Posted by: Jim E | September 25, 2013

A Forest Ranger…Boy Scouts…Rest A While…And A Beaver Dam…

Oh, I suppose it was about 8th or 9th grade…maybe before…maybe after…but somewhere in my Fire Towerpast, when I was assigned to read a book about something I might like to do…I sat in the school library and pulled out a book about a forest ranger…I don’t know why, I had no reason to pick that book…but I did it…I read it…I inhaled it…and like with many books I, and maybe you, have read…I was there…that was me…being a forest ranger, living in a ranger tower out west in the mountains, spotting fires…hey, fighting fires…and so I thought, that is something I may want to do with my life…in fact, it was in the back of my mind for many years as I looked for something I might do for a living…and though that never happened, that feeling, that view of life, has followed me…and maybe it got me involved with Boy Scouts…

I spent a number of my “growing up” years in Scouting…in fact, I earned my Eagle Scout Award along the way…some of you may not Boy Scoutunderstand this, it may seem unimportant and childish to some, but it is up on my wall right above my desk…well, I’m looking at it right now and I’m 71…those were good years…lots of growing up…lots of outdoor experiences…things that brought me a little closer to that book I read so long ago…a few weeks ago I read another book that brought that same experience to me, as I was looking into “Books For Young Readers”…books that can turn young people in this electronic age, Hay Meadow by Gary Paulseninto readers…not just bits and pieces of news and books…but sitting down, resting, thinking and yes, dreaming about what is in the book…one of the books I read was by Gary Paulsen, The Haymeadow…a story about a 14 year old spending the summer at the “hay meadow” taking care of 6,000 sheep…the addition of wolves, a bear, a flood, etc…gave the story something most boys, and this man, something to think about…but solving problems, thinking, planning, deciding who he would become and who he was…the short story had something for anyone who would like to spend some “time” away from the day to day “stuff”…like most books it is like Jesus said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31…

I remember as if it was yesterday, the summer of 1957, I was 15…I applied to be a “counselor-in-training”, a CIT…at Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota…yup, it was remote…and it was all that I thought it would be…we spent time at different “areas” of the camp, doing the low level jobs that you would expect an unpaid, volunteer, bottom of the totem pole, kind of position would do…and I still to this day, though I went up to Many Point a number of summers before, with my scout troop…being away from home for the entire summer, I wonder how I talked my folks into letting me go…but go I did…and I enjoyed my time…we lived in Baker tents, WWII tents on wooden platforms raised off the ground…slept in sleeping bags on cots, with sundry animals coming and going through our tents during the night…it was interesting…I don’t think any bears came through but who knows…but skunks, possums, squirrels, etc…made their way in and out…those I saw…and it was in this “out in the woods” experience that I had a chance to think…

I remember on days off, I would go out into the woods along old logging roads and find a place to Beaver Damread…I have written before about going off the old logging road, through some pine trees and up a little hill…all the sudden a huge clearing of dead pine trees…I had come upon a huge beaver dam…that was the hill in the middle of a forest I had just climbed…and on that beaver dam I spent many hours…reading, observing and thinking about who I was and what I would become…the water was still and the beavers were hard at work shoring up the dam…and yes, they do slap their tails when they are bothered by something…me, mostly…it was something I will never forget…a picture, still in my mind…it was a picture of contentment, something I think is sadly missing from most of our lives today…many cry out today as did the Psalmist, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Psalm 55:6…for some, maybe me years ago, would build a cabin in the Rockies or take a job in a fire-lookout tower…because when life weighs on us…we all yearn to fly away and be at rest…that summer, I found for the first time that though escape was not possible…whatever our circumstances we can give them to God…“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” Psalm 55:22…it was a lesson I have used many times in the almost 60 years since then…

In the fast pace lives we live, there does not seem to be enough time to rest…or relax…or do what I did on that beaver dam…Oh, I know that feeling…most of my life I have been that “A type” person…but still I tried to get away…camping with our family was one way…but getting enough sleepSleep is essential to maintaining a busy schedule…”Sleep Is A Gift”, many times Judie and I will say that out loud as we go to bed…it is a reminder to us, how wonderful the gift of sleep is…isn’t it wonderful that you can sleep…turn everything off for the night and get rest…we don’t know exactly why we need it but we know what happens if we don’t get enough…our health suffers in various ways…what God accomplishes in our bodies while we sleep is nothing short of a miracle…”While we do nothing, God replenishes our energy, rebuilds and restores our cells, and reorganizes information in our brains.”…the last one should interest our electronic age readers…our very own computer in our heads needs time to reorganize and rest…to begin computing refreshed the next day…sleep is a gift from God and we should receive it with thanksgiving…Vance Havner once said, “If we do not come apart and rest awhile, we may just plain come apart.”…

So in this high tech world of ours…so engaging that  we check our phones and other devices more often than we check how we are really doing…heavens, it’s not even close…we can’t drive to the store without checking…even in a room full of people, everyone is checking their phones to see what they have missed…and most of the time it is meaningless stuff…Oh, don’t get me wrong, these gadgets are wonderful…but please, Oh please…don’t forget what it is to think, to read, to meditate, Minnesota Backyardto pray, to take time out for rest…or if we don’t, we will be, as I read in a memoir recently, like a flame in a breeze, “dancing along the border between turbulence and order”…I instead choose: “He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31…and you know what His disciples did?…v.32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.”…try it, you may like it…maybe in your bedroom, your deck, your back yard, a woods, on a lake…“Come aside by yourselves…rest a while.”…

Have a great day and week…

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