I spent this weekend at my parents’ farm for deer season, and it was unusually poignant for me. I had the opportunity to spend time alone and with others in productive and restorative ways. I would like to share these experiences to encourage and to illuminate. Often we get stuck in our ruts (no pun intended) despite claims of flexibility. I can certainly be notoriously inflexible while claiming open-mindedness.
I look forward to this time of year. Sitting in the woods can yield a good hunt, but simply being exposed in the woods and fields during the early morning and evening is an event. We typically head out to stands (roughly 15 feet into a tree) an hour before daylight. Over the course of a few hours the world changes right before your eyes. We come in from the woods mid-morning and then go back out mid-afternoon to wait for dark. Think about all the transitions:
In the Morning:
- Darkness of night to full light of day
- Silence to bustling wildlife
- Stillness to wakening wind to the steady calm of the day
- Viewpoint steadily expanding to the horizon
In the Evening:
- Viewpoint steadily shrinks to your immediate space
- Buzzing activity of the afternoon sinking to the stillness of the night
- Birds and squirrels slowly become silent
- Light fades to twilight and finally to deep darkness
In these changes you see the vast complexity of the world. You see the deep connections between living organisms and inanimate objects. You see a rich tapestry of life that is simply stunning to behold.
Fall is a perfect time to observe this in motion because there is enough activity to see these deep connections but not the overwhelming diversity and blocking foliage of summer. This opportunity always provides me a way to quiet the noise in my mind from our man-made world.
Most of all I get to participate in God’s creation at a raw level and this helps me focus on what He has for me more than any other time of the year. By the end of the weekend I feel I can once again hear His voice in the midst of the noise of this world.
Working with wood and creating has always been a joyful activity for me. On this trip I had the opportunity to work with my father and work alone for periods of time. I was able to both learn from his experience and experiment on my own. Work is another way to be refreshed. Especially work that yields immediate and not long term results. In this case some walnut door frames for our library.
Eating together is a basic human function that builds relationships and connections. The process of gathering together, laughing, talking, praying and sharing is full of benefits that cannot be fully understood. We are built for community and these times are to be cherished.
The same goes for playing games together. It is not about winning a game, although healthy competition is not a bad thing when managed, it is about activity together. A chance to see how others’ minds work. To talk to them through the game and simply connect.
Both of my daughters have gotten married this year. This was the first “family” event that we had with both couples present. It was good to start seeing the new context in which I interact with my family. I see that I have a lot to learn. It was also not complete because my son could not be present due to finals. I am sure the new dynamic will become more clear over the Thanksgiving holiday when we are all together for an extended period.
Summing It Up
The total of all these experiences is an opportunity to look at yourself and truly gauge where you are and where you want to go. For example I was able to see myself slipping into old habits, allowing things I have previously overcome to begin to drive me again. We all have experiences in our past that cause us to react in an unhealthy way to certain stimuli. Part of being a productive adult is pushing past that and overcoming the urge to behave in an immature way.
I am striving to remain teachable. To truly be a life long learner. I fail on a regular basis but I am committed to trying. It was really refreshing for me to process through my relationship with God, who He wants me to be, and where I have strayed from my target.
Even sitting here now, it is a stunning experience. The wind is rushing through the trees, the clouds racing across the sky. The horses running, rolling and lounging in the field. There is a steady transition every 15 minutes of rain, thunderstorm, sun, wind and mist. We even had a wren and a squirrel on the screened in porch with us today. In a word, Wow.