The RedCliff Ascent field is covered with Juniper trees. In a small number of these trees you can find a dark barky growth called a gall. The gall is the tree’s reaction to a fungus or rust that has infected the branches. Most often, the branch with the gall dies, leaving a bare branch with the unsightly gall surrounding it. It is easy to assume this gall is of no value and a blight on the tree.
However, if you pluck one of these Juniper galls and begin to sand down the rough bark outer coating, you reveal a beautiful burl wood pattern underneath. With further sanding and shaping one can form a beautiful pendant with fascinating burl wood grain. A coat of varnish completes a piece worthy to be worn as a necklace.
We use these Juniper galls to illustrate to our students that regardless of how ugly our behavior has made us, no matter what we have become whether by choice or circumstance, no matter how insignificant or unimportant we may feel, there is something beautiful underneath that dark, barky gall we think ourselves to be.
We can always sand down that rough outer coating to reveal the beauty our own experiences have formed in use. With some shaping and fine polishing we can become a person of value and inner beauty. The process is hard and often painful but the results reveal that our struggles can create an amazing tapestry of life experiences worthy to be shared with all. – Redcliff Ascent Backup driver