Archive for January 14th, 2010

An Accidental Beauty

In my last post I lamented the passing of the small city forest I walked beside early in the morning on my postal route. The destruction is nearly complete, the final bit of woodland in the process of being devoured. This is the piece of land on the west side of the retirement community, a narrow valley with apartment buildings on the far side.

It is indeed sad, this loss of good wildlife habitat in the middle of the city, and I will miss the proximity of the woods on my morning walk: the birdsongs, the green, the sound of wind in the leaves. But I am realizing that, true to form, beauty endures.

First, apparently the corporation that sold the timber off the land does not own all of the woods; the far hillside on the western end is not theirs, and the clear-cut stops where the far hill rises. And on the south and east sides, too, there is forest beyond the clear-cut.

Secondly, the cutting of the trees has opened a splendid view of rolling hills that could not be seen before. And of course the current moonscape will not endure. When Spring comes  millions of  opportunistic seedlings will sprout and grow, and by May the view will be of green rolling fields with woods and hills beyond. Not as lovely as walking beside a wood, but not bad.

This is the way God works, after all: every sin opens the way for new grace, every fall a new redemption. Even where human misrule has all but obliterated the natural world wildflowers bloom through the concrete’s cracks. In the words of Hopkins, there lives the dearest freshness deep down things.

Of course the long term prognosis is not good. The land is for sale and is zoned for multifamily housing. Should the economy revive, my soon-to-be green field will be gone. But I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. And hope for some new, unforeseen good, some accidental beauty, to appear even there.

—Daniel Nichols

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