The earliest blooming trees in Israel are awakening from a long, deep, winter’s nap. The trees have spent many months in hibernation. Until now, our beloved nurturing sources of shade and breath have been absorbing water from deep beneath the ground. This God-given survival mechanism has sustained them up until now. But now begins a new cycle in their lives. In this moment, they will draw sustenance from their own sap in order to grow, bloom and prosper. The trees will regenerate utilizing their own resources. They will become the giving entity that they were meant to be.
They will emerge.
Does this sound familiar?
How many times have we all experienced that vulnerable space below the surface, that space that very few people can penetrate? Despite what may be manifesting above board, despite the projections, how many times has the outward reality been incongruent with what is bubbling beneath?
Problematic partnerships. Strained environments. Difficult ends, beginnings, and even middles. Perhaps at these times, we are dependent and need support. We need to be sustained for we may not have the strength, endurance or will to do it ourselves. Maybe we are using outside "power sources" to maintain our equilibrium, dignity, or even our sanity. We are in survival mode. And that is just fine sometimes.
This time of year, the trees are beginning to bud, after they have been barren for a long period of time. They have withstood and subsisted. Sometimes barely. They are now emerging.
Have you ever emerged from darkness and trauma, whole, after feeling broken? Have you been privy to a painful childhood, an abusive relationship, a destructive dance? Have you been able to blossom despite the affliction?
Did you emerge a victim or empowered, faithless or faithful, transfixed or transformed, chained or free? Perhaps a little of each.
If indeed you have answered with positive affirmations to the above questions, then you too have reason to celebrate Tu B'Shvat.
It may take time, perspective, and God’s eternal compassion to even see these transitions in your life. Conversely, these transitions may be absolutely obvious, glaring and dramatic. In either case, you and I will have gone through a process of passing from one state to another. We will have moved from dependence to independence, from concealed to revealed. From surviving in silence, underground, to living out in the visible reality. We will have emerged from that earth, from that sediment, a different kind of person. Hopefully, a more resourceful, productive, and fertile person.
How does one emerge? Perhaps recognizing that we are created in God's image is a first step. Maybe just knowing that He gave us the challenges, precisely so that we can develop and express our true character, can bring forth clarity. Understanding that we are an integral part of a larger picture is important. This helps us see beyond our immediate reality towards a deeper mastery of knowledge and self.
How else do we emerge? Accepting ourselves and our situation and forgiving ourselves is paramount. Differentiating between that which we have control over and that which we don’t is crucial. Helping others, so we can gain perspective is vital. And tapping into our inner reserves and core potential on the path to change is essential. Figuring out where we are presently and where wish to be thereafter, is key to emerging triumphantly.
The Torah states, "For a man is a tree of the field" (Deut. 20:19). As it is for the trees, so too it can be with us. On Tu B'Shvat, we have the privilege to see a miraculous unfolding. As the trees move from a place of paucity to a place of abundance, so too can we move from being a receiver to being a giver, for we now have ourselves. We are reconnected back to our own resources.
May we always remember the sources of our survival during the barren times, and how far we have subsequently emerged on our own. And may we rejoice in God’s guidance as He moves us towards the inner bounty that awaits us this New Year of the trees.