Today’s post is a do over from last May. I am re-running it, because this past weekend left me feeling the much same way I did when I wrote this post, only now, I have new thoughts to add. Maybe this is an indication I learned something in the last year. I can only hope.
Sitting on the back deck, watching the dying rays of sun light up the belly of the patchy clouds overhead, my weekend came to a close. 75 blessed degrees. It was a weekend for yard work, so we worked the yard. My limbs are still burning, and my legs and arms twitch with the memory of labor, but the yard is ready for summer. That last hour before sunset I finally rested, enjoying the dull ache of my muscles, the satisfaction of having the work completed, and watching the birds flit about the trees. Mourning doves, catbirds, cardinals, blue jays, a pair of orioles, and robins galore. It was a cacophony of chirping, and the indomitable Moxie was beside herself at their insolence. At times like that I can think of no more beautiful place on earth than our little suburban back yard.
I’ve never been an outgoing person, and as I get older I find myself turning further inward, away from the world. There are times that I wish we lived somewhere out in the country, far away from anyone else, but I know that this late 50’s rambler is our home, and that I am unlikely to ever leave it. There are worse places a person could settle down than our little suburban retreat. The trees here are full grown, and the yards full of shrubs and gardens. The world buzzes by around us, but this little street provides a sanctuary. I only need to stop for a minute of rest to realize how untouched we are by the city around us. If I sit for an hour, like I did last night, the yard comes alive.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in self importance, and think that our impact on the world is enduring and permanent. But the reality is that it wouldn’t take long for nature to swallow us up, and take back the little plot of land that we tend. Each season we carve out our little place here and hold the wilderness at bay, even in the midst of the city. In a north woods, or a country field, how much harder would it be to keep from being overgrown? As tempting as the solitude sounds, I wonder if I would feel threatened by the silence, and the space around us. Sit still long enough and I could imagine that I could hear the grass, and trees advancing, their lithe green tendrils stealthily closing in around us.
I have often looked at the industrial ruins of rust belt America, and thought how quickly it all rose, and fell. In less than 100 years, the steel mills sprang up, belched out their smoke, then fell silent, and succumbed to rust and weeds. It is not our fault. All the works of man are doomed to the same fate.
I believe that there is a creator God, and that people are made in his image. As “little gods” our lives are spent trying to emulate the big God, by creating. Yet we are not God, and all of our efforts will eventually fall back into the earth from which they sprang. Not to rise again, as God’s creation does, each season moving through a new cycle of birth-death-rebirth. No, our creations just rise, then fall to ruin.
Sitting on the deck thinking about the blades of grass, and branches reaching like fingers into the yard to reclaim what I had spent the weekend taming, I watched the children bouncing on their trampoline. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Then it occurred to me that all of our works are not in vain. For we do live on through the lives that we create, the same as our ancestors live on within us.
The static remains of mills, and buildings, slump slowly to earth, the fingers of nature peeling them apart piece by piece. But that is not the end of us. My mistake has been to equate us with our works. We are more than that. We are not the buildings, nor the machines. We are the dandelions, springing up each season in new generations of weedy glory, transforming what is all around us. Living the only way we know how, they way we were created to be.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.