The Hermitage is a retreat center, about an hour outside of Grand Rapids. I have visited this place quite a number of times over the years. In 2011, a tornado touched down in the area and impacted a lot of the trees on the 62-acre property.
Michael and I spent a few days there this past weekend on a silent retreat, and it so interesting to walk through the trails and to see the twisted shapes of the trees. I began to see the trees as metaphors for our lives and even for our relationship with God.
The tree that especially caught my attention is the first one pictured here. This tree was twisted downward, reaching toward the marsh below, in what seemed to be a painful arch. It has clearly been through something significant.
At the same time, out of several knots or splits in the trunk, new branches were growing. Amazing.
My spiritual director at the retreat reminded me to reflect the journey that I have been on throughout my life with God at the helm. The face of Renita has changed over the years. There have been many seasons of growth and change. There have been storms that caused twists and turns that were uncomfortable. Yet there has also been new life and growth after those storms. Like this tree, which bears the visible evidence of challenge, there is also beauty in the release of potential through the new growth.
The release of potential is not only for me but for every person. Our journeys, our pains, our celebrations, are different but important. And the trees reflected this as well.
Here is another tree that is growing completely out of a dead tree. It is a good size tree and you can see that there is nothing below the dead tree that indicates roots going into the ground, yet the tree growing out of it is probably forty feet high! The tenaciousness of growth is not only in trees but in our own capabilities to overcome.
This is the remarkable thing about the human spirit. This is the remarkable thing about trees. This is the remarkable thing about creation. And this is the remarkable thing about God.
Below you will see a picture of several trees twisted together, arching all the way over. It was as if they said, “If we go down, we go down together.” It spoke of love and commitment to me, even until death.
Creation is beautiful and it tells a story if we pay attention.