There is a small piece of state land adjacent to my house with a beautiful path circling through it. I have walked that path many times, at all times of the day. You could find me walking the path at daybreak when the kids were little. In summer I would have one of the kids in the backpack or baby jogger. And in winter, I pulled my younger daughter behind me while cross country skiing, in a red plastic sled where she would sit and gather piles of snow around her as we glided along in silence. We picked a small pine tree and decorated it each winter on Christmas Eve for the birds and animals with pine cones we had rolled in peanut butter and sunflower seeds. It was such a joy to place them on the tree as a gift to the animals then watch the cones swinging in the wind on their shiny red ribbons for weeks after the holiday had passed. Of course there was mountain biking, four wheeling and snowmobiling also. And lots of prayer, with tears mixed in.
When I first heard about the clear cut, I became fearfully angry. I came up with a plan to save our treasured forest. My husband wrote the forester, pleading for a change in location. It was too late. The cut was all set to happen. We could only wait and grieve the expected loss of our refuge. I felt so helpless. Then one day, the equipment showed up and the cutting began. A few innocent men doing their jobs and some huge trucks and tractors. The speed with which they cut and cleared was astonishing. It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax. Within a matter of days, it was decimated.
As I watched, I could not help but liken it to my own life. My life as I have known it has fallen apart. Our family has been changed as we battle the changes which have come with my husband's cancer, which has robbed him of much of his ability to function. Loss comes on sometimes suddenly, and we are called to sit with the grief which follows. I was never good on change, nor trusting. But here I am, being ripped of the familiar life I once had, and trusting in the goodness of God - no matter what the outcome.
I took a video of the cutting of a favorite tree, crying as I held my cell phone while I crept onto the land.
Then, weeks later after the trucks and noise had all gone away, I walked the land again, smelling the strong scent of fallen pine washing over me. It was starkly different and it was challenging to find my old trail. But I forged one. Surprisingly, the trees cleared left a new landscape. One with more view. There were hills I never realized were there and I found it oddly beautiful. A different kind of beautiful. I am hoping and praying that the steep journey I am faced with and the stripping bare of my life will produce the same. A different kind of beautiful.
When I face the most painful losses in my life I have two callings. The first is to be present to the pain of it, to hold it with the tender compassion of my mothering self. The second is to trust in the love of God, and the infinite wisdom of the unseen. The scripture from Jeremiah returns to me again and again, given to me by an old wise woman nun many years ago...
"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart. I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place form which I sent you into exile." Jer 29:11-14