Friday, April 18, 2014

036. Twisted Trees

Yesterday I hiked up the ridge of some nearby mountains. The trail started near a pond with a few trees around. These trees weren't overly lush or tall, but they were healthy, straight, and showed no evidence of struggle. The trail was steep all the way climbing a staircase the entire ascent and the descent was all baby steps so as to not slip on the loose and rocky gravel.

As I climbed I noticed the trees along the sloping mountainside were not like the trees at the base, even though they were the same species. These were twisted, leaning over, and sprawled out, with both dead and living branches on them. There were fewer trees here than below...more scattered and isolated. Some of their roots were exposed in many places, piercing up through the arid and rocky soil. They were generally not a pretty sight...wind-whipped and more coarse. It caused me to wonder how they subsisted here. Their roots must reach very deep to find water and sustenance.

The hike was strenuous, yet almost from the start there were butterflies flying nearby all along the trail. They'd land on the ground just before my feet, kissing the earth, but causing me to almost trip for fear of stepping on them. They'd circle dance around me in the air as I walked. It seemed like dozens of butterflies throughout the hike, appearing one or two at a time, but maybe it was the same one or two all the angels who accompany us in our journey in this life.

As I climbed higher, I could see further and further in all directions...into the canyon, into the towns across the valley, across the valleys to other mountains. It was a beautiful view as I stood among those twisted trees. I thought of the contrast and was grateful for these trees.

We each have a choice to make as to what kind of a tree we will be. Whether it will be among the healthy and good looking trees at the bottom of the canyon that rely on the cool waters delivered to them by the pond, or a worn out twisted tree at the top of the summit among the butterflies, that relies on the heavens to pour out rain, and can see afar off from a vantage point enjoyed by few. I don't know which one I am, but I'm grateful we live in a time and place where we can make these kinds of choices and learn from our experience.

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