I love trees. I think trees are graceful.
In the tropics, trees hold more life than the jungle floor. The buttressed roots are lessons in art-nouveau and graceful engineering. The gentle curves distribute the weight of growing trees so well they will stand for centuries—if we don’t cut them down.
Some trees are nearly 5000 years old. They are twice as old as Buddhism and Christianity. Even older than Judaism or Taoism. They’ve outlived the Egyptian and Sumerian empires—and every empire since. The oldest trees germinated at about the time Sumerians formalized their writing system, the earliest formal written language. They are nearly per-historic.
Even young trees, the ones around 100 years of age, have been around for more than we can remember.
The great human tragedies of World Wars and genocide around the world. The pains of apartheid, human slavery and trafficking. Need I go on?
But trees, they just continue to grow. Patient and steadfast in the midst of our human turmoil. They continue to grace us, these imperfect creatures apparently bent on self-destruction, with their beauty. If we just allow them to grow we will continually find beauty and grace within them.
That, to me, is the wonder of it all. That in spite of ourselves, of our destructive myopic needs we can continue to find beauty in the world. There are those among us who continue to appreciate beauty, who can see through the pain to the slow, steadfast presence of a more gentle nature. I aspire to cultivate this ability.
It would be easy for me to believe I find grace within a beautiful tree. The truth is, the tree is quite simply a tree. It, in itself, has no pretense of beauty or grace. I just call it so.
To say I find a tree graceful isn’t quite accurate. It would be more precise to say I find Grace by appreciating trees.
And that is what Grace is, isn’t it? To know Grace is to see beauty through the obfuscation of an agitated heart or world. When we can see through the argument, the blood shed, the fear and find within ourselves the courage to touch upon pain, heal wounds, mend a broken heart, listen to someones needs. It is an act of both Grace and courage to face anger and rage to address the underlying need of love and tenderness.
I guess trees remind me that I don’t need to be Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa. I just need to keep finding beauty, in my own small way, the same way trees grow: slowly and steadfast.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author