Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Circle of Life

When I was a kid, I used to hike in the foothills of Mt. Diablo pretty regularly.  I would walk for many reasons, probably the primary one being to escape.  But I found God in those hills.  I found comfort and peace and meaning and purpose and beauty in those hills.  There was one hill near our house where I would always start, and since I started walking there when I was very young, it was a big hill for me at first that later became the stepping stone up to bigger places, bigger hills, farther paths that took me closer and closer to Mt. Diablo.  And, starting when I was very young again, there was a tree on that hill that I came to think of as "my" tree.  I would nap against it, I would talk to it, I would hide things in the knots on its trunk.  I felt comfort and peace and familiarity with that tree.  It may sound odd, but that tree was my friend.  I took my eldest daughter up that hill with me today.  And this is what I found:

"My" tree had died.  And as silly and irrational as it may sound, I found myself crying, sobbing over this friend whom I hadn't visited in years who had died.  "Is nothing the same?"  No, nothing is the same.  Nothing lives forever.  Nothing lasts.  Everything changes.  That's reality.  That's life.  You can't really "go home" again.  That isn't real.  You can go back to an area and be near to people you have loved before, but you cannot expect those relationships to be the same, or the place to be the same.  You cannot expect that you will be the same when you return, and that means what you see and experience and feel will also be different.  But as I stood there with my 15 year old daughter, who is now old enough to hike these hills with me and who just wasn't when we left, we also saw this:

A hawk was circling overhead, close by, actually.  And it was beautiful and majestic.  And I thought about the fact that this hawk had not been alive the last time I had been here.  Living things die, and new things are born. And they are all beautiful and they each have their time and their place and their lives to live and to surrender.  
And then we looked around and saw this:  

The circle of life is not always easy.  It involves loss and death for each and every one of us.  But it is beautiful.  I am grateful for what was.  I am grateful for what is.  And I am grateful for what will be.