Monday Moment- Observing the Obstruction
I have a favorite point along my walking path that offers an expansive view of sky, field, trees, hills and sunrises. This view is beyond the paved street, down a gravel path and up a small rise onto a wide field. Last year I began a practice of extending my path each day to appreciate the view, greet the day, and take a photo. I then decided to do this every day for an entire year. I planned to photograph the beautiful scene every morning, hoping to capture the gradual changes and seasonal beauty that time would reveal.
Last January we had quite a windstorm. The following morning, I was dismayed to find a huge tree section had been dragged to my treasured place on the field! Deposited right at the top of the rise, the tree blocked the grand views I had grown to love. I was upset. My view and my plans for the photo progression series were ruined. I quit walking to my once-treasured spot. I just stopped at the end of the street and turned for home.
A few weeks ago I decided to walk back and check out my view again. The first thing I noticed was that the tree had been decomposing, making its slow return to the earth. Branches had broken off and leaves were gone; the tree wasn’t quite the obstruction it once had been. Birds frolicked and pecked for food along the trunk and branches as they chirped loudly to one another. Grasses and wildflowers, usually cut down with regular mowing, now flourished in the shelter of the tree limbs. I found that the dead tree had a beauty of its own that spoke to my soul.
This “obstruction” to my view then became the center of my attention. In changing my focus, I gleaned several insights.
- Is an obstruction really an obstruction, a barrier to look around or look beyond? Or is an obstruction actually a revelation waiting to be noticed?
- When I seek only the glorious beauty of distant grand vistas, I miss the gentle beauty of everyday moments before me.
- When I focus solely on future hopes and dreams, I overlook miracles that are unfolding here and now.
- I regret that I did not continue to take photos all along. The treasures of life unfold so gradually that I may not notice the gifts in process until much later. What have I missed along the way?
- The death of the tree brought gifts to the world; nutrients to feed the soil and spaces for new life to begin. God reveals significant insights for life and death through all of creation.
- An insurmountable obstacle may eventually diminish or even become a blessing, but only if I learn to face and embrace the obstacle, try to uncover all it holds for me, and allow the time and space for God to work.
I turned for home that morning, wondering how many other sacred moments I have only perceived as obstacles to my plans, or obstructions to my view. I am thankful that God can use everything– grand vistas and minute details, unimpeded progress and hindering barriers, yielding hearts and stubborn ways- to teach and inspire. May the lessons keep coming, and may I become a more attentive student.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:19 (NRSV)