Like the snow laden branches of the white pines rooted in my mom’s property, I’ve felt worry, doubt, unacted hope—many snowflakes—overwhelm me to a drooped stupor. For several seasons, I lived through the snow and waited for glimpses of sun. I shaded the deeper parts of myself, so those snowflakes remained while I thought I soaked in radiant sunlight; I blamed myself for the snow that stuck around.
My sapling branches don’t have room to hold much weight, and I haven’t lived long enough to know how heavy snow can be. Depending on spontaneity of circumstance, some saplings are forced to face heavier snow storms. The troublesome part, imagine tiny branches dipping in snow mounds, is the weight can break our branches.
In youth, a broken branch can feel like all your branches have broken. The intensity of the heaviness hasn’t come around enough seasons to allow for understanding. Someday, if the sapling is fortunate enough to survive, the snow will come, and the mature thickened branches find they can hold more snow and bear it with patient understanding.
It took me a while to learn living with the cold weight for the time being was necessary. Still, I try to shake off the snow when it comes, but I can’t control the wind, sun, or coincidence of something coming along to brush off my branches. For many seasons, I took on the weight and focused solely on the droop I felt. Sometimes, I still can’t help but focus on the heaviness, but those moments happen less now.
As I’ve gradually started maturing and looking around at the other trees, I realize all of us bear the weight of many snowflakes. Many of us can withstand the weight and make it look easy, but not all is what it seems. Even mature tree branches break from the weight it put up with for seasons, and some of us fall (sometimes from bearing too much weight as saplings).
Maturity is learning to live with the weight, but growth is learning to see beyond the weight. Focus on the sunlight, even if it doesn’t fully warm our branches. We are alive, and that’s a blessing. We can make living a place of suffering and fear, and sometimes even the wisest of us dip into the lowness of that weight.
May we embrace all stages of the similarly unique experiences of life. We can break in any direction with enough force, and many of us will lose a branch or two. I want to acknowledge the broken while relishing the gift of life, of simply being.
What I want and what I do to get what I want aren’t always in sync, and that growth takes effort. I can’t simply feel the heat of the sun. I must harness it and put it to work on my core to reap the results I seek. Even if snow stays nestled at the joint of my branches and trunk, I’ll continue soaking up rays while acknowledging I’ve always shaded myself. When the sun is overbearingly bright, I’ll be thankful for my shade.
When the winter winds bring these many snowflakes, I’ll feel secure in my thickening trunk because the sunlight and shade I’ve embraced strengthened me to endure the chilly weight.