Monday, March 16, 2015

the beauty of bare branches

My South Carolina backyard seemed to burst open with color overnight.  Golden forsythia and fragrant white pussy willow are in full bloom which means the rest of the woods are not far behind.
I. love. spring.
But despite my longing for warmer weather, there is a part of winter I will miss -

     the bare branches that will soon bear blooms.

For some reason, this year I have found such beauty in the bare branches of winter.
I have photographed them.  I have sat beneath them.  I have studied their form.

This is what strikes me -
they have lost what most would consider to be the very thing that makes them beautiful and yet I see something magnificent in their dark and crooked silhouette.

The trees of winter are exposed and vulnerable to the elements, but they are strong.
They are still standing.
Eventually something else will grow and fill in the empty spaces and the branches will have something new to offer.  For now they remain unadorned.

I can't help but think that when their beauty bursts forth in the shades of spring something will be missing in the fullness.

We won't be able to see the real form of that tree anymore - the solid structure beneath that holds it in place.  The part that is strong and weathered from the years will be hidden.  One by one each tree will boldly expand it's reach until the whole forest is covered in color.  There will be a warm and lovely quality to this season but our view will grow smaller as leaves and flowers grow fuller.  We will no longer be able to see the bare branches and what lies on the other side of them.



I will miss their vulnerability.
I will miss their simple beauty.
I will miss the severe contrast of their dark, thin lines against pale blue sky.

I love people who are willing to live like those bare branches in the winter.
Transparent.
Vulnerable.
And yet strong.
Standing in stark contrast to the world around them.

In seasons of loss they stand revealing who they really are.  They allow us to glimpse what is under the leaves, under the skin.  They even allow us to see beyond them to a greater beauty.  They become part of the landscape instead of stealing the show.
I want to live a bare branches life, unafraid of losing what some might consider the things that make me beautiful or important or valuable.  I want to reveal to the world that there is something underneath that matters more.  And I want to be ready again when the season of growth and new life comes, to carry whatever blooms from the strong, rooted core of me, like a warm spring offering.

Those bare branch trees stand tall and strong because their roots run deep and searching.  They have found the source of life - a nourishment that remains even when the seasons change.  I have found it too - my own roots running deep and searching.