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August 28, 2017

Joshua Tree

As we drove through various desert landscapes today, we passed hundreds of Joshua trees. I was happy to see them, as the Joshua tree is my favorite tree.

It is easy to look at the Joshua tree’s craggy bark, gnarled branches, and spiky flowers, and come to the conclusion that it is ugly. Most people reach this conclusion.

This is the wrong conclusion.

The Joshua tree is the most beautiful of all the trees. Its beauty does not come from impressive size or attractive colors or distinctive leaves or pretty flowers. It provides little shade, bears no edible fruit, and its wood is of little use.

Its beauty does not come from its outward appearance or its utility. Its beauty comes from its struggle.

The Joshua tree grows where no other tree could. It grows in the harshest of conditions–extreme heat, punishing winds, prolonged drought. But these hardships do not shake its determination. It reaches defiantly toward the harsh sun and the dry, withholding sky. In conditions where most plants cannot even exist, the Joshua tree thrives.

Every spike is there to fend off predators and soak up what little moisture can be found. Every kink in its branches is there because it got pushed around but did not give up.

The more twisted and gnarly it is, the harder it has struggled and the more it has overcome. Its perseverance is an inspiration. If it can overcome such punishment and survive here, surely we can persevere (and even thrive) despite our own hardships.

The Joshua tree is beautiful because it is ugly.

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