By, Timber Jones
Them numbers. There I was with all them numbers swirling around like a thick bowl of soup. The fives, seventeens, thirty-sixes and ninety-ones were a big mess on the blackboard and barely made it to the paper on my desk.
But there was a light at the end of the hallway that led right out the door. And the prison, I mean, school I attended was right at the edge of the woods. I figured that I could count the oaks, and maybe divide the pines, and carry the owls, then multiply the creek rocks a lot easier than anything I was supposed to be learning in Math class.
I am no longer ashamed to admit that when Math class came along, I walked right down that hallway, out the door, and into the woods. Unfortunately, this habit started to extend into the rest of my school day. To this day, I still wonder how it is possible that they gave me a diploma. It might be a fake.
I have been lost in school, but I have never been lost in the woods. Never have I needed a map nor a compass. The Good Lord just blessed me with a good sense of direction.
I grew up in the shadow of Taurus Mountain, known locally as Bull Hill. Its large, flat, black face was a lot more appealing to me than the large, flat, blackboard in Mr. Shield’s class. So, I climbed it and looked down at the town that never quite knew what to make of me. There I was, often stumbling upon a cave or pond or larger than life, majestic maple