Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have always had a tree, or group of trees, wherever I lived, that I became attached to. They anchor me to the earth. They protect and shelter me.

My parents had a very large apple tree in their back yard when we lived in New York. We spent hours cooled by it's shade and held in the comfort of its spreading branches. We were enthralled in the spring by its beautiful blossoms, creating bouquets to set throughout the house. Picking up the rotting apples wasn't so much fun, but that was temporary. Before dinner every night, whoever was home, would congregate beneath the tree with a drink and occasionally a plate of cheese and crackers. I would sink my bare feet into the cool grass and feel reinvigorated by nature. It's a shame so many of us now separate ourselves from the earth by sitting on decks.

Here in North Carolina we have many pine trees. They don't offer the same protection from the sun but can be magnificent nonetheless. Take the Loblollys for instance. They reach to sky and look down upon us lowly creatures with amusement. Their enormity impresses me with regularity. Dogwoods abound as well. Insignificant in size and presentation, they cover the landscape with blossoms every spring radiating their delicate beauty and provide the perfect accompaniment to the Azaleas.

Trees are like people. They are all different and each has its own purpose. Some provide shelter and comfort, others strength and encouragement. Just as we appreciate trees differently, we can appreciate each person for what they have to offer. As we come to understand and accept our own gifts, we can begin to see more readily those of others.

What kind of tree are you? What is are your strengths? What gifts do you have to offer? I believe I'm a tree that provides comfort and sustenance to those around me. I'm not very strong but I can survive a common storm. My roots are weakened for a time when life's hurricanes descend upon me. So far I have been able to survive. But I know, one could come along that brings me down. And so I soak up the sun each day, and enjoy the wind and the rain for what it has to offer me to keep me alive. I look to the people around me who are Loblollys and Dogwoods to enrich my life...and to offer them what I can.

As we walk through the forest of life, finding our way over the peaks and through the valleys, let's embrace those people who come into our lives, acknowledging and celebrating their strengths and overlooking their weaknesses. Each of us has something to offer that is unique and has the ability to be a blessing to another.

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