Monday, September 17, 2007

If A Tree Falls in the Forest?

Almost two years ago, I was wandering in the woods with Tasha, singing at the top of my lungs when I came upon a man. I startled, almost shocked out of my skin because apart from hunting season, I don’t see anyone.

“Nice song,” he said. “Don’t mind me. Keep singing.”

The guy was painting blue rings around trees. He explained he was a forester and marking trees for cutting.

I went home and told Steve, “They’re going to destroy the woods!” Mind you, these are not our woods. The mile or so stretch in three directions belongs to a variety of families. The big chunk we abut is land-locked, and is owned by a family in New Hampshire. They can’t build houses so the only use for the land is lumber.

The mature part of me realized that they not only had every right but that this would be good for the woods. The selfish, childish side of me knew that the cutting would involve a mess. It took months to work through the “I can’t keep what I don’t own” attitude. And the truth is, we own nothing.

When over a year passed and the trucks and saws hadn’t come, I assumed they had decided not to forest. The blue rings around all the big, straight trunks became part of the landscape.

Last week, a grinding noise roused me from my work. I got up, went to the front porch in time to hear the first “crack” of a tree falling. My heart fell with it—I had firmly taken back what I did not own. I emailed Steve and Marj immediately. Marj was sympathetic, Steve was matter-of-fact.

When the day’s work seemed to be over, I went out to inspect the outrage. They had bulldozed a road into the woods at the northeast corner of our property. I expected more of a mess to be able to mourn but it wasn’t all that bad. I waved a cookie in front of Tasha’s nose and headed southwest on our usual route to the stream.

I ran into the forester. He said, “I remember you. You were singing church music.”

Okay, I thought. God does what God does and I’m just there to provide the music.

Without me grilling him, the forester said the work would be a mess but they’d use every part of the tree and clean up the paths when they were done. “It’s good for the forest, you know,” he said. “Take down the big ones and let more sun in so the smaller trees can have a chance to grow.”

The thing is—I do know. Spiritual pruning makes a mess, and that ‘crack’ when something is cut away is almost unbearable. Given my druthers, I’d likely choose to keep the forest of my soul for myself. I make my own paths and I don’t want anyone messing with them.

But, just like I don’t own these woods, I also don’t own my “druthers.” My life is no longer mine, so I will say okay when the Forester comes and says, “Gotta take these big ones down. It’ll be messy but I will clean up afterwards. More son will get it and that’s a good thing.”

My job is just to wander around and keep singing.

And as long as Tasha wants to follow me, she’s very welcome to.


Elsi Dodge said...

"My job is just to wander around and keep singing"—that's beautiful! Thank you!

'Cause I can DO that! Some days I can't do much else, but I can keep singing!

Pam Halter said...

It's amazing to me how God has wired plants.

Last winter we had a bad ice storm and I lost a big chunk of my one and only Lilac bush. A couple of days ago, my hubby said, you have to go out and look at your bush. I did. There, where there was previously a large hole, several branches were growing to fill it in! Amazing.

Yes, let's keep on wandering and singing and trusting. We will say "ouch" every now and then, but we'll do so with fresh growth.

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks for the reminder! And I'm so glad to have found your blog, Kathryn. I've enjoyed your novels.

Shannon said...

Oh my ... Kathy, you have NO idea how this comforts me right now ... thank you so much for posting this!! (and LOL on being surprised while singing ... !!!)

Susan said...

*smile* The Forester, huh?

(Accidentally Poetic) susan