We have been coming to Breckenridge annually for about 8 years now. Upon our first visit, we learned of the pine beetle infestation in Summit County. The lodge pole pine trees noted for their quick growth were planted during the mining era when the trees were cut down for fuel. Entire mountainsides of trees have been wiped out by the pine beetle. You will notice the red color of the pine trees that have been affected by the pine beetle. The needles will eventually turn gray and the trees will die and fall.
Yet, look closely in the photo above at the bright green leaves. These are aspen trees, another hearty native Colorado hardwood tree finding life in the devastation. Hardwood trees like aspens and lodgepole pines need fire to promote growth. The pine beetles have provided nature’s fire with no damaging smoke. What a blessing nature can provide us.
As I reflect on nature’s impact on life, I cannot help but look at my faith journey at the same time. Nature just opens me in that way. This is what I see:
1) The first glimpse does not paint the true picture. It takes time and and effort to see deeply to see the fingerprints of God. So much of this happens beneath the surface, like the root system of the aspen grove promoting new growth as the common root system spreads out horizontally beneath the surface.
2) Just like the hardwood trees in Colorado, I need fire for growth. The fire comes in many ways. It is difficult and scary terrain to cover. But the fire is the fuel for new growth. The heat of the fire pops open the seeds planted deeply in the earth, allowing the growth to begin. If I remain comfortable, the fire does not have a chance to propel this new growth.
3)The diversity of the population promotes a healthier landscape. The aspen and blue spruce living amongst the lodge pole pine will prevent such massive destruction in the future. I, too need to expand my circles, learning from my neighbor. This is one of the true blessings of America. We have an opportunity to share our cultural backgrounds, living together, not to change one another, but to learn and grow from one another. This is what I celebrate on this Independence Day 2011. As the face of the American landscape is changing, may we be open to embrace our neighbors for the goodness they have to share with us in a land that is set apart for freedom. Thanks be to God.