When was the last time you looked at a tree? When did you look so deeply that you studied it for minutes on end to notice the intricate details of every little branch and leaf?

In college, I took a course called Exploring Nature where I journaled every week at Radnor Lake. I sat at the same bench every week for 10 weeks and wrote specific details of the same tree bearing 5-pointed leaves with alternating structure. I paid more attention to nature during that semester than I had in my entire life. I noticed new tracks in the dirt and memorized the path of a chipmunk as he ran back and forth between his hiding places.

During my semester of journaling, I gained an appreciation for trees. Trees are magnificent. Trees embody life. They start as tiny seeds and grow into massive trunks that provide life to numbers of other creatures. They convert carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen for humans. Trees block the sunlight and make the forest floor inhabitable for smaller plants and creatures. A tree can hold flowers, seeds, a squirrel’s stash of nuts while also serving as a home for birds and bugs.

Trees also go through seasons. Trees bud and produce beautiful flowers in the spring. They grow full and green in the summer and then change to beautiful, warm colors in the fall. In the winter, they shed their leaves and turn to giant, bare sticks.

You and I are like trees. We grow over time. We go through seasons where we wake up in the morning, look at ourselves, and know we are good looking. And we go through seasons where we feel pale, dead, and exhausted. As we grow older, we can serve as life-givers to those around us. We can be a safe place where others feel comfortable.

Be the tree of your season of life. You don’t always need to be the tree giving a home to others. You may be in a winter season where you feel dead and that is fine. You have to shed the old to grow the new. Embrace your season of life.

I appreciate you.

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