I want to tell you about something that happened on Friday.
I went out walking at the Reserve, you know, my usual spot along by the creek.
I was strolling my regular route with Zara, thinking and praying. Looking for inspiration, but with a mind that was full of 'chatter'.
Know what I mean?
It was overcast, no wind, unusually quiet except for the occasional bird whistle.
After walking about 45 minutes I decided to head back towards where the car was parked.
As I made my way through the trees I felt this strange feeling; it was like something in my heart said " Stop and go back. You've missed something. There's something there for you, if you look closely".
So I turned around and SLOWLY headed back the way I had come. Turning left up the little bridal path along beside the creek I looked. And looked and looked.
After a few minutes I sensed that I had gone too far and turned around 180 degrees.
Muttering to myself, "I can't see anything", then I noticed it. A tree to my left.
I was the most amazing Paper Bark Tree.
I knew it was what I was meant to see that morning.
Approaching the tree I was instantly arrested by it beauty - but not in the usual way.
The strange thing was that this tree had a huge scar about 90cm long running down it's trunk.
A branch must have been torn from the trunk many years before, possibly when the tree was very young.
Layer upon layer of bark had built up along the edges of the scar creating incredible imagery, colour and texture.
It also had a lot of areas of blackened bark running the full length of its trunk so there had been a fire through there at some stage in the past as well.
Mmm, wounded AND burnt.
The Paper Bark is a fascinating tree. It's layers of bark are as thin as paper and each year it sheds 'reams' of the stuff (pun intended). Some artists even use the pieces in their artworks.
I took lots of photos. There were about 70-100 layers of bark on the edges of the scar. It was amazingly soft and warm to the touch.
Although this tree had been wounded and burnt, its ability to survive had made the 'scar' a thing of beauty and admiration instead of ugliness. Like a badge of honour.
It made me think.
Life, yep.... it can do it sometimes!
We can get wounded and scarred as we travel our individual journeys.
Hey! Life can deal some pretty crap hands don't you think? Bad things happen to good people sometimes.
Can we make our 'scars' things of beauty; badges of 'honour' instead of ugliness?
I'm sure we must all know of people who have suffered the most horrendous things and yet, having processed and handled these experiences in the right way, they have become even more beautiful people.
We also may know some who have not.
Advice given to me long ago;
'Learn to roll with the punches, learn to handle failure, then, get back up on your feet and keep going'.
Yep, life can be tough. But, if we can let go of anger, bitterness and self pity can we become, like the tree, a thing of beauty and admiration?
I think we can.
We only get one shot at this life so I'm gonna make the most of it. At least, I'm going to try!
Have a great day my friend and NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP! (or surrender...Winston Churchill)
ciao for now.
PS. My tree 'Scar', as I've named her, is now a major inspiration for a series I hope to paint for a big exhibition in the city next May.
The show titled, 'Songs for Sydney' features International artists Keith Morant, Carol Rowling, Sophie Mill and myself and will be held at Global Gallery, Paddington. I'll let you know more nearer the date. :)