Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We had to remove a large, very old Oregon white oak tree from the church property last week. The felling of the tree has evoked many feelings and thoughts for me and others. My friend Rhoda Markus wrote sublimely about a similar experience she had many years ago. Please welcome Rhoda as my guest blogger.
The piece of wood in my hand was beautiful - strong and smooth to touch, beautiful in its light golden color. My senses told me this thing of beauty was oak. It was. But, oh, there was so much more I did not know! Oregon White Oak is native to western Oregon and this is the only place in the world where it grows. Some of the large single oaks in pastures and around homestead sites are 500 years old - witnesses to Lewis and Clark. They stood there to welcome the first European explorers up the Columbia River. Holders of history, conveyors of beauty, needing to be cherished and widely used. These are the Oregon White Oak. What has man done in heedless and random harvesting? In forests the oak grew straight and slender, seeking the light. The early loggers felled it along with the fir, often hauling it off for firewood. Sometimes it was pushed aside into slash heaps. Today it is not replanted because it will not grow into usefulness rapidly enough. Firewood cutters and pulp seekers greedily use it up with none of its beauty preserved. Even a mill, dedicated to careful conservation, cuts ugly wedges to bury beneath the ground in support of man's technological advances. That is where the market is. Who can blame them. Privileged the few who walk upon the floor of variegated beauty or whose hands lovingly touch the satin smoothness of cabinetry. Blessed the eyes that see the continuity of life in these glorious and stalwart trees. Humble the heart that recognizes humankind's responsibility to the resources of the earth.
Balance - the tricky part of living. Needs for technological advancement, goods and services for increasing numbers of citizens of the world. Beauty and history and song for the heart and soul. Strength with roots as deep as the oak. Limitless heights to soar. Preservation. Technology. Balance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

So, today is a crisp, grey autumn day. I've watched the bright orange and yellow and brown leaves falling on the ground for several days. I need to move a bit, so it is a good time to heft the lawn rake and do some rearranging. I'm at it for a few minutes, uncovering some green ground and creating some nice fluffy rows of leaves. I listen to the sound the rake makes as it scrapes across the turf. I watch the heaps of color grow, stroke by stroke. I am at a happy place of thinking not a thing except the small effort of making each little dance step with the world. Down the block, a roundish lady, all in light blue, calls out to me as she passes by. I don't hear her exact words, but catch her drift. "More leaves are coming! Your work is only begun. But be happy! The day is beautiful, the moment sweet." She smiles, a beam of sunshine. I smile back. I continue to rake. Then, a bearded man, slim, pushing a child in a buggy, passes me, briskly. "I am so proud of you! Look at you, moving those leaves! Some people just wait for the wind to do the job! What a waste of an opportunity for exercise! But you have seized the moment!" He smiles and high steps away. No mockery, he really means it. So, two views of life. One pessimistic, another optimistic, reach the same conclusion. What is there in life, except the moment of it? How many moments are there in a day? How many opportunities are there for happiness, then, in a day? Such wealth!