Decision At Persimmon Grove
My alarm annoyingly buzzed that morning and I buried my face in my pillow. Ugh. Already? Maybe it was set wrong.
Nope. I checked. Maybe I can shut it off and go back to bed? I began running all the things I needed to do this morning through my head. I need to get up, get the kids ready, take baked-goods into the coffee shop, drive the kids to school, emails to respond to, and several articles coming due I should work on and AUNT JAN! I forgot….
There would be no hope of a nap. I had scheduled a morning walk through the paths with Aunt Jan for this morning. I thought about cancelling since we got back into town late last night/early morning. I didn't get to bed till 2:30 am.
To cancel or not to cancel? Hmmm.
Thinking of walking the woods was snapping me out of my tired paralysis. I started feeling all The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go. Pulling back the covers, I went to wake up the wildlings like I do every other day.
When I arrived, Aunt Jan was helping Uncle Tim put up a wooden fence that was nearly crumbling from age. Grandma wanted it re-posted to obstruct her view from the old barn that sat at the top of her hill.
I was instructed to put down my coffee and grab the other side of the wooden plank. Aunt Jan wore rubber rain boots over loose jeans, a fanny pack full of water, a mace gun, (which I found out later was in there when we heard what sounded like a rabbid dog while we were out exploring on the trails) granola and gummies, two water bottles, and a pocket-sized devotional of Come Away With Me, My Beloved. You know, walking essentials.
I breathed deep when we started down the first trail through the thick, early morning spring mist and I knew I made the right decision to walk the paths that morning. The spring season had already turned the scarce winter shrubs into bountiful, luscious leaves that danced all around us as we wandered. The backwoods, resembling a rain forrest from the over-growth of the frequent rainfalls, hosted happily chirping birds.
The coming rain had changed the atmosphere of the forrest this morning. There was a coolness, a breezy fog, and the critters were scampering about more than usual as if anticipating the rain that was about to fall any minute.
A lush growth of honey suckle and the fresh aroma of wild roses tempted us to go deeper into the paths. We winded around a hollow tree and observed bees busy making honey. She has never disturbed them. We sat by Fire Pinks (a flower I wanted to make sure got included in this blog because I know what a Fire Pink is, and I have known this for a few hours now.) We watched a baby bunny play for a half an hour.
We walked a few paths through the rocky creek, and followed what’s left of the old drive that grandpa had graveled many decades before that once led to a gate entrance that is no longer there, which was used to hold in the cattle.
Aunt Jan loves these woods. She knows them. She has painstakingly and thoughtfully created clearings out of thistle-clad hollows to make little stops and resting places throughout, recruiting Uncle Tim to pull benches with the tractor, some of which are the heavy, old concrete benches like you would find at old cemeteries.
There is a graveyard among the paths too. One that has been undisturbed for over a century with names and dates, mostly unrecognizable on the old stones from the wear of the years.
We meander through the paths she keeps freshly mowed. There are many. She tenderly, gingerly removes rocks and scattered branches off of the trails as we walk, and she does this many times a week. She swats at poison ivy with her walking stick as we go.
"Last week the electric company moved in unannounced and cut down trees", she explained. She gestured toward the center of a clearing she purposely, and with great care, had cleared out and lovingly named "Persimmon Grove" as it was a circle of ancient Persimmon trees. But in the aftermath of the chainsaw massacre, trees laid cut at the roots and dumped in a hapless pile. Persimmon Grove had been butchered, turned into a graveyard of memories. For she ran these hills as pint-sized Jan before she was an Aunt, a wife, a mother or grammy.
As we entered into Persimmon Grove, I saw a sign hanging on one of the brutalized trees. It read,
I laughed out loud.
That’s such a good word.
We stood at the wreckage of Persimmon Grove, sad. But as we chatted, the luscious honey suckle wafted at our noses causing us to look up, and look around. Persimmon Grove was at a crossroads. There were paths leading out of it on either side. I said, “I know it’s sad, but look at all the beauty there still is, all around us.”
She agreed, referencing the meaning of the sign. “We could wallow here,” She simply stated. "But if we choose to stay here and wallow, we will get into the poison that is already beginning to wind it’s way up through fallen trees".
There is so much wisdom in the forest!
I have learned many a good life lesson from these paths. But I've never shared them publicly before. To me, it is a sacred place, a spot to meet with the Lord and hear from him as he often meets us when we make room for him by opening up our schedule, stepping away from the busy, and asking him to speak to us.
I fear the experience might diminish when I try to capture it with a keyboard. I will surely fail to capture the moment of clarity when God whispers something in a moment, and I try and translate with feeble, human words. But this, is just too good, so I have to try. And it's so simple!
You probably don't spend hours a week cultivating myseritous paths through a forrest like Aunt Jan, but you probably have experienced some form of wreckage at some point in your life. Maybe something was done to you that was out of your control that felt devastating or violating like the electric company bursting in uninvited, bringing terror to beloved Persimmon Grove.
Life is unexpected like that. And disappointing, sometimes malicious, and by no means fair. I have to explain this to my kids all. the. time.
But we get a choice after. A decision needs to be made standing in the wreckage. What do we do now? Let's do this. Make like Persimmon Grove, hang a sign on the wounded spots and tell yourself:
“Yeah that happened. Now. Move On.”
Wallowing will only lead to poison. There’s no use to linger longer.
It’s the season of honeysuckle and fresh roses wafting through the branches-filled forrest from all of the trees that are still alive, tempting us with new paths to follow.
Leave the wreckage behind. Turn to the paths, they are still free for the taking, paths filled with surprise, adventure, healing, and new beginnings.
Oh, and wear the fanny pack.