Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
The past week has actually afforded us several days of sunshine, which has been a foreign concept as of late. We truly have been resigned to a winter palette these last few months--gray, white and black. These colors, and the settings which they frame, can be beautiful in their own right and, believe you me, I've done everything in my power to look upon them with such eyes--However--the lack of any alternative, any hint of color that would be classified as "one exuding warmth" has been completely and utterly absent. The sunshine of the past week has had to pierce through the cold and frost but, once penetrated, the effect on skin and soul has been remarkable. As the slow thaw proceeded I realized that I had almost forgotten that Spring might come. Really. There is, I believe, a defense mechanism that kicks in, somewhere around mid January, and its sole purpose is to protect one's heart from the mistaken hope that warm weather exists--now, in the future, or ever. That is the space within which we've been residing, all the while resigned and reticent. Spring? Such is the stuff of dreams!
Thankfully, God is full of grace and love and light and he longs to share that with us silly, shortsighted humans. So, deep in the space of winter he shines down pure, thick sunshine. The cold is still present, but it doesn't matter. The sun rules.
We have discovered, for ourselves, a tract of land behind our property. It is about five acres and it is hemmed in on two sides by the backyards of two different subdivisions. We had heard that there was a man who owned this land and that he wanted to develop it but in order to do that, he would have to buy access and right of way and, thankfully, no one has granted him that privilege. So it sits. Parts have been cleared of timber, in hopes, I imagine, of future building, but the majority of it remains fairly free of human footprints. Well, sort of.
"Our" creek flows through this land and gradually, it gains volume and girth. The first few hundred yards of land and creek are full of reminders that not everyone shares our love for wild spaces, nor do they see it as sacred and worthy of care and attention. The creek is littered with tires of varying sizes (beginning with a spare and moving on up to a tractor size), the occasional plastic bottle or aluminum can and, oh yeah, a motor boat. I wouldn't have believed it, either, if I hadn't seen it myself. We are still scratching our heads on that one. But, once you get past those initial indiscretions, it opens up into something closer to the original layout.
The day that we "discovered" it, the ground was still covered in snow and the animal tracks were everywhere--squirrel, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, deer. Oh, and dog. Our dog's tracks, since we had brought her along for the adventure, and that of other dogs, most likely from the marauding dogs of our neighbors (one of whom managed to snag himself a chicken dinner from our yard). The boys kept calling themselves Lewis and Clark and they dubbed Beulah as their very own "Seaman", scouting out new lands and unknown flora and fauna. Cries of "Mom, look at this!" and "Oh wow, how cool!" pierced the air again and again. I think it was somewhere within the first hour of this expedition that I realized what I was feeling.
The boys and I had set out on an adventure, by accident. What started out as simple curiosity led to much more than we had planned. And that was okay. In fact, it was more than okay. And in that freedom, in that letting go of expectations and directives, we were becoming something more.
At one quiet point, as Aidan and I were standing watching the water trickle beneath the ice forms in the creek while simultaneously imagining what variety of animals might be making their home in a huge pile of sticks and leaves, he turned to me. "I just love this, Mom. I love being out in nature and being quiet and observing all that is out here. It just makes me feel better as a person."
Truer words were never spoken.