when you’re bare but not barren


I’m nestled under white down beneath slanted ceiling. I got the message on my phone. We’re under a wind advisory. I hear branches batter the roof and wonder if I should turn on the weather radio.

My husband sleeps sound, snores soft. I’m in charge of safety.

I slip on slippers and robe and tiptoe downstairs. I’m shocked at how bright it is at midnight. It’s only about a half moon hanging out the kitchen window, and the stars are strewn like frozen jewels that shine in many facets. White clouds rush across the sky. The bell rope whips crazy, and the edge of the awning waves wild. The wind rushes and whooshes and things bang and rattle and riffle. It sounds like something’s tumbling across the porch. The newest cat, Bella, is balanced on the sill, tail twitching. She snaps her head toward every bumping sound.

I go from window to window and watch trees bend and sway, and I wonder if they’ll all still stand in the morning. I wonder if any will go through our roof.

There’s not much I can do, so I add some wood to the stove, and climb back in bed. I sleep fitfully.

Come morning, the yard’s littered with branches, small and large. We’ll gather it for kindling. I pop a coffee pod in the pot, cup the hot mug, and contemplate the trees. I wonder if they withstood the storm better because they stand naked, so that the wind could blow right through. I ponder what’s fallen, how it’s dry and unproductive, its usefulness spent. How the pruning took place in the night.

The trees themselves look dead, stripped bare, exposed and empty. They’ll spring back to life in season. Because the life still lines deep, still flows in the inner recesses. I imagine the sap flowing, feeding.

I really don’t know much about trees.

But it seems to me that even though they stand bare right now, they’re not barren.

Even though they’re stripped, they’re not sterile.

Even though it’s winter, they’re still growing.

And it’s in the pruning they’re prepared to produce perhaps more.




The following two tabs change content below.
Sandra Heska King
PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.
Sandra Heska King

Latest posts by Sandra Heska King (see all)


  1. What a wonderful perspective, Sandra. I’ve been feeling a bit barren myself these days. This encourages me.

    Your husband sleeping through it all is a picture of mine, who sleeps through hurricanes. How do they do that?

    • Sandra Heska King

      I wish I knew. But I suppose it’s good that one of us is on guard. 😉

  2. Shelly Miller

    Such beautiful imagery Sandra, felt like I was standing next to you at that window watching it all. So much of what brings life is unseen, below the surface waiting to surprise us in the reveal.

    • Sandra Heska King

      If we could just rest in that and not panic.

  3. KrisCamealy

    I’ve sat up nights like this one, here too. I felt as if I were standing there in your kitchen, watching the trees, the cat, the moon–I love the heart of this Sandy. I need the reminder that sometimes the pruning comes at night, but that the growth, even when hidden continues on. Thanks, my friend.

    • Sandra Heska King

      It’s hard to tell sometimes if the pruning or the night comes first… If we can only remember that there’s better health after the trimming.

  4. Oh, the trees. They are such patient, constant teachers. I’m glad you didn’t lose any–or worse, have them visit through the roof. Not barren. No.

    • Sandra Heska King

      They seem a lot more brittle than they are, I guess. I’m glad they’re flexible, and they’re roots go deep. :)

  5. I’m all hushed, reading along, picturing. Drop a pod in the pot for me?

    • Sandra Heska King

      Sheila, I’d love to. But it’s -5 degrees here this morning. How about I come there? 😉

  6. ” I wonder if they withstood the storm better because they stand naked, so that the wind could blow right through.” – so true, so indicative of our need to be bare before Him and drop all our defenses, let Him prune and shape us. So glad He sheltered you and your home!

    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks, Tresta. I think about how the external, physical stuff might be weak and easily damaged. But it can usually be fixed. But there’s safety and strength in spiritual “weakness.”

  7. Excellent analogy to ponder this morning while I sip my own coffee. Thanks, Sandy. :)

    • Sandra Heska King

      Wishing I could be sipping coffee with you, Carol. Well, actually–I guess I am. 😉

  8. Beau-ti-ful as always! Such wonderful ponderings swim around in your noggin! 😀

    • Sandra Heska King

      It gives me a noggin ache sometimes. :)

  9. Once again, Sandy, you find God at work in the ordinary. Loved thinking of the pruning of the trees in the storm as God prunes us through our trials and tribulations.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Thanks, Martha! The vision of the life still flowing even though we might feel like we’re walking dead–that was powerful for me.

  10. Beautiful. thought provoking. words.

  11. Diana Trautwein

    Yes, indeed. Personally, I hate wind now. I used to love it as a kid, standing on the back porch in the dark, arms spread wide, letting it blow hard over all of me. Now I know the destruction it can bring, especially in hillside communities in southern CA. But even fire brings forth new growth. Interesting. Scary as all get out, but interesting.

    • Sandra Heska King

      We have the tornado threats here–though not as bad as in other places. I think my daughter would be a storm chaser if she didn’t have the girls. I do love the power of the storm–but all it would take would be one bad one to cure me. I can’t imagine the fire threat. Scary as all get out. I’ve had bad experiences with fire.

  12. I love the lessons the tree and nature shows us. This is so well written, almost lyrical. really really loved it

    By the way I am in charge of safety too when it comes to weather, I love watching the storms from the windows but a windy night makes me restless too.

    • Sandra Heska King

      It’s that unknown in the unseen–those questions of what’s coming at us in the dark, I think. There’s that line between surrender and stupidity, maybe. 😉

  13. As someone who was already standing naked/bare when the storm came to prune, I get this.

  14. Sandra I so appreciate you and your writing.


  1. when you're bare but not barren | Sandra Heska King - [...] I’m writing the rest of the story over at BibleDude.net today. Come? [...]
Subscribe and download your FREE e-book!
  • Get more FREE downloads for e-books from BibleDude Press
  • Fascinating articles about the Bible, theology, and worldviews
  • Thoughtful insights about prayer, worship, and spiritual practice
  • Challenging perspectives on ministry, outreach, and global missions
  • Access to exclusive conversations about faith, work, and life
Subscribe now, and I'll send you "Which is the Best Bible
Translation?" absolutely FREE!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This