A Monument of Courage and Resilience in the Midst of Catastrophe

There, alongside a heavily traveled trail in the woods stands a mighty pine, distinctive from all around it. It represents a unique life lived in spite of similar circumstances to its sister pines.  By trunk width, it is one of the largest around, a testament to its ability to survive and endure nature’s challenges.  Shorter than many of its peers, it has compensated by the breadth of its canopy.  Upon closer glance it is discovered that five distinct trunks have formed about 10 feet above the ground, protruding horizontally at first, and then abruptly, all advance vertically.  Enormous masses initially entangled in confusion, these trunks unite to eventually stretch skyward.  Deep within the center of the entanglement stands what is left of the original trunk, that is now withered, gray, cracked, and dead.

Conifers such as this grow a canopy in direct proportion to their tap root, a mirror image to the height of the growth above. So what happened so many years ago, I wonder, which nearly terminated this tree’s existence?  Was there one single event which was so profound that it radically changed its genetic nature?  It appears that shortly after this fundamental event, a choice was presented for the pine to either adapt and grow, or to wither and die. Somehow this mighty pine found the determination to survive. Slow at first, but with increasing momentum until now, it stands as a testament to those sensitive enough to see it for what it is: a monument of courage and resilience in the midst of catastrophe.

Surely it would have been easier to give up, shrivel, and die.  Surely this path of acquiescence was justified, given the magnitude of the incident and the probability of failure. At best, the pine would be different.  Never again to be as the others, not now, not after this. The course was permanently altered.  Why try?  Why continue when original objectives and dreams were now beyond reach?  What transpired within this majestic pine to determine its course to carry on in spite of the challenges?  What was the source of courage inspiring it to become the best it could be in spite of this handicap?  What sustained it in the early stages of growth, when just surviving required all the energy available?

And, so here it stands as a testament to all who have an eye to see.  Its beauty lies not in statistics, but in majesty and uniqueness, truly “one of a kind.”

All of us confront challenges and events of life-changing proportion.  All of us lose hope and desire.  All of us get discouraged, disappointed, and depressed.  Our futures are not determined by these incidents.  Our futures are determined, as with the pine, by our response to these defining moments.  It takes immeasurable courage to emerge a mighty pine in the forests of life.  What is the magnitude of courage you will need to display to adapt and grow in the storms of your life?

Originally posted on September 18, 2011 on www.childofvirtue.blogspot.com