On/In/Of Purpose

There are periods in our lives (I like to call them seasons) when we find it difficult to maintain our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual strengths. A sniffle here and there turns into frequent sneezing and a full blown cold. A lack of sunshine combined with persistent cloudy days alters our moods. We lose motivation and the eagerness to do simple tasks, and we may lose hope and faith for a positive outcome when we are blindsided by unfortunate circumstances.

We are firmly entrenched in THAT season – a season of struggle.

No matter how much water we drink, no matter how many Vitamin C capsules we swallow, no matter how many therapy sessions we attend, no matter how many daily “clear-my-head” walks we take, and no matter how we much we may pray, we are often struck down and forced out of our normal and comfortable daily routines.

In other words, we lose our expected and predictable purpose.

Take a birch tree for example.

Technically, a birch tree is classified as a hardwood – mainly because it is a deciduous tree. However, to this unarborist’s (I think I just made up a word) eye, it is most definitely a softwood. From my experience, a birch tree more often than not bends and shows incredible flexibility and rarely breaks.

This birch tree once stood tall and unassumingly proud to just be a tree in our yard. It served its purpose well – as it was meant to be – a vertically-oriented resting spot for Chickadees, Blue Jays, Mourning doves, Sparrows, etc. However, two winter storms unleashed a hardship of heavy and wet snow upon it, perhaps changing its purpose forever.

The birch tree absorbed the tremendous weight placed on its limbs, never succumbing to the pressure. It bent, but did not break.

Will it die? Will it rebound? Will it ever be the same tall and proud tree as it used to be?

Proud? Absolutely! Tall? Time and the arrival of Spring will provide more information.

I have unscientifically reclassified the birch from being a tree to becoming a bridge. That’s right, I have given Mother Nature the permission to build the Birch Bridge on the land we care for. The birch tree has a new purpose.

It has become THE highway for a red squirrel to commute from his home (former birdhouse – see the yellow highlighted circle above) to the nearby coniferous trees which are chock full of nut & seed “restaurants” (bird feeders). The commute is now much shorter and safer. No longer do other red and grey squirrels have to cross the perilous playground of the big fluffy dogs in the yard. They easily and joyfully bounce across the Birch Bridge which connects the spruces to the maples.

And I have seen many birds perch on the now horizontally-oriented tree with a quizzical expression and mannerisms about them. “I’m pretty sure this is a tree. It’s facing the wrong the way though. No matter, this is fun.”


On the opposite end of the spectrum is a spruce tree, with a taxonomy as a softwood – mainly because it is a coniferous tree. Again, referring to my lack of knowledge and experience in dendrology (thank you Google for that term) I view the various pines and spruces in my yard as hardwoods because they don’t bend; they break.

This clearly broken spruce tree will surely die. In death will come its loss of purpose, right?

Not so fast!

Not a LOSS of purpose, but a change in purpose. A redirection in purpose.

“How so? It IS going to die if its not already dead.”

You are correct. The life it was comfortable living, the life it led for decades is now over. However, it brings renewed life to others. It provides more shelter for the ground dwelling critters of the earth. It provides a more expansive landscape of camouflage for Ruffed Grouse and chipmunks and other creepy crawly animals. The rotting wood provides a home for insects and bugs and moss and decaying bark – all of which are a delicatessen to birds, and squirrels, and skunks, etc.

So you see, although the rigid spruce is clearly broken (lost a job, is dealing with a difficult diagnosis, hardship A, or hardship B, etc.) it can thrive once again – once it has:

  1. Accepted its new life of living on purpose.
  2. Embraces the challenges of living in purpose to a world larger than itself.
  3. Cherishes the moments it is of purpose (service) to others.

I ask you to please embrace your purpose or newly-directed purpose and look forward to leaving this season of Winter behind you. Please, look forward to the arrival of Spring – a season of rebirth, rejuvenation, regeneration, and vitality of purpose.

Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.