At our recent staff retreat day, I went out for a walk in the prairie. Over the past two years we have been redesigning some of the trails on the property to follow the contours and interest points of the land. On Tuesday, I decided to follow a new trail that begins north of the orchard on the top of the hill.
I crossed the gravel road and entered the path through an opening between two evergreen trees that leads into a meadow. The old path wrapped around the outside of the meadow. But this new path takes the walker through the middle of the meadow and along a row of oak trees. It felt like I was entering a new land. I saw this area from a new perspective I hadn’t seen before. I thought, “Sometimes it helps to see my life from a new perspective like this path.”
The trail through the meadow led me into the pine grove. The sisters planted these trees 50 years ago and carried water to the seedlings until they were well established. The grove was nurtured with tender loving care and now stands as a sheltering place. The trees are tall overhead and form a quiet, cathedral-like space under their branches.
Coming out of the pine grove, the path connects with one of the paths through the woods. I thought, “The new path connects with the old.” Life is like that too. We take new paths that often emerge from the old ways. New learning is connected with the old wisdom we have gained through the years. The new builds on the old. Then I noticed that even though I was on a path I have walked many times in my years here, the surroundings looked different. I was walking through an area of the woods that had been cleared of non-native trees to create a space for oak savanna to come back. There was much more light visible overhead with the canopy cleared out and I could see the shapes of the old oaks standing boldly against the sky. It’s good to shed some new light on our lives periodically through reading, conversation, a change in activities. With some of the underbrush cleared away, the values that are most important in our lives stand out.
I continued through the woods and came out onto a trail through the Wisdom prairie that I have been using this past year. It was abloom with foxglove and white wild indigo. Last year’s dried stems still stand in the field and the combination of the old plants and the new was beautiful. It reminded me that the new springs forth from the old.