Monday, January 16, 2012

Footpaths and Hollows

Last week we had some unseasonably warm weather in the area, so one day after school I decided to use an outdoor walk as my form of exercise of the day.  Using the elliptical at 4:45 in the morning is a great workout, but especially on these short winter days, a gal needs some fresh air and sunshine every now and then to keep her head clear and level. 

I went to a park near school, having been to it on occasion in the past.  However, as I made my way around the park on the usual course, I discovered a hiking trail that went into the woods behind the park ... and lo and behold!  What a beautiful trail it was!  The soft, compost-padded trail turned into a steep decline down the back of a huge hill that lead to the river valley below.  Gradually, the trail lead up the back of another hill, which turned onto the park's regular roadway.  As I walked along the path, here and there I found little signs the park service had posted, explaining the different trees and plants and their uses.

I marveled at how tall the trees were -- I estimate that the ones in the "hollow" were easily 30 feet high ... maybe more!   As I made my way along the lovely nature trail, occasionally I would stop at the base of a tree and run my eyes all the way up the trunk, likewise eying the nearby trees, wowed by how tall they were. The barren trees, naked from the winter cold, afforded me a view of the surrounding woods, stretching miles over the river valley.  I tried to imagine what these woods would look like in the spring and summer with wondrously green vegetation.  And, yet, its wintry, monochromatic nakedness was a work of beauty just as it was. 

As I am inclined to do in such moments of simplistic beauty, free of the world's distractions and mind-cluttering noise, I pondered how we are, indeed, so similar to these trees.  These incredibly tall trees, I noticed, had no branches until the very top.  Such a dense forest created a fierce field of sunlight competition, and the physical ramifications on the fauna were evident.  Obviously, in a deep ravine where sunlight is at a premium, trees do not waste a lot of energy on producing branches down where the sunlight won't reach.  Instead, they expend their energy in growing upwards, birthing branches at the top -- reaching for the sun and its light. 

We humans, frequently expend a lot of valuable energy where there is little pay-off and growth.   The world, in its distracting and fallen state, can cause us to stop looking upward to God and pull our attention and spirits down.  In order to grow, sometimes we finally realize that we must let certain, lower "branches" go -- no longer feeding these useless distractions with our precious energy and life force --  so that we can focus our concentration on higher, more nurturing things.  We must keep growing upwards toward God, supporting our fellow "trees" in the process and producing a beautiful canopy of life that offers shelter and nourishment to the "forest" below.

The Buzzard, the Bat and the Bee

Thanks, J, for this gem ...

The Buzzard -- 

If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner.  The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet.  Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The Bat --

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place.  If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air.  Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

The Bumblebee --

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out.  It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom.  It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

People --

In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat and the bumblebee.  We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up!  That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem.  Just look up.

Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, but faith looks up!

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.

Good is good all the time!

Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil -- it has no point.