Embrace the Scars

The Tree – cc photo by J. Delp

I have a favorite spot in the Arizona wilderness.

It’s not too difficult to find, but I’m not going to tell you where it is, because then it might become your favorite place. I’m selfish that way.

The path to my favorite spot is marked by a sentinel.

The remains of a once majestic tree (most likely a Ponderosa Pine) that towers over the surrounding landscape, keeping watch over the small canyon and its inhabitants.

Describing it as a tree is generous, especially given that it is no longer living. It is has been scarred by a forest fire, or lightning strikes, or both. In many ways, it resembles an enormous telephone pole, only differentiated by the stubby remnants of burned branches. The fact that it is still standing in a meadow of grass and scrub brush is a testament to resilience. In stark contrast to its surroundings, “the tree” is a unique example of nature’s artwork. So out of place that it belongs. Begging for a story.

“The tree,” is photogenic. It draws the viewer’s eye and begs to be the focal point of the camera.

I have seen it dozens of times, but I can never pass without pausing to give it a closer inspection. To imagine what it might have looked like in its glory. A towering specimen with beautiful branches and needles that provided shade and cover for birds, squirrels, elk, and perhaps even a black bear. The pungent scent of pine would have been coaxed out by gentle rains, wafting on a late summer breeze. It must have been a sight to behold. Perhaps, not as noticeable — blending into the forest. Sharing the meadow with other trees. But now, it stands alone. In the spotlight. 

On my latest trip to my favorite spot (that I cannot disclose) I paused to examine my friend “the tree.” To notice its scars. To imagine all it had seen in its lifetime. To consider its past and present beauty. 

A darkened sky threatened storms, allowing just enough space for the sunlight to peek through the clouds. As I was passing, the brilliance of the Sun appeared to be perched at a point of prominence at the top of “the tree.” A befitting ornament. A recognition of the beauty of a life well lived. It seemed fitting. A crown for a queen.

The scars are a part of “the tree’s” story. Just like scars are a part of our story. The things we endure help us develop our story. They make us stand out. Through perseverance we achieve our unique beauty. The scars allow us to claim our crown as the beloved with value beyond measure.

Embrace the scars.

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