A couple of my friends have expressed concern because I have a thing for trees. I've had it for years, but never understood why until I found joy (or medication, they would say). I see divinity in trees--the way their branches reach up to the sky. Seeking something higher. It's as if they are trying to reach God. But it's in the crookedness of the branches that I see myself. Me, with my crooked branches, trying to straighten out my life to reach higher each day. To do better, to be better--more loving, more giving, more caring, more compassionate, more forgiving. Of course, I don't conduct a self-examination every time I see a tree. How would I accomplish anything? But when I take the time to just be still--which I do often--I focus on a tree and how representative it is of my life. Sometimes an old branch will fall off a tree. There were branches in my life that had to fall off for me to find and maintain my joy. Branches full of baggage and pain. Dead or too heavy for my trunk, so they had to go. And in their place grew new branches, full of life, hope for growth. And, just like a tree, there are times when I need pruning. Like when I can't get rid of the bad branches on my own and it has to be done for me. And pruning is so painful. But it's so necessary. Because if the dead branches don't fall off or get cut off, I take the chance that my trunk (my essence, my joy) will die. And, for me, that's not an option. So I view the pruning as necessary but something I try to avoid by getting rid of the dead branches on my own. And each time I do it, my remaining branches seem to get a little straighter, reaching higher. What a joy.