This time of year, the world often seems gray; a hint of snow always in the air, the trees bare of leaves and the promise of spring with it’s myriad of colors seeming far far away. It’s a time when we want to bundle up and just stay put, watching the world go by and hoping spring will hurry. It’s one of the things that I like about the poem below - how it catches that moment between winter and spring through the tree that will not let go of it leaves, as if to say “You can’t take away who I am!”
For the poet however, it is a warning and an encouragement. The tree, not knowing that spring is on its way despite the bitter chill, is holding on tight. Holding on tight to who it is, not aware that it may need to let go in order to find itself. To find the promise of spring and what it can become. As long as it is holding on tight though, that can’t happen.
We do that as well. We hold onto things tightly, sometimes longer than we should, even when we see the signs of change in the air or feel the winds blow. We can be afraid of what might happen if we “let go and become the person that God sees in us.”
This time of waiting, while much of nature pauses to rest and renew, is a great time to think about what holds us back. What dreams are on hold? What pathways beckon. Are we like the tree holding every leaf, afraid to let even one fall? Or are we willing to shake them off and say, “Here I am God, lead the way”?
Only time will tell.
Each year I mark one lone outstanding tree,
Clad in its robings of the summer past,
Dry, wan, and shivering in the wintry blast
It will not pay the season’s rightful fee,
It will not set its frost-burnt leafage free;
But like some palsied miser all aghast,
Who hoards his sordid treasure to the last,
It sighs, it moans, it sings in eldritch glee.
A foolish tree, to dote on summers gone;
A faithless tree, that never feels how spring
Creeps up the world to make a leafy dawn,
And recompense for all despoilment bring!
Oh, let me not, heyday and youth withdrawn,
With failing hands to their vain semblance cling!
Edith Matilda Thomas
American poet, 1854-1925