The Beauty in Gnarled Branches

A break in the weather yesterday and I headed out to the park with the dog. It was late in the day and the sun was low, just peaking over the tops of the tallest trees but illuminating their branches, causing these silhouettes against the clear sky.

The young trees grew straight up, strong and perfect with all their branches heading up toward the light and heat.  They were perfect in every way–smooth and unblemished.

In contrast, the older trees’s branches grew in every direction.  They were twisted and torn, gnarled from age, weather, and adversity.  And yet, they were by far more beautiful than those young trees.  I marveled at the ability of those big trees to endure all that nature throws–winds, snow, ice, drought, and extreme heat.  Their beauty came from the way they had handled all this misfortune.

How is it that we admire these qualities–and the attending appearance–in trees and not in each other?

I looked around and people of all ages were running furiously, trying to escape the years and weather that have eaten at their bodies and faces.  They long for youth, for the strong, perfect branches of their late teens.  How many of them wanted to exhibit with pride the arms and legs that have suffered from countless heart aches and disappointments?   The deep, gnarled wrinkles in their faces that are a testament to their ability to endure?

I think we have things backward in this society.  We should value those wrinkles just as we value the twisted branches of an old tree.  They are beautiful because they represent survival.  They are beautiful because they are who we really are.

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