Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bridges, Trails and Trees

For my morning walk I returned to one of my favorite places, the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, where I go several times a year during different seasons.  At this time of year the environment is still very much like early spring due to our late arrival of spring and summer.  Never the less, it is a rewarding experience to walk the trails, some of which are paved and the side trails that are more natural.

Every time I enter the deepening forest I am humbled by the natural beauty of trees, some well over 100 years old, wild brush, the occasional wild flower and when summer is in full bloom, there are even a few berries (if you get there first).  But what I am even more grateful for are the wonderful people in local government and volunteers who care about maintaining these areas for all of us.  Today there were at least three groups of school-age children on nature walks, a number of runners and even a biker or two.  The stillness of the forests absorbs all that might otherwise distract from the naturalness of the trails so their presence melted into the background.
I have taken photos every time I have gone to the park.  Each time a new story unfolds in my awareness.  The intricate boardwalks that bridge the swampy areas always impress me.  I see them as a metaphor for the bridges we construct in our consciousness that take us across the bogs of challenges we sometimes face in our daily life.  Someone had to see the problem and devise a pathway through.  In our efforts to meet challenges we often find that others have been there before us and they made our traverse easier by the bridges they built.  Teachers, ministers, friends and confidants provide us with a range of opportunities to cross hazards successfully.

The paths that wind before me in the Park also bring to mind the many wonderful people whose paths I have crossed, or with whom I have walked for a time.  Each has brought me something of value, something I can look back upon with deep appreciation.  I have always felt that the people in my life are not there by chance.  No matter how we might describe our coming together, or how long that closeness remains, I am convinced by my experience that there is purpose and meaning to be found in the connection.  So I relish the memories as I move through my present paths that I know are leading into new opportunities to connect with others.
In many respects I lead a solitary life and I am mostly satisfied by that choice.  On occasion, however, I am reminded of the broader world around me.  That world is filled with wonderful experiences, past, present and even in the future!  I choose to be aware of the trails before me and to welcome all that I find along the way.  I seek to more clearly understand the bridges that will take me through my self-conceived limitations into new opportunities for long lasting satisfaction.