This week marks the Holiday of Trees in Israel – also known as TuBishvat. It’s a holiday where people go out to plant trees, eat dried food and look for the first signs of flourishing leaves. It’s a holiday that celebrates one of the most impressive creations of nature – the tall, big trees basking in the sun, giving us shade, impressing us in forests.
Yet, in this celebration, many trees are left behind. They were hurt in a fire, cut for human use or are simply going through winter. They showcase bare branches that no one travels distances to see.
I’ve always loved these trees. There was a small, bare tree on the way to work years ago. I would make sure to sit on the left side of the service cab (a combination of cab and bus) every time, so I could see it. Something about that tree gave me hope.
It took a long time until I started noticing it was growing. I was fortunate to witness.
I took many photos of that tree. Unfortunately, I don’t have them on my computer to share with you today, yet I have photos of other trees, those of Carmel National Park outside of Haifa, Israel. I visited this park this past fall, two years after a fire wracked havoc on anything and anyone around.
The park was healing, though many trees still looked vulnerable, as they enriched the views of northern Israel from the top.
Life Lessons from Trees
Trees have been around for many years. They’ve learned a thing or two and have plenty to teach us. Embrace the present moment as you hike through a forest, and listen.
Stand tall at adversity
Vulnerable trees might not be going through their most glamorous phase, yet it doesn’t stop most of them from standing tall and proudly display their branches. Some bend down due to fire or wind, yet they know they’re simply making their surrounding more stunning than ever. Even in challenging times, they know what they’re worth.
A challenge is an opportunity to grow
Trees know they’re competing for sun rays with a multiplicity of other species. They grow taller and taller to support themselves, instead of giving up in advance. They face harsh winters (OK, maybe not in Israel) and fires and many manage to grow back – stronger, wiser and more fearless.
Work for what you want and believe in yourself
Trees don’t wait for others to come save them. As humans, they relish support, they relish help when they need it, yet they go through the tough times and ultimately come through for themselves. It might take them a long time, yet it doesn’t fear them. Nor are they afraid to once again shed leaves and move through winter.
They dared to heal before, they dared to grow before, whether they knew they could or not, and they have evidence now that they can indeed thrive.
Share your vulnerabilities
Trees are not looking for perfection. They don’t care whether they fit humans’ beauty ideals – they know how beautiful they are. They’re not ashamed to show us who they are beneath the cover of leaves, those walls and personas so many humans proudly carry around.
They find strength in their vulnerability, and they see other trees share the same processes they do. The vulnerable trees spread their branches wide and far, and connect with their surroundings for even greater power.
Have fun along the way
Trees like to play around, enjoy lightheartedness and act silly at times. Pay attention, and they could make you laugh.
What life lessons have you learned from nature?