I’m up early, starting 2021 with Jesus. The whole “hindsight is 2020” has been rolling around in my mind a lot the past few days. Each January, I make time to reflect back on my year: celebrate the good and hopefully learn from the challenges. Sitting on my back porch, the rain is coming down. I set my mind to think of it as cleansing instead of gloomy.
I look around the yard, breathing in nature. This particular tree has caught my attention for several days because it is still pretty when everything else has gone dormant. Slowly, I saw that it conveniently highlighted the categories I want to use to evaluate 2020 with integrity.
The thing that initially caught my attention is that there is lingering beauty. While everything around it goes dormant for the season, this tree still has beauty that just isn’t ready to be silenced. I want that. I want lingering beauty. What from this last year still sparkles, reminding me that there is always something to be thankful for, even in the hard seasons? I will find what I am looking for. I want to look for the good. Gratitude doesn’t compete with the reality that it was also tough. It actually makes the beauty that much more special and precious. I want to see what rose to the top of this year. What shined? Those are strengths worth clinging to.
Earlier this year, storms broke off some of the tree’s limbs. I think that’s a pretty easy category for us to all list things under. Here’s the problem. The storms that break branches often leave appendages that never fully heal. They are more shriveled than the rest of the tree. New growth may happen, but broken limbs rarely thrive after such trauma. We had two options. Clean up the obvious damage on the ground and move on, or do the extra work to intentionally prune the damaged area back so it could regrow. The problem with simply cleaning up the debris is that it ignores the section of that limb actually matters most— the part that is still attached to a life source. This is a distinct opportunity not offered to things that grow in the wild. It’s only possible if there is a Gardner.
There are some weeds. They creep in regardless of the health of the tree. The sooner I remove them, the less they invade the integrity of the things I want to flourish.
There are still berries clinging to quiet branches. Remnants of fruit, a sweet reminder that the harvest cycle will continue. The tree will produce again because a healthy tree will simply continue to grow larger and fuller, offering fruit, shade, shelter, and beauty until its time is done.
Here’s to hindsight. May it truly be evaluated with perfect vision. May this season of dormancy offer an unobstructed view of any damage that needs our attention. May we do the extra work to prune back damage, knowing the growth pattern will forever change, but will actually produce a broader reach. May we take the slow down of winter to tend to our broken places, so that when the spring comes, we will be prepared to excitedly welcome the buds of new growth.