Do you remember the joy of climbing a tree as a child?

The victory of your ascent with each higher branch, the view above and feeling the breeze with the leaves?

Did you ever meet a bird or a squirrel in their lofty domain?

Did the sun shine through dancing layers of green and did your fingers get sticky from syrupy goo on the trunk?

Maybe you scratched your hands and knees getting up. Maybe the bark had sharp edges. Maybe you fell a few times before getting up that first branch, once you could finally reach it. Or maybe someone helped you grab it that first time before you hauled yourself up into a whole new world.

Joy is like climbing trees.

Each moment a choice to take another deep breath and pull yourself up.

Sometimes you fall.

But the tree is still standing there, you just have to try again.

And the view. The view is breathtaking. The air is clearer. With more practice, swinging onto that first branch becomes second nature and every morning you bring your backpack filled with licorice and books and ascend the heights.

It doesn’t matter if your tree is different than the tree over at your neighbour’s house.

This is your tree.

Your joy.

Only you and God know what happens there. What you whisper together, while baby birds sing in their secret nest while the morning dew lingers.

Only you and God know what tears you shed there, when no one else could see how your dreams and life collide. Where disappointment and hope become something worth wrestling. That’s not a bad place to be, hidden away in the tree with your creator during the heat of the afternoon sun. It’s safe and cool, and the height of your climb gives perspective to the hope and the fear.

Only you and God know what delight you find there, together. What joy. Over and over closer. One branch at a time, you’ll learn to climb.