Vulnerability and Growth
If you want to build a log cabin out of slick, clean logs, you should harvest the trees in the summer, during the growing season. But if you want to cut a round section and make, say, a clock with the bark still attached around the edges, you should harvest it in the winter.
In the summer, the inner bark becomes a buzzing interstate carrying water up and sap down. Water is lifted from the soil up to the leaves, photosynthesized into sugar-bearing sap, and then dropped down to feed the meristems. These meristem cells then reproduce, expanding the tree upward and outward. This is how a tree grows.
In the winter the highway shuts down. Dormancy hardens the outer layers to guard the tree from harsher elements. Growth is traded in for protection.
So the bark of the summer-gotten log peels cleanly with little effort. The skin of the winter log, however, clings tightly.
The growth of the tree, then, requires that it make itself vulnerable. During the growing season its skin is easily damaged. Animals and bugs and humans can break it easily.
Growth requires vulnerability. For a tree, or for a person, it is the same. In order to let the life-giving, growth-making stuff pass through us, we have to open ourselves up to hurt. We have to soften our skin.
It’s scary to look at the stuff in ourselves we don’t want to look at. It’s risky to let a new person in. It’s costly to change habits. It’s frightening to expose long-held beliefs to undeniable new truths. But these are the things that help us grow. There is no other way.
All growth requires vulnerability. Just look at a tree.