I learn this morning that you can tell the age of a pine tree by its number of “whorls.” One child stops in the woods on the walk to school, and she counts the circles of branches that shoot out from a tiny pine tree. The top layer of branches is one whorl and represents one year of growth. The next layer represents another. This baby pine tree boasts seven whorls, so it’s been growing for seven years. It stands as tall as my daughter.
“Next year, they’ll be eight whorls!” The children, wide-eyed, pause and look down upon the tree.
I’m struck by the slow growth of this little pine that’s witnessed our journey to school all these years. Now, we witness the pine tree, mark its age, and incorporate that growth into the whole system of things that grow and change about us.
These things matter so much to children. Just last night, at Neighborhood Fitness Group, the children always gather to record their growth on my kitchen wall. They inevitably check, every single week, if they’ve grown even a little bit.
They record each each others’ heights, and they claim they’ve really grown each week. The wall, smeared and nearly illegible, tempts me every Saturday morning as I stand beside it with my cleaning bucket. I just can’t clean the wall.
We have to count our whorls. And, even though I’m no longer getting taller, I want to count my own growth somehow–visibly, publicly. Am I growing kinder? More patient? More wise?
Let me retain that child-like quality of marking my own growth. There’s something to celebrate; there’s something to note here.
Living with flair means I count whorls. We’re growing–changing–and we must witness it.
Journal: How do I measure my own growth? What tool might I use to track spiritual and emotional growth?