Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL article (11/27/14)
TITLE: The Princess and the Palm Tree
By Leola Ogle
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Alas, I learned the harsh reality that life is seldom a fairy tale.
It was one of those days. I had left the house at dawn to run an errand. The gloomy, overcast skies matched my mood. There had been a summer storm the night before – not a mild, gentle storm, but lots wind, rain and some hail. Battling tears, I was so preoccupied in my miserable self-pity that I almost missed seeing it. The city had recently planted young sapling trees along Seventy-Fifth Avenue and the storm had taken its toll.
All the trees had a support system, either tethered ropes attached to stakes in the ground or wooden frames to brace the fragile, tender trees. The fury of the storm had wrenched some of the ropes free, or splintered the wooden supports. A few trees still stood tall and straight in defiance of the storm. Most lay battered and broken. Some trees were doubled over, their thin branches touching the ground like an old man bent with age. Others were almost completely uprooted, clinging tenaciously to soil by a few tentacles. The saddest were those that were completely uprooted, lying like wounded and dying soldiers on the battlefield.
To my unskilled eye, I thought some would not survive if city crews didn’t arrive soon to restore them to their before-the-storm condition.
Unlike the previous evening’s storm which had come and gone, my life seemed like a never-ending tumultuous hurricane. I was a young mother with five small children, and a marriage spiraling out of control. Some days it was all I could do to get out of bed and face the day. I wanted to stay in the middle of my bed and like a petulant child, make a play fort with my blankets and pretend the world couldn’t see me, nor I them.
Mothers don’t have that luxury, though. So as I drove along Seventy-Fifth Avenue, tears flowed like torrential rain. I certainly didn’t feel like a princess. I felt more like the beat-up clunker car I was driving that morning. Many days, it took some coaxing to get me started and going, but I did what it was supposed to do.
As my eyes surveyed the damaged trees, God’s gentle, soothing presence filled my car. He showed me how my life wasn’t so very different from those trees. Sometimes the storms of life were mild, and brought refreshing moisture and nourishment that caused inner happiness to flourish. Other times, I stood straight and tall, staring adversity in the face with strength and determination. Often, though, the storms left me bent and bruised, and doubled over in pain. A few times it seemed I had been entirely uprooted and left to wither and die in the scorching sun.
But through each storm, God never abandoned me or left my side. He provided support and shelter. He pruned and clipped. He tenderly tilled the soil. He lifted me up when I was bent over. He refreshed me in times of drought and doubt, and dug deep to cover my exposed roots so that I would not wither and die. He did this because of his unfathomable love for me, so that I would be a fruit-bearing tree, giving life and nourishment to others.
Storms are inevitable. We’ll always face unpleasant or even tragic situations and circumstances. We get hurt and betrayed by those we love. We hurt and betray others.
There are certain palm trees that have the strength to endure the fiercest of hurricanes. They will dance and sway, and even bend completely over so that their top touches the ground. However, when the storm passes, they remain standing strong and straight.
I still don’t welcome devastating circumstances. But maturity has taught me that I can embrace storms as life lessons and character growth, or I can sit in the middle of my bed and build a pretend fort.
We’re never too old to be a princess, prince, or better yet, a palm tree. Maybe I’ll wear a princess dress, climb to the top of a palm tree and dance and sway with the storm. You see, I realize I’ve always been a princess because my Father is King.
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