Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Horse Loggers

The Horse Loggers

Some months back when a severe storm hit the Conyers area, we lost a lot of large trees on our property, across Highway 212. We hired a team of horse loggers who came down from southwestern Virginia The horses were housed in our large hay barn and the team stayed here in our retreat house. The horses were magnificent animals – majestic in size and beauty. And the men and one woman who made up the logging team were such warm, friendly people. They were a pleasure to have here and to get to know.
I spent a lot of time at the work area, watching the horses drag out enormous pieces of fallen timber. They know just four or five commands and when, with a single, softly spoken word, the rider prompted the two-horse team, the response of the horses was immediate. They would stop, or turn, or back up at the prompting of one appropriate word. I was amazed at the strength of those horses. They dragged with seeming ease hundreds of pounds of fallen timber. When they reached their destination, which was a good distance from the site of the fallen trees, the timber was cut into large, perfectly formed pieces and neatly arranged in piles. I brought my camera along with me and took a lot of pictures and am happy with the way they came out. I know I will look at those photos often and remember with fondness how genuinely good those men and women were.
Brother Augustine drove me down on one visit to the work site and on the way back I mentioned to him that watching the team made me think a lot about God and life. He asked what I meant and I told him it was not clear to me yet but I have had a few days now to think about it. God made us and we are stewards of this vast earth. Theologians have written enough books about them that could fill millions of shelves. A lot of prayer and thought went into such writing. And a lot of trees went into the making of those books and the shelves that might hold them. In our leisurely moments during life, we give thought to divine mysteries like God and may wonder what he and we are all about.
As I watched the loggers at work, their concentration was obvious. Any thought of a pious nature was far from their minds. Their attention was absorbed by the clearing of wood, the handling of the horses, the cutting and arranging of the timber. Of course God was there, but we were about other things, and it was not the time or place to discuss Him. But I did later, with Augustine, and am doing so now, with you. Like stewards, we work in terms of service to this earth and, if such is our bent, we may find time to rest and talk of God.
Storms come through life. These are brought by the winds, or through the many inclement sorrows that tear at the human heart. We have no control over these painful events other than to wait, to possibly clear the damage, to speak a kind word or to hold someone close when death breaks a heart. I believe these activities and more are God’s being with us – clearing the damage we suffer through because we are human and nothing is perfect in this life. But if nothing is perfect, human kindness and our lived practice of it come quite close.
The loggers have left and we all miss them. If a storm comes through here again, the silver lining will be the return of some wonderful people and their magnificent horses.
There is a huge pile of freshly cut wood. I asked Augustine what we are going to do with all that wood and he told me that the plans are to build a chapel. The wood will rise and point heavenward and house human gatherings who will worship God in times of joy and sorrow. The chapel will shelter them from the heat or the sun and the buffeting of the winds. We will make a place for God there, the God I saw pass through a few days ago, though He did not say much as the loggers went about their work in service to Him. He spoke so softly as the loggers smiled and told me about their lives, their hopes, their work.

1 comment:

4get2remember said...

Very cool...Florian's great-uncle used to be a horse logger...