The forest is quiet when the sun begins to rise. But it is more a sense of quiet, of peace, then an actual lack of noise. The birds’ song surrounds my tree, mixing with a squirrel’s irate chatter somewhere ahead. The aspens tremble and speak to each other in the minimal breeze. It makes their leaves sound like a thousand fairies applauding the sunrise with their small hands. That breeze brings a scent with it, the woodsy scent of wet aspen trunks, dewed dirt, moist plants, and even a few wildflowers that dare to bloom in the New Mexican Mountains.
But the quiet is still there. It is a sense of haphazard orderliness, of everything doing what it is supposed to be doing under God’s commands. No one is rushing around here trying to decide what they are or who to serve. Everything knows its purpose, and is doing it. Yes, the woods are as fallen as the rest of the world. Little deer get their bones scrunched by bears and cougars, mushrooms and ivy eat trees, and the forest floor is clogged with the remains of the rotting. But there is still a ceaseless, quiet song that is so often lost in the rush of humanity, so many of whom never acknowledge their Creator. Things feel more… right in the morning in the woods. It is a peace that is imbued to the soul from a nature that has no idea it’s imbuing anything; because it is so taken up with what it is supposed to be doing. In the straightness of the aspen and the rattle of their leaves, the dew that raises flowers from the ground and gets mud all over my cloak, the bright sunshine that always comes from the West and lights up the purple flowers and green ferns, and the chatter of the birds and squirrels as they look for breakfast… I hear a brief snippet of the world as it should be.
And maybe of what the new world will be. When God makes all things new, that peace and gentle quiet that still has the bluster and flurry of useful work will permeate all things. In all of humanity, all of creation, we will be able to feel that quiet of the soul in everything. The war is already won, but then the battles will also be done. All the mopping up of the curse’s evil will be taken care of, and only serving God will remain. The smile refuses to leave my face as I think of it. No more fears, no more worries, no more faith, or even hope. Just that quiet peace that rests in the ever abiding love of a sovereign God, Who will wipe away all the busy, tearful, death-giving effects of sin’s pervasiveness.
There is always something to do in this world. Right now I need to stop writing this and walk back to my campsite to see if anyone else is awake yet and help with breakfast. I don’t think that sensation will leave. Even before the fall God gave Adam and Eve a job, and it wasn’t an easy senseless one either. It was a scientific job of classification, and the backbreaking dirt-under-your-fingernails work of keeping a garden. Yes, it was probably easier to garden in that unfallen world, but I expect it it was still hard work. But with the abolition of Father Time and the advent of eternity, I wonder if that sense of constant pressure at being too late, of always having to move on to the next thing when you really want to enjoy the peace, will end. Because that is a part of the quiet of the woods. There is flurry and hurry and bustle going on from the animals. But in the silence and stability of the trees, and even the one-mindedness of the birds and squirrels, you get a sense of stillness. An idea that while work goes on, there’s no worries to it, and just an endless enjoyment in gaining what is needed from doing your work.
But now I hear my niece waking up back at camp, and my corgi is beginning to huff and grunt at me because she’s getting cold sitting in the dew. Back to work. As it is put in “The Weight of Glory,” that masterful work by C.S. Lewis, “Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning.” May all your Mondays be filled with the hope of what will be.