Trampled Growth

Simplifying life is a constant goal so planning a walk around the ten acres, I live on, is a vital part of that simplicity.  Walking is a time to return to basics, away from the rush and push of real life.  My surroundings renew the air in my lungs, the view for my eyes, and focus my thoughts.  It’s here where I most often compose my writings.

The trail I walk wanders through a wooded area towards the creek.  Stepping stones line a small portion of the trail to help avoid getting my feet wet from an underground spring.  Trees bow over this part of the trail, acting as a tunnel, forcing me to focus my attention.  Shortly down the path it opens up to a meadow at the edge of the creek.  I always stop and stand on the creek bank to look up and down the stream.  We have a couple of herons and wood ducks, a hawk who has been around for fourteen years, and Canadian geese who visit annually.  There’s a beaver we are at war with, in his efforts to dam up the swimming hole.  He wins more times than we do.  We’ve discussed which trees he can chew down but he has his own agenda regardless of ours.

Tall Cottonwoods line the creek bank.  Old growth cedars stand stately and proud.  Often I wish they could tell me of the things they’ve seen.  I know some of the history of this acreage and I am told this land use to be Indian holding grounds.  Many tribes would set up here in late summer and wait for Salmon runs to come upstream.  Native Americans would fish filling their winter needs and move on.  I wish I could plug into one of the trees and watch the video of those events.

Past owners tell me about the Columbus Day Storm, and the destruction this land saw.  This parcel of property has been well loved by each of its owners, if you can truly own a piece of land, and I feel I have been given the privilege of guardianship over it.  It will be here when I’m gone, but I have the responsibility to protect it and pass it on to those that would come next to love it.  It’s with that thought today, that I worry about the trail I walk. The snow and rain keep the ground extremely wet.  Roots have given up because the dirt is so saturated with moisture; they can no longer hold the trees up.

In the winter, the trail takes a beating from my workouts.  I walk perhaps seven or eight laps everyday, so I turn the footpath into a muddy mess.  I was apologizing to my neighbor about the path I take past his house to the garden, because of the trail I leave.   He assured me it wasn’t a problem and commented, “Did you notice though, in the spring, the beat up places are the first to grow lush green grass?”

I had to think.  He was right.  The path is the first to see growth and by summer it is the greenest, and thickest grass on the entire property.  I smile as my writer’s heart goes to work.  There’s a metaphor for life in this.  Parables and metaphors is how Christ taught the common man real truths.  So I wonder what truth lies in this trail.

What wisdom can be gleaned from beat up, trampled down grass? 

Even firefighters and forest rangers burn down portions of the forest, to provide room for the rebirth of newer stronger growth. Without this process, the old growth will eventually choke out the new growth, starving the forest of beneficial recycling and denying the nourishment that brings new life.

Life, like the trail, can be rough on us, causing difficult times, and making us feel beat up like the trampled grass beneath my feet. If you live in the world long enough, you will find times of difficulty in your life, I guarantee you.  If you don’t go through hardships, you aren’t really living life.

So in a world that practices little to no consequences, I believe we set ourselves up for failure by not allowing ourselves to learn from mistakes or difficulties.  I once knew a friend, who at the age of twelve, was being regularly beat up.  One day outside his living room window while his Dad watched from inside the house, the same two boys confronted him again.  Could his dad have stopped the fight? Yes, but it would have prolonged the repeated intimidation.  That day was a day of reckoning for him. He finally had to stand up for himself.  He tells me he took quite a beating because he did fight back, however it was the last beating he ever took. Immediately, the effect was that he became the “school yard” protector of underdogs.  Today, this man is a police officer, sworn to protect those who can not protect themselves.  I personally am glad for the lesson that caused this non-bully to be available to protect the world I live in.

Trampled on probably has its own personal meaning for each one of us.  An abused child may become a child advocate or a parent committed to never allowing their child to suffer.  Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers was formed by a mother’s painful loss.  Doctor’s and lawyers are often driven into their fields to right wrongs or to heal others because of past pains or injustices.  And we’re all thankful for their skill when we need it most.

It is my wish that no one ever has to go through painful events in their lives.  However, it is also my encouragement to look for the lesson beyond the pain.  It’s difficult to experience the victory in the war when you’re standing chest deep in the battle.  But, if we can be spectators, at the same time we are participating in the struggle, even if we loose the fight, we can still win the conflict.

March, we are told, comes in like a lion and fades out like a lamb.  Like the difficulties in our lives, what we might at first perceive to be destructive, can be the very thing that causes the most tranquillity and growth in us.  If we heed its lessons, spring can bring the promise of lush green growth to trampled trails in our lives.

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