I have a confession. I am enraptured with tree bark.
I suppose you might be scratching your head, confused as to why I am so wild about tree bark, of all things. It all comes down to wonder… and the majesty of details. Tree bark is kind-of like the finger prints of the tree, each and every strand and fiber different from the next, just like every finger print was uniquely designed for each individual person (what glory!). It’s how you can tell trees apart, even in the winter time, when it’s leaves lay docile, littering and nourishing the earth at it’s roots. The bark is the skin clinging faithfully, letting those that amble by know the tree’s identity.
But here is the crux of why I love tree bark… because something about it makes me want to lean into the tree and look closely, to run my fingers along it’s ridges, and fill up with wonder.
When Jesus was meandering the Palestinian deserts and towns, He told His followers if they wanted to enter the Kingdom of heaven, they needed to become like kids. For years I have pondered this, and how this plays out in my life. One of the greatest marvels of children is that they easily default to wonder. Kids are so present in the moment, so prone to letting the details accost them with amazement. I aspire to spend my life like a child, in this way… letting the wonders of the world around me accost me. Letting things like tree bark, a hefty breeze, the wafting of children’s laughter, or the feel of pine needles on the soles of my feet take my breath away, and cause me to pause, notice and savor.
So now I’ve said it. I hope you remember it. When you’re walking by some tree you’ve always taken for granted, I hope it makes you stop, lean in, maybe even wrap your arms around the trunk giving it a good hug, and then remember to run your fingers along the spines of the tree bark. And I hope it fills you brim-full of wonder!
The love of “wonder”, it fills my heart longing for days in the woods where I grew up. The mighty oak trees plotted along the creek. The sycamore trees swaying from the Indiana wind.