"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Transforming Sign

By Micky Wolf
My beloved and I are blessed to have a beautiful white birch tree (a personal favorite) in front of our home, a few feet from the large picture window. I can also see it from where I sit in my study.

It’s a thing of majestic beauty, year around. Black-speckled, mostly white trunk, a trinity of limbs arising from the base of the main trunk. Home to the occasional family of squirrels, nesting nooks for the over-wintering robins.

And yet, there’s that whole thing with the peeling bark. Kinda makes me wonder what our Creator had in mind when adding that unique feature. Other-worldly explanations aside, my sense is the Divine smiled the birch into existence, maybe in some small way, to serve as a ready example of transformation and change.

Depending upon your perspective, the idea of personal change can be a rather daunting process, especially if we’ve been taught it’s messy, painful, or ugly. Granted, a lot of the transforming work God desires to do in and through us will likely not occur in a setting as public as the one inhabited by our birch tree.

On the other hand, there’s a lovely aspect of the peeling process we may not be aware of. In the case of the birch tree, the silvery, parchment-like strips and bits of bark can be used for a variety of purposes. The early settlers in this country eagerly snatched them up to provide a protective layer on the roofs of their primitive dwellings and as a waterproof covering for their canoes. They also served as efficient fuel to start cooking and warming fires. Campers and outdoorsmen do the same, even in this day and age.

And that’s not all. Look closely at the lower, center of the photograph—a bright, green bud. 

One of hundreds bulging with new life all over the tree.

As I savor the gift of this magnificent tree, a few insights come to light:

…transformation is ongoing—it begins with our first breath and continues until our last, and beyond

…transformation means shedding the old—in order for the new to emerge

…transformation may appear messy or ugly to you or me, but certainly never in the eyes of our Creator God

…transformation is integral to living—and dying—but it never means the end, only a different manifestation of the life we have been given

…transformation according the Divine will and plan means nothing ever goes to waste—all is of value and purpose in God’s economy

The next time you or I are feeling a bit out of sorts because we find ourselves in the midst of change or transformation, it might be helpful to consider the white birch tree.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can rest in the full assurance God’s idea of what is lovely and good is far greater and more encompassing than we could ever dream or image.

Do I ever have a sense I’m being peeled?

Can I name the feelings and emotions of what that feels like?

Do I tend to feel ugly when this is happening?

Do I shy away from others who are going through transformation?


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