We have always called the three acre plot covered by trees located at the east side of the family farm, “the woods”. It’s not big enough to be called a forest; a forest is a large wooded area so densely populated that one could become lost. To some, I’m sure our 3 acres would be considered nothing more than a thicket. But to us, it will always be “the woods.”
The trees that populate the woods vary in species, size, shape, and age. Hardwoods make up most of the vegetation; red oaks, post oaks, white oaks, pin oaks, hickories, and more. Several red cedars give the underbrush a year-round green hue. In recent years, a specie of tree which we always called an “island tree” because it reminded us of the coconut trees on “Gilligan’s Island” has forged its way more deeply into the woods. And there is one stray peach tree which has sprung up from a randomly discarded seed.
From Spring to late Fall, the foliage of this hodgepodge of trees provides a beautiful canopy for the wildlife which seeks refuge beneath its shade. In the Spring, redbuds and dogwoods blossom and fill the air with a sweet aroma. Turkeys roost high in the branches of the hardwoods at night. During the Summer the varying shades of greenery ripple in the wind allowing the occasional warming sunray to reach the ground below. And in the Fall, acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts provide much needed sustenance for the deer and squirrels which scurry beneath the trees.
Several of the trees which are growing in the woods possess potential monetary value. Throughout the years, professional loggers have asked me to consider selling the boundary of logs. A few times, I have considered the offers from the loggers.
But each time, when I have weighed the cost of losing its beauty, the cost of losing the wildlife habitat, the cost of cleaning up the residual laps and stumps, and the cost of reseeding the acreage in grass to protect it from erosion, I have decided to leave it as it is.
I’ve also considered trying to “weed out” some of the “undesirable” trees; the “island trees”, the cedars, and some of the deformed hardwoods. But this too seems to be counter-productive. If they were transmitting diseases to the other species, I would clear them out. But since they are in no way detrimental to the other trees, removing these “undesirables” would diminish the beauty of the woods and it would make it less wildlife friendly.
In the end everything which has naturally sprang up within the woods has made it what it is today.
As we apply this to our lives, the many people who surround us form our own little “woods”. Some resemble us in race, creed, color, and belief, and some do not. Some are hardwoods in that they stand firm in their system of beliefs and lifestyle which they have developed over many years. Some are bloomers in that they occasionally seem to bring beauty and sweetness into our lives. Some are evergreens in that they always seem to be energetically alive and growing no matter what season of life they are in. Some are fruit bearing. And some are so unique that we don’t really even know how to describe them.
But they all make up our woods.
There are times when we are tempted to sell off or clear out the woods of our life. To sell off the relationships which we believe are holding us back economically or professionally. To clear out the people who are different than we are. To clear out the people who may be considered undesirable by our peers or by society. To clear out the people who are unique or odd.
It’s not that these people have an evil or negative influence on our lives. It’s just that we don’t want them around or we believe that we can economically benefit from their removal.
Before we do such, we need to take time to truly evaluate every person’s worth to our lives. We need to make sure that we consider our value to their lives. We need to make sure that we take the time to count the cost of losing the blessing of knowing these people.
Many times, when we take the time to carefully consider the situation, we will realize that each person in the vast hodgepodge of people which surrounds us plays an important role in making us who we are.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. . .this is good, and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself up as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6)
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