I snapped this photo through the windshield of my double-parked car in a busy, pre-holiday, supermarket parking lot, with my iPhone.
Like the spark-spray created by a tossed log on a blazing fire, scattering and splattering glowing shards in every direction, shoppers darted frantically, amid the cacophony of clanging shopping carts and beeping horns.
I was growing ever more impatient to be moving on, when I spotted this unremarkable, lonely tree at the far end of the paved area. Stripped of foliage and looming tall against the backdrop of a wintry sky, it stood in stark contrast to the mêlée unfolding beneath its limbs.
In a moment, the first snowflake would fall to the ground. Summer was a distant memory, and the winter months ahead would soon test her endurance and strength. And yet she epitomized an exquisite sense of stillness. It was as if, despite the mad, sad world bustling at her feet, she was calm in her resolve to stand tall, maintaining faith that Spring would inevitably return.
I have struggled with my impatience, striving for that elusive ability to be calm amid chaos. But on that day and whenever I look at this simple snapshot, I am transported to a place of stillness.
Robert Frost’s stated it with unforgettable eloquence in “Something Like a Star”:
“…It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.”