Divi-Divi trees are the signature tree of Aruba. They are everywhere, and characteristic in their appearance with extremely swept branches bending to the southwest due to the constant strong sea breezes from the northeast. On one of our hikes to the top of a lookout point, one of these trees caught our attention.
It was like the other such trees, though low to the ground as a bush due to the high elevation. Surrounding it was a cage of thorny mostly dead branches that was formed from the shoots coming from the base of the tree to surround it. The tree in the center was vibrant and green, lush with intricate leaves. Yet radiating from all sides were thick, greyish branches with large spikes that would have occasional leaves amid the thorns but for the most part seemed dead.
The image sparked many thoughts. The healthy tree at the center was as a marriage or other deep relationship, parent/child, brother/sister, friendship. It can grow and be strong. Yet just as the thorn scarred dead branches surround it, so too unkind words, or worse, can scar our relationships that die as a result of hurting each other. Do the dead branches overtake and ultimately drain the life from the tree? I don’t know about the divi divi but in our relationships with others, most likely yes.
The dead structure was also reminiscent of our ancestors, now gone but still a rooted part of our lives. Their influence on us not part of our daily living, yet still a presence. The thorns often painful memories, the sense of their protection, a reality.
The tree in the center is as each of us as well. Rooted in the soil as we are rooted in Him, our Abba nurtures us and surrounds us with His protection just as the thorny cage surrounds the divi-divi tree. The dead branches are as the hard lessons learned, sharp realities that are painful. Yet those very lessons are often what protect us from making the same mistakes. The thorns in our lives remind us to be more careful the next time. And the spiky points keep away those who could cause harm. The dead branches die so that we can live and learn.
Our lives are intertwined with our Creator’s, his branches sustaining us, shielding us from the strongest winds, the sharpest attacks. And as those branches die, through our Messiah’s death, we live.