Every spring this tree near my mom’s house flashes its dazzling duality for all to see. I suspect the white was grafted onto the pink at some point and since I’m no genus genius, I arbitrarily call most pink flowering trees cherry blossom and most white flowering trees apple blossom. Maybe that makes this a chapple tree?
The way this tree is positioned in relation to my mom’s house means that when I drive up to her house, I see a white tree and when I drive away from her house I see a pink tree. It’s only when I stop (and block traffic like I did this day) that I can see “both” trees at once.
As stunning as this tree is every spring, it almost disappears later in the season. If the past is any indicator, a few weeks from now I’ll drive toward my mom’s house and maybe glance at the green tree. I’ll drive alongside it and possibly notice the green tree, and when I leave my mom’s house, my eyes might glance over and see the green tree. That’s what it’s reduced to. Just another green tree. All its showy WOW time was used just to come back to life from the dormant brown sticks it’d been for the last six months. It doesn’t really grab (or hold) my attention until it comes alive in April, belting out its beauty like Ethel Merman, in petals.
Stopping for this photo last week made me wonder what other things I’m only noticing during their WOW phase. Or what people I’m leaving unnoticed simply because in all my glass-house-stone-throwing arrogance, I fail to recognize their beauty regardless of what I see.
Socrates said, “Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.” Conversely, the freedom that comes when a person’s (big, hanging air quotes) beauty begins to fade, or when it evolves into something more substantive – or when, according to society, it was never there to begin with – that’s when we should encounter additional, more diverse doors of opportunity. And not just stumble upon them, but actively seek them out.
How many times do I look right through a person? Not because I consciously judge their outward appearance or their way of speaking or the fact that they’re rummaging through a trash can for empties or countless other things I deem to be a little “off” with a person.
Or is that it exactly? Do I merely scan a person’s humanity and then move on when nothing I deem interesting jumps out at me? Or when something in my brain subconsciously says, “Hmm, I don’t think so,” and so I no longer see them?
It’s the same thing that stops me from immediately seeing a child of God standing before me, even when she doesn’t smell so good or when he hasn’t had a haircut in a long time.
Stopping to appreciate and smell the roses and flowering trees is all well and good but they will never want for admirers. It’s the less visited, almost invisible inhabitants of the garden that are so often ignored and yet desperately in need of attention and compassion. God calls us to love the thorny and prickly parts of the garden too.
Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos