I love to hike. I love spending time in nature. In the winter, my hiking turns into stick hunting. I’m searching for the perfect hiking stick and I look in the most inhospitable place, a patch of tangled vines called honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle smells really good in the spring but it’s also very invasive. Farmers hate it because it takes over their fence rows. Its goal is to choke out anything growing in its vicinity. Things like trees.
As a young tree begins to mature, honeysuckle will wrap itself around the sapling. It actually becomes embedded in the tree.
Winter is the best time to search for hiking sticks. There aren’t any snakes or ticks lurking around. I would rather avoid both!
I look for the most tangled mess of vines you can imagine. Because that is where the treasure is.
If you’re familiar with bales of straw, there is a cord or binder twine as it’s known, that is used to hold the bales together. The vines of the honeysuckle can get as large as binder twine.
The poor little tree is choked and shaped by the constant strangulation exerted by the honeysuckle. And that’s where the perfect imperfections take shape.
From what would normally be a straight tree, come twists and turns and knobby protrusions. It’s perfect!
Once the sticks are harvested, I let them dry for several months. Then comes the second phase of discovery. As I remove the vines and the bark, I let the stick show me what it wants to become.
No two sticks are alike. They are one-of-a-kind works of art. Nature creates them, I peel away the bark to reveal the beauty underneath.
There’s a metaphor for you and me to consider. When you think of people who have been choked and shaped by life’s honeysuckle, a lot of times those individuals never move beyond the circumstances and decisions that got them in that predicament.
Instead they remain entangled in those choices and never find their way out.
This doesn’t have to be. Once those entanglements are removed, what emerges is a beautiful soul, no longer encumbered with the vines that choke its very essence.
The scars are still there but they can be embraced as a new creation is revealed.
Are you grateful for those entanglements that you have discarded? Make a list of those things. They have made you who you are. Just like my hiking sticks, those vines no longer define you.
Become that beautiful creation. And once you are free, ask yourself how you can serve as an example to others.
I’m ready to go hiking. You never know who or what might tag along 😃
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