Friday, August 18, 2006

Growth and Renewal

One of my favorite places to run is a local park. It's only four miles from my home. I can run there and back on the days I need longer miles. As you drive through residential streets and turn into the entrance, it looks like an average park. There are benches, playsets, harried parents and children laughing. However, as you pass the play equipment you walk over a bridge and enter an oasis of serenity. The trees loom over the path creating a quiet, forest setting. There are ponds and streams that wrap around wooded trails each leading to a new adventure.

It is here in what I fondly call my "happy place" that I do many of my long distance runs. I also come when I am pondering, procrastinating or otherwise in need of a diversion or pick me up. This morning, I was here for the pure simple joy of running in the place I love. The first 6 miles passed in silent thought. I mulled over new business ideas, thought of stories in progress and examined areas of life and business that I want to improve. I was beginning mile 7 when a leaf fell in my pathway. It was so quiet that the gentle sound broke through my thoughts. As my running shoes crunched over the leaf, I looked up at the tree. It was so tall I had to strain my neck to see the upper branches. There were mature leaves and new leaves sprouting from its sturdy limbs. I glanced over at the pond and saw a large branch floating along the surface.

I kept running but I thought of that tree and how much it resembles our lives. Each year that goes by, our base grows stronger and although we are aging, we never stop growing. Like the tree our lives have seasons. We have our share of the barren winter months. A time when we are quiet and still as we await the new season. We also have our spring, when hope is renewed as God waters the seeds that have been planted so that they will grow. We have our summer, when new gifts spring forth and enjoy the slower rhythm and time of play. Finally, we too have our autumn, when once again the dead places in our lives fall away so there is room for new growth. Each season has a purpose in our lives, although not all are enjoyable. We need the different seasons to reach our full potential, just like the trees.

There are times in our lives when we shed more than leaves, but we lose an entire branch. We can lose a larger branch during a time of intense challenge or trauma. We can lose a branch because it has been broken by someone who did not exercise the right amount of care. We may even lose a branch due to aging, we simply cannot support the weight of it anymore. Yet, the branch does not bring down the tree.

I finished up 17 miles and I felt physically and spiritually stronger. I realized that God gives us the ability to weather all of the seasons are life. Because of Him, we can grow and flourish and one days our branches will also touch the sky.

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