The maple tree came to us as a spindly, crooked youngster, rescued by my husband from under the deck of our previous house. In its effort to reach the sun, it had curved up through the deck’s floor boards, creating a serious weak spot in its half-inch thick trunk.
“Anything that tries this hard to live deserves a chance,” said my husband as he dug a hole for it in the center of our new backyard.
I had intended to order a Crimson King from a local nursery. One about fifteen feet in height, sturdy. Now a pathetic four-foot ordinary maple was planted in the exact spot I had envisioned for its taller, more mature cousin.
As I gazed at the sickly twig of a tree, I couldn’t envision a future for it. I doubted it would survive but to humor my husband I soaked it with water and a generous handful of fertilizer. To steady the wisp, we tied it to metal stakes. A few sprouts appeared on the trunk. I clipped them off to encourage growth in its main upper branches.
The maple responded to our efforts by growing quickly. After about three years, we cut down an aging, messy poplar in one corner of the yard to give the maple more access to the sun. Invigorated by our thoughtfulness, its branches soared toward the light.
Today, that maple is about thirty feet high, big enough to shade the entire back of the house. It’s become a haven for bird life and provides natural privacy – all this from a fragile but determined sapling.
Sometimes people appear broken, damaged and pathetic. What they need from us is nurturing – prayer, support and a few encouraging words. Godly input can make all the difference in a struggler’s future.
He shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. Psalm 1:3
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of four books, including One Good Word Makes all the Difference and Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children. Available here.