Let’s talk about trees. Not Blue Spruce or Balsam Fir. Just good old deciduous trees. Yes, I’m referring to those branches that look quite bare these days in our Central New York climate. Some even say trees this time of year look ugly, but I vehemently disagree! When all their leaves have been shed after November winds and rains, the bare branches of trees are rather beautiful. If I were a painter, I would paint winter trees because there is something rather fascinating about the intricate design of each individual branch and the relationship of one branch to another, all connected to the center, the tree trunk.
The new snow on previously-bare tree branches is another wondrous sight, almost like icing on pastries, all sparkly like precious gems. As I sit gazing out the window at the lightly falling snow, my heart is filled with both beauty and sadness. Winter days like this provide the opportunity to sit still and contemplate all the spring, summer and autumn days that led to this winter moment. Many of these memories are joyful, and I find myself smiling, almost chuckling as I think of loved ones near and far as well as friends here in the neighborhood, at church or in our community. But then my thoughts go to those who we have lost or people who have moved away. I grieve a little and ask God to continue to bless them and all those who love them, too.
Bare winter branches can be, at times, sacramental in that they lead me to marvel at the wonder and beauty of our God and all that God has gifted us. The dead branches in another five months will once again produce blossoms and leaves and new growth. Are we not a little like winter trees ourselves? Do we not at times have to “die to self” in order to grow into whatever/whoever we have been called to be? Don’t we also have moments in our lives where we experience the waiting that feels like winter? We know another “springtime”, or joy, will return, and so we wait. Almost like Advent Waiting.
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
(The O Antiphons of Advent)
I don’t know what’s left of my life journey, but I do know I never walk it alone. And I’m thankful to have the winter trees to remind me that everything in life involves some waiting, some growing, some dying, more waiting and eventually, rebirth.