Monday, September 30, 2013

The Understory {Lessons Learned in a Forest}



Source: Flickr Creative Commons


I read aloud to the kids that day with sunlight streaming in the windows. The littles were napping, so it was just the four big ones and I gathered within the coziness of home to learn more about forests. It felt right, since we are situated right in the middle of one. Complete with visiting wildlife ranging from the wee mouse to the burly bear.

Having always lived in a forest of some sort, I'm familiar with the different layers: emergent, canopy, shrub, herb, and the forest floor. But there was one forest layer I'd never heard of, and I immediately tripped over it's name and description.

The understory.

"This layer consists of two different groups of trees. Some of the trees in the understory are young trees that will continue to grow and eventually become part of the canopy. Other trees in the understory are different species, which may be shorter and are designed (or have adapted) to grow with less sunlight." - Properties of Ecosystems {Answers in Genesis Science}

The understory is the layer of a forest that sits below the emergent and canopy layers. It serves it's purpose as a middle layer well, but receives less light than the sections above.

Less light.

I couldn't help but think about all of humanity as I read this:

"Some of the trees ... will continue to grow and eventually become part of the canopy. Other trees ... are designed (or have adapted) to grow with less sunlight."

Some of us grow right on toward the light, while others adapt to living with less light and grow comfortable in the shadows below. We hang on to devastating habits. We fail to address issues in mediocre marriages. We stay in harmful relationships. We pursue selfish ambitions.

I don't believe we  always choose to stay deliberately, sometimes we don't know how good it can be up above. If you've never tasted the air up there, you won't know you should desire it. And that it's good for us. And in turn good for the people whom our lives affect.

As I sit and stew on this some more, I realize that we're all stuck feeling around in the dark until we're brought into the kingdom of light through Jesus Christ. Even if our days seem to be full of light, and our lives are moving along pleasantly, it's still so dark without Him. Maybe we don't realize there is more. A life up where the air is clear. (Hello, Mary Poppins.)

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14 


The understory has it's purpose for certain kinds of plants, but we humans weren't meant to stay there in the figurative sense. We were meant for more.

Doesn't it sound inviting to live the above part of your story and leave the under behind?

Lift your eyes above the shadows. Breathe in the clean air. And reach up with a trusting hand.

Resist the urge to climb out yourself, because He's waiting to carry you.



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