Look at this picture of a tree and what do you see?
If you are familiar with the photographer Ansel Adams then perhaps you'll recognize it. It's called Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome and this tree was perched over the south rim of the Yosemite Valley, opposite Yosemite Falls and west of Glacier Point.
I like Ansel Adams and Yosemite, but that's not why I was drawn to this picture.
If you take a second look at this picture, you see a tree that is growing despite an inhospitable environment. You see a tree surrounded not by soil but by rock, its form twisted, bent by the winds that whipped across it, causing it to grow sideways. Jeffrey pine trees usually grow to be 82 to 130 feet high; this one's growth was stunted because of its location.
And yet it grew and, for a time, prospered.
Due to its location, hiking to the spot where this tree stood was a very popular thing to do in Yosemite. The earliest photographs taken of this tree date back to 1867. Once Ansel Adams made the tree famous with his photograph, even more tourists flocked to go see it so they could carve their initials into its trunk.
Unfortunately, this tree died during a drought between 1976-77. The soil under it simply did not have enough stored water to sustain it.
But despite the odds and the harsh terrain, this tree grew where it was planted. It just did what it could to adapt to its environment and make the best of the opportunity at life that it was given. The circumstances were not ideal, but it grew in an amazing place with an amazing view.
In telling you the story of this tree, I am encouraging you to try and do the same.
Chronic illness is harsh and presents us with a multitude of obstacles and difficulties. But we have a choice: we can be overwhelmed by the challenges or we can choose to face and rise above them. It won't be easy, but if we try, I believe we can find good things amidst our trials and tribulations.