Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Nurse Log

A friend was showing me some pictures recently that she had taken in a rain forest this past year and one of the pictures was of a "nurse log". A nurse log is an incredible phenomenon in nature. It occurs when a tree falls to the floor of the forest and begins to decay. In the process of falling apart it provides nutrients, protection and a root system for a new tree to come to life (see picture). It can take over 100 years for a new tree to root and begin to grow. One does not rush mother nature!

And so it is with life. After my friend left I kept coming back to the picture she had shown me of the nurse log and soon was pondering the fact that a nurse log could be a metaphor for life. I think of two specific instances; one is what happens when something sad or tragic happens in our life. We are tempted to think that we have come to a dead end but the opposite is true: new life is born from what dies in us . . . a dream, a wish, an expectation, a friendship. The other instance is what appears to be, at this time in history, the end of many religious communities as we have known them in this country and elsewhere in the western world. It gives me great hope to believe that new life is and will be born out of the dying of these communities. As in nature it could take a very long time but as the log in the picture it will happen if we remain faithful to allowing new life to take root.

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