The tree grew from within the house, all on its own, slowly
taking it over. The owners were amused at first, but then they had to move out.
It hadn’t simply eaten them out of house and home; it had grown so that finally
there wasn’t any room left for them. It had taken years, of course, so they
didn’t realize that was what was happening. All they knew was that they felt an
increasing pressure, a cramped-ness, an overwhelming sense of smallness. They
thought they had outgrown their house, but actually it had outgrown them.
The Mueller family had bought the house back in 1976, back when they had moved to Philadelphia. Of course it wasn’t called Philadelphia when the area had first been settled, all those hundreds of years ago. Back then it was Coaquannock, named by the Lenni-Lenape tribe. The name meant “Grove of Tall Pines” back then. Now there was no grove, because the pines had been cut down by the new immigrants, the new settlers from across the sea. They cut down the trees to build their beds, their chest of drawers, their homes.
They had moved in just like this tree, quietly, surely, intending to coexist side by side. But then they too grew too big and started pushing out the people who were there. Back then it wasn’t just a house, but a whole area, a city, a state, then the entire country. They set up their own rules, their own laws, even their own names for the towns they had taken.
So much for “City of Brotherly Love”, the meaning behind Philadelphia. They only wanted peace for themselves. “Brother” meant people they fellowshipped with, not everyone. They followed the letter of the law and not the Spirit.
Perhaps this tree was trying to right a wrong. Or perhaps it was simply following in the settler’s footsteps. Or perhaps karma is real.