Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Out!

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I grew up in Red Bud, Illinois. The town drew its name from the wealth of Red Bud trees (cercis canadensis) that populate the region. When it is Springtime, there is nothing better to herald the arrival of the end of the bitter ravages of winter than that first burst of purple that signals the blossoming of the Red Bud trees. Before you know it, everywhere you look, the world is a contrast of eye-popping magenta and a thousand shades of brilliant greens; the world is waking up from a long, cold winter and the belle of the ball is the Red Bud tree.

Growing up with these gorgeous trees all around me, I’ve always taken them for granted. But now that I live in Virginia, they are not as plentiful and I am not even certain that the variety of Red Bud tree that I see here is the same Eastern Red Bud tree varietal that I am accustomed to. But this I do know: I still get a little swell in my heart when I drive past a stand of trees and see that brilliant splash of color on Mother Nature’s otherwise gray and dreary canvas.

I don’t know if it is because Red Bud trees put on their majestic exhibit in April, when those “April Showers” are most likely to also be at their peak, but I find that their color seems to intensify against the darkness that comes with the gray skies of springtime rains. The gloomier the skies get, the more brilliant those blooms become. Perhaps just a study in contrast, but one I definitely do not want to miss the lesson on!

I love the heritage of my hometown. A business trip next month to the area allows me to sneak home for a day or two and I can hardly wait – it has been too long since I’ve made a visit. I’ll unfortunately miss the breathtaking beauty of the city streets lined up and down with their decades-old Red Bud trees in full-bloom – it truly is a sight to behold. But I haven’t lost the image in my heart that matters:  be the Red Bud tree in the otherwise colorless bloom of the day.

Don’t ever be afraid to stand out! We’ve all be given unique talents and skills that give us the entre to a world of opportunity and experience. But we have to be willing to put those God-given talents to use and allow ourselves our moment to shine! Be the splash of color on that gray canvas: the world awaits your masterpiece called an Outrageously Wonderful Life!

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