Wander forward through the trees….

Hiking through a “ cathedral of trees” is a healing balm for the anxious and unquiet that often lives in the mind. Immersed within the covering of forest, and leaves, there is a comfortable protection that surrounds, and exclamations of thankfulness fall from my lips.

Within the trunks of these graceful aspens, are the dark eyes that are etched into the skin of the tree. They are ever watchful, and as their branches bend and flow gracefully above, stretching towards the light, I’m reminded of how I must continually reach for the power of the light to illuminate through the darkness.

The rugged dirt beneath my feet, displays stones, and tree roots, and holes, and I find myself slipping, and regaining balance, so as not to take a header on this hike.

To look ahead, or to watch the path, beneath my Nike running shoes is always a toss up, and a conundrum of vantage points, and then also to take in the awesome beauty that surrounds. I don’t want to miss anything.

There will be yellows, and golds, crimson, sage green, lime, and forest green, and all shades of beige and taupes, greys, and black. It’s like a picnic of flavor for the eyes. Literally a banquet table of color, and I hear my voice exclaiming again and again of the present beauty that is intoxicating all of my senses.

Beaver dams made with such workmanship and preciseness. Master architects are these fellows. How on earth do they chew through these tall trees, and drag them down to their homes, which seem to be ever “ under construction.” it’s fascinating to observe, like a city ever growing and morphing into what it’s becoming. I did not catch a sighting of the beaver, but there was evidence of him amongst the fallen wood .

Who needs a wood chipper when these chaps are on the job. I’m ever a fan of Winnie the Poo and friends, and one of my favorite characters is Beaver.

He sorta whistles when he talks, and has great inflection to his voice. There is one scene where he chews down a big old pine tree, then grabs it with both arms, and says to Poo bear, who is wanting to use it as his Christmas tree,

“Tell me where you want it,” then more insistently, “tell me where you want it?!”

It was something that always cracked up our family every time we watched this episode. Now don’t even get me started on how each of us can identify with one or more of the characters from Winnie the Poo, and The Hundred Acre Wood Series. Some personalities can fit into a Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Kanata, Piglet..” oh da da dear..” and of course Poo Bear himself, “ oh bother.” Less we forget the infamous Eeyore character who often can be heard saying,

“ it’s a beautiful day, but it will probably rain.”

This feels like a trek through “The Hundred Acre Wood.”

As I drove with Pete and Val in the jeep up the mountain towards Paradise Valley, in Crested Butte, we came across a “moose on the loose,” in the adjacent field. I had never seen a moose running free. I had no idea it was on the bucket list until there he was in all his glory . Such a fantastic gift to see this. Even though this year has felt fraught with grotesque images, this reminded me that the creatures in nature are a delight when captured and held.

An American moose in the wild

I can almost see these whimsical creatures behind each tree, watching and speculating from afar, on the goings on of these hiker humans. These characters were all about play, honey, and planting veggies, and community. Even though their character traits were vastly different, they seemed to appreciate one another, and what they offered in the way of friendship. Christopher Robin was the beloved authority, who they went to for advice. What a delightful make believe world.

This year of 2020, has made me long for a make believe world that didn’t hold so much pain and confusion, and fear within its grasp. It’s certainly been a year, and as we work our way through fall, and enjoy the colder evenings that we find ourselves in, it’s with a concerted effort not to get drawn into bad news, and media uproar, and stashing paper towels, and more toilet paper.

Ugh… this year has been especially hard. Not being able to spend time with those that you love that are far away, has left us with often melancholy hearts that are scarred, and wounded, and aching to feel hugged and held by our people.

Missing our friends, and family, and not celebrating as we used to, has left us feeling understandably raw.

I’m not sure exactly why this happens, but it seems as if we say good bye to loved ones during this time of year . The falling of leaves in bright glory hit the earth, with such quiet, and flutter, there is a wonder about this season.

My daughter Bianca, has been gone from us for 5 years today. I am stunned to acknowledge that the missing does not lessen, and the open wound of a broken heart is ever present.

I heard a video of her laughing the other day. I came across it in a Facebook memory. The echo of her lovely giggle was infectious. It was like cool fresh water, bubbling up over the rocks, and falling fresh in a waterfall of life and laughter. It was life giving. It was healing. But I want more. More of her. There is a hunger to be near her. To hold her, touch her skin, kiss her, take care of her.

