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The Cedar and the Oak
observing nature can teach us valuable lessons
The cold rain had turned to sleet. Our unseasonably
warm spell had finally given way to Winter's fury.
As I hurried back to the warmth and safety of home,
the ice was already starting to form on the
branches and electric wires above. Not long after I
arrived, the power flickered and finally went off
all together. With flashlight in hand, I made a
final survey around the yard to see how things were
holding up outside. The massive oak glistened
proudly with its icy coat, but the poor cedar was
slumped pitifully with its branches on the ground.
Realizing there was nothing I could do to help, I
went back inside to the warmth of the candles.
An eerie silence hung heavily over the house, like
death in waiting. The only sound was the ice
pelting the windows. It is funny how you never
think about the multitude of normal household
sounds until they are missing. Alone in the
darkness, with the cold dampness creeping in all
around me, I decided to turn in early. I crawled
deep under the covers and waited for my body to
warm the blankets around me. As the trees outside
creaked and groaned in their suffering, I drifted
off into a silent but uncomfortable sleep.
Sometime in the early morning the power came back
on. I was awakened by the drone of the refrigerator
coming back to life, and of the heater working
overtime to bring things back to normal. I got up,
went through the motions of setting the clocks and
turning off lights, and then looked outside.
The poor cedar was still slumped over, even
worse-looking than the night before. But under the
ice, it was still in one piece; all it needed was
for the sun to help it shed its heavy load. The oak
was another story altogether. Sometime in the
night, it had lost its fight. Now, only its massive
trunk remained standing defiantly against the sky;
the shattered ice-covered branches littered the
yard at its feet.
I realized that the ungainly cedar, with its
branches drooped lazily on the ground, would
survive the ordeal. Somehow, it had known the load
was too much to bear alone, and had shared it with
the ground around it. The proud oak, unable to
bend, had tried to face the challenge on its own.
Isn't that just the way we are sometimes? When
faced with seemingly insurmountable hurdles, do we
react like the cedar, or like the oak? Will we ask
for help, or will we try to go it alone? The
decision is ours to make ... and the correct choice
should be obvious.
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