Tuesday, July 29, 2008

There and Back Again

Well, after such a long time away from writing I have decided to give it another try. Writing these blogs as so many of us do strikes me as strange sometimes. Why exactly do we do it? Do we hope to connect with people we don't know? Or with people we do? In the past I have hoped that something I have written may have encouraged or challenged another but perhaps the truth is that I just like the writing process itself. In any case, I'm going to give it another try whether anyone ever reads it or not.

Last Friday I had a wonderful day traveling with my son to my old alma mater, West Virginia University. He was there to work with a research team on something I only have the vaguest understanding of and I was there to share the day with him and to walk the trails of the college arboretum as I used to do as a student. This arboretum was the beginning of my relationship with wild plants and animals, though I was at the school to study horticulture. I went to classes about greenhouse growing, crop science, entomology and soils but my best and longest lasting education came from the well worn paths winding through the arboretum and I traveled them in all seasons at all times of the day and evening. The slopes in spring were covered with trillium, Virginia bluebells, dutchman's breeches and all the other spring ephemerals we associate with the beauty of the woodlands. And the fall colors were almost indescribably beautiful and I have to admit that sometimes their invitation was stronger than my inclination to attend class. Oh, but how I learned on those trails and had implanted a lifelong love of the woods.

While meandering the trails on Friday, wildflower field guide in hand, I pondered the unlikely scenario in which I was participating that day. As I wandered and studied the flowers some thirty years ago I could never have imagined that someday I would return with my grown son, a son with whom I share a special bond and joy. I could not have imagined my life as it is today or what all the ensuing years would bring me, happy and sad, easy and hard. I did not then know how deeply I would someday love my children or how my relationship with God would be tried and tested and found true. I did not know of the mistakes I had yet to make or the blessings that would be bestowed upon me. If I had been granted a glimpse into the future, would I have believed what lay ahead?

I don't know, as none of us do, how much time I have left to live upon this earth. I like to think I have learned some lessons over time, but sometimes I wonder. Am I any better at trusting God for what is yet to come? Do I any more easily hand over worries and fears than I did when I first walked those trails? Am I quicker to thank Him for the wonders or turn to Him in the uncertainties? I hope so. Last Friday, I was filled with thanksgiving for what my life has been and for the twists and turns that had brought me back to stand in a place that I had remembered and loved for so long. And I was filled with amazement that unbeknownst to me, as I went about simply living my day to day life year after year, I was actually being led back to something that had been so important to me but that I was sure I had lost.

I came away from West Virginia that day appreciating the "now" of life and appreciating what seems like mystery to us, but is sure knowledge to God. May I remember the lessons I learned in the mountains now that I am back home again, for as much as I love and sometimes long for what I left, the present calls to me now and carries its own promise of what is and is yet to come.