I went on an amazing trip with my mom pre-pandemic to country capital Nashville, Tennessee, then to charming and historical Charleston, South Carolina, and finally to mysterious and eccentric Savannah, Georgia. It was so much fun taking in the east coast with my best friend. We visited a plantation in Nashville where we learned the sad history, but on the grounds, were these huge, beautiful Magnolia trees. Their stature overwhelming with these shiny green leaves and large white blossoms. It kind of shone like a symbol of hope and restoration after years of slavery on these properties.
Growing up in Oregon, which is full of Pine, Spruce and Fir galore (best place for Christmas trees), you never saw this type of tree. Magnolias need a warmer climate. But having lived in San Diego for almost eighteen years now, I asked my mom, “Why doesn’t San Diego have this type of tree? They are so beautiful.” To which she replied, “Oh I’m sure you do, you just don’t notice them.” Well sure enough, on a walk with my dog when I got back, just three houses down, at the church on the corner, were Magnolia trees. Three big ones in fact. I walk by them everyday and yet, I had never noticed them before. In that moment, it reminded me of that same hope, but also dawned on me this is how we may view God at times. We don’t see, feel, or notice God, but He is always right there in front of us. The Magnolia trees weren’t stand alone on big plots of open land like in the south. More hidden and mixed in with the palm trees, but there boldly nevertheless. God can be bold and in your face one day or softly in the background other days, but He is always present. He is always there for us. If we really seek after Him, we will find Him, even if somedays He may seem far or faint.
I pass these Magnolia trees everyday and notice them every time now and think what has God shown me that once I didn’t see or notice in my life? What was in the dark that is now in the light? What has God now highlighted in my life? What has He brought forward and what has he allowed to fade in the background? What perspectives have changed? What doors have been opened and what windows have been closed? What fresh new take is God putting on my life in my singleness, in my relationships, in my finances, in my work life? These are the questions that spark inside me when I pass those Magnolia trees.