Look for the Cottonwoods

During Spring Break 2020, we visited Big Bend National Park. It was a desolate place. Arid. Red rocks. Sand. The desert isn’t one of my favorite ecosystems.

Still – any fan of nature knows that even in the most extreme places, life finds a way. Even in some of the ugliest terrain there is beauty.

Often, when traveling through the desert you will see clusters of soft green trees – groves seemingly out of nowhere. The first time I saw them from a distance, I assumed they were sagebrush. Instead, they were Cottonwoods. And, cottonwoods in the desert equal hope.

Nomads with parched tongues know to look for cottonwoods, because if there are cottonwoods, there is always water just below the surface. Where there is water, there is life.

These days, we all live in a desert. In a world packed with bad news about COVID-19, racism, riots, and polarizing politics, life can feel incredibly desolate. Like traveling in the heat of the desert with the sun sapping every ounce of energy.

Everyone around us seems to be pointing at the dry dirt, cactuses and desolation. After all, it is easy to see the desert.

But, it takes discipline to look for the cottonwoods. The signs of the good things in life, the water just below the surface, the source of life even when all seems lost.

Which type of person are you these days? When you look around, do you see the arid desert? Or are you one of those people who looks for the cottonwoods?

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