As people, we are not much different than that of the might Sycamore tree. We are layered. We have the capability of being mighty and strong in a graceful way.
The trunk of a Sycamore sapling starts out small, with a dark covering of bark to protect it as it grows into a massive tree. As the tree ages and faces weather, the bark peels down in places, exposing different, lighter colors. And, in some places white.
We are the same way - innocent in our protective environment as a child - until the storms of life happen, tearing away at our protective "bark" and exposing the sensitive side. This tearing away often causes scars, causes us to look or act differently. It affects us. It changes us. We are not the same after it.
As the Sycamore grows and reaches towards the sky, it's branches spread, sometimes growing into a gnarly, curly, confusing mass of branches. Our lives are not much different.
Sometimes the circumstances of our lives create a gnarly mess and layers of...well, "ick". This gnarly mess may appear ugly to an onlooker. Tangled. Confused. Messy.
God uses those massive branches of the Sycamore to create homes for wildlife; he uses them to protect from the wind; he uses them to create awe in the onlooker. He can do the same for the tangled web of circumstances in our lives - mine and yours.
I once heard a lesson given to middle school students that has been forever etched in my mind. It was that God makes beautiful things out of our messes - no mess is too big for God. Nothing, nothing is ever too great or too big of a mistake for God to use in powerful ways.
So, let us be strong, graceful and mighty despite our tangled past or our gnarly present. May we allow those layers to shine brightly and the hurts to float away on the wind like the layers that pull away from the mighty Sycamore.