I am not a big fan of Winter. As a 'thin skinned' Georgia girl who enjoys being outside in the sunshine, Winter just makes me feel cooped up and weighed down by all the extra stuff: hats, jackets, socks, gloves.
This week, however, I have acquired an appreciation for one aspect of the season I had not previously considered: the beauty of the barren trees. I live in a neighborhood of 50-60 year old homes near a river. The trees are old, majestic, deeply rooted and firmly established. Yet, it is only when they are stripped of their leaves that you can fully appreciate their shapes.
In the last few days, I have been struck by their dark, gnarled, strangely shaped limbs against the clear blue sky. What stories those limbs seem to tell of the twisted road to survival many of these trees have undergone. Their limbs reach for the sun in whatever way they can find to get there.
For some of the trees, reaching for light has required growing straight out horizontally--away from the pack--before they are able to start growing up. Others seem to have been able to always grow vertically, with little or no obstruction. Still others have wacky, inconsistent growth patterns.
As I study their trunks I see many places where limbs once were. These were the ones who didn't make it, or had to be removed completely for the sake of the growth of the others and the overall health of the tree. Some have obviously been pruned recently, leaving them in an unattractive state now, but clearing the way for new growth when Spring rolls around.
I have not been able to escape the parallel to our own lives--the pain of being pruned for our own long term good, the sadness that comes with loss, doing whatever it takes to grow and reach for life sustaining Light. But mostly, I am struck by the beauty of it all when it is stripped down to its natural form. The beauty is because of, not in spite of, the imperfection.
We were designed to live lives that point to our Father. We reach daily for the life His Light brings to our weary hearts. When we are all made up in our equivalent of the blossoms and the leaves, we are often hiding the most glorious part of ourselves...our essence, our stories, our hearts.
The older I get the more I appreciate authenticity. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the beauty of 'real life' today and how even scraggly old limbs point to your magnificence.