May 5, 2021

Stripped and Beautiful

Trees have always fascinated me. Especially the bare trees. No leaves; just the bare framework. They look like lace to me sometimes. Each tree is unique, shapely, tall, skinny, round, conical, misshapen, bent, even ugly—but most still continue to grow, to put forth their blossoms and leaves every year, to come fully dressed in their party clothes to the party that is spring. Their shapes are not so noticeable then, to some extent covered up. But the underlying structure is still there, creating what others see.

Blossoms to Leaves

As I write this, the most exuberant blossoming is past, and the trees are undergoing their gradual switch to leaves instead of flowers. This reinventing themselves happens every year like clockwork. I can expect the blossoming to begin around my birthday in early- to mid-March. In fact, the tree in our front yard burst into radiant bloom on my birthday this year.

God’s lacework in our lives is so exquisitely worked that if we could see the end from the beginning, we would choose no other pattern.

It occurred to me as I was gazing in deep appreciation at the trees around me in our new neighborhood—so many more than we enjoyed where we lived before—that people have internal core structures too. What matters most for us, stripped of all our finery, our outward show, our pretensions—all the surface “stuff” to make ourselves look good—is the strength of the core structure, just like the trees. Are we planted where we can get nourishment and enough water for growth? Is there enough stress (storms) in our lives to make us grow strong? In those storms do we drop the dead weight like trees do? Often we do not realize we are carrying dead weight until a storm comes along and we are forced to let it go. Are we planted beside the Living Water where our roots can drink daily? Are we feeding ourselves on nourishment, or is the soil in which we have chosen to plant our roots devoid of nutrients, so that we will be stunted in our growth? Are our roots deep and strong, or will we become uprooted when the heavy winds come our way? Are we growing as our “species” should? Do we fulfill our own specifications? Can we provide spiritual and emotional shade when our leaves mature? Can we be a haven for smaller creatures?

God, the Lace Maker

I have also thought, while riding along in the car on various errands, that God is the Master Lace Maker, intricately designing the trees. Each tree has a different lacey pattern, similar to some, totally different from others. So it is with us. God’s designs, His lacework in our lives, is so carefully, exquisitely worked that if we could see the end from the beginning, we would choose no other pattern. God as lace maker, God as clothing designer, God of color and design and pattern, this Creator God is still weaving His design in my own life, the design He has chosen. And His design is a beautiful one.

May each person see themselves like the trees and their intricately fashioned structures, blossoms, and leaves. May each take care of their core structures. May each see how delightfully and wonderfully made we all are, how fascinatingly intricate. 

Praise be to God, our Creator, our Designer, our Master Lace Maker, for His wonderful work in our lives.

Ann E. Slaughter is a recently retired paralegal who writes from Warren, Ohio.