She’s been there for me – from the moment we first met, over the phone - that voice of encouragement and support, I told the crowd at my friend’s 60th birthday celebration. And what a celebration it was.
As we, her friends and family both new and long-standing, spoke of what Roycea Watson has meant to us, a story of love unfolded from so many different angles. Limbs really, stemming from a life planted in God’s love. I marveled at how my story was woven into this bigger picture. A picture not only of green leaves and sunshine, but a picture of low-lying limbs, too. Limbs weighed down, but now are reaching again for the sun.
I think the most touching words were those spoken by her son. You see he had been low and she had always reached down to lift him up. As he stood up and thanked her, it stirred each of our hearts with the power of unconditional love.
The next day, watching football, an insurance commercial featured the 'Angel Oak Tree,' a Southern live oak on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina. It is estimated to be at least 400 and possibly up to 1400 years old and has stood off the Atlantic coast and weathered many different seasons, most recently Hurricane Florence. Etched in its strong limbs are lines of beauty and grace – the kind you earn, not the kind you buy. The trunk is laced with vines and moss, life that clings to this strong support. I saw again how beautiful an old tree is. How important it is. How lovely. How needed.
And like my friend, some of those branches were actually buried, for a time, but re-emerged.
No one wants to grow old. I know. But the seasons of life that mold and make us, are the very forces that challenge us to stretch out and to grow anew. With time comes resilience, comes wisdom and deep roots.
There is a promise in scripture - “And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great (Job 8:7).” Practically speaking, aging makes us feel less vital and energetic. We could see with the passing of time the loss of opportunity, the diminishing of health and vitality. Until you sit in a room surrounded by the lives you’ve touched and changed. Until you hear the stories of help and hope that wouldn’t be the same without you.
My friend Roycea came from humble beginnings, loved the life she was given and the friends God brought her way. She kept her compass pointed on the things of God and weathered the storms. To see this woman now you might think it was an easy journey, but look again and you might catch the flutter of angel’s wings. Truly, her future is great because of the community she's built.
"So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:3