This past week, we had a loss in the extended family. Loss and grief often bring about deep thinking. Death and mortality get in our face and insist we take note. That brings us to a new point on our personal road. One I visit every November, looking at the past year and planning for the coming one. Add a loss and grief and a change of scenery–a walk through the woods, literally and figuratively–and you’ve got a thinking time opportunity.
Walking the mountain trails, riding the winding roads, viewing nature’s artistry, well, it’s impossible not to be moved by the vastness and by the majesty. I was most surprised that this had the same tranquil effect on me that looking out on the gulf’s horizon from the shore at home. I hadn’t expected that impact, especially in my mental state–grief is a tough master–and yet all around me was evidence of the seasons and cycles in life. It was reassuring.
I learned of a man named Arthur who demonstrated his love for this northern Georgia land by buying deer and putting them on the mountain, to repopulate it. He put fish in the rivers. He built roads and was a steward of the land.
I thought about him for a long time. He understood his place in this world. That he didn’t own land, he was privileged to care for it, to experience it.
It was fitting that this happened in November, my personal reevaluation month. Already in assessment mode, I discovered new patterns in thought. Deeper patterns that align with that stewardship and redefine the transient things in life to their proper place.
Often I start the day with a prayer that’s half-pleading: “Lord, let me be a blessing today. Be with me and bless all those I love, and all those they love.”
Arthur was a blessing. His season for being here has long since passed, and yet the legacy he left remains in the deer at the stream, at the beaver screens at the bases of trees, at the fish in the rivers and the roads we rode and walked down. Humbling.
And then I returned home, noted in the news that two nearby cities will no longer be recycling. It’s apparently too much trouble to put cans and jars and soda bottles and newspaper in a bin and set it beside the street curb once a week.
Neither stewards nor blessings. Arthur, I’m sure, is looking down on us, weeping.
Time, it’s clear, for a little collective deep thinking…