Climbing the Tree of Life

Perhaps it is my age, but I am starting to see everything as a metaphor for life. The latest metaphor is the tree in front of our house.

Tree ClimbingMy son has hit the stage where he loves climbing. I remember that stage well. The house where I grew up had a fine climbing fence that brought me to the right branch from which an entire world opened up to me. I was not afraid to climb up to the tallest branch and to laugh at how small things looked at the ground.

My love for climbing has long since left me. The lowest branches are more than enough for me. Justus on the other hand loves it. He climbs and climbs with no sense of fear. This causes great anxiety for me as our tree is sick and any branch without leaves is liable to break at any moment.

As I watch Justus climb, testing rotten branches, reaching for higher branches, I can not help but think of life.

Life is not a steady climb up carefully crafted stairs. Life is the frightening journey up an unknown tree. At some points you reach branches that are of unknown strength. Will they hold your weight or will they snap? Other times the next branch seems just out of reach. Is it possible to stretch those extra inches to get to that branch? The lower branches are so thick and stable but as the climb continues, it gets more and more uncertain. Those branches look so thin that they would cause a squirrel to pause.

I am now in my mid-forties. Life looks so different than it did in my mid-twenties. My parents are gone. Two of my children are out of the house because of severe disabilities. I no longer work in the career for which I trained. There have been many times that I have felt that I was on a rotten branch. There have been other times that I have reached and reached for that next branch which has continued to elude me.

None of this means that life is bad. It only means that life is a challenge with many unexpected twists and turns. All I can do is trust that God knows the trees and that he will guide my steps. At this point all I can focus on is the next branch.

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