Saturday, January 29, 2011

The forest for the trees

Met with an old friend today, and was so glad to pick up where we left off; for awhile I was worried I had lost him. Catching up I knew we’d both experienced quite a bit in the time we hadn’t seen each other: we’d both lost and gained things central to our lives. Driving home, I though about our chat, about what I am grateful for in my life, and looked out and ahead--at the abnormally warm, sunny day (for a January in Georgia, anyway), at the stands of pine trees flanking the road. My tranquilly snoozing daughter in the backseat paired with what lay ahead of me got me to thinking about the cliche.

Why is it that often we can’t see the forest for the trees?

In every way I catch myself on this one, and know you might, too. I’ll be looking at other peoples’ houses or clothes or whatever, wish for more or different, and forget to take a look at what I have, however humble. We live in a really small space, but we’re surrounded by trees, visited by a wide variety of birds in all their colorful glory and sweet sound. We know our neighbors and enjoy them. We have everything we need in easy access.

Beyond that, I feel as though I have more important gifts than those you store away. I know how to listen to others, how to read what might be appropriate and helpful for them as response, and to accept with compassion even if I don’t agree with everything that lands between us in conversation (a tough one, but I can do that!).

The gifts we’re given are the trees--if we study them, instead of wishing for a bigger forest or lamenting the ones we mow down, we’ll find the beauty of the bark, the twist of the limb, the settlement of birds and smell of pine pitch or flower or green bud come spring. Occasionally trees may need pruning, or even have to come down, but many remain, reaching up to the sky, growing in strength of root and branch.

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