I grew up in Lakewood … a short 35 miles from Claremont. As a kid in the 50’s, our backyards were safe havens. Typically, you could tell where everyone was, from the noise drifting over the rooftops. We played together, got into fights, plotted grandiose schemes, and dreamed of what life would be like when we “grew up.”
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the “life” that happens in the Harvard House backyard. Thanks to Life Bible Fellowship Church in Upland, it has been upgraded and transformed into a beautiful safe haven complete with a meditative bench in the “Lifer’s Rose Garden.”
However, what catches my interest each time I am in the backyard is the large tree that is central and provides significant shade to most of the area. In many ways it is representative of both Crossroads and the women we serve.
In my early days at Crossroads, it was more of a nuisance than anything else. It was mostly dirt and dried leaves below the scraggly branches, and it was impossible for grass to
grow beneath it. Sometime in the 90’s it was cut down to a stump that was a little too high for sitting but provided a good perch for brewing sun tea.
At some forgotten point in time, the tree took on a new life of its own. Shoots not only sprouted from the stump but completely overgrew it. A few women in the program, who had worked in forestry, took the tree into their care – pruning the right branches and allowing sunlight to filter through. The branches are twisted and scattered but today it provides a beautiful canopy of shade for the women to enjoy sitting outside … listening to the birds … writing in their journals … visiting with family and friends … a safe haven.