“A bad logger goes to the woods thinking of what he can take out. A good logger goes to the woods thinking of what he should leave.”
Wendell Berry, “A Forest Conversation” (Our Only World, p. 47).
I find it easy to find things that are ugly and wrong with this world. I have been trained and trained myself to focus on the all the sin and wrong that is going on – and then find a way to correct or at least suggest corrections that will remove the wrong (from my opinion). This life is exhausting and tiring because there is so much sin and ugliness in this world.
I want to change. I no longer enjoy focusing on the negative. It’s never ending to keep looking – and it never seems to be getting any better. I want to shift the way that I live and view this world. I don’t want rose colored glasses that see no wrong – but I do deeply desire to see grace in the midst of all that is ugly in the world, and then encourage that. To put it another way I want to cultivate grace in my life and the life of others. I want to see grace and mercy grown in my life.
Pointing out sin and faults is easier than looking for grace and beauty that needs to be cultivated. It’s like cutting down the whole forest rather than figuring out the best way to cultivate long term health of the trees in the forest. In the long run, I believe looking towards grace and cultivating those moments will benefit those of us who want to live like Jesus or those of us who just want beauty in life.
What can we leave in our life? There is so much that makes up who we are. There is so much good that God has worked into our lives, even through hard times. Our life's history needs to stay or at least be remembered. It needs to stay not only in our lives but in the lives of our community as a collective, living memory of grace and beauty.
I realize that I am oftentimes only seeing and focusing on the wrong things or asking myself "How do I get rid of this bad?" rather than "How do I cultivate this good?" Looking for the bad is easy; I always fall short of the expected mark. I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth – or suggesting things that aren’t helpful – or sometimes I’m too busy cussing up a storm to be gracious. Focusing on the negative in my life is easy – there is plenty of it.
The cultivation of grace is rarely quick or easy work. It takes careful work to live by grace as well as to see grace in others. I hope that I would learn to slow down, look for grace and do careful work rather than quick work. I long to do things at a pace where grace is seen, taught, and learned to a depth that changes our lives.
If I’m honest I know that fear and focusing on the negative is a powerful tool. It is a harder sell to learn to live by love and grace and beauty, but is a healthier and fuller life. If a forest is benefited by the following; “Forestry is mainly observational, rather than theoretical” (Berry, p. 48), then how much more will we benefit if we learn to observe and encourage the grace in one another’s lives rather than all the negative.
I want to leave the grace. It is beauty.