“I don’t like the trees!” pouted five year old Timmy, as he and his mother, Anna, drove
along the highway heading home from the grocery store one wintry day.
“Why not?” his Mama asked, surprised at his declaration.
“’Cause their ugly without leaves.”
“Do you really think so, Timmy?”
“Yeah, I like it when they’re covered with leaves and they’re all green and happy.”
“Hmmm,” thought Anna. “Tell me, Timmy, what do you see when you look at the trees
“They’re just all brown and bare and gross.”
“Well, let me tell you what I see.” Anna slowed the car down and pulled over to the side of
the road. “See the tree just inside the fence there?”
Though not very interested, Timmy glanced at it. “Yeah.”
“Look at how tall it is, how strong it looks. Part of the tree’s strength is in its sturdy yet
flexible branches. When the leaves are covering the tree you don’t see all those boughs,
the tree’s strength is hidden.
“See that empty bird’s nest in the tree? The birds have moved on for the winter now, but
during the spring and summer they nest there and are sheltered by the tree’s limbs and
blanket of leaves. We rarely see the concealed nests in the warm weather, but when the
trees are naked and bare, then we find that the tree has been a protection for the nestlings
until they’re ready to fly away on their own.”
Anna looked at Timmy and could see he was thinking as deeply as any five year old is able.
“Do you see that branch that has been broken off?”
“Yeah, what happened to it, Mama?”
“I don’t know exactly what happened, but perhaps that branch was weak. A big wind must
have twisted it and broken it off. But it didn’t kill the tree. It scarred over and just kept on
“Timmy, did you know that people are a lot like that tree?”
“Not me, Mama, I don’t have branches or bird’s nests!” Timmy protested.
Anna tickled him under the chin and said, “No you don’t! Let me explain. When the tree is
wearing its leaves, its hiding its real strength. Hiding its past hurts, like that broken branch.
Even hiding the birds it’s protecting. People do the same thing.”
“But we don’t have leaves, Mama!” he complained.
Anna laughed, grinned at her son and continued, “No, we certainly don’t, Timmy. But we
put on smiles, or maybe a false face to hide the wounds we have inside. Or we might hide
our strengths because we don’t want our weaknesses exposed. Sometimes we try to
protect our hearts by keeping our feelings to ourselves instead of sharing them, since we
are afraid we might get hurt.
“So, Timmy, we need to be like the tree in winter. When it loses its leaves it becomes real.
You see it in all its truth. You see its strength, character, purpose, and beauty. There’s
nothing false about it. We need to be genuine with God and people, not try to wrap
ourselves in phony coverings. Just be real like a naked tree.” Anna started the car and
turned toward home. “That reminds me of a poem I once learned.”
Timmy groaned to himself, but kept quiet as his Mama began.
Winter is come, trees drop their leaves,
They fill the gutters, fall from the eaves.
And there the tree stands, undressed and bare,
Majestic, and grand, beauty so rare.
The tree stands naked for all to see,
Its inner strength and royalty,
Statuesque, so proud and tall,
Nobly towering above all.
Empty bird’s nests give an account
Of refuge, protection, those fledglings found.
On those grandiose branches reaching high,
Safe keeping they found under the sky.
Every scar from wind and storm
That mars its grand and stately form,
Tells the battle the tree’s endured,
Yet stayed standing strong and sure.
The naked tree without its cover,
Allows us much to discover,
Its hurts, its strengths, its very core,
Even its heart is an open door.
Timmy thought about all Mama had told him, he hadn’t even minded the poem too much.
As soon as they got home he ran into the house, stood with his arms stretched high like
tree limbs, and hollered, “Hey, Daddy, I’m a naked tree!”
Seeing her husband’s eyebrows raise, Anna knew she had some explaining to do.
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