One day, after years of caring for one of his trees, a man became concerned at the sight of what it had become. It looked withered, ragged and worn out. It had become diseased and he wasn't sure it could thrive again. He figured he would cut it down. Yet, he took a step back and thought for a moment. He began cutting, but instead of cutting it down in its entirety, he pruned branch by branch, carefully choosing which section to alter or lose...Loss the tree had no control of. He pruned this tree so that it could flourish. He did so knowing it would make it more capable of surviving and living to its fullest potential. So that the sunshine could come through the leaves and touch the wounds, slowly healing, rebuilding and camouflaging it’s scars...scars reminding it of where and what it had been.
Pruning gave this tree a chance to enjoy more seasons. Seasons of life, loss, and new beginnings. Seasons it had endured to make it what it was. What it has seen in it’s own environment and just beyond, through a window. A window into a home, into a love evolving and bearing some of the same seasons as this tree. Seasons of decisions, celebrations, loss, heartache, the joyful noise of loved ones, prayers of desperation and jubilation, goals being set and attained, buildings full of hope and inspiration being formed, Seasons of love.
This pruning is much like our lives. Where the one entrusted with us cares enough to take situations and seasons beyond our control and use them to shape us for the future.
Shaping us into something that stands firm and roots us in our noble identity.
To look at the tree now, one can't see what it's endured. If they look closely, some scars show but the whole story is something kept within. It has seen the beauty of a sunrise and sunset, heard the gift of song from its surroundings, felt the warmth in its branches and taken in the elements through its leaves. It has needed water and gone without. It has withstood the pain of hail coming from every direction, storms that spew rain and thunder, some breaking its gentle branches with wind so hard it feels as if the whole tree will come crashing down. Yet some of the rain coming in the desolate heat was needed to be a distraction, a release, a calm. Torrential storms in close proximity that this tree can't unsee or unfeel, where destruction was just a turn down the road. Seasons of bitter cold to the point where it brittles and fights to hold on…but because it held on, it knows that tomorrow is a new day. A day that brings new circumstances. It doesn't allow itself to forget its identity or it’s promise for the future.
The identity to provide shade, comfort, protection. Its roots firm in the soil provide the ground and its surroundings with life and nourishment. It is beautiful and wondrous to watch bud and regrow, but its identity is not found within how the tree appears. It's about all it gives back to the world. The perch it provides a bird in flight catching their breath...giving it hope and the ability to finish their travels. It is a trusted place to create a nest. It’s a shelter for animals that scurry underneath it. Comfort while the man tends to his home. Shade for the woman who tends to her garden. It takes some of the brunt of the storm so that the house has less to endure. You see, because it wasn't given up on and the man took the time to care for, acknowledge and respect its beauty within, it faces the future prepared for what's ahead with the ability to see and feel the sunshine and withstand the rain. Take the seasons, but in the winter...in the chaos, in the desolate, hold on and know seasons change. Stay true, stay grounded and know that there is a reason for all seasons. Enjoy the beauty, the blooming, the pruning and the sunshine.
WRITTEN BY Jennifer Barnes