Although it’s difficult to hunt out a straight line in nature, the trunks of trees come close. We rely on their strength, their integrity, their closeness to the heavens as they grow like our elders in the forest or the backyard, carrying the wisdom and the witness of many seasons more than we have seen. In reliance upon their steadfast straightness, breaking the winds of thousands of miles and moderating the harshness of winter and of sun, we bask in their patient loyalty to the same plot of ground. And so the soil remains in their fingers, and there are no deserts here in the mountains.
While walking through the forests of Glacier National Park in northernmost Montana, I did see an aspen which grew like the pee-trap underneath your kitchen sink. It went straight up, then made a U-turn down to the ground, then pulled another U toward the sky, where it finished. It seemed to suffer none from its twisted journey.
How many of us are like that, on the inside if not on the outside? And how many people do I avoid because they’re “like that?” Yet this twisted aspen shared the same roots as the other aspens. It could take carbon dioxide and water and make it into sugar and oxygen just like every other tree on earth.
I walked around it. It seemed healthy. Wasn’t sin that made it grow such. Maybe someone stepped on it when it was a sapling. Or it was coded in the seed itself. No matter. It was still in all respects a tree. The sun didn’t refuse to shine on it. The raindrops didn’t dodge it, and the soil didn’t withhold its minerals. Yet how many U-shaped people fail to receive the nutrients of human love because of their U-shaped minds or their U-shaped bodies or U-shaped pasts? And how many of us are U-shaped inside, but conceal it, and deprive ourselves of the love we need because the shape of the thing inside us appears to us like a U when we think it should be an I. And maybe everyone runs around pretending to be straight-trunked when inside they know they’re U-shaped. And the conspiracy is that few of us are willing to exteriorize our inner shapes, so most of us end up feeling terminally unique but won’t dare show the shape inside. So the masquerade parades on. We all enter into an agreement of pretending. And if we can’t take those inner U-turns out and look at them, we can’t begin to love twistedness.
Love is the most indiscriminate, bountiful, generously bestowed commodity in all the Universe. It is the only commodity in all the Universe. It is the Universe. It’s been given me freely. It delights in the horribly abnormal, and breathes Its sweet breathe freely on the twisted trees. It revels in crookedness, else all forests would be gatherings of obelisks. What an example for me, to love but the crookedness in thee.
© 2015 by Michael C. Just