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Remain Curious and Keep Learning

I find it interesting that I can still learn new things at my age – that I haven’t discovered it all and figured it all out – that I don’t know everything… Shocking really.

What is also interesting is that I can still retain any of that new information at my age! My sweet son is never too shy to ask, ‘why are you so old?’, when I can’t recall his busy life’s schedule – or sometimes even what he said 5 minutes ago. I’ve looked up the signs for Alzheimer’s, I think I am ok, or have I forgotten the symptoms? Dang – back to Google!

Here is something that I learned a few weekends ago. This might be old knowledge to you, but I grew up on the prairies where this new insight would never have come up. I can talk to you about cross-pollination and GMO’s –oh, who am I kidding – I can barely figure out the difference between a bean field and a canola field.

So, anyway, a few weekends ago, we were invited to my cousin’s cabin up at Pelican Harbour at Manigotagan on Lake Winnipeg. It was a long drive in the dark, but worth every mile. It was a beautiful weekend and we spent a lot of time at the fire and walking on the beach collecting rocks. Another weird phenomenon that my cousin-in-law pointed out. When we are children we can’t stop picking out rocks and stones and sharing them with our loved ones. Then we get to our teen and 20-30’s and we couldn’t be bothered. Now as we age a bit more, we are back on the beach scouring the sand for those perfect rocks – perhaps for a backsplash or cement pad or just to decorate those lovely wicker baskets once filled with potpourri!

An empty lot at Pelican Harbour

So this is what I learned this weekend and – a God moment – a devotional I received shortly after this weekend.

I am a tree lover – love trees. Wouldn’t want to cut many down if I was building up there – beautiful bushes full of great leaves – the colours in fall were extraordinary. Bernie and I are always dreaming and what if’ing and so we are looking at a lot for sale that is bush from the road to the back of the property and we are deciding where the cabin would go and which trees simply had to stay!

However, if we don’t trim the bush, the tall trees will most likely fall. There were gorgeous trees on my cousin’s property. Some that were upwards of 50 feet tall. They had already removed two of these beauties. Why? Because before they cleared the bush for their cabin, these trees were protected from the winds by the other trees. When the bush was cleared for the cabin, they got exposed to the wind, and they were too weak to survive wind storms thus they could fall easily – possibly onto cabins or otherwise. The trees need the wind to grow strong.

In my devotional it talked about an artificial environment that was built in 1991 in Oracle, Arizona called Biosphere 2.

“Inside the 3-acre closed system was a small ocean, a rain forest, a desert and a savanna grassland. The scientists produced every kind of weather pattern except wind. Eventually the lack of wind caused the tree trunks to weaken and bend over. It’s the pressure of wind that strengthens tree trunks and allows them to hold up their own weight. (Excerpt from (

So after the weekend, then reading this devotional, I went Googling to see if I was really understanding this idea – because it was news to me. And I found it fascinating!

“When plants and trees grow in the wild, the wind constantly keeps them moving. This causes a stress in the wooden load bearing structure of the tree. So, to compensate, the tree manages to grow something called the reaction wood (or stress wood). This stress wood usually has a different structure (in terms of cellulose or lignin content and more) and is able to position the tree where it’d get the best light, or other optimum resources. This is the reason why trees are able to contort towards best light and still survive loads in even awkward shapes. A contorted building like that would easily fall. The tree is able to grow in a more solid manner – thanks to the reaction wood.

If there’s no wind, like in the biosphere 2, the trees end up being much weaker and aren’t able to survive for long. This happens in homes too. Plants grown indoors, without any kind of wind hitting them on a regular basis tend to become weak. So, before they are planted outside in the wild conditions, their structure has to be strengthened by causing stress. Remember, stress is what makes a tree strong enough to sustain the wear and tear that it’d face later in life.” (quoted from:

I assumed that a tree is a tree is a tree. They grow tall, they grow strong. These trees weren’t necessarily on rocky ground – and it wasn’t that their roots were not deep – it was that they hadn’t been exposed to the wind.

Thinking about this, reading the science – it doesn’t take a scientist to take this imagery and apply it to life.

I struggle with the idea that the pain and hardships people have to go through are there so they get stronger. I struggle with that because there are people who are strong Christians and strong people and haven’t necessarily had the same hardships as others – so how did they get strong? And, really?, we need to hurt deeply before we become better people?

But, what I liked in the devotional I linked earlier on was where it suggests that in the middle of chaos, in the middle of the wind storms, with the help of God, we rise up – we gain strength. During our life we have, hopefully, put our hope in God – we have drawn our strength from him, we have learned from him, from church, from the Bible – and thus making our trunks strong. We may look a little misshapen, a little ragged, some of us have had our bark peeled off in strong winds – but we draw on the reaction we have rec’d from people around us and God. If we hide ourselves away and don’t read his word, don’t listen to him speak through others – maybe we don’t develop the reaction and then when we do hit the high winds, maybe we have a harder time standing up (or just getting back up).

God has given us the best light – Jesus. The best water – Jesus. The best food for thought – the Bible. He protects us and with that we can remain standing (or hopefully get back up!).

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:!4

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12

“But I am like a sheltered olive tree protected by the Lord himself. I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.” Psalm 52:8

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