Several years back, I went to Joshua Tree State Park to see the annual blooming of the trees. I joined a talk given by one of the park rangers, called ‘Meeting the Joshua Tree’, and was fascinated to learn about how Joshua trees grow.
Each tree is unique and different, often markedly so. There is no genetic predisposition to become a perfect Joshua tree shape – each tree is a perfect Joshua tree and each is one of a kind, like fingerprints.
Ranger Dar, whose joyful enthusiasm for his job made it a pleasure to listen to him speak, explained that each tree’s growth is affected by its immediate environment. In order to grow and spread, the individual branches must split, and split again, to create the unusual form of a Joshua Tree.
Different factors figure into how this happens, animals chewing on a branch can begin the process, so can fire or lightening, and so on. Stress on a tree creates the tree, in other words. Without that stress, the tree does not spread.
In order to become beautiful, each Joshua tree must experience small endings, cuts, destruction, letting go of the old shape. Each one is designed by nature as it grows.
Wow! I thought to myself. What a gift to hear this, and what a great picture for how human beings grow. How else would we know how strong or capable we are, unless tested? We all need challenges and tests in our lives, in order to become all we can be. Like the Joshua tree, there is only one of each of us. We are all unique.
It is a mystical and healing experience indeed, visiting the desert.
©Kris Cahill 2007-2011 All Rights Reserved
Image: ‘Joshua Tree in Bloom’ ©Kris Cahill