Clear cut

It’s a delicate subject around here.  Toss a coin up in the air and decide.  Should the land ever be clear-cut?  Should the trees be sliced off like a razor cutting whiskers on a stubbly chin? 

Foresters often say that in certain areas a clear-cut is advisable.  Many tracts are not good hardwood sites; they refuse to grow beautiful hardwoods like maple and yellow birch which have high-quality value.  If  foresters selectively harvest on these sites they never see much improvement.  If they want to have productive tracts, they will sometimes choose to clear-cut.  The result will be thick aspen (poplar) stands.  In 40-50 years these will be big harvestable trees.  The mills need these stands to mix with their hardwood.

There.  I have just given you forestry-speak.

Keep turning around in a circle

I could share the perspective of someone who loves trees; someone who doesn’t much like the labels of which trees are “valuable” and which trees are “junk”.  I could share old Native American stories about the trees being our brothers and sisters, the lungs of the planet earth.

But no.

I want to talk about the clear-cuts of our soul.

When God calls a Time Out

What times in our own lives have we felt like we’ve been clear-cut?  When everything has been torn away?  When things safe and familiar and loving have been ripped asunder?

Have we all had clear-cuts?  Some clear-cuts come on the heels of endings of relationships.  The endings of friendship, of love, of romance, of marriage.  Some come with the tears of loss:  the death of a child, a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a friend.  Others have lost their home, their money, their job.  A clear-cut is a place in life where our beloved past meets destructive saws.  The dear trees fall.  So often don’t we weep?  We weep from the loss, the pain, the absence of the loved one.

Stump and dried flower

Afterward the brush lies all over the ground of ourselves.  We wipe our tears and stand straight.  We have to walk with faith, then, through the clear-cut of the soul.  The seeds are growing beneath the tangled brush, but we don’t know it yet.

In a few days or months or years the new trees will be growing.  We will persevere. 

The horizon

I have known many forests who have been heavily logged.  In my lifetime, I have not intimately known many forest tracts completely clear-cut.  Yes, we see clear-cuts everywhere.  But they usually aren’t on land that I have walked, loved, whispered to, dreamed upon.

Once, a long time ago, while crying in some beloved logged forest, an inner thought arose,  “Just sit here until you can feel the sacred beauty of the place.”  I sat for a long time surrounded by impenetrable brush and jagged logs and wild disarray.  I sat with the memory of the tall hemlock, the sturdy maple, the feel of the forest.  I was not going to move until it felt sacred once again, until the invisible seeds of hope and new life showed themselves.

And finally, I saw it.  A flower.  Blossoming.  And over there a precious sweep of branches.  And over there a bent cedar. 

Slowly the logged forest started revealing its promise.

We will grow again, the trees said.  We won’t be the same trees.  But we will grow again. 

Hope

I think of a dear friend who lost her husband three or four years ago.  The first year of her clear-cut was agonizing.  She wondered if she would survive.  I wondered if she would survive.  The second year was filled with many tears, but slowly the young sprouts grew.  She still grieves, but she’s stronger now.  Her new roots are growing into the earth.  It wasn’t something she wanted, but  she’s learned to see the sacred beauty in what remains.

Blessings for all of us in times of the clear-cuts of our soul.

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