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What Kind of Tree are You?

May 4, 2010

No matter where I have lived, I seem to get attached to a tree in my yard.  There is something about tress. It feels as though they anchor me to the earth. They provide me with protection and shelter. I remember each one quite clearly, like it was an old friend and I would enjoy sitting and visiting with those I have left behind.

When I was a child, my family home in New York had a very large apple tree in the back yard.  We spent hours cooled by its shade and held in the comfort of its spreading branches on warm summer afternoons. It enthralled us each spring with its beautiful blossoms. My mother and sister created dozens of bouquets to place throughout the house and bring to friends.  The apples gave us apple pie, apple jelly and apple sauce and the tree only fell out of favor briefly when it came time to deal with the rotten, fallen apples. Each night before dinner, whoever was home, would congregate beneath the tree with a cold drink in hand and on special occasions a plate of cheese and crackers. I loved sinking my bare feet into the cool grass, reinvigorated by nature. It’s a shame so many of us now separate ourselves from the earth by sitting on decks.

In North Carolina, where I live now, we have many pine trees. They don’t offer the same protection from the sun but can be magnificent nonetheless. The Loblolly Pine is magnificent. It seems to reach to sky only to look down upon us lowly creatures with amusement. Their enormity impresses me greatly. Dogwoods abound as well. Insignificant in size and presentation, they make up for this by covering the landscape with blossoms each spring, their delicate beauty a perfect companion to the Azaleas.

Trees are like people. They are all different but each has its own purpose. Some provide shelter and comfort, others offer strength and encouragement. Just as we appreciate trees differently, we can appreciate each person for their uniqueness and what they have to give. Understanding and accepting our own gifts can help us see more readily the gifts that others possess.

What kind of tree are you? What are your strengths? What gifts do you have to offer to the world? I believe I’m a tree that provides comfort and sustenance to those around me. I’m not very strong but I can survive a common storm. My roots are weakened for a time when life’s hurricanes descend upon me but, so far, I survived. I think I would be an apple tree.

I do know that one day a storm could come along that could topple me and so I store up strength by soaking up the sun each day, and enjoy the wind and the rain for the nourishment it provides. I also look to the people around me who are Loblollys and Dogwoods as I know they will enrich my life and provide me with strength and beauty.   I give them what I can in return.
As we walk through the forest of life, finding our way over the peaks and through the valleys, let’s embrace those people who come into our lives, acknowledging and celebrating their strengths and overlooking their weaknesses. Each of us has something unique to offer and each has the ability to be a blessing to another.

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