Our rugged mountain town of Flagstaff has four seasons: winter, summer, spring, and fall (and in that order). At 7,000 feet in elevation, the cold April winds and stubborn winter storms hold back our spring wildflowers. After our monsoons in July, the sunflowers turn our green fields into golden lakes. Out on walks there are bouquets of red, yellow, and purple flowers dotting the hillside.
I would like to invite you on one of my inspirational walks, and hopefully you will also find some guidance along the way. As we take our first few steps into the forest, let’s ask ourselves, “what is our focus?”
Stop for a moment on your journey and look around. What stands out to you? Sometimes we can get so focused on where we’re going in life, we only look at the road immediately in front of us and forget the big picture. Take time to enjoy the view. There is a huge field of potential all around us. While weeds and thorn-bushes lord over the green prairie grass, tall Oaks gather in groups. swallowtail and woodpeckers soar and dip from one tree limb to another, like kids swinging on a jungle-gym. Vibrant wildflowers paint the landscape in joyful brilliance. If your focus was on the weeds, these seeds of turmoil will attach their thorns of discord into your journey, and cause pain at every step. Remember in life there will always be the thorns and weeds, but there is also so much grandeur of beauty all around us as well. From the gathering wisdom that stands around us like trees of protection, or the reminder that we can soar above situations to get a higher perspective in life, or even to take the time to enjoy the colors of laughter that surround us.
As we continue deeper into our journey we discover a pedestal of purpose. It is one of those awe-ha moments in life when it suddenly hits us what we want to accomplish. It is beautiful, and it makes the world a little more beautiful as well. The interesting phenomena that takes place is when we step upon that platform our view is not as beautiful. Now we are looking out at all the work that needs to take place, all the brokenness that needs fixing, and we can’t see the beauty of what we just stepped into. I say phenomena because if we could step further back once again, (like seeing the forest through the trees ) we would be able to view the beautiful scenery once again. The lesson learned is even if you can’t see the beauty in what you’re doing because you’re in the middle of it, know that others do. Especially the ones that you have help to make a difference in their live.
When I was a little girl I would play in the woods for hours. I always thought of myself as Wendy from Peter Pan. I imagined myself rescuing all the lost boys, telling stories, and engaging on great adventures; using sticks for swords. One day I came across orange ribbons around all of my favorite trees. I sat down horrified with the realization that some evil grown-up was going to cut down each marked tree. These trees were friends to me; I told them my secrets, shared my picnic lunches, and climbed them for protection. So I did the only reasonable thing I knew to do; I took off ever label and threw them away.
Abuse, negligence, and addictions, have put their mark of destruction on many lost boys. Destroying them from ever maturing into trees of righteousness that could one day cover us with their strength of fatherly wisdom. Only love, patience, and determination can tear off the labels that our world puts on them.
Finally we pass through the gate to come back home again.
Gates can symbolize protection or being trapped, depending on your perspective. Some gates are for our protection, and warn us of danger. Rules are usually posted on the gates, and if we heed the warnings we can be protected, but if we disobey and follow only what is right in our own eyes, we might find ourselves trapped.
Like a gated secret garden, let’s protect all of our new-found wisdom we have planted. May it inspire us each time our thoughts carry us through it.
all photography in this post was taken by my daughter Catherine Peterson, who I am so thankful for her eye for beauty.