June 7, 2006

Paradox and Profound Truth

This photograph is of a truly majestic tree at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, Florida. As you can see, the tree is strong and healthy. It is a lovely and very full tree with numerous branches. It shaded me from the bright sun. Further, it has an impressive root system. Thankfully, the tree was perched on a pedestal – otherwise, I would have not been able to capture its beauty through its canopy of leaves. “Perched on a pedestal?” you may well be asking yourself. Yes, this magnificent tree is a mere 18 inches tall and is among the many trees in the Morikami bonsai collection. The bonsai tree is counter-intuitive to my (admittedly Western) understanding of what a tree is. How it is possible to grow and shape such small trees is beyond me. And yet, despite their short stature, they are just as beautiful, grand, and majestic as their full sized brethren.

In his book "The Courage to Teach" by Parker Palmer devotes an entire chapter to exploring truth and the profound truths revealed by paradox. The world is full of paradoxes and it is often through the exploration of paradox that great scientific, philosophical, and mathematical achievements are made. And Dr. Palmer contends that each of us must explore our own personal paradoxes in order to reach a fuller, deeper understanding of ourselves.