I love bottle trees. We have one outside the window of our keeping room where we spend 90% of our time at home. There is something purely southern about a bottle tree. As you already know, I love the South. Supposedly back in “the day”, people would put them outside their home to catch evil spirits. I happen to have one outside my window because I think it is cool. We have been collecting bottles from antique markets and junk stores. (There may be a Heineken bottle or two on there as well)
My former Fondren neighbor,Felder Rushing, famous horticulturist, says: “…after extensive research, I find that bottle trees and …the superstitions surrounding them were embraced by most ancient cultures, including European. Although glass was made deliberately as early as 3500 B.C. in northern Africa, hollow glass bottles began appearing around 1600 B.C. in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Clear glass was invented in Alexandria around 100 A.D. Soon around then, tales began to circulate that spirits could live in bottles – probably from when people heard sounds caused by wind blowing over bottle openings. This led to the belief in “bottle imps” and genies (from the Arabic word djinn) that could be captured in bottles (remember Aladdin and his magic lamp? This story originated as an Arabian folk tale dating back thousands of years, even before clear glass was invented). Somewhere in there, people started using glass to capture or repel bad spirits. The idea was, roaming night spirits would be lured into and trapped in bottles placed around entryways, and morning light would destroy them.”
So divorce sucks. Nothing super colorful or mysterious about it. Flat out pain. I get it. Not from living it, but from counseling folks through it. I know you already know that, but I thought I would remind you. Some people try to drown their divorce in the bottle- whiskey or prescription. Both bad ideas. These are pain killers- reality escapes. (Admittedly I write this with a glass of white wine next to my Mac) All they do is mask the problem. They don’t treat it. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to try to trap some of those evil spirits that are bringing you down and putting them in a special place for the morning light.
I am a fan of destroying evil spirits. I fight my own brand of evil spirits every day. My bottle tree is useless against them, BTW.
So what I am learning as I am reading and studying about the meaning of life and renewing my spirit with God’s word and other books is that what we are searching for in this life is transcendence, rising above our circumstances- almost a feeling of flying that starts in your belly and tingles through your arms and legs and fingers and toes. Transcendence is meaning, purpose, a joy that is deep inside your soul. God is love. We are made in God’s image. We are made to love. God lives in the community of the Holy Trinity. Again, made in God’s image, we need to live in community and experience love to “transcend.”
A divorce represents the culmination of the absence of love in our life. Many times we grieve not what we have lost, but the potential or idea of what we have lost- the culmination of the loss of love we have already been missing. It is like a funeral where the corpse could smile at you and sit up and hold your hand any moment.
God did not design us to know how to handle divorce. Divorce is a byproduct of the fall. I wish I could put a bottle tree outside your window and trap those bad feelings- those whispers that say “You failure.”
You are not a failure. Your path is yours- not mine, not his, not hers, not momma and them’s- YOURS. Your pain is real. Grieve it out. Feel it. Scream! Now breathe. Focus. You are needed. Your kids need you at your best. Put down the bottle and go hang it on the tree.
By: Craig Robertson