Our capacity to love may not be unlimited, but each day, it can just open one more time. –G. Hill
Living in beautiful Lake Arrowhead, was like living in an enchanted forest, the stuff of fairytale stories. Perched high in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, our mile high life was cradled in natural beauty. Picturesque mountain lakes lapped gently on quiet shores tickling the feet of the majestic redwoods. Sugar pines reached so high they seemed to touch the heavens. And far from city noise and lights, trillions and trillions of glittering stars salted the dark night sky.
Snuggled tightly alongside hundreds of trees was our little mountain home. While we slept, we often heard the splashing of raccoons, our nocturnal visitors, romping in the basin of our cascading fountain. Loud Blue Jays owned the airways, their voices echoing off the rocks and trees. But with all the natural beauty, there was one curious tree at the top of our driveway that gave me pause. The tree looked more like a weed than its cousins, the majestic pines. I considered yanking it out from the rocks from which it sprang and then I learned something important about this tree.
This was a jack pine, also known as a serotinous tree, scraggly and irregular in shape. But its pinecones held an incredible life force. Within each tightly bound cone were seeds that would only be released in the heat of forest fire. I thought how remarkable of nature, of life, of God, to build in a release valve, another example of renewal, the capacity to regenerate.
These days, I think of that tangled jack pine and all the power held in its hard-shelled cones. I think about it because we are in need of renewal. We are feeling the tight head-lock this virus has on us as a society and as family members. People are suffering terrible losses. I read about the bravery of our first responders and the personal hardships, even tragedies they are experiencing. Their stories leap off the pages and enter my heart. Can we truly grasp the magnitude of their daily sacrifice? Every day they lose patients, sometimes colleagues and they worry about infecting their own families. Yet, with full weight of life itself on their sagging shoulders, they return to heal and even to grieve, just one more time. Inhaling the stench of loss, they exhale resolve. Then with a new lungful of air they show up again, putting everything on the line. With angel wings at their feet, they essentially say, I will be the one who shows up to save, to heal and sometimes to say goodbye.
Where do we put all this sadness? All this anguish? We feel overloaded with little sign of a release valve.
So, I wonder about my own capacity for compassion. Am I out of room to feel? Do I look away? Do I marginalize the loss? Do I cast blame or do I call on in my own first responder, the loving infinite healing spirit of God?
In many ways, it feels as though I am standing at the entryway to a new world. Like the serotinous pinecones housing great potential of renewal, I am waiting for new seeds of life to spring. Waiting and waiting. But this I know, while I may not have unlimited capacity, with help from my angels, I can care, I can feel compassion and I can respond in prayer, always just one more time.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14
Capacity to forgive is there, ready to heal just one more time.
Capacity of time is there, ready to share, just one more time.
Capacity to be forgiven, accepting grace, just one more time.
Capacity of the heart is there, to express joy or sorrow just one more time.
Capacity to love is there, ready to give, just one more time.