The golden trees in the southeast ridge of the retreat center are alive with deep green leaves. At first they don’t appear to be as tall as they were that autumn of my first retreat here, then I realize they’ve all been “topped.” Where once graceful tappers reached heavenward, there are flat, harsh cuts that stunt them.

A somewhat inconsistent yet frequent wind strains their branches as it gusts up and over the ridge behind them. I realize their “topping” was for protection, preventing them from growing too tall and snapping under the force of the gusts. This action by a master tree man intentionally forces new growth down lower on the tree’s trunk. The new growth providing the needed leaves to soak in the warmth of the sun, in turn strengthening the trunk of the tree.

I imagine I am like one of these trees. They teach me about my recent season of sorrow and pain. Has God indeed topped me? For my own good? Has my suffering prevented me from becoming too tall, too thin and too weak? Did I need renewed strength within me?

I sit and watch the unpredictable wind gust in and around the trees. The fresh mountain air is alive. The trees sway gracefully where the wind would take them, but they are not in danger of breaking. I yearn for that grace and welcome new  strength in places I thought I had already grown through. Thank you Lord for this vision.

Perhaps as God watches me, I already have a hint of that grace. I struggle inside and cry out to him, yet I have not broken. I bend and sway with each twist and turn of the ever changing gusts of wind in my life.

Help me Lord to be flexible and ever dependent up on you whatever you allow to befall me.

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