The Trauma Tree

While living in the mountains above Santa Barbara, CA, I came upon a remarkable tree. The majestic structure had a beautiful covering of velvet-like bark that enveloped her like a second skin. I was mesmerized by this regal tree in her velveteen casing, but upon closer inspection I discovered something astonishing. Through the opening that ran down her side was the evidence of a historical fire that almost certainly should have taken her life. The core of this tree was completely burned. The thick new covering that grew despite the trauma of the fire, gave this tree new life that greatly enhanced her beauty.

I thought about this tree and the similarities it represented for many of the people I have worked with on their healing journey.

One morning, not long after, I woke up to this poem playing in my head. I have never experienced this before or after, but it was given to me to share as a tribute to our healing journeys…

The Trauma Tree

Burnt and broken
Traumatized and left for dead
in the shadow of aliveness and growth
Hidden from the trail of others who might have seen the pain and
attended to
the wound so painful, so ghastly, so shameful that healing eludes all hope

And then…

The miracle
The exploration of the offense
The exposure for all to see the pain and charring
The trauma tucked inside for years, takes on new life that now protects and supports
The wound so painful, so ghastly, so shameful that healing eludes all hope


Life is the choice
The wrapping of flesh and life
and beauty that supports the healing and the healer
Surrendering to the unknown, more powerful than the fear,
carried in an attempt
to protect
The wound so painful,so ghastly, so shameful that healing eludes all hope


Time heals
The wound turns to scar
The scar protected by loving embrace
a reminder of the pain that once was and the shame and trauma which now brings hope and healing
The wound healed from the pain, and shame, so ghastly, and hope no longer eludes life.

Terra Holbrook