Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
Being a relative newcomer to the North Shore way of life, I realized just how much I didn't know about the things people here take for granted, like trees, birds, plants, and wildlife. I spent my youth in a large metro urban area. To be sure, there were certain advantages and disadvantages in that environment. Let's see, there were lots of friends, tons of different places to go and every imaginable store you could think of. There were restaurants to satisfy every culinary taste, and a dozen-plus radio stations playing the great hits of the 60's and 70's. And there was also the daily visit by the ice cream truck. However, there was also non-stop noise from traffic and crowds wherever you went. Fresh air smelled different when not seasoned by gas, diesel, and other manufacturing contributions. There was also a distinct lack of a variety of hardwood trees and wildlife. In fact, nature consisted of neighbors’ different types of dogs and cats. Occasionally the lost skunk meandered around the neighborhood. Anything else and you would have to go to the zoo to see deer, bear, and porcupine.
Lo and behold, when I made the Air Force a career, I knew I would see the world and become an expert on fauna and indigenous wildlife. It failed to register that air force bases are predominantly around large metropolitan areas. Well, that was so until I was assigned to North Dakota and Wyoming. Not a lot in the way of trees, but plenty of different wildlife to see. A follow-on career in the Minnesota metro area brought back memories of growing up. However, we never had ice fishing on the east coast.
Now, here we are on the North Shore surrounded by trees, wildlife, and so much to discover new each day. So it was unfortunate and frustrating that I looked around at all the trees on our four acres and could only recognize two types. Thank goodness that Cathy, as a native Minnesotan, is much better versed in tree and plant identification than I am. A phone app has also assisted to some degree. Now, it happens that there was a thirty-foot pine tree that was leaning precariously over the driveway. It seemed that the lean was increasing due to natures' natural gravitational pull for the past two years. The decision was made that the tree had to go. A couple of colleagues who had accomplished the same task with another tree dutifully dispatched the tree in a short time. I learned two important facts when the deed was completed. First, the tree was not a pine; it was a Balsam Fir. Secondly, the tree was rotting from the inside out. It was just a matter of time until it would have fallen across the driveway, blocking it. I did not relish the idea of chainsawing the tree in January with the temperature at -20 degrees. Except for the tree leaning as much as it did – it looked fine on the outside. It was undoubtedly time for the tree to go.
Every month I have the privilege of having a conversation with mental health experts on our local community radio station. We discuss issues that are relevant to the North Shore community and available resources. A consistent theme for all of the experts I have interviewed has been that it is time to seek professional help when there are symptoms present. A person may appear to be fine on the outside, but struggling with significant issues that can affect their ability to manage normal daily functions. In recent months many factors have increased stress, anxiety, and fear to unhealthy levels. If we are not feeling the way we think we should, it may be time to talk to someone and get help. Now is not the time to keep it to ourselves and hope everything will just get better. Like the tree, you may be leaning over and not even realize it. There are lots of resources available to us on the North Shore. When it’s time, it’s time. My personal favorite go-to is the time-honored counseling firm of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are just a prayer away.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
May you be blessed by God’s word.