Musings in a clearing


But while we are confined to books, though the most select and classic, and read only particular written languages, which are themselves but dialects and provincial, we are in danger of forgetting the language which all things and events speak without metaphor, which alone is copious and standard.Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer? Read your fate, see what is before you, and walk on into futurity. ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Chapter 4: Sounds


The sign points to Echo Woods. There a rock cairn covers the grave of our beloved mutt dog, Echo. As we say in this family, we are monster women, with many generations of monster blood flowing through our veins! The girls and I put our inner "monsters" to work on Sunday, clearing a path up to the cairn, clearing away brush and dead trees and sticks. We built two benches using scrap lumber and aged cherry logs. Thus, our summer "classroom" was born.


The children are as eager to start as I am. The first day, we studied aspen leaves and listened to them whisper as they quaked in the clearing, which is surrounded by them. We discussed the differences between saplings and mature trees. We read "The Sound of the Trees", by Robert Frost. The second day, we began talking of construction of a lean-to, one of the many survival skills I want to begin teaching them this summer. We noted the differences between white, red and pin oak leaves, and compared them to the aspen leaves we collected the day before. I am using this wonderful online field guide to leaf identification to double-check my own knowledge, which is rusty from being shelved in my brain for about two decades.


As my children danced around me, gathering leaves and running their hands down the rough bark of the trees surrounding us, my thoughts are quaking like the aspen leaves above us. This morning, I read the words of Joshua, the spy who had faith in God's greatness and ability to overcome any earthly foe, "I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you." (Joshua 23:14) The way of all the earth. We are all on a journey that ends in the grave. Because my heart is skipping a bit, and a few of my cells have mutated to form cancer deep in my frame, it is more obvious to me than most. As I walked around this clearing the past few days, I was reminded that someday the "monster women" who carry my genes and dreams forward into the horizon of time, will be tending a clearing around my own grave.


Having faith like a child is simple, really. Dance a jig of joy in the clearing, revel in the sights and sounds. Just enjoy what is before you. None of these dark thoughts flicker through the sunshine in these emerging minds.

What I keep ever before me is the responsibilities of the moment, for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34). My learning objectives for these children this summer include survival skills, identification skills, respect for the natural beauty of the woods. But all that falls under the overarching goal: teach them reverence for their Creator by showing them the glory of His creation. So I push aside the weight of my thoughts, the specter of my own grave that looms large in this clearing, to grasp with both hands the tasks for today.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop'? Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? Where is the way that the light is divided, or the east wind scattered on the earth? Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man in it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of grass to sprout? (from Job 38, NASB)

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea,
Creation's revealing Your majesty.
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring,
Every creature unique in the song that it sings. All exclaiming...

Indescribable, Uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing, God.
All powerful, Untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees and we humbly proclaim,
You are amazing, God.

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go,
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow?
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light,
Yet conceals it to give us the coolness of night?
None can fathom...
You see the depths of my heart,
and you love me the same.
You are amazing, God.

~ Indescribable, Chris Tomlin