Nature always teaches us lessons, if we just pay attention.
Today, my husband and I went for a snowshoe hike by our home in Glacier National Park, with Koda (our 6 year old Samoyed). The snow was deep and beautiful. The temperature was just above freezing and unfortunately, instead of the forecast for several inches of new snow gently falling, it was lightly raining.
The heavy snowpack from the last week combined with the wet, falling rain, increased the burden being placed on the trees, weighing them down with large piles of heavy, wet snow. Some of them were bent so far from the load that the top of the tree was bent the whole way over, touching the ground.
As we walked, I starting using my ski pole to nudge the trees to release the heavy load of the snow. My husband laughed as there were so many little trees that were buried by the heavy snow. He realized this was a futile effort, as I could never unbury all of them.
I remembered the story of the little girl picking up stranded starfish on the beach and throwing them back, knowing that she was making a difference for each one she saved. I continued to poke at the trees, gently shaking the snow from their branches and allowing them to stand up straight once again, without holding the heavy load of snow. It was almost as if I could hear them say, “Ahhhhhh” as they once again stretched their limbs towards the sky.
My husband gently pointed out that Nature usually knows what it’s doing, and that just perhaps, the snow was a blessing to the tree, as it has to learn how to bend.
As I thought about what he said, I wondered, if I removed the snow from the trees and they didn’t know adversity, would they still learn how to bend? Was this heavy snow actually a blessing to the little trees, even though they were buried?
I thought about past times of great adversity in my life and how I’m now grateful for what I learned from those experiences- even if they weren’t fun to go through at the time and even though I thought I’d break from the heavy burden. It made me realize that maybe our heavy loads are actually gifts that teach us how to be flexible, and strengthen us against the coming storms.
Like the trees, it’s when we lose our flexibility that we are the most vulnerable to breaking. But when we’ve have adversity along the way, we, like the little trees, learn how to bend and in doing so, become much stronger.
So, while I still felt sorry for the buried little trees, I smiled and continued on our hike, content to let Nature take its course, as far as the trees were concerned, and as far as my life is concerned too.