THE UNIQUELY DEFORMED UTAH JUNIPER

6/7/2018 by Catherine Leggitt

IMG_0593.jpgStillness hung over the canyon walls like a bridal veil. Bob and I blinked in astonishment taking in versicolored layer on layer. Memories of past visits faded as we stared wide-eyed into the majestic formation called The Grand Canyon, seeing it as for the first time. Verdant foliage appeared to burst from the rocky ground. An infrequent bird call punctuated the silence. Far below, whitewater burbled over rocks in the mighty Colorado River.  What could we say? Only a hushed "WOW!" seemed appropriate.

Long early morning hikes along the South Rim afforded us ample conversation time, but  words seemed inadequte. As each new vista opened a fresh vision of this amazing place, we paused to stare and snap pictures and to ponder the awesomness. Somehow pictures never captured the grandeur and majesty of this magnificent canyon. 

One tree in the forest at the top captiated our attention again and images.jpegagain. I Googled "tree with gnarled trunk and branches" and discovered the wondrous Utah Juniper. With a tap root sometimes reaching twenty-five feet into solid rock, this variegated conifer adapts well to the harsh conditions of the area. Short as trees go, this variety may live as long as 650 years. Growth occurs very slowly. A tree as small as ten feet may already be fifty years old. The bark is shaggy, striated, reddish browns and grays, fibrous and furrowed. The trunks and branches twist and curve, giving the tree a most curious and distinctive character. If I was a Utah Juniper, I imagine myself looking up at the straight, tall Ponderosa Pines around me and feel deformed as I hunched against the elements. Yet it is that very deformity that makes them so beautiful.

IMG_2771.jpgGenesis tells us that God looked at ALL His creation and called it good. (Genesis 1:12) So in the eyes of God, the deformity of this tree is good--beautiful, perfect.

Why don't we see differences that way too?  Why call some people beautiful and exclude others from that category? What makes certain body types more desirable than others? How about personalities that don't fit the "norm?" Or those we label "disabled?" 

The God-who-called-His-creation-good surely sees beauty in each of His creatures. Best of all, He loves me just as I am, worts and all. I don't need long legs, luxurious thick hair, or a flawless complexion to be beautiful. I don't have to be perfect according to the standards of Man because He is perfect in all ways. Which means His creation is perfect as well. What good news that is for me! 

How about you? Do you feel isolated because you aren't pretty enough, thin enough, or rich enough? Where does self-doubt, fear, or insecurity keep you from exploring and experiencing the lavish love of God? The Bible declares that NOTHING can separate us from the love fullsizeoutput_13fd.jpegof God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:37-39) Will you accept God's love today? If the God of the Universe calls us good, surely we can let go of self-abasement and negativity. God never makes mistakes. In God's eyes our uniqueness makes us all beautiful. Just like the magnificently deformed Utah Juniper!


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In my book, THE ROAD TO TERMINUS, Stryker is a bald-headed homeless waif who happens to be very ill. Many wouldn't find beauty in the dirty, malnourished child, but Stryker's inner light shines through it all.

Encountering two unlikely companions--Mabel Crowly and the nefariously pompous George Stanton--the three embark on a cross country journey along Route 66 in hopes of saving her life.

Haven't read THE ROAD TO TERMINUS yet? Click on over to Amazon and order up a copy.

 


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