Can’t See the Tree for the Forest

BY Doug Jones

October 16, 2012

tree in fence



It was a cold winter morning when I was heading through my routine. I walked from my back door to the barn past the front pasture; I grained the horses; I broke the ice off the trough; I put out hay for the horses to graze on in the pasture; I was turning our Swedish Warmblood out into the pasture when I heard my wife’s voice and saw her frantically waving. My wife was getting my attention because, in all this time, I had failed to notice the 30-foot tree that had fallen through the fence in our front pasture.

Was I blind?

How could I have missed it?! I had already walked past the fallen tree numerous times, yet I never opened my eyes beyond my own footsteps to see what had transpired. I wasn’t blind; I was unaware and distant from the moment, not present.

I am working on living in a more alert fashion. I am trying to slow and live with a greater appreciation for the present. It is a slow process. It is ironic that I often lead retreats for folks on this very topic. I am learning that God allows me to lead these retreats not because of what I can offer but because it is how he can teach me.

I hope to hear and obey the words of Benedict in the prologue to his Rule:

However late, then, it may seem, let us rouse ourselves from lethargy. That is what scripture urges on us when it says, the time has come for us to rouse ourselves from sleep. Let us open our eyes to the light that shows us the way to God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day: today if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

[St. Benedict’s Rule, A New Translation for Today, Ampleforth Abbey Press, 1997. p. 11, emphasis added.]

Do you go through the motions, not present to your surroundings?

Do you need to open your eyes and have alert ears?

Photo: sallysetsforth

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