By 8 o’clock this morning, I had cut down two trees. Real trees with trunks over two inches in diameter. I got outside early before the h and h (heat and humidity) were insufferable. A lovely breeze was breezing and I was totally up for continuing my crusade against an overgrown, unsightly yard. Plenty of elbow grease was required to make the cuts with my modest hand saw (an electric knife might have made the job easier!), and as my physical strength reached its height, I became keenly aware of power surging through me. Power. Over trees, over nature.
Was I using my power well? We are charged by almighty God with caring for the creation. Aren’t we supposed to be saving trees? I didn’t get into serious reflection or self-recrimination, for my action was intended exactly as good stewardship. These trees—I don’t even know what kind they are—come up volunteer and there are now 11 of them along the fence in about a 12-foot stretch. Too many to grow well and be manageable. Even so, as I sawed through that young trunk, there was a keen sense of ending a beautiful, miraculous life.
And as I cleared the space behind my tool house of invasive vines and shrubs and a big pile of yard garbage accumulated for the last couple months, a foot-long skink slithered out. Undoubtedly, the creature was every bit as startled as I, but only one of us yelped. So, predictably, I thought of vanishing habitats for our animal co-habitors and how I was taking away hers. But it’s my place, space, yard, house—property.
Which made me think of native Americans who, I’ve heard, had no concept of private property. How can anyone own the ground, the sky, the water?! I really like their outlook. How many less problems would there be in the world, how many fewer wars and conflicts if everyone ascribed to that notion and held the land as a sacred gift from the Creator to be managed and shared and handled for the common good? BTW, I am not a communist. And I am a homeowner, so I speak confessionally as well as judgmentally on this topic.
Quite a morning of reflection in my back yard on this holiday! Thank you, great God, for all of it—the trees, the saw, the strength, the skink, the property, the reflective spirit. On this Fourth of July when we celebrate freedom, may you guide me to exercise the great gift of it in accordance with your good purposes and in the knowledge of your sweet and amazing grace. Amen!