I took advantage of a beautiful day in
Chicago this afternoon, and went on a walk
around the lake that surrounds the retreat center where I am participating in a
quarterly retreat that is a part of a two year residency. The air was crisp, but the thankfully it was
a sunny day. Last summer the trees that
border the lake were green and breathtaking. It was obvious this afternoon that
I arrived in Chicago
about two weeks too late to enjoy the beauty of the fall leaves.
The barren trees I observed this afternoon were such a contrast to the lushness of last July. It was almost like the trees were telling me that winter is imminent. Be prepared. Snow is on the way. I shivered just thinking about what is coming soon, but then I was suddenly surprised.
There was a lone tree along the path that still has its golden leaves intact. It was the only tree among a literal forest that had not been stripped down to its bare branches. You could not miss it. Its leaves shaded a tiny portion of the path.
I enjoyed that little surprise during my walk this afternoon. Almost immediately that lone tree reminded me of an important life principle. There will be times in life when I will be the only one “still in bloom” among those closest to me. There will be those moments when members of my immediate family and those that comprise my circle of good friends will all feel stripped and barren. They are caring for aging parents. Their children are going through a particularly challenging time. Or perhaps they are facing their own health concerns. And for some reason “my leaves” are still intact. I have a responsibility to provide some beauty to them as a season of “winter” approaches in their life.
There will also be times when I will feel stripped down, barren, and void of any “beauty” to provide to those that normally lean on me. Winter will arrive in my life too. But I am confident that God will provide a lone “tree” in the forest of relationships I am fortunate to be engaged in to meet my needs.
I am thankful for a brisk walk this afternoon. But in particular I am thankful for a lone tree that exposed me to beauty on several levels. Its presence reminded me of the relational obligation I have to those in my forest. And that is a good thing…