As a child I loved climbing trees. The mulberry tree was a favourite for obvious reasons, and so was the tall Cape Lilac in the front yard. But my favourite was a huge Kurrajong tree in our backyard. An ancient steel ladder rested on the trunk, making it possible for a little boy to get to the lowest branches and pull myself into a private place high above the ground.
I set up a pulley system to take pieces of timber high into the branches to become a tree house.The Jacaranda was a place where I could be alone with my imagination. It became a place of solace throughout my childhood.
As I think about that tree I think about something that was stable and strong, but something that continued to grow. It faced all kinds of weather for many decades, continuing to grow through wind and rain, searing heat and shivering cold. The old house has gone now, and I suspect the tree has been cut down to make way for townhouses. If they cared, those who cut it would have seen growth rings representing the many years of growth.
In his letter to the church in Colossae, the apostle Paul talked about growth and maturity and draws a picture of people adding growth rings when he says:
…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
As I grow older it’s my desire to add growth rings … growth rings of compassion and kindness and gentleness. To these growth rings I want to add, patience and forgiveness. And to these I want to add love, which binds them all together.
No matter what storms and hardship we may face, we continue to grow and add growth rings. They may be growth rings of regret and disappointment, anger and resentment. Or they may be growth rings of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
I know which I prefer. How about you?