Monday, March 16, 2009

The Beauty of a Bradford Pear

Start with warm air, sprinkle in rain showers, pour down sunshine, and you have the perfect setting for an explosion. Not the kind that comes from stepping on a ketchup pouch, dusting long ignored curtains, or driving through the Smoky Mountains with a stomach full of fried chicken from a summer picnic. This explosion never ceases to take my breath away … in a good way!

Driving through my neighborhood today, it feels like moving through a corridor of white flowers, as if God has decked out the streets in preparation for a wedding. Bradford Pear trees. They line the hill as you enter our subdivision, and I think we're the only house that doesn't have at least one adorning the barely green yards. Driving to the west side of town yesterday for a church lunch, I noticed that these elegant white trees are at their finest all over Knoxville right now. It isn't hard to see why so many people plant these trees that are so pleasing to the eye.

As the Bradfords blossomed and captured our attention last week, my daughter commented on how beautiful they are and how she wished we had one to enjoy from our own front windows. She noted that our hardwoods are not nearly as exquisite as the showy pear trees. It was the perfect time to reveal a sad, but true, quality about these beautiful Bradfords. Deb Magnes tells the Bradford's fatal flaw in an article for "Dave's Garden" where she said, "if a tree's assignment will be longer than 25 years, superficial beauty may not stand the test of time." She summarized the Pear's problems by saying, "They split easily, they grow suckers, and they have a very shallow root system." It's what hidden that really makes a tree beautiful in a way that endures. "Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God," I Pt. 3:3-4. Translation to 2009: showy may get attention, but shallow beauty is still shallow beauty.

Superficial beauty doesn't stand the test of time. When I drive up the hill through a shower of white petals, I now know that they probably won't be here long. When a storm or strong wind comes, they will suffer. Thus the explanation for the many BPs in the neighborhood who have strangely lop-sided appearances, as if half of them was lost in some spring past. Bradfords are so like women. We long to be beautiful, and onlookers always seem to be drawn to what appeals to the eye. People aren't so quick to look at the hardy oak or maple in the spring, without anything to attract attention. It takes adversity or a change of season to reveal the fact that these trees have deep roots and stand firmly. Those trees are beautiful in a different way, a way that whispers, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised," Proverbs 31:30.

Happy Spring, and may this season see us grow in true beauty!

2 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Wendy Blight said...


I too LOVE the Bradford pear tree and look forward to its arrival every spring! They line the street leading to our house, and every year they announce, "Spring is here!!!" Thank you for teaching such a wise lesson from the simple beauty of God's creation. You blessed me today.


Sarah said...

"Bradfords are so like women"- so true. I have tears in my eye right now thinking about how I all to often focus on the external, when that is not what lasts. Like you said, it takes "adversity or change of season" to reveal the true person. I really want to focus more on the "hidden person of the heart". Thanks Julie!
Becca Ware (from cedarville, well cinci now)