Delicious giggles

I met up with a dear Mother, Chennel, the other day, accompanied by my friend Laura. Chennel had to say goodbye to her beloved son, Jovan, just a few short months ago. He was 11. He suffered with “Battens Disease.” It was cruel to him, but his Mum nursed and cared for him courageously, and was such an advocate for his every need. She is an incredible Mother. She is in the Fall season of deep grief.

All of a sudden, when Jovan passed away, the care stopped, and it’s as if her breath stopped too. The walls come crumbling down in an instant as a wrecking ball crashes in with no regard to the walls of the house where our precious ones reside. Gaping gashes lay raw and bleeding in our personhood.

It was a privilege to sit alongside her, and be in her presence. She has another son Gianni, who is a typical young boy. He is full of fun and mischief. He has seen a great deal in his young life. He has witnessed a Mom of incredible courage and resolve, and he has been a part of that care.

The brothers and sisters of those kids that are chronically ill, and diseased experience a different life than most.

I believe that can be said to be true of my sons, Zach, and Logan. Their lives have been deeply impacted living life with their sister for 17 years. To me greatness of character is built in the mine fields of disease and despair, seeing and baring witness to seeing someone you love suffer and struggle on a daily basis. There is no greater piercing of the soul, then having to watch, and not being able to make it better.

It stretches a person beyond that which they thought they could ever endure.

There is a trying to make sense of a life situation that is quite simply nonsensical.

We wonder where God is in the middle of this deep despair? I feel his presence, and have clung to my relationship with Jesus, as a drowning woman to a life preserver when the mighty waves threaten to pull me under time and again.

My friend Jeri, and I plan to bring canvasses and paint up by her graveside today. We will bring a blanket, and a picnic, and snacks, because snacks are always a comfort, and possibly listen to some tunes too.

The setting there with Longs Peak in the background has become one of my favorite landscapes.

Open rolling fields turning golden yellow, and ripe for harvest, occasional trees as exclamation points on the perimeter of the land.

Fall is harvest season. It’s the season of gratitude and Thanksgiving. Family get togethers and sharing of sumptuous meals, celebrations of life affirming we are still here, and we need one another, ever more now as we remember dear and loved people that have gone from our lives.

Our community needs each of us to be whole and still come together.. each needing the other, and affirming each other.

I was reminded by my friend Val, up in Crested Butte, that the huge grove of aspen trees there are one giant organism living and interconnected with one another to sustain life.

Incredible… these trees know how to do community well. They are joined together, as a group, swaying gracefully and stretching their necks skyward. Not one sees itself as more important than the other, it’s as if they move as one body, arms and legs in unison, heartbeat, and breathing aligned for the greater good. It is magnificent.

Pete on the path

I’m grateful that I had a daughter for 17 years. I am even thankful for the challenge of being her Mother, for the faith she had in me, for the love and joy she brought to our entire family. She changed our lives, she made us better, I believe. She was a teacher to us, even though she never spoke a word.

I remember you today especially Bianca, and the immense honor of being allowed to be your Mother. I will miss you until the day I breathe my last breath, and look forward with eager anticipation when I am reunited with you one day in heaven.


6 thoughts on “Wander forward through the trees….

  1. Thank you for letting us in to your thoughts. I can relate in some respects as we lived through 12 years as our daughter, Kristina, lay in bed in unbelievable pain. The experience changed her life and our lives. The Lord was always near and seeing her positive spirit endure encouraged us on a most difficult journey. As Paul found out, our Lord’s grace proved sufficient. Hugs, Frank

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    1. Hi Frank:
      I did not know that about your daughter Kristina. Watching and feeling oftentimes helpless as our loved ones ‘ suffer is a soul splitting experience. It changes us for sure. I saw this with my Mum and maternal Nanny, Agnes Denzin, as she cared for her husband. I often refer to it as “ A Legacy of Care.” Thank you for sharing that about your daughter. It’s true that you feel the Lord near in a very tangible way, and that there is so much depth of spirit that is enhanced through suffering. I still don’t like it though, and don’t suppose I will until face to face with Jesus, and all will be known.

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