what trees teach us

I posted a blog a few days ago about trees, why I love them, how I need them around me to feel whole and why I think I am drawn to them. Barry wrote me a most helpful and interesting response, telling me what trees have taught him. Barry loves to take photos and he sent this picture to demonstrate what he believes trees do in our midst and how this inspires him. I hope it inspires you too.

A tree grew up near a hemlock straight and true, full of expectations and to lofty heights. But then it ran into an obstacle, a blockage and all became dark as the neighbouring hemlock overtook the tree and took its light. The tree had to change course, a dramatic change (30 degrees off vertical) and grew away from the hemlock looking for a new future. As it got farther away from the hemlock it could see the light and now it grew upwards to reach even higher heights, as high as the hemlock. It would flourish for the rest of its life but would have the scars of its troubles to look down on.

What I love about this story is the natural way the tree moved to adapt to the obstacle, strengthened and inspired by the light. I also liked the reference to flourishing in this new path but also being aware of the scars that had caused the detour. I think dealing with challenges in this fashion is what makes for a deepening soul for us human beings. The human character, the human spirit, is most alive when it deals with challenges and crisis by responding in seeking the light, the resting place of all that is warm and life-giving and true. As we elevate to meet these challenges we don’t ignore the crisis, nor do we abandon our dreams, rather we find a new path that takes us where we want to go and we allow the light to show us the way.

Finally, the scars never leave us. They are reminders of the pain, the struggle, the crisis. They remind us that new challenges are on their way, not to give up but to seek the light again. The scars also remind us that others suffer too, they deepen our compassion and awareness of other’s pain. To be aware of one’s scars and to give them focus now and then is not to be masochistic, rather it is to be reminded of the human condition. To be human is to be broken, to be human is to be humble, to be human is to be courageous, to be human is to be empathetic, to be human is to seek beauty. And beauty is fragile, strong, and reaching for the light. Thank God for trees.

Thank you Barry.