Savoring My Passage - the monthly journal of A. C. Gray

Arbreux Retrospective

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Savoring Every Moment
Arbreux Retrospective
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Chalet Arbreux near Orkney Springs, Virginia

Arbreux Retrospective…acg


I had a place in the wooded foothills of Church Mountain in the Shenandoah Valley that I named Arbreux.  Until I moved there, I knew little of the natural world because I had lived in cities and had been until then only a casual observer.  I purposed then to acquaint myself with the names and life of wildflowers, birds, woodland creatures, and trees that inhabited this place.  Although I had a legal deed and clear title to this property, gradually I came to comprehend that I was not the owner but merely a passer-by in the long history of these long eroded softly covered volcanic hills.  If any, the deer, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and other woodland creatures were the real owners because generations of them had lived here since the Creation.   When it came time to leave Arbreux, I felt that I was only beginning to understand how to fully appropriate the rich blessings of the natural world.  Friends had given me textbooks, nature guides, and other materials to help me in my quest to become a faithful steward of those nearly seven acres.  I did what little I could to prune and tidy the place, but very soon I discovered that the place itself was pruning me, giving me the wisdom to know how meager my knowledge and how futile my efforts to make the environment conform to my na´ve misguided idea of what it should be.  So Arbreux remained essentially unchanged while I myself was transformed. 

          Living at Arbreux brought me a growing appreciation for the changing seasons.   I watched summer butterflies ballet amidst the wildflowers, read of monarchs migrating to Mexico and Costa Rica as September came, and found myself lost in wonder.  In autumn, I marveled at the rich tapestry of these hills, and although partially color-blind, I gave thanks for the abundant beauty of my world as the hills blazed in intensity.  I picked up fallen leaves of every sort, spread them on my dining table to examine them close-up, and discovered that each of them had a unique life story to tell. Winters came on with blizzards and deep snows to blanket the woods in silence, forcing me to be still and listen with my heart.   I built a fire against the chill and warmly welcomed the company of birds (squirrels and chipmunks, too) to my feeders.   Late winters found me haunting the good earth for any sign of new life emerging.   Spring times were the most glorious of all, reminding me in magical moments of Resurrection and life everlasting.   Gentle winds blew through the oaks and pines like elfin zephyrs of the Holy Spirit touching my heart and soul.  I discovered delicately beautiful rue anemones blooming abundantly in the front meadow and knew them to be as fragile and as ephemeral as life itself in the grand scheme of the unknown, yet they lived on to bloom and enchant me year after year.  Likewise, the same family of phoebes returned each spring to birth a new generation of flycatchers under my eve.   Daffodils I planted each fall trumpeted benedictions.  I gave thanks for all this evidence that life goes on.    All the while Scripture encouraged me to share the Good News.  So I set forth with great joy to publish glad tidings, singing the song of a soul set free.

Blue Ridge Farm...

 Blue Ridge Mountains.....

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen      Philippians 4:19-20