7/27/12 – Garden & Compost

Beauty and hope in unlikely places

Pine cones on the forest floor

Until my illness I delighted in hiking and camping in the Eastern Sierras, especially in the John Muir Wilderness area. From previous trips I have lots of memories and lots of photos. Friends have continued to send photos (of past and present trips), too. In looking through photos this one caught my eye yesterday.

At +10,000 feet the cones and needles decompose slowly in the few months they are not covered with snow. There is a textural beauty in this mix on the forest floor. With sunlight angling in it is even more beautiful with shadows and light. The moment captured here is a reminder to hope. This isn’t the typical travel picture with snow capped peaks or dramatic vistas that make a person say “Wow,” but it is part of the spiritual wonder that calls me still to come into the wilderness—and a treasured image of my travels there.

With its different kind of beauty it makes me pause to see beauty in the most unlikely places and to be thankful. “Look closely,” is what I hear the Spirit saying. Even with its slow decomposition, the needles and cones provide necessary nutrients for the trees, food for mice and squirrels and birds, and an excellent environment for the bugs and other living creatures helping with the decomposition. There is so much life and hope in this which appears “dead.”

To make the time to slow down and look, to stop and listen is a wonderful discipline and a luxury we all have. To have the leadership of men and women like those who staff Camp Stevens in Julian, CA, who make trips into the wilderness a possibility, is a great gift to me and to the communities they serve.

I urge you to get outside, (you don’t have to hike and camp the John Muir Wilderness), walk in the heat (or cool) of the day, walk in your yard, walk down the street, walk in a nearby park, walk the beach (if you’re close to one), but, slow down and really look, stop and listen—let nature share her gifts with you. Beauty and hope can be found in the most unlikely places.

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About Garden & Compost

Image: Daniel Rondeau near Black Lake in the Eastern Sierras
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