The Joshua Tree

Image“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. “You’d be destroying what makes it special,” she said. “It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty.”

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are a symbol of hope for me. Last year was my first trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Nothing could have prepared me for such beauty and serenity there. You can see the trees standing in clumps and twisting up to the sky for miles in every direction. What made my first experience even better was that we arrived at night, when the stars created a lovely backdrop for the silhouette of the trees. I wanted to touch a Joshua tree with my hand, but one of the guys on the trip tried to and realized that they are very, very spiky trees, probably the equivalent of touching a cactus. I relate hope with the trees because although they thrive mostly in the Mojave Desert, which is not a large part of the world, if they can brave the harsh desert they have the ability to live for up to hundreds of years with other specimens. [Source] I liken that to the existence of humankind. Each of us is one person out there in a world of 7 billion + people. We each face a beginning, life as children, growing up, old age and face an ending as a human being when we die. From a biological standpoint, the cycle of life is simple and beautiful. However, we make it more complicated with things like schedules, relationships, jobs and stress. Where do we find hope in that mess? We find hope in seeing the examples of others who have come before us and in our successes and failures. No one is exempt from a difficulty of some sort. It’s the people who can look within themselves and find the things they are passionate about, and people who help others achieve their passions that survive. How do you define hope?

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