My hometown is Astoria, Oregon. The land of Lewis and Clark and salmon and trees. I lived there for fifteen years before moving to the Seattle area for school, staying because I married, settled, and raised a family. Whenever I visit home, I drive past this little forest on the left-hand-side of Highway 30 somewhere between Clatskanie and Westport. A little strip of land with very tall trees growing very close together. Occasionally the land will be clear-cut, and a little feeling of sadness wells within me. But then, a few months later as I again bound toward my hometown, I will glance to the left and the little forest will have small saplings placed close together, preparing for another harvest. On yet another trip home, the saplings have grown taller and sturdier. And the cycle continues.
Photo by roya ann miller on Unsplash
A good logger goes into the forest and sees what he can leave. A bad logger can only see what he can take. In forestry, the focus is on how a specific forest may thrive for generations to come. In the small town economy of Astoria, it is in the town’s best interest to be a good logger. Fell a tree, plan another. It is normal for the hillsides outside of town to be clear cut while others are untouched, a normal part of the landscape. Later, the scene will be switched.
I’m not a logger. I’m a writer, a mom, a wife, a homeschooler, and friend. How may I retain the concept of good logging in my life? What may I leave instead of take in my relationships and experiences? This has been something I’ve been working toward very specifically for the last several years, but without having a phrase to describe the process. Giving life instead of taking life. Giving grace instead of assuming. Being a friend instead of expecting others to be a perfect friend to me. Being slow.
Giving grace to others must also start with giving grace to myself. How may I not respond with judgement toward others when it’s all I can hear when I think things about myself? Liking what I have to contribute, liking what looks back to me in the mirror, liking what I put out there for all to see? Not caring what others think; only caring what God thinks.
A forest grows slowly. Logging happens quickly. A good logger looks to the forest that is not yet grown, and cultivates it, no matter how far out the harvest may be. So it is with grace.