Every spring, my redbud tree reminds me to stay in hope.
The usual allegory applies: dead winter becomes a fruitful spring. Trust God in the hard times. Almost a cliché these days.
But a more hidden meaning speaks to me this year, after an interminable winter and the hanging-on-of-grief. After another 12 months of ugliness and insecurity from our nation’s capitol, from both sides who should know better.
In spite of nature’s circumstances and the unknowns of life, here stands my redbud tree.
A neighbor has threatened to cut it down because its gnarled trunk and uneven branches seem out of sync with the rest of the symmetrical neighborhood.
Yet every time I drive home and see that rough bark, I marvel how such lovely pink blossoms manage to push their way to the surface.
And I cannot cut it down — will not allow it to be destroyed just because its trunk is ugly, its presence a misfit.
Even within its lack of beauty, I find hope.
The redbud tree reminds me how important every speck of God’s creation is — even those who do not fit into the traditional boxes.
- Those creatives who splash weird colors onto canvas while everyone stares and tries to figure them out.
- Children who don’t fit into the learning structures of schools yet are created for a beautiful purpose.
- Autistic and Down’s Syndrome loved ones who see life more realistically than those of us with high IQ’s.
- Every woman who survived high school although she was called “fat and ugly” by the popular kids.
- The 67% of single moms who leave the church because they no longer fit into the religious culture.
- And thousands of other categories of people, precious creations of God who find themselves unloved, unaccepted, unappreciated.
It strikes me that Jesus himself was a bit gnarled. The prophet Isaiah reminds us, “There was no attractiveness in him, nothing to make us want him. We despised him and rejected him. . .turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by” (Isaiah 53:2-3 TLB).
So they cut him down.
Yet the truth of resurrection each spring reminds us that although we cannot see the inner beauty of creation, reality does not negate the truth.
Within the rough bark and spikey branches, life beats. Cells reproduce and spring bursts forth with a lovely fuchsia color.
Autistic children become great composers. Kids with ADHD learn how to operate computers and troubleshoot through cyberspace. Single moms raise the next generation of amazing beings. People with Down’s Syndrome teach us all how to love. Immigrants become solid citizens. Creatives remind us that art is subjective.
So I remind my neighbor, “Don’t judge my redbud tree.”
And I remind myself to never look at the outer layers of life. Beauty lies in the next flip of the calendar page.
©2019 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
If you enjoy reading essays about hope, check out Hope Shines, also available in large print.