It’s been awhile since I had an epiphany sitting at a red light. There was a time I had them all the time, perhaps because it was back then it was the only time I was still and focused long enough to hear or see. But driving home from work tonight, I had one.
I had intended on going to the gym after work, but due to being stiff from the night before and super tired decided I would take the night off. If I hadn’t –if I had been focused on racing to the gym perhaps I would have missed it, even if I had been sitting at the same red light.
The sky was a solid steel wool gray and in winter irony the tree stood completely exposed. It was a large tree, with a trunk that split into two several feet up. Those trunks flourished into several smaller looking trees of branches. All exposed. Dulled white against the static sky. It looked strong, unwavering. I had turned my head and briefly glanced at the tree before retuning my gaze to the traffic signal and the brake lights of the car ahead of me. For some reason, I was drawn back to the tree and stared at the upper branches. They were still…
No. Wait. They were swaying in the wind. There was movement. I looked again. Like an optical illusion depending on how you looked the branches could be seen as moving or still.
The light turned green and I drove on towards home. But the image of the tree stuck with me and I began to think. How often do we look at people around us, and see them as strong and unmoving even when they have been laid bare by life’s circumstances? Pillars of faith – the kind we struggle to find even in less soul-bearing situations. But I wonder…if we took time to look a little longer, a littler further in… ask a few more questions….offer a little longer hug, would we see the sway? Might we see the wavering emotions and the constant battle to fight the harsh cold winds? And just might we feel a little more human? A little more connected? And while we can’t erase someone’s hurt or pain anymore than we can stop the wind from blowing in the trees, perhaps we can offer a moment’s reprieve with a simple acknowledgement of “I see you and those wind-blown places are important to me. I’ve been there too.”
Maybe it’s your branches that are bent and battered. This is me asking how your heart really is. This is me letting you know that I see you and I’ve been there.
And like seasons always do – they change. The harsh blasts of winter fade. Soon, spring will come with new life and leaves and warm gentle breezes.