This past summer, one of our social workers went on a wellness retreat in collaboration with our Clinical and Outdoor Adventures Programs. During the retreat, she came across a limber pine tree growing in the center of a boulder. She reflected on how this tree, one that grows in a harsh environment, is a symbol of resilience and the strength that our military families exemplify every day. Profound inspiration often comes from unexpected moments, and we wanted to share this reflection with you.
This is a Limber Pine. It is incredibly hardy and grows in areas where most other foliage cannot. This tree can survive forest fires, extreme temps (often as low as -40) and still thrive. It grows very, very slow. Its roots are deep. And its gnarled shape was created by bending and conforming to the terrain and extreme weather conditions. In turn, this tree can make its environment fit it, like cracking a stone in half over time.
When surrounded by the beauty of Pine Butte, Montana, it is not necessarily a site one would stop to marvel over. However, with every hike, even the “smallest” one, up the hill by our camp, we found healing in nature, just like the unassuming Limber Pine that gave us a deeper meaning to resiliency.
Military life weathers us.
As a family, we are forced to grow in harsh environments like 29 Palms, Fort Irwin or even worse, the-Middle East. We are forced to adapt after many painful “see you laters” when deployments roll around. Our military men and women survive the harshest ailments in combat. They experience heated firefights and other extreme situations that could have killed them, and unfortunately sometimes does. Yet, for our veterans and military families, our ability to grow and thrive is rooted in love, strength and courage.
When the homecoming jitters fade or life after the military sets in, we find we are a bit bruised, a little broken and gnarled — but forever changed by our experiences.
Our experiences give us a new paradigm on life, and we continue to grow. Building resilience from the past, we deepen our roots, twist and expand outward and upward while navigating our new normal.
Like the Limber Pine, our veterans and military families are more beautiful for the hard-won scars. They serve as visible reminders of challenges overcome, knowing no matter what comes our way, we will survive.