The perfect, natural order of a forest offers Kimberly Lynch hope in a time of disorder.
I love the sound of a lawn mower. It’s one of my favorite sounds.
I’ve been on a lot of therapeutic walks during this social distancing period, and the beauty of the neighborhood lawns is so comforting. The brilliant green grass, the coiffed shrubs, the vibrant colors of the flowers contrasting the dark mulch beneath their petals.
This is the season I wait for the entire year, with free schedules and pool time and late evening sunsets by the fire pit. This year’s summer break, however, has been nothing more than lackluster in many ways.
The free schedules came all too abruptly, and without celebration.
... And so many of our favorite summer hangouts remain closed or at limited capacity.
Nevertheless, I’ve noticed another landscape on my walks that has revealed a different kind of beauty, one that is easy to overlook but significant in its own order: the neighborhood woods.
At first glance they seem like a forsaken space of randomness. Different species of trees grow on banked slopes, in a bed of old leaves from last fall, with foraging bugs and ugly caterpillar tents occupying nooks in the trunks. Random bushes burst wildly from where the sun graces them, some branches looking healthy while the sparse branches hang in a sort of obnoxious presence in a greater space of disorder.
But as I have experienced the time and mental space to notice the minute details on my usual route, I have noticed an absolute perfect order in this haphazard collection of flora.
It started with the pear trees and their full, bridal white blossoms popping out from the early green hues of budding deciduous trees. Soon after came the red buds with their magically deep purples branching out over the dull bed of crunchy dead leaves below. The dogwoods were next, similar to the pear trees, but more delicate in their shorter height and thinner branches. And now the fading of the wild blackberry bushes on their prickly bushes calls us to embrace the full heat of summer and to look out for the early signs of fall.
There is order and beauty in the initial glance of the wild. Our Creator has crafted such a meticulous series of growth that we can't deny there is order outside of our own ability to control it.
And even when a wildfire catches from a stray spark, and grows to a voracious roaring monster of flames, and it may seem as all the beauty is lost and destroyed, there comes rejuvenation in the ash. Small sprouts will eventually benefit from the new soil.
Nothing in this world will burn forever.
And how will we, children of the living God who renews all things, react to the destruction? Will we point the finger in blame, allowing anger to surge in our souls and overflow into our respective corners of the universe? Will we tout our own opinions on how to put out the fire and push our ideas in a way that does not seek understanding but demonstrates only our desire to be right? Or will we recognize the fragile and delicate new sprouts pushing their way through the gray soil, easy to miss but nevertheless radiantly colorful, even in their smallness?
I believe sprouts will grow from the ash.
But for now, in a moment of time where the world seems to have lost its mind, may we be so very careful to notice the small beauty, the ordained order, and the hope of new beginnings. Will we be the salt and light of the world, we who have been given so many graces and blessings? Or we will succumb to the ugliness and desperation, claiming the apparent vast disarray of the forest instead of reminding the world of it most sacred beauty and order?
This is our time to show our faith muscles, to release the stores of joy in a time of famine, to be a pillar of hope when so many are wallowing in hopelessness.
Pandemics, unemployment, riots, civil unrest ... the wildfire rages. What is our response as children of the Light?
About the Author
Kimberly is a Catholic convert, writer, wife, and mother to six awesome children. She blogs at PassingThroughMountains.com, where she encourages her readers to recognize sparks of joy despite the arduous climb up life’s inevitable mountains. She enjoys running in the morning, a strong cup of coffee, reading a good book with her feet up, and hiking in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she and her husband raise their brood.