Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thank God for Nature's Beauty in an Ugly World

*Note: I wrote this several weeks ago and decided it was too wordy.  However, I can't get the imagery out of my mind so I'll post it anyway.

Today I did something I haven't done in years.  Literally.  It's been a very conscious decision on my part to avoid it and I really didn't want to change that today.  But, I did. It was emotionally painful and definitely uncomfortable. Isn't it strange how often those things end up being learning experiences?

What did I dread so much? It will seem minor to most of you but, I can assure you that for my family and me, it wasn't.  I went to my Grandparents' place in Dutch Bottoms.

After my brother's family moved to Denver, Daddy & I worked to keep things in order. But it didn't take long for the scavenging segment of our society to figure out that it was unoccupied. First, they stripped all of the wire they could get to. Then they began to remove anything they might be able to sell, a little bit at a time.  I never went back after finding that someone had ripped up a section of the pine flooring in the living room.  I get angry, frustrated, and very sad when I see how little regard people have for the property and memories of others. My answer has been avoidance and denial.  Probably NOT the solution the average therapist or pastor would recommend!  I look the other way when I go to Morristown and pretend that it's not as sad as it is.

Anyway, today I got a call from a concerned neighbor saying that it looked like someone was at the house and it looked like they had tools with them.  My first inclination, honestly, was to ignore it.  They've done so much damage already that I couldn't imagine it was worth the effort to check on it.  But, I had a few minutes and it was a beautiful day so I went.  They were gone before I got there but I looked around since I was already there.  What I saw, in my opinion, was a testament to the brokenness of humanity.  The idea that you can go into a house that isn't yours and destroy things just for fun blows my mind!  I can honestly understand the theft of things of potential value more than generic vandalism.  As I stood there and seethed, I came to the realization that these actions are the epitome of the culture we live in.  They come from the need to be in control, to be noticed, to be important. I was angry, so I did what I've always done- headed for the woods.

I walked up the hollow to the pond. Amazed by the growth of the privet that has almost hidden the road and blessed by the sight of wildflowers beyond imagination.  The deeper I got into the woods, the calmer I got.  I lay on my stomach amongst the flowers to frame a picture and looked up at the incredibly blue sky.  As I took a deep breath, I revelled in the glory of creation and the knowledge that I am loved by the Creator.

Then it happened.  That blow to my "righteous indignation" that brought me back to my knees in acknowledgement of my humility.  I remembered that I have been that thoughtless person who angers me so much on more than one occasion in my life! When I was about 9, they poured curbs along my street in preparation for paving our street.  In typical 9-year-old fashion, I wanted to make my mark on the project.  I did handprints, then footprints, then.... I ran through the curing concrete for about 30 feet!  The workmen came back in the morning and thought, at first glance, a dog had gotten in the concrete. Then they saw the other handprints and footprints.  Needless to say, my parents had a long talk with me about using the brain God gave me and respecting the property of others.  I'd like to pretend that was a major turning point for me but I visited my own collection of abandoned farmhouses across rural Missouri and I'm sure things were broken for the sake of breaking them on almost every occasion.  I can assure you, I didn't give a passing thought to the emotional pain that could cause family members who came back later!  I WAS that "sorry specimen" of a human that destroyed other people's things!

By the time I made it out of the woods and back to the house, I was thanking God for opening my eyes and softening my heart.  I was praying for those whose insecurities led them to vandalize our homeplace and got into my car reminded of how truly blessed I am to have a family tradition of which to be proud!

The Myers homeplace in Cade's Cove is recognizable only by the lay of the land and the daffodils in the spring.  It may be easier when that it true of the Farmer place.  Long after the remnants of man-made structures have disappeared, God's beauty continues to manifest itself.  Thanks be to God for the reminder!

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