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Spotlight: The Aspen

Charity S., Kansas


New Beginnings are like a small and unnoticed caterpillar changing to become something beautiful, morphing like night to day, like day to night, they are like the first hyacinth, bright and full in its color, sprouting up from a brutal winter of isolation, ready to live its life anew. But, in order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must first disintegrate into its own cage so it can morph into something beautiful. A caterpillar has to spin its own cocoon, it has to trap itself in unpleasant things in order to achieve a new level of beauty, one worth looking at. In a similar manner, a flower must die before it regrows again; it must be buried in the dirt for a season of dormancy. And like both the flower and the butterfly, every living thing must go through a painful or unwanted change in order to grow.

In a small town, where there are butterflies and flowers alike, stands a forest filled with Aspens, Oaks, Sycamores, Sequoias, Redwoods, and every other kind of tree imaginable. In this forest stands one tree in particular, a lovely, tall-standing Aspen with bright yellow leaves. This Aspen is the most glorious in the woods, even more wonderful than the strong, sturdy redwoods. Her appeal is more subtle, more of a feeling you get when you see her; her leaves remind you of drinking warm tea, her branches remind you of soft skin, her roots bring to mind fine jewelry–interwoven and delicate, bringing her life from the rich soul she stands on. Lovely and warm to the eyes that look upon her, the Aspen stands tall and glorious, but nature has a habit of humbling magnificence.

Even in all her glory, every autumn, the Aspen would lose her leaves, and every autumn she missed them more and more. One Autumn, she decided she would not let them go; she was tired of all the change and didn’t want to start the work of growing all new leaves again. So, as autumn went on and her leaves changed from yellow to red, to a dark brown, she held onto them. All the other trees embraced the change that was taking place, dropping leaves whenever the wind asked, but not the Aspen.

She held onto every shriveled leaf she could, being careful to drop none, even as the wind begged her to give them up, she clung to them tightly. As winter came, so came the snow and the ice. The wind kept begging for her leaves, but she insisted on keeping them, so the wind stopped asking, and the ice multiplied instead. The ice coated her thin branches and plethora of leaves with its cold, slick blanket. The snow came shortly after, piling onto her fragile branches by the foot. All the snow and ice that stuck to her leaves added so much weight that her branches began to crack. She frantically begged the wind to return and take her leaves, but still, in all her desperation, it was too late. Snap! Her branches fell to the ground with a loud commotion, leaves and all. It was a hard winter for her, lengthy and cold with no branches to keep her warm. 

That spring, instead of growing new leaves, she began growing her branches. it took her years to heal from that winter. But, every autumn after, she gave her leaves up freely, for she had learned that if you won’t change when it’s necessary, you’ll end up broken, and you’ll end up broken in a way that can take years to fix. She had learned that change can be unpleasant and taxing, but sometimes it is important. Like the cocooned caterpillar, and the wintered flower, change is not always nice, but can turn you into something lovely, grand, and inspiring to witness.

Enlightium Academy is proud of the writing our students do and wants to give them the chance to publish their work. All Enlightium students in grades 7–12 are invited to submit their writing through the Spotlight Program. Every month, one piece of student work will be chosen to be published. Check out our main page on the Spotlight Program for more details.

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