Below the Timberline…

by John Roedel

The timberline is the point
on a mountain where
trees and vegetation
can no longer grow
due to the inhospitable terrain
and the lack of oxygen
The higher your climb
~ the lower the chance there is
for life to exist there is
The better the view
~ the worse the conditions
are for growth
That is how my journey
to understand
God has worked for me
The more I have sought “higher” enlightenment
the less I have ever found
The higher I have climbed
the harder it is to breathe
I have followed the trails
I have scaled the face of the mountain
I have clung by my fingers on a clifftop
I have climbed
and I have climbed
to get to the place where I believed
God had set a home for me
but when I got there
~ when I reached the peak
~when I finished climbing the mountain
I found nothing but small rocks
and snow up here
what a fool I have been
I have been chasing God
up this steep mountain
for all the wrong reasons
I wanted to dangle my fat
toes off the edge of everything
and then tear into the lingering clouds
like they were birthday presents
filled with the answers to every
question I’ve ever had about
my existence and my place
in the cosmos
I wanted to look down below
at the sprawling world underneath
me and feel like I’ve graduated
into some sort of exclusive club
of self-righteous understanding
I think I wanted to climb the mountain
in order to feel like I accomplished
one thing in my life
I outclimbed any thunderstorm
or predator that wanted to destroy me
I climbed to a place
where nothing could touch me
I spent the last two decades
plodding my way up this peak
only to run into the timberline
of my faith
nothing is growing up here
I can’t catch my breath up here
I don’t feel connected to life up here
turns out that the answers aren’t up here
enlightenment
is down there
in the valley
where I was
if God exists in the way
that I want God to exist
then it isn’t up among the
chapel I carved out of
granite and boulders
God is down among the
rivers, dandelions, predators, cheap wine,
hate crimes, thunderstorms and sweet midnight
kisses that I abandoned on
my pursuit to join the angels
that I thought lived among
these jagged mile-high peaks
I believed that enlightenment
was about climbing a mountain
where nothing could hurt me again
it turns out that true
enlightenment I sought
exists below the timberline
in the dirt of the
earth I was trying
so desperately to escape
it was always down there
down there
where the paths
become overgrown
with the vines of
both good and evil
down there
where the earth
grows both rosebushes
and brambles that
cut my skin
down there
where there is a
kingdom of people
who are both
bitter and sweet
down there
where life is
both heart filling
and heartbreaking
down there
in the land mines and the
golden corn fields
I was never going to find
God above the timberline
of where anything can grow
I was never going to find
God where nothing could
cut me
in order to find enlightenment
I needed to be where I could
be hurt
in order to breathe again
I need to lay among the
cottonwoods and the
roaming wolves
what was I thinking?
it is so lonely up here
it is so cold
I have not heard a bird song in months
fine
start the coffee
scramble the eggs
get my comfy shirt out of storage
I am coming down
I will meet you under
the timberline
where God
exists in the
mud and the
wildflowers in
equal measure
I cannot wait
to see what comes
next
I cannot wait
to dance with
you in the valley
again
~ john roedel
May be an image of nature
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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