As I was stepping out to feed the dogs recently, and actually doing it as the sun was beginning to peek through the trees. I noticed our lonely Magnolia tree. All alone. In the yard. Most of the other trees were well covered with the morning frost. Frost that rises up from every conceivable angle on every branch.
Not the Magnolia.
Something about it’s makeup was not allowing frost to adhere to it. Though I am unsure as to the reasons why, and could probably take time to study it out, I determined that it was not necessary to know. It was only noteworthy to take note.
In the midst of the sameness of the surrounding yard, there stood alone an image to the rejection of the sameness and the surrounding. It was almost saying, “I do not give in to the frost. I do not let it affect me. I do not let it change me. So, there!”
Magnolia trees were very common where I grew up. They were everywhere. In fact, their blossoms were so huge and fragrant that you could almost use them as a fresher scent in the house instead of some canned spray. These trees could grow as big as an oak tree, their branches filling every gap of space, providing shade. Grass would not grow well under these trees unless you kept the branches thinned. And when the blossoms died off, the remaining seed pods would litter the ground like unused grenades just waiting for a fighting soldier to pick them up and toss them at the enemy (which I remember doing when playing war).
Here, however, this Magnolia is stunted. It has grown less than all of the other planted trees we put in the ground during the past 13 years. Where some trees have easily doubled, this tree has grown only a foot or two. Or so it seems. Still. it is not doing what I expected it to do. The main reason is probably related to it growing in an planting zone that is not conducive for a southern tree to grow. The other reasons are probably related to the fertilizer it needs to grow, type of soil and other nurturing secrets that are missing. This Magnolia of mine may be considered out of place, even if it were growing at this pace down south.
It struck me this morning that there are times I feel like the Magnolia.
There are seasons and places of life where I do not fit in.
The growth pace may seem off, even with the challenges that are similar whether up north or down south. While some may struggle with this, I understand that we all live within seasons that are unique to ourselves and not to the locale. This is somewhat okay, because I do not want to be like everyone else, nor am I interested in growing at the same pace as everyone else.
My season may include some dormancy that is differently timed than yours.
I remember not fitting in at many times of life and this list is long of examples where I was not comfortable – but I am okay with this. I do not have to grow like everyone, speak like others, or exist like those around me. Nor do I have to believe like they do, or accept the things they accept.
I am okay with this. In many ways, I stand alone. Just like Joshua was willing to stand alone as Israel left the wilderness and entered the promised land.
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. ( KJV)
He was willing to go it alone.
Just briefly I thought about all those who have stood alone in the gap of differences representing time and place. You could probably name a few yourself. Teachers. Clergy. Neighbors. Friends. Enemies.
How about Lady Liberty?
When working in New York a few decades ago, I was happy to visit Bedloe Island (now Liberty Island) and take a quick trip up inside the statue to the viewing windows of Lady Liberty’s crown. In her left hand is a tablet inscribed with the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
At the base is a bronze plaque with the famous words from a poem that is commonly known as the Statue of Liberty Poem. Click the authors name below to find out more about the author… She stands alone.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”