As an avid hiker and contemplative people will often ask me how I can spend hours alone without anyone to talk to. Isn’t it boring? Now I know the Holy answer would be to tell you that it’s not lonely because I’m talking to Jesus the whole time. However, that would be a lie. The way I usually answer that question is by saying you don’t really want to get mixed up with what goes on in my head. But I assure you it is never boring!
On my most recent hike I noticed that the park rangers had placed fresh white marks on trees denoting where the trail was leading. I noticed that they used younger trees than the ones that displayed the older, weathered marks. Naturally I began to wonder how the trees felt about this and my world was transformed…..
“Dad look! Willow has been marked!”
Leif a mature Oak tree looked at his seedling and responded in his baritone voice, “Yes son, you never know who God may choose to be the next guide. But one thing we do know is that whoever is chosen will be given the wisdom to lead others on the right path.”
“Do you think Old Whitey is mad?”
“Whitey has led many trees and travelers to their destination. Willow has watched and learned from Whitey. God always knows when it’s time to rise up new guides.”
“Why can’t I be a guide?”
Leif pondered his son’s questions and wondered if he should make something up to encourage his son. Opting for the truth he said, “Honestly I don’t know why. There is not one tree in this forest that is better than the other. The guides serve a purpose but for our forest to thrive we all need to grow and learn from each other. You may not be a guide but your branches provide protection to the animals, your acorns provide food, and your existence provides a vision of God’s grandeur and stability.”
“Whoa…. That’s cool!”
With pride Leif looked at his seedling, “Yes son that is cool.”
Yep that’s what I was thinking about as I walked through the forest. (There are some other stories I created about the trees but I will spare you for tonight.) I suppose the story of Leif and his seedling was a gentle reminder that God has created us all with a specific purpose. No one person is better than the other.
When we all operate out of the gifts given to us a masterpiece is created. It’s like a full orchestra coming together to create the most magnificent piece of music known to mankind. It is a call to hone in on our craft. If you are a pianist then learn to play the piano to the best of your ability. Leave the flautist alone!
It is so easy to get caught up in what others are doing or to be envious of something they have that we do not. I am learning that there is freedom when we honor in others what God has given them. In turn I think there is freedom when we learn to honor the gifts we carry within ourselves.