The Wood Between The Worlds

Our farm includes 90 acres of mixed bush. Deer, coyotes, raccoons and skunks call it home. In the heat and humidity of summer it’s a kingdom ruled by the smallest of creatures – mosquitoes. I wouldn’t dare go in then, even with a thick layer of insect repellant. But this time of year I look forward to a daily walk with Norton through our magical forest.

It’s my wood between the worlds – something like the one described in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. “It’s not the sort of place where things happen. The trees just go on growing, that’s all,” says Digory, the magician’s nephew. 

It’s a nexus of sorts, where I can leave my daily routine behind, fill up my senses and fix my mind on things unseen.

It’s unkempt and uncultivated. The only visible trails are narrow pathways, trodden down by woodland critters. Here and there tattered ribbons mark random branches where hunters may have passed some time ago. Moss covered limbs and rocks litter the ground. Gangly weeds and leafy ferns fill in any spaces. Stumps and gnarly roots challenge a hiker. Half-fallen limbs dangle precariously at eye level. 

Watch your step. Mind your head. Don’t forget to breathe. Deeply! Take it all in – this tangled testimony to its Creator.

Most of the songbirds have left by now. Blue jays and the occasional crow call just under the breeze rattling through the branches overhead. Leaves drop silently around us, covering everything with a colourful mantle. Sunny mornings are a special treat, as shafts of light break through the canopy. Moisture glistens on spider webs and coats the mushrooms that grow like shelves on twisted tree trunks. I inhale that heady fragrance of autumn – moss, cedar, leaves, soil. “Rich as plumcake,” is how Digory describes it. Surely these are vestiges of Eden.

‘Go out with joy’
One foggy morning my feet wander as haphazardly as my mind. I allow Norton to lead the way, his nose to the ground, tail in the air. Not a great idea. After awhile we’re surrounded mainly by birch trees. We’ve never been here before. I squint through the mist, but there’s no glimpse of a field. I have no idea from which direction we came.

Knowing my directional dysfunction, I never leave home without my cell phone. I pull it from my pocket and check the map. Surprisingly, the compass indicates our house lies well southeast of us. I tug Norton’s leash and we traipse back the way we came, more or less. There’s no bee line. The wind picks up. Maybe the fog will dissipate. Suddenly a couple of turkey buzzards burst into bulky flight, startling us. I thank the Lord for his presence. And Google maps. 

Finally there’s a field ahead. But it’s our neighbour’s. We’re on the right track. We need to keep going east. At long last we’re on our own property again. I pull my hood over my head and am thankful for the wind at my back. Winter is coming. But then, so is spring. 

God alone knows how long the cycle of seasons will continue. His word promises when it all comes to an end, it’s only the beginning for his people. No more tears, sorrow or dying. No turkey buzzards or mosquitoes, I’ll bet. It will be the ultimate restoration.

Isaiah sums it up: “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap.”

Now that’s a walk to look forward to! 

Author

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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