappointed. Last year, we had a bumper crop. Every day we could go out and pick an avocado to garnish a salad or a sandwich, or gather a few to make a tempting bowl of guacamole. There were so many that even the squirrels had their fill, much to our chagrin. But the dog had a grand time tearing out every morning and chasing them away. What was left on the ground with little rodent teeth marks we simply washed off, cut away the nibbled parts, and enjoyed the rest. We couldn’t wait for another harvest this year.

And then one day, I looked out at our lush tree and saw a plethora of brown, dead leaves covering the top portion. We have had a very mild winter here in Orlando, so I ruled out freeze burn. What could possibly be wrong? So I waited, hoping that it was just a fluke. A few days later, after a bit of a windstorm, I looked again and our grass around the tree was littered with dead leaves that had been blown off by the wind.

I took a picture and texted it to my husband. What in the world could be wrong with our beautiful tree?

Again, a few days later, we knew we were in desperate trouble. Nearly all the leaves were brown and, with just a touch, I could pull off a deadened bough.

I called the nursery from which we had purchased the tree. The news was indeed devastating: ambrosia beetles. Our tree was beyond hope.

The kind lady at Lukas Nursery gave me the signs to look for, and they were there. They might have been there all along; I just hadn’t known what to look for. Last weekend, we took the tree down. I kept inspecting the branches, wanting to see hoards of beetles pouring out, just so I would know that that really had been the problem. What we found was one.

Now, I don’t think that that one little beetle did all the damage itself, but that was all we found. Our once beautiful tree, grown strong and majestic, providing us with days of fruit last summer, had been felled by a tiny insect no more than 2 inches long. What we thought was a healthy, happy tree had been at risk for a long time, and we hadn’t seen it coming until it was too late.

The same could be said for the people around us. How often have we heard that someone’s child has fallen into sin and wondered how in the world could that have happened? A beloved and admired co-worker has an affair, ending a marriage you had believed to be strong. A mother leaves her family because she can’t handle the stress. Or someone is just so overwhelmed with the pressure of keeping up the façade that they fall into deep depression.

Just a casual glance at our tree, and an admiration of how lovely it looked and an appreciation for the work that it did to provide us with fruit we enjoyed, did not give us an inkling that there was something deeply wrong. Until it was too late.

Don’t let it get too late for the people you love. Ask the hard questions; take the time to listen to them; look past the façade. And do the same when you look in the mirror.

Really. Before it’s too late.

Thankful today for:

811. a pleasant back porch

812. toothpaste

813. clean water I don’t have to tote from a well

814. fun field trips

815. prayer times with friends

816. the success of others

817. gift cards to fun places

818. the deepening voices of my sons

819. a husband who still tells his teenage boys that he loves them

820. my animals

I’ve just reached the year mark of my thankfulness list–and my regular posts on my blog–and, as you can see, I haven’t reached my goal of 1000 yet. So I’m just going to keep going until I get there. Thanks for joining me on the journey.

3 thoughts on “The Beetle Within Us

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    Becky Thomton pointed me to this post as something that belongs in WWC. Can you cut it down to 365 words and submit it as an Insight to run in July/August?

  2. Pingback: From Death, Life | Compelled

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