Thursday, 14 April 2011

I am a tree

I think that I might grow into a tree.  

That's what I think.  With your help, and lots of time (because my sort of tree doesn't grow quickly - I'm not a conifer hedge),  I think I might be a tree. 

I'm trying to write a Life Mission Statement.  What I'm about.  What I'm for.  Now you might think that this is a bit of a laugh, Lord, as I've been bothering you repeatedly with that very question, but along comes this opportunity to try to pin down the answer and I'm thinking that rather than sit here tap tapping away and waiting for an angel to appear at the door with a letter from you containing the answer, I might try and sort it out myself.  Give you the chance to help me work it out, I should say. I'm pretty sure you're the one with the plan, not me. 

Hence the tree.  A book I'm reading, called 'The Path: Creating your Mission Statement for Work and Life' by Laurie Beth Jones, has lots of exercises in it to try to tune into the way I'm made. One of them is to think of a thing that I identify with.  When a picture comes to mind of a thing, be it a banana or a daffodil or a sponge, I go with it and think about characteristics. 

I thought of a tree. A big tree. 

There are a few characteristics here that I think I have, some that I'm working on, and many more that I would like, please. Maybe your list is different from mine; and maybe there are some on one list that you think belong on another; that's up to you. It's a bit mixed up, to be honest. But this is why I like the tree thing.

The tree I have in mind is strong.  It stands tall and does not cower or try to hide. It's happy being a tree, unapologetic for the things it is not, and proud of what it is. It is unique.  There is not another tree like it in the world. It spreads its branches wide like welcoming arms.  It sways in the wind and occasionally loses a branch to gales but does not bend and does not fall over. It can be wounded and it heals. It is beautiful, firmly rooted - in fact the roots of this majestic tree reach out unseen underground as far as the canopy does above ground. A little further, even, so that those roots might collect and take in the rain as it falls to earth. It is self sufficient - it doesn't depend on someone to come and give it plant food; it simply trusts in the sun and the rain to keep it going. It is mighty, secure, beautiful.

Rooted in you.
This tree is maternal - it embraces and reassures. It offers refuge to a host of different creatures; whole eco-systems thrive in the environment it creates. It sustains, protects, nurtures, feeds.  It is deciduous; it goes through a cycle of growth and rest. It sleeps, it wakes, it buds and produces new green leaves which flourish, mature and fall, just as it is supposed to. It is steadfast, contemplative.  Such a tree stands and looks, observes, misses nothing.  Not a thing goes unnoticed. It inches closer to the heavens every year but does not shoot up dramatically.  All change is considered, controlled, incremental, studied. It is not a static thing, unmoving; it is constantly moving on, reaching, developing, but it does so imperceptibly, with dignity and understated power. 

There is something eternal about this tree. It is wise. It is reliable. It will be where it was last time you saw it, familiar and recognisable and yet it will be different in some undefinable way. It creates a striking silhouette against the sunset and you can find shelter under it when it rains and shade when the sun is hot. It makes subtle yet glorious music when the wind stirs the leaves, and if you lie on your back beneath it and look up at a summer sky the shifting colours are breathtakingly beautiful.  

I make no claims to breathtaking beauty, Lord, but day by day I pray that on the inside the seeds of beauty that you yourself have sown in me might be watered and grown into something that pleases you; something that flourishes.  I want to be that tree with all its attributes.

If I need pruning, prune me.  If I need feeding, feed me.  If I am so young a sapling that I need support, let me lean on you. I want to grow into something mighty and majestic with the brand name of your nature clearly visible on me.  I want to spread my branches and sustain those around me. I want to thrive, cared for by you. Guide and secure my roots, shine your life-giving warmth on me and water me so that I can one day tower and protect and stand firm and be eternal.

I want to be what you made me to be.

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