Lessons From A Tree
The term “aging gracefully” sounds like an oxymoron to me — at least at first glance and for women in American culture. Grace, in this context, has something to do with elegance, beauty, charm, ease, or naturalness. It denotes an appealing quality. It’s a lovely thought, the aging gracefully thing, but so far in my experience, there is nothing beautiful, easy, or elegant about it — at least biologically.
I think trees can teach us something about aging gracefully. As the years go by, they grow taller and thicker — qualities that only make them more sturdy. Their roots stretch further in all directions and deeper into the soil where they grasp tightly to the nurturing earth which sustains them and gives them an unwavering strength. Likewise, the branches too grow denser and extend in many directions outward and upward where the atmosphere nourishes them, and where the powerful forces of the wind lift and carry the leaves in such ways that only magnify their beauty as they whirl and whistle against those forces. The trunks become gnarled, a quality that somehow only commands even more respect from the observer. An aged tree’s very presence humbles a mindful person with its mighty and exquisite nobility.
In my neck of the woods where we women reside — not so much. We shrink and shrivel, and any thickness we obtain is certainly not a desired or admired quality. Unlike trees, our physical presence seems to incur much less respect as we mature. Yet if I look beyond the biological (and beyond the unhealthy and unnatural messages of American society), the analogy of the trees actually is quite descriptive of me. I’m no force to be reckoned with as I age. My soul is strong and solid. I’ve got roots that run deep, branches that reach to the heavens, and a spirit that is absolutely and positively magnified in powerful and beautiful ways against the forces of even devastating gale force winds.
Surprisingly I’m even more capable now of bearing fruit than I was in my child-bearing years! The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Saint Paul said, “against such things there is no law.” How right he was. The unwritten rules of this world and this society are no match for those within the realm of the heart where the tree of life resides and ages even more gracefully than the trees of this earth.
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