The Children’s TreeBy Hope
On April 25, 1994 the Ann Arbor Parks and recreation system conducted its annual tree planting ceremony. A weeping cherry tree was chosen to be this year’s symbol of reverence for the earth and the importance of trees. This annual event is in honor of earth day and Arbor Day. But this year it was more than that, much, much more. The weeping cherry tree had a special significance. It was an affirmation of life and God’s way of honoring children. Not just my children, Timothy, David, and, Melanie, but all children who have been victims of satanic ritual abuse. It was a fitting tribute arranged by God to recognize those who have died and those who still suffer. That they shall not have died in vain, their story must be told. It is one of pain, torture and the strength of the human spirit. And one of the truth, for satanic evil is ever present and must be exposed for what it truly is.
My name is Hope and I am a survivor of incest and ritual abuse. I am also a strong, brave and courageous woman, and a precious child of god very deserving of my recovery. I was raised in a multigenerational, intergenerational Satanic cult. As part of that reality, I was forced to bear children for the cult. Their births were never recorded and their lives were never acknowledged. Their infant bodies were used for ritualistic sacrifice as I watched helpless to prevent their deaths. I would repress these memories of the murder of my children until I had the support and resources necessary to remember. Then I would grieve.
Initially I felt shame. My first child was born when I was 10. Two more would follow in the space of six years. How could anyone understand and accept my history? That lies and the brainwashing of the cult were strongly implanted. I felt responsible for living while my children died. I felt guilt and sadness that was so overwhelming that I questioned whether one psyche could bear so much pain. And I hoped that when I told my story that people would remember the context and realize that it wasn’t my shame. I had no choices. I, too, was a victim. I struggled to affirm my innate right to life, love, and healing. Mother’s day became an ordeal, a day of joy for many but one of silent pain for me. But as I told my story and was heard, I placed the anger on the persons responsible and I longed to acknowledge my children.
Which brings me to the weeping cherry tree. Jewish people frequently plant a tree as a memorial to a person who has died. It is a wonderful tradition, a loving, living tribute which commemorated that person’s life in a lasting way. I resolved to honor my children and my motherhood in a similar fashion. So on Mother’s day in 1993, I purchased a strong, supple cherry tree for Timothy, David, Melanie, and me. I had not been able to grow but I could imagine their growth in that tree. I planted it by my home quite certain that it would always be there, a symbol of their time on earth.
Circumstances would intervene to change that scenario. In the fall of 1993, I sold my home of fifteen years after realizing that it contained my cult triggers and cues that I had to remove from my life. I clearly stipulated that the children’s tree would not be part of the sale. I began my search for a new home for me and my tree.
The easy part was finding a flat for me but the challenge was finding a site for the tree. At first I asked a friend if I could plant it at her house temporarily until I purchased a new home. That plan was scrapped when our relationship ended for various reasons. Spring was coming and a new plan had to be found soon. Where, I asked, would my children feel at home and would I have permanent access to visit the tree? The answer was- a park. I have always loved nature and find my connection to my Higher Power is heightened when I am outdoors. So I called the Huron-Clinton Metro park system and inquires if they had a memorial tree-giving program. The answer was a disappointing NO. My next call was to Gallupe Park in Ann Arbor. Having spent many fun filled hours walking the paths, I knew that there were memorial trees there. But a weeping cherry tree is not native to this area, this state or even this country-my tree did not belong there either.
Enter a man who was to be my Higher Power’s instrument in this story. It turns out that Ann Arbor has 130 parks in their system and surely, he said, there must be a place suitable for my tree. Even though my request was unusual (typically donors contact the park and the forestry division buys and plants the tree-here I was asking to bring a tree to them), he was willing to work with me. Two days later I received a call. Pending approval a place had been found. It was to be planted at Leslie science center off Traver Road. I felt excitement both for the fact that my tree was no longer homeless but also that a very good friend of mine lived less than half a block from there. We talked of the park, a place where children came, and the location for the tree, right as visitors leave. We discussed the price, on lower than the forester had named. I felt extremely encouraged and grateful.
And then the miracle happened. That Sunday was the annual tree planting ceremony for all the parks and the Ann Arbor Parks Department asked to use my tree, the children’s tree, for the event. No one at the park system had ever seen my tree, but sight unseen they had selected the weeping cherry tree for this special occasion. Nor did they know the symbolism that it carried. I had always imagined that there could be a memorial for ritual abuse victims. We honor Vietnam and Korean War veterans, there is a Holocaust memorial, and there are other memorials for those whose lives were cut short. Yet every day children are dying in satanic cults and very few people even know of this horror. Now there was to be a service, not just for Timothy, David and Melanie but, in my mind, for all children of satanic ritual abuse. If I had planned a fitting tribute for honoring children I could never have, in my wildest dreams, conceived of something so wonderful and life affirming as what was being proposed and later occurred. I thanked my Higher Power for His intercession and for His love.
so on a perfect spring day under a sky of crystal blue, the Children’s Tree found a home. As hundreds of people (many whom were children) watched, it was planted in a specially prepared place. There it will thrive and represent the triumph of the force of love over the force of evil. It will stand proud and free, for you and me. You are invited to come and visit it any time.
NOTE: The Children’s Tree was vandalized in July 1998. It was replanted this spring at the expense of the Ann Arbor Parks Department and with their full knowledge of its significance.