This tree is thriving on a gorgeous sunny day on Assateague Island here on the Eastern Shore, but its shape records the battles it has fought to keep its foothold against the many storms it has endured.
I identify with this tree. It is not what it would have been if allowed to remain completely sheltered, but it has not been upended or destroyed. It does not stand as straight and tall as the loblollies further inland, those protected from the harshest winds and sea spray. Yet its twisted form records its many victories: although challenged by trials, it is still standing strong. The difference between me and this tree is that my victory in various trials comes not from my own sheer determination to survive, but from being established on a firm foundation of faith in the One who is greater than any other force.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." (Jesus in Matthew 7:24)
I also enjoyed capturing the beauty of interplay of the light and shadows created by its sturdy branches and needles. Painting the constant back and forth of positive and negative space reminded me of living in an imperfect world where we can be tempted to focus exclusively on the shadows and miss the light that is still shining through. I've learned that it's ok to accept the shadows while choosing to focus more directly on the light. Both will be visible, but we can choose which we focus on most of the time.
If you're facing some challenging winds these days, my prayer is that you will sink your roots further into the firm foundation of faith and focus on the light that is always there among the shadows.