More than a label

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I was walking in the sunshine at University of Sydney with my little grand daughter who needed a short break from church in the old Geology building.

We came across a tree (pictured) with beautiful patterned bark, soft and flakey, and gentle spindly branches that were almost silhouetted against the blue sky.

I laid my hand against the trunk and felt its warmth and encouraged Maddison to do likewise. She reached across and rested the palm of her hand on the tree.

I stepped back to photograph the tree which had won my heart and as we began to move on I noticed a tag or label nailed to it.

The label said there was an arbor plan for the tree and I wondered if it was unhealthy. I noticed a hollow in the trunk and that our tree was barer than its neighbours. The small label had cast a shadow as surely as the tree did.

And I know that we place small labels on people that seem insignificant and yet they often loom large, obscuring the person behind.

Our relationship can be shaped not by their texture and reach but the label we have placed because of some hollowness or bareness that we saw once and have nailed on for convenience, and out of fear.

I wonder if there is anyone we have set aside or given a management plan instead of the sincerity of an open hand gently laid.

I wonder if we are that person and find doubt in our own worth because of some small label which is mote-like and yet behaves in the view of others like a log.

Remember the tree, that retains its beauty and is undeterred by plans and labels and wins hearts and charms children’s hands all the same.

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