While hiking in mount Rainier National Park this morning we hiked through another grove of ancient trees. As we wandered in wonder of these huge sentinels we came across several “nurse logs,” the once giant trees fallen by the elements that has begun to decompose and has become a place for new trees to grow. They’re beautiful in a few different ways, mainly in the beauty of nature and in the beauty of giving of itself even at its end.
We’ve seen many examples of these trees on this trip, the one above is a perfect example. As its last gift to the world it provides a source of nutrition and safety, it gives new trees a place to grow. There’s something about seeing them that just seems right, and I smile as I see them.
A little while later we happened past a sign that was explaining the way that nurse trees work and then included a quote by Edwin Way Teale. As I read it I couldn’t help but think of my dad…
“For a great tree death comes as a gradual transformation. Its vitality ebbs slowly. Even when life has abandoned it entirely it remains a majestic thing. On some hilltop a dead tree may dominate the landscape for miles around. Alone among living things it retains its character and dignity after death. Plans wither; animals disintegrates. But a dead tree may be as arresting, as filled with personality, in death as it is in life. Even in its final moments, when the massive trunk lies prone and it has moldering into a ridge covered with mosses and fungi, it arrives at a fitting and noble end. It enriches and refreshes the earth. And later, as part of other green and growing things, it rises again.”
My thoughts immediately went to the memory of Dad. In the past weeks his personality and smile have dominated my landscape. He’s retained his character and dignity after death and I’m more aware of it now than ever. Even though he’s gone he’s continued to enrich so many lives. Many of his friends and families have done things to put smiles on the faces of strangers, have helped others, and done things they normally may not have, inspired by Dad. He’s now risen to heaven and continues to live in us forever.
Just as the nurse tree Dad continues to provide a source of growth and food for my soul. He raised me, helped instill his values in me, provided me with safety, and has continued to help me grow even through his death.
Dad, I love you dude! I’ve been thinking about you often on this trip, wondering if you’ve seen these places before, and smiling knowing that you’re seeing them with me now. Talking with you has put a smile on my face, I know you’re smiling too!