Ahhh the Mangroves. I have seen these trees many times in my life. I would mostly admire their intricate root structure, and the way they seem to grow directly out of the water, creating a land mass all of their own. I would notice the way the water birds rested in their branches waiting to see their dinner of fish swim by. I would marvel at the way these trees created a habitat all of their own and seemed to define the intracoastal waterway. I have heard, that to find refuge from a storm, they should seek the protection of the mangrove trees that have learned to adapt and flourish despite howling winds and blinding rains. But, what I had never heard of, until last year was the purely magically way a mangrove tree filters out the salt from the brackish water so that it may drink the water left behind. Unbelievable! I thought when I heard this. The miraculous ability of nature again blew my mind. Nature and these mangrove trees never fail to teach me lessons and remind me that miracles are possible. If you look closely, you might be able to see a few leaves on the trees that are yellow. These are the leaves that are “sacrificed” by filtering the salt water so that the whole tree can flourish.
As I think about the mangrove tree, I think about sacrifices I have made in my own life. Have they always felt good at the time? Have I always handled them with grace or cheer? No…. But, looking back now instead of thinking of them as sacrifices, I don’t see them as black and white as I did at the time. Perhaps, I clung to things I didn’t need just because I had a hard time letting go, or maybe I had to make a difficult decision. Sacrifice…I ponder the meaning of this, as I am not sure I have a full understanding of its meaning. I know I am not willing to lose an essential part of myself just to make other people like me or approve of my actions. I have perhaps done this at times, and it has not gotten me anywhere good. I have, at times, gotten so lost in something, that I have forgotten to remember what is truly important in my heart. But, I do not think the mangrove is teaching about an unnatural sacrifice that in the end only injures. When you look at how it flourishes, you know it teaches a different lesson. It teaches about design and innovation. It teaches about resiliency and life lessons learned. It teaches how to stay strong when the storm rages on and how to draw nourishment from the saltiest of water. Perhaps, this is sacrifice, allowing oneself to remain dedicated even in the face of adversity and remembering to stay true to oneself and one’s purpose in the hardest of times. Thank you mangrove trees for getting my mind thinking. I already loved spending time on the water you call home, but now you deepen my experience even more as you reflect back to me the power of resiliency.