Please welcome my guest Rick Wilcox, a fellow writer who is certainly a Connection Messenger.* His beautiful reminiscence of the trees in the Texas woods he played in as a child will stir the soul of anyone fortunate enough to have had childhood adventures in and around trees and absorbed their soul-nourishing beauty.
I played in those woods as a boy and had to be forced out of a high tree house when the day was over. Back then, the woods were my friend and playmate, and I memorized every leaf. I spent hours alone and there learned the company of good books, nature, and a boy's imagination.
I see the woods differently now.
A severe drought in 2011 claimed dozens of them, and my heart broke afterwards during the necessary deforestation process. I'm now like a man who has recently lost an eye or a limb, feeling insecure and protective of the remaining life. These days I spend time looking at them from a comfortable swing rather than high in their branches. They are still my friends, but we are old men who silently nod as they teach me about things I still don't understand.
I hear their voices, but I can never quite understand what they are saying.
It reminds me of a line written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “There seem to be things I can almost get hold of, and think about; but when I am just on the point of seizing them, they start away, like slippery things.”
I think about what all those old trees have seen – the people they've known and the secrets they keep.
They are most precious to me when I see my grandchildren playing there. Like me as a boy, they appropriately take it all for granted, not yet understanding the value of their gift, but also like me, their play under the forest's watchful eye is creating a safe place in their soul they will retreat to when they are older.
I imagine my granddaughter many years from now, sitting on a sofa speaking to her own granddaughter and saying,
“Oh my child, I wish I could explain it to you…”
Rick Wilcox is a businessman, theologian and literature wonk. Founder and moderator of Literary Life, a website dedicated to the illumination of truth through reading the classics, Wilcox is an ordained minister with a heart for all of God's children.
* A Heartspoken Connection Messenger is someone who helps point the way to strengthening the essential connections in our lives: with God, with self, with others, and with nature.