When we bought our house, one of the features that captured my heart was a 70 years old cherry tree in front of our living room window. The tree is a last remembrance of a Cherry orchard that sprawled our neighborhood before it was turned into, well, our neighborhood. Our tree, it turned out, was half dead. It’s wide trunk was partially infested with wood boring insects, and there was a parasite tree growing out of its side. But while its age was showing all over its trunk, the upper branches were fresh and strong, it flowered with magnificent vigor, and the cherries it bore were blood red and delicious (that is when we managed to beat the birds and squirrels to the fruit).
Over the years we have lived here, we have both considered taking it down (you don’t want wood boring insects next to a house…), and continually treated it to try to revive it. And it has repaid us with increased blossoms and fruit. Now, as the nights are freezing and the days are either sunny or relentlessly rainy, it stands naked of leaves. The years are visible on its trunk, yet its newer branches are laden with buds. Looking at them makes me think of Spring and of the beauty-to-come of the Cherry blossom.
It also makes me think that whatever seems dead might still have life in it. And it makes me think in appreciation of things that might seem useless yet harbor beauty and fruitfulness in their persevering cores. We can be quick to rid ourselves of what seems old and beaten down. Yet, if we expand our view upwards, we might find the new life that a decaying shell nourishes. We are sometimes impatient to let go of the past, move on into what seems like better, grander futures. But we might fail to see that that grandeur is supported by what might look like an old, sap leaking trunk.
Every morning, as I go to open the drapes in the living room, my Cherry tree stands there in its bare magnificence. I look at the red buds and countdown to Spring. I look at its trunk and appreciate the past.
What might look like death from the outside could have a life giving core.