A creek runs along one of my favorite hiking trails in nearby Briones Regional Park. Some of the Valley Oaks grow at an angle into and out of that creek. They look as if they’ve fallen in but in most cases, they simply sprouted at that angle and have continued to grow that way as the creek has widened. So, instead of shooting upward toward the sky, many of their trunks grow sideways out of the creek wall.
Asa pointed at one such sideways tree and said “Broken, Dad. Tree broken.” We’d seen a downed tree about half a mile back that was, in fact, broken. This one was fully alive.
“No, buddy.” I responded. “That tree isn’t broken. It’s just…” and for a few moments I flipped through random articles in my mind about soil degradation and erosion, none of which he’d be interested in and would likely interrupt me to ask for cheese. I ended up saying “…that one’s just different.”
I suspect that won’t be the last of that conversation; the one about different not always meaning ‘broken‘ and familiar not always meaning whole, best or even “good.” I hope he will grow to see that the difference between trees is part of what makes places like Briones beautiful. Just like the difference between his life experience and that of a friend is part of what makes friendship beautiful.
I pray that my son will first pay attention instead of first judge.
I pray that he will first look to see good instead of look to see fault.
I pray that he will first ask questions instead of state his case.
I pray that he will teach me to see this way when I forget.