I’m not as young as I used to be. I know that may come as a shock to some, but it it true. Middle age has caught up to me. I keep telling myself that I will grow old gracefully, that I will embrace the changes to come. But I still find myself fighting each wrinkle, each gray hair and each new ache in my body. I cast sly glances toward my sisters and friends; are my wrinkles deeper, do I have more gray under the fresh coat of color? How old to I look compared to them?
It’s sad but true. I am vain. I can’t seem to help it.
Today I went for a walk. The fall colors are at their peak and the weather is supposed to be wet and windy for the rest of the week so I wanted to enjoy one last autumn walk. I walked to the hill behind my house. I have enjoyed the colors from my windows, but today I wanted to be out among the blooming trees. I walked along the edge of the field where trees formed the boundary between our land and a neighbor’s. I had not walked that trail since . . . well, it has been a long time. What I found humbled me.
The border of trees was barely 50 feet wide, but inside that limited space, the trees had survived and grown old. All along the field, I found trees that had survived against all odds.
In their younger years, the trees had doubled as fence posts holding up barbed wire fences. The fence and whatever it had held were long gone. All that remains is the wire, rusted and broken. The trees had grown around it and made it an irremovable part of itself.
Other trees had been damaged by wind, rot and lightning. Yet contorted, scarred and shattered, they still live and even thrive.
This tree looked dead when I walked up to it, but when I walked to the other side, a single branch projected from the trunk. That single branch was too big for my hands to wrap around. Supported by its neighbors, that single branch flourished.
I saw so many trees that bore scars and wounds. Far more than were whole and sound. Each one was unique. Each one accepted its imperfections and lived
As I walked, I learned their silent lesson. We are all scarred, all imperfect. We all have wrinkles and gray hair, (or will someday). We can take the parts of life that cause us pain, embrace them and with time, love and effort, we can turn them into something that makes us beautiful and one of a kind.
Each one of these trees, although horribly scarred still lifted their branches to heaven and shared their beautiful colors with the world.