I live in the Evergreen State surround by tall trees with needles instead of leaves. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of deciduous trees. They are just less prominent. The tree has long been a metaphor for our spiritual life and lately I find myself pondering, do I want to be a evergreen or a deciduous tree?
My sister and I have a much loved and little known song by Switchfoot that we sing to each other. It was on a holiday album even though it has very little to do with the holidays. It’s more about the seasons. The main point of the song is “I want to be evergreen, I want to live all around.” For a long time, I would sing this song like a motto. I want to live all year around. Always alive, constantly growing.
Then I read about deciduous trees and how their leaves signify the seasons, the cycles of life. There are some seasons where we are in cold winter and it seems like we are bare, a hollow shadow of our former selves. Then there is spring. As small things begin to bloom and change, we find ourselves coming to life with the warm light. For a summery season, we bask in the glow and we are fully alive. However, nothing stays the same for long. We find ourselves falling toward change. Our leaves turn from green to gold. Then they fall. What are we left with? The hope of spring and the promise of summer.
I see myself in each tree. I see the benefit to both. Recently, I was driving over the mountain pass to see family and attend a conference. At one point in our travels, we passed a large set of deciduous trees. Their leaves had fallen in perfect piles around the base of the tree. The wind had not scattered them. Here sat these trees with all their majesty laying at their feet. Though they were bare, it was a beautiful sight. At that point in my pondering, I decided that I am deciduous tree, because I have cycles to my faith and have recently learned more than ever to see the beauty in the pain. It was a long lesson to learn, but I have finally accepted the winter times of a my soul as blessing.
I thought that being evergreen meant being constant without change. The word that came to my mind was stagnant. If I was evergreen, would I really have a vibrant, living faith? Then I remembered, evergreens grow a tiny bit each year adding inches to their branches. I never really noticed the brighter green tips in the spring until my sister told me how soft they were and instructed me to pet them. Being evergreen to me means constant faith and hope. It means no flashy gold, orange or red. It does mean slow, but measurable growth. The new growth is soft – just like our hearts.
So I’m left wondering – do I want to be evergreen or deciduous? Could I be a hybrid plant? The best of both parts. I’m not sure. I do know that when I look at these very different trees, I see beauty in both. I see the creator in both. Each are different, but both speak volumes into my spiritual journey. I’ll throw the question out to you, evergreen or deciduous?