a different kind of beautiful

On Friday I went on a little adventure to a local state park, Stone Mountain, and took a hike. I spent some time by myself, sat in the shade, thought, prayed a little, and wrote a little. This is the companion piece to Friday’s post:

Besides the beautiful and life-affirming daisies that I encountered on my walk, there were a number of very beautiful damaged trees — trees that had evidently been hit by lightning strikes, or perhaps other things within the environment. Bugs, soil erosion, who knows, had affected them. Some of the trees, in clusters, had to “learn” to grow around the obstacles and get a stronghold in whatever way was possible.

More than the daisies, my eyes were drawn to these trees. They stood out, and the casual passersby might think they were eyesores, and even wonder why the park didn’t remove them in order to restore the vista to a postcard scene.

I am thankful for their testimony. It’s easy to be green and lush when all the conditions are perfect — but what is that perfection? Are not all the trees in the cluster exposed to the same conditions? Yet one gets singled out for the lightning strike, and that changes everything.

It damages the tree, certainly, but then something happens — the tree adapts. And in adapting it becomes something else. Because of its strength it survives and changes — perhaps subtly, perhaps more dramatically. The result, though, is usually the same. The tree stands out — its scars are beautiful because they are present. It stands out — not because it is an eyesore but because it has a character that separates it from the sameness of the other trees. Each scar, each broken branch, each exposed root has character, and depth, and a history of suffering … and strength. And still, in spite of its crooked form, it stands among the others.

To me, those are the most beautiful trees of all.