The scent was tough to pin down… earthy, with definite green overtones… musky, musty and maybe even a hint of something not quite “fresh,” and a touch of cedar, everywhere. This was not exactly the “pine forest” potpourri I buy for Christmas time. It filled my nose every time I stepped into the woods.  Drawn to it- I went everyday. I saved my walks for when the sunlight streamed through the leaves.  The sunlight dappled the forest floor like tiny spotlights, highlighting things I’d have overlooked any other time.

Everywhere I looked– life sprang up.  Mostly?  It sprang up from death.  Dead leaves, trees and other plant life provided a fertile ground for new growth.  Bugs nibbled and munched their happy way through entire logs, the forest teemed with life… and death.

I found ferns growing from dead stumps, fungii’s of questionable safety.  Tiny baby pine trees breaking through piles of rotting leaves- struggling to grow in the shadow of their siblings and parents.

Light and dark mingled to paint an amazing scene… I ventured out once after the earth tilted too far to allow the sun to reach the forest floor.  It was an entirely different experience.  One I didn’t repeat.

What had been dappled in light, became: gloomy and dark.  What had been brilliant with contrast and easy to wander, became suddenly, hard to navigate safely.  I tripped over the same logs I’d photographed earlier.  Even the aroma changed… somehow the sunlight seemed to have brought out the green notes… in the dark?  There was just mold, decay and mustiness.  Pictures blurred. I headed back to camp.

All week long I kept going back. But,  I avoided the dark.  Much more brilliant in the light.

I looked straight up- and found the sky amazing.  hints of bright blue broke through the forest canopy.  I looked down and discovered strange tiny plants I’ve never seen before.  

Anyone have a clue what this little guy might be? edited to add– THANKS Violinknitter!  She let me know that these are Indian pipes– very cool check out the linky!>

Here, I saw the whole circle of life repeating itself… endlessly.  I watched in amazement.  At home.. I’m lucky to see a seed fall from a tree- not to take root, of course- but to be swept away by a landscape hobbyist to keep a concrete driveway pristine.

At home, composting happens after the recycling truck comes to pick up the nealty alighned bags of “Yard Waste”.   The only things that grow- are those carefully chosen and allowed.  Weeds are sprayed to an early death, and stray plants are quickly plucked back into submission.

There was nothing submissive to man’s will,  about the forest floor.  And yet– it worked.  It was fully submitted to God’s will, and his design.  Life kept springing up.  Death marched on… seeds fell onto fertile soil… took root, and grew, nourished by the death that surrounded.

Sometimes, I think we try to over sanitize, organize and control the messiness of life.  We work to create a “container garden” or a hothouse experience.  We take vitamins, to extend life.. we protect ourselves and our kids with “bubble wrap” of all sorts.  We pick and choose parts of the Bible to believe.. because they are “nice”  pretty.  Physically, emotionally- sometimes even spiritually, we create a suburban life of sorts.

I think we miss out on the natural beauty that could surround us, maybe even in our journey with God.

John 12:24-26

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “

Today… I’m not going to micro-manage or try and control my life– today— I’m going to let God  be in control (as IF I ever was)  I wonder what I’ll see? I wonder what I’ll experience?  Only one thing is sure… there will be life.. and life abundant!  (maybe even life messy and foresty!:)