As I walk my dogs each day I am struck by the beautiful oaks my neighborhood offers as majestic diversions along the roadway. One such oak must have had an interesting history because it has somehow found its balance much like a waiter with an outstretched arm holding a platter?
I sought to capture a photo to give you a feel for what I am talking about but I am afraid that my lack of photographic skills combined with the pre-dawn light and haze of my morning walk have conspired against me. It will have to suffice that the way this tree has found its balance is to become wider than it is tall. Its outstretched branches seem to grow perpendicular to the trunk to the left and most remarkably to the right like some sort of wooded scale.
As the dogs and I wonder at this creation on our walks, they are thinking of nothing more than how cool it would be to sniff and do unseemly things to that trunk, while I am pondering deeper things. I am wondering :
How unlikely and unpredictable the growth pattern of that tree is?
What pressures must have been exerted on it to force it to grow in such a way?
How similar is this tree to me and to you?
Much like the mighty oak tree in our story, we have pressures on us as we grow. Each passing year forces us to stretch in unpredictable ways. Our experiences shape us. Our genetics shape us. If you are a believer like me, you also believe that God shapes and molds us.
How do we respond? I think we can take a lesson from the tree. As we look ahead and face new pressures, we should adjust and grow, shaped by our experiences, simultaneously moving in the path truest to how we were created to be. The key is the balance. Like our broad-leaved friend, we need to seek stability along the way.
We must also remember that we can’t grow without:
light (Light/God/something bigger than us)
water (other people who we can pour into and who can pour into us)
rich soil (Faith/community/tradition that provides a foundation
and nourishing environment for us to grow in)
When we recognize that we need more than our own will and desire to grow, we remain humble, understanding nothing is accomplished solely on our own.
The final and perhaps best part of this analogy is, as we grow, much like the waiter with his outstretched arm in the opening paragraph, we can use that growth to serve others.
If we serve as we grow, remaining balanced and humble along the way, we will find that we grow in fantastic and unpredictable directions.