While at church Sunday morning, I was observing the faces of those around me. By this I mean I was literally looking at the faces, noticing how people I've known over the years through school or attending church have changed. If you see a face fairly often, the metamorphosis from aging is not so readily apparent and the faces are just accepted as what they are. I changed my perspective, trying to recall the faces as they were at a younger age, noting how time has altered the person's appearance, the characteristics that stayed the same, how the changes often make the person more beautiful just in a different way.
This thought process somehow segued into comparing people to trees. I must say I love trees. Love looking at them, marvelling at the beauty of them, the many ways that branches can grow on a tree, some twisty and curly, others straight and reaching toward the sky. How beautiful the trees look in every season! In spring, there are small green buds or colorful sprigs of flowers bringing hope for growth and warmth after the cold of winter. The full grown leaves of summer feed the tree, provide shelter, and give us greenness to beautify our world. As the leaves turn the glorious shades of autumn, the horizons portray the masterpieces painted with the brush that God holds in His hand. When bare of the leaves that graced them in other seasons, the beauty of just the shapes of the trees and their branches becomes apparent.
In the words of the preceding paragraph, I think you can see how I began to relate trees and people. Each season of our life has a beauty all it's own. As written in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything. The young are lovely in a way unmarred by the ravages of time. They are tender but resilient all the same. As growth brings them to young adulthood, hopefully roots grow that will anchor them firmly when storms blow. Sometimes there may be damage from these life storms, branches lost, wounds inflicted by uncaring individuals, and even some that will be lost altogether in the different stages of life to disease or the storms. Those who survive to adulthood will bear the scars and the signs of the passage of time but still have a God-given unique beauty only enhanced by these marks of character. Often the spark of the child within can still be seen in the face of those who are granted the favored privilege of old age, especially those who can appreciate the value and preciousness of life. I had the fortune of working with people for many years in a hospital with the majority of our patients being in the latter stages of life. There is beauty in the wrinkles and the sight-dimmed eyes just as there is in a tree that has lost most of it's branches. Even when the life is gone from the tree and there remains only a stump, nature is still at work, returning the remains of a tree back to the ground to enrich the soil to bring new life again. Hopefully we leave enough goodness behind when we are gone that we, too, are still contributing to the lives of those coming along after us. Even if it be a nameless legacy that would be enough for me.