We took a short hike at Castlewood the other day, and by the end I found myself wandering – in a bit of wonder – around Colossae.
Initially, I found the trip to the park a bit disappointing. Flood waters have only recently receded on the Meramec, leaving a treacherous and muddy mess in their wake on many of the river’s most popular sandbars.
True, a few hardy souls still trudged through the malodorous muck to reach the water’s edge. But Gerri and I thought better of it…trading our intended destination for a pedestrian (but considerably less challenging) walk in the woods.
Pleasant weather enhanced the pleasant company we enjoyed, my Paradise Partner and me – a considerable blessing, just to have this chance to waste a little time together. We chatted about a thousand little things, free-associating from topic to topic to topic. Talked so much, in fact, that I almost missed it: the fallen tree just off to the left of the path.
Deadwood, unworthy of a second glance.
Until I noticed the forest-within-a-forest nourished by the hard wood’s decay: Dozens upon dozens of bright white oyster mushrooms, many sporting coaster-sized crowns…together blazing a trail through the undergrowth, illuminating rotten bark.
The silent scene whispered somehow. ‘Circle of life,’ for sure. But perhaps something more. I snapped a quick photo, and we were on our way.
Fifty yards down the path, another fallen tree caught my eye – this one adorned with a rather vigorous stand of parasitic plants: a jumble of sprouts and ferns…all gently kissed by the light of the late-morning sun.
Only today did it dawn on me – with the help of the passage we hear from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians – why these fallen trunks might have the capacity to stir my heart so. Paul says to us:
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Doesn’t sound like much of a bargain, does it? At least, not until you realize that the ‘self’ ultimately amounts to nothing more than deadwood. It has no real future – as Jesus reminds us in the parable of the rich man:
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
But if I learn to die to self…if I learn to die in Christ…it’s then that all sorts of interesting possibilities begin sprout.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.