My favorite tree in the world (at least the places I've seen) is on the edge of Truman's campus. The tree is across a bridge at the bottom of a hill with an asphalt path that's cracked and more grey than black running under it, leading to the crosswalk on the main road. The tree is huge and to make fingers touch while hugging the trunk, you would have to have at least four people standing around it. Its sweeping branches lean down on all sides to almost kiss the ground, creating a canopy that reminds me of the parachute unit in elementary gym class, when we would each hold a piece of the parachute, fling it in the air, and dive under it to sit on the inside while it bubbled up above us.
I love this tree because I can breathe under it. Like, close my eyes and breathe. It's so wise and sure and strong and standing under its presence reassures me of the people who have lived before me, the people who are living around me and the fact that I'm living and am alive. It's a place I feel free to live in the present moment.
Living in the present is not easy for me. I get really caught up in the future (I know for some people the struggle is living in the past), and I want to understand the answers to the questions I hold about it. Letting go of my need for understanding and control and instead trusting God when I can't see what's ahead doesn't come naturally to me.
A prayer called "Patient Trust" by Pierre Teillhard de Chardin concludes, "Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete." This goes against my natural tendency to want to be complete, right now. It amazes me that we have a slow God, a God who is OK with us not being perfected immediately, a God who delights in the process.
2 Corinthians 9:11 says, "He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times ... (TEV)." I believe God is speaking not just about material richness here, but also spiritual richness. He is speaking about the things we hold onto that cut to the core of who we are, the things we run to for security instead of free-falling into his love. It reassures me that he promises to make us rich enough in understanding of his love and trust in his goodness to be generous with these things, so we can give them to him and be free to receive.
The other day while passing under my favorite tree, I realized that all of the leaves have fallen off of it. It's bare and stripped of the leaves it usually holds onto. As I looked at the trunk and branches standing there with nothing to hide them, I could see the form of the tree and the bark it's made of. It looked strong and graceful and true, and I appreciated it in a different way than I have before: not for the green leafy beauty it gives off, but simply because it is.
Mia Pohlman is a Perryville, Mo., native studying at Truman State University. She loves performing, God and the color purple -- not necessarily in that order.