It has been almost two years now since a devastating F5 tornado tore through central Oklahoma leaving a 22 mile path of destruction. Recovery has been slow, difficult, and for those that lost loved ones, near impossible. While waste and debris have been cleared and houses and businesses rebuilt, there are still many reminders of this storm that remain.
Because my home lies uncomfortably close to this 22 mile path, I pass by these reminders on a daily basis. A mere three miles from my driveway, I pass what remains of the historic steel truss bridge that ran parallel to the existing bridge. The tornado twisted this old steel bridge as if it were made of aluminum foil.
One of the most striking reminders that I see each day are what I call “tornado trees.” I guess in all actuality, it would be more accurate to call them “tornado survivor trees.”
During the massive tornado, many trees were completely uprooted. Trees were stripped of their leaves and much of their bark. Branches were twisted, gnarled and broken. Many that initially survived died later due to the extensive damage. But some survived in spite of all of this. They held on firmly rooted. They bent but did not break. They survived to sprout new growth, new life.
These trees are an impressive sight to behold. Even though they have grown new branches and sprouted new leaves, they will never be exactly the same as they were before the storm. They are still twisted and contorted. They are still predominantly stark and barren. These trees are scarred and damaged but they are still alive. They have weathered the storm and they survived.
These majestic trees serve as a constant reminder and example to me. They remind me that no matter how powerful the storms, I can survive them. The storms of my life may leave me scarred and weathered. They may leave me feeling stark and barren for a time, but no matter how fierce, no matter how frightening, they are temporary.
In time, the storms will pass, and when they do, like these steadfast, invincible trees, I will still be standing.