A Little Something About That Tree
That tree. The one up there at the top of these "Start Here" pages. The one pictured at the right of this page. Well, it is a photograph I took of a tree in Swope Park, which, for those of you who may not know, is a very large park in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The tree caught my attention because of its unique shape. I found its crooked trunk both different and beautiful. But then I started thinking more about this tree and how it might relate to me -- not that I think I am physically gorgeous! I believe it was my Dad who said, ''Jay, you're a good-lookin' guy, not movie-star handsome by any means, but okay lookin'. And you've got a great sense of humor, and women dig that.''
All right, all right...back to that tree. I have scoliosis -- a crooked, curved spine that has required two major surgeries. I remember when I first found out about my scoliosis at age 16. An X-ray technician told me I would have been 3 or 4 inches taller if my spine weren't so crooked. Ask most 16-year olds -- or even adults for that matter -- if they would like to be 3 or 4 inches taller, and I think you'll receive a resounding ''Yes!'' And that was just the beginning of my disappointment. My scoliosis would not only keep me at 5'11'' instead of 6'2'' or 6'3'', but the resulting rib hump and two surgical scars from the nape of my neck to the small of my back would keep me from taking my shirt off in public or even wearing certain clothes.
Yet, this crooked tree in Swope Park still has beauty and worth, even though it could be taller and straighter. I don't think the birds that nest in it mind if it is crooked. And I don't think the visitors to the park, who enjoy this tree's company, pine scent and shade mind if it is curved. Similarly, my worth as a human being, as a child of God, is no less because I do not have a perfectly straight spine. And I don't think my family and friends love me any less because I have scoliosis. I must admit, every now and then I wonder what it would be like to be 3 or 4 inches taller...to be over 6 feet tall. And not to have the rib hump. And not to have the scars. But then I realize it just wasn't meant to be, and that I have many other blessings from God for which to be thankful. I've even realized that my scoliosis has helped me ''grow'' as a person -- not physically taller and straighter but, instead, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
So that tree is me.