Learning from the Crape Myrtle

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Crape Myrtle Tree in Winter (2017)

I discovered crape myrtle trees (also, crepe myrtle) for the first time in 1996 when I visited friends in South Carolina. The trees were brilliant in their shades of lavender, white, and deep pink. These magnificent trees line the median strip on a road that I now drive every day here in Florida. So you can imagine my shock when I first saw these trees in Florida in wintertime!

I first thought that some blight had attacked and killed the trees. Then, I imagined that their “pruning-to-death” was the work of an inexperienced landscaper. I mourned the loss of the trees and thought it would be years before they might blossom again. What a delight it was to see the return of the trees two months later. By the start of summer, the trees had exploded with color!

As I drive by these trees this week, I see the beauty in their winter state – bare, spare, dormant, but very much alive. They have gone deep within to their nutrient source and are preparing for the day when they will burst forth into radiant shades of color. They display the beauty in the bark of their trunks, a beauty that is often overlooked when the showy blossoms take over.

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Crape Myrtles along the Median (2017)

Is this pruning, this going deep within to nutrient sources, and this preparation for a future time to bloom what Lent is all about? Is there beauty even in the times of severe, and sometimes painful, personal “pruning”? Sometimes, Lent is not about resolutions and doing good works. Sometimes, it’s about just accepting the pruning, seeking out our Source of Nutrients, and waiting patiently for the day of blossoming.

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