My husband and I planted a willow tree down by the pond with the vision of it someday giving much needed shade and lending itself to the peaceful ambiance we were hoping to create with our landscape.

One early spring, we had a series of heavy, wet snows that fell unexpectedly on our young budding willow and split the main trunk almost to the ground.  Exposed to the elements, this raw open wound allowed the entry of disease organisms which began the process of internal decay and in turn, compromised it’s structural integrity. We removed some of the outer branches to lighten the pull of gravity hoping to keep it from splitting even more. We watched it carefully throughout that spring and summer and were hoping it could hold on long enough to get through our first daughter’s wedding reception that would be held in our yard that September. We seriously doubted it could survive another winter, but neither one of us were willing to give up on the possibility of its strength and power to thrive by cutting it down. So we left it there and hoped for the miracle of green in the spring.

That was almost 9 years ago.

Throughout the seasons, we have carefully removed dead branches and those that would cause it to be too heavy on one side. With each pruning, we were focused on trying to restore its innate balance and eliminating undue stress.

Last night, we laid on the dock underneath the branches of that willow tree waiting for fireworks that ends our local week long city celebration. Looking up into the swaying green, I was struck once again with gratitude that it has not only survived, but has thrived to become all we had intended it to be.

There are those who have been unexpectedly damaged by some event in life. They become open to emotional distress and often feel out of balance with themselves. They struggle to grow straight and tall in spite of the pain that seems to twist their inner most parts. If they are fortunate, they will have those around them who will help remove the dead parts of the past so that the future can grow unencumbered with integrity and promise. It may take years, but every season they get stronger as they keep moving forward with faith.

My friend Gary Cook said it best:

Strength isn't something you is something you find. Click To Tweet