If A Tree Falls During a Quaker Business Meeting

Last week was the hundred-somethingth annual session of Northwest Yearly Meeting.  My knowledge of the number of times our yearly meeting has gathered may tell you the amount I was able to participate.  Things like broken water mains and fussy children and upset tummies and life in general just seem to get in the way.  Yes, there was childcare, but I liked the folks in there too much to drop off a “I’m one and trying out my terrible twos a little early just to warm up to them” son.  Instead, I watched (some of) the evening sessions online thanks to my hubby and my hubby’s coworker’s streaming computer and my hubby’s other coworker’s camera that streamed to the computer that came over the fiber optics that entered into my computer that drowned out the sound of the “Mega Truck Adventures” playing on the tv.  I also read lots of Facebook statusi regarding the challenging, encouraging words Tony Campolo shared.

One day my dad and I carpooled to campus to go to our respective meetings while my gracious mother was watching the boys.


Dad:  “So, you’ll meet me back at the car?”

Me:  “What time are you meeting with your group?”

Dad:  “4:30”

Me:  “Why don’t you just go back home when you’re done?  Then I’ll meet up with Jason and we can get food and take it home.”

Dad:  “I thought the reason we carpooled was so that your mother have a car to bring into town with the boys to meet us for dinner.”

Me:  “Oh, yeah.”

Dad (insert exasperated face):  “What do you want me to do?” (my mother, and brother, and potentially Dad’s coworkers will recognize that face and tone  :D).

Me:  “Well, yeah.  I guess I’ll just meet you at the car!”


Me calling Jason:  “Okay, so I’m here and going to my meeting.”

Jason:  “Okay.”

Me:  “Mom’s home with the boys.  Dad and I carpooled so that Mom can come into town with the boys and we can go out to eat.  But I was thinking we should just take food home.”

Jason:  “Okay.”

Me, distracted looking at the enormous tree laying down in the middle of campus with all the caution tape draped around it:  “So why don’t you meet me when your meeting’s done outside of my meeting’s room.  We tend to run over.”

Jason:  “Okay.  Where are you?”

Me:  “EHS 102.  The Lecture Hall.  You know, the same room that the Board of Evangelism met in for years and years.”

Jason:  “Oh.”

Me:  “Yeah, way to break the ties with that old board, eh?”  (The Board of Local Outreach, or BOLO, oversees many of the areas that the BoE oversaw.  But they *aren’t* the same board.  Nope, not at all).

Jason:  “Okay.”


Me, hustling over to Dad’s car, parked way in the boonies (and for anyone who wonders, the boonies are located in the Ross parking lot on the farthest parking row a number of spaces back from the building, because my meeting went over):  “Hey Dad, been waiting long?”

Dad:  “Nope.”

Me:  “So I called Mom and said we’d just bring dinner home so she doesn’t have to load up the boys.  What do you want?”

Dad:  “Mexican.”

Me:  “Okay, let’s go to the restaurant to order.”

Dad:  “So I have a question for you:  is the symbol for the Yearly Meeting a tree?”

Me:  “Uh, yeah, I think so.  I know they have a new graphic.  Jason would know;  he does all that website stuff.”

Dad:  “Okay.  So now I have another question for you:  did you see that big tree that fell over in the middle of campus?”

Me:  “Yeah, I was thinking how doofy that was of Plant Services to take that down in the middle of Yearly Meeting.  I mean, hello:  people all around!”

Dad:  “Did you know that it fell down?  In the middle of a business meeting?”

Me:  “No, I had no idea.”

Dad:  “So, I read this book a little while back called, ‘If This Were A Dream, What Would It Mean?‘ talking about how when strange events happen in our dreams, we oftentimes will accredit that to God speaking to us.  But what about strange events happening in waking life?  We usually disregard that.  But if we pay attention to the symbols, if we ask the question, maybe we’ll recognize that God’s speaking to us.”

Me:  “Huh.”

Dad:  “So, a tree falls in the middle of the business meeting:  not just *falls*, but splits in two with half still standing.  The Yearly Meeting’s symbol is a tree.  If this were a dream, what would it mean?”

Me:  “Uh, my writing/lit mind has a few ideas, but I’m not sure. (And I didn’t say it, but I was scared to answer, because it might reveal my inferior mortal conclusions).  Do you?

Dad:  “I don’t know.  I’m just asking the question!”

Me:  “Well, I should probably call Jason and ask him what he wants for dinner first.”

Dad:  “Okay.”

Me, calling:  “Hey, we’re getting Mexican.  What do you want?”

Jason:  “You must’ve gotten out early.”

Me:  “Nope, ran long.  Why?”

Jason:  “Well, I didn’t see you come out.”

Me:  “You were there?  Oh, yeah . . . .”

(I hope there’s not a message from the Spirit in that . . . )  🙂


So, what do you think about my dad’s question?  If that were a dream, what would it mean?

5 thoughts on “If A Tree Falls During a Quaker Business Meeting

  1. Robin M.

    I tend to think that in a dream, all the characters are some element of myself. So it would depend on whether I thought I was the tree or not, in my dream.

    And sometimes, trees just fall down and it’s not God’s fault.

  2. luke

    Another aspect to the tree-falling story is that on the prior evening a certain pastor patted the tree and asked, “I wonder how long this old tree is going to last?” (He said something like that.)

  3. Gregg Lamm


    Luke got part of the story right! Here’s an excerpt from the email I wrote to Clyde Thomas (George Fox University’s Physical Plant Director) the afternoon after the tree fell at GFU …

    “I know this story will be hard to believe, but in a strange way I feel kind of connected with the oak tree that fell down in the GFU Quad during the middle of the night Here’s what happened …

    Last night after the NWYM pastor’s reception, Teresa and I were walking back to our car from Cap & Gown … it was parked behind The Lemmons Center. We walked on the grass the whole way, and just before we walked through the Virginia Millage Memorial Rose Garden, I put my hand on the oak tree that fell this morning and asked Teresa, “Gee, I wonder how much longer these awesome oak trees will be here?”

    As I type out this story I’m hearing the theme song from “The Twilight Zone” TV show in my head. I know there’s no “cause and effect” between what I said to Teresa last night and the tree falling. But it’s weird. And I tell you this … I’m now going to be very careful about what I touch and say from this moment on. Speaking of which, it will be good to see you again soon, and to shake your hand! Godspeed. – Gregg

    Clyde wrote me right back and told me that there are several trees in Hess Creek Canyon that he’d like me to “lay hands on”. I guess I can add “Tree Whisperer” to my resume. Godspeed.



  4. Judy

    So your dad had some questions…so do I. I left the meeting about 10 minutes before the break to walk over to the dining hall in hopes of taking care of some unrelated business with the food service people. As I walked across the quiet campus I heard a soft cracking sound and turned to see where it came from, just in time to watch the oak descend with a muffled THUD. I was amazed at how quickly the campus grounds crew were there to survey the situation and begin cleaning up the debris…not knowing they had been cutting down a different tree on the other side of the Lemmons building!

  5. Gar Mickelson

    I’m thinking that “if this were a dream”, it might mean that weakest part of the “tree” (Yearly Meeting) has fallen off. The stronger remnant will continue on- growing, etc., while the old weaker part will be carved up and returned to the earth from where it came. While continuing on, the stronger remaining part will look a little misshapen for a while, until those who remembered what it was before move on.
    I could go on with this for a long time!
    OR, it could mean that half our new logo is about to fall off the digital file…

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