In the middle of a wonderful, 70 degree, leisurely 10-mile bike ride, I stopped to rest awhile under a beautiful tree draped in sage colored Spanish moss.
As I sat looking its massive trunk, I was suddenly moved to take more careful note of every inch of it, as far skyward as my eyes could see, of what seemed to be 100 feet of height.
And I wondered how long it took to reach such an altitude. How similar its lifespan to our own.
You see, we all start out as little seedlings, planted in some sort of root system where with any luck we are properly nourished, and supported, and surrounded by everything we need to grow healthy and strong.
As our trunks grow north, the girth of us expands as well – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually; the immature, undeveloped parts becoming thicker; more resilient. Spindly twigs maturing into what are hoped to be healthy branches, and with any luck transformed into robust limbs that stretch out to the east and west for more sunlight, rain, gentle breezes, and in the case of a tree – flora and fauna. In our human existence that “wildlife” encompasses deeper family connections, friends, and lovers.
As I sat, I wondered what had happened around and to that tree in its lifespan thus far? How much it had survived - or succumbed to? Surely there had been beautiful sun and spectacular rainbows, torrential rains and horrendous heat waves, and everything in between.
I’m sure there were days when remaining erect was completely effortless; others when it seemed that it might snap under the weight of whatever had befallen it.
And therein I realized the parallel existence between me and that beautiful moss-draped tree. I too, have weathered and traversed the sometimes fine line between graceful, smooth sailing and gut-wrenching events that seemed certain to break me in half.
Yet here with both were—perhaps a little battered and bruised—but nevertheless a stronger, more deeply rooted, perhaps a bit taller, and with a richer experience of life than in the years before.
There’s so much beauty and gratitude there for us both.