Apr 272016

While on a recent hike, I saw an old tree clinging to a cliff.  Really it was the remains of a tree, since it had obviously died some time ago.  At first I was inspired by the beauty, then I thought about the fact that it was just the remains of a dead tree.  The issue wasn’t really the tree, it was the location.  Had the tree lived and died somewhere else, leaving such a scrawny carcass of a tree, it would have been underwhelming for sure.

A tree that grew on a cliff

A tree that grew on a cliff

The real splendor of this little tree was not the beauty of its withered remains, but the testimony of those lifeless crooked limbs.  A weathered wooden testament of a life lived in a difficult place.  A life lived where cold winds whipped over a rugged landscape.  A life lived where every ounce of growth had to be carefully rationed between leaves reaching for the sun and roots clinging to any small crack or crevice in the rock.

If this dead tree had been somewhere in the middle of the forest, I would most likely have never noticed it, but having grown in the rugged, difficult place, it left a legacy of beauty.  The Bible says that trials make us better people.  I’m sure it’s true, even though if given the choice, I would prefer not to grow on the difficult, rocky cliff.

Oct 302012

There is a crooked tree in our backyard.  It’s my fault.  When it was very young, I transplanted it from where it ought not be, to a place where it could grow nice and tall.  Then a year or two later, in an overzealous effort to free it from an evil clingy kudzu vine, I broke the top out of it, leaving it damaged.  I should have been more gentle in my attempt to free it from the vine’s choking clutches.  Instead, I let my temper flair.  I was mad at the kudzu and determined to free the tree my way.

That was several years ago when the tree was a baby and just starting to grow.  The tree is older now.  Its thickening trunk and limbs are strong and free of kudzu.  Even if the kudzu were to start an invasion, the tree would be able to withstand determined attempts to yank it from the branches.  But it still bares the scar of the day when it was young, just starting to grow, with tender branches reaching for the heavens.  In my haste and anger, I played the part of the zealot.  I will always see the result in the crooked tree, and regret it.  Perhaps I have a little kudzu of my own to deal with.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
  – Galations 6:1  NKJV