Can our dead bones live again?
“Human one, can these bones live again?” I said, “Lord God, only you know.”
Yesterday we took these logs to the Cedar Depot in Tioga, Texas for milling. They came from the north end of the farm where we thinned out a dense cedar thicket. The cedar had become so overgrown that it was choking out other species that needed sunlight and water that was being withheld from them.
Don’t get me wrong. Cedars are not inherently bad except when they reach the point of taking over. An invasion like we had usually happens in response to a disturbance – either fire or clearing for agriculture. Perhaps the nearby swale and drainage channel from a Soil Conservation pond constructed decades ago was the disturbance that introduced them.
At that point, as saplings, they did hold the soil together - setting down roots into the bare ground. But their aggressive colonization eventually displaced what had likely been a biodiverse steady-state ecosystem. Now we are attempting to restore that ecosystem by selectively removing cedars. A big benefit of this practice should be the improvement of the water cycle which will breath new life into the pasture and wildlife area.
As the individual skeletons of this once dominating species are laid out, it feels like we walk amongst their graves. It is true that I cursed these trees before the machinery cut and removed their mighty trunks like toothpicks. I admit that I am glad to see them go. And yes, I am enjoying the wildflowers and fresh understory trees that are taking hold after their removal. As far as I am concerned, we can burn and destroy these trash logs.
And yet the age-old question persists – can these bones live again? Can those individuals once considered to be weeds find redemption and a new purpose? Is new life possible even from death? This is what we will soon find out.
The second load of logs just pulled out of the driveway headed to Tioga. The plan is to mill them into lumber for picnic tables where we can enjoy meals together with friends and family in an outdoor dining area right next to the garden. Their table tops and benches will serve as the sturdy foundation for potlucks, conversations, and friendships made under the stars.
Perhaps there are ways in which restoration can happen – in weeds and in us. Maybe I was too hasty to condemn and discard. If a dead cedar log can show a willingness to be re-purposed into an instrument where the possibility of beloved community can be made real, then maybe there is hope for us yet.
The first step is the hardest - a dissection of the systems of injustice where we may have benefited unknowingly at the expense of others. Dismantle that framework and lay those dead bones down. Expose them to the rain and the sun. Let their sinews rot away.
Then - and only then - are we ready to receive the reviving breath that can create a new life where all live peaceably in community with one another.
Can our dead bones live again? ... Lord, God, only you know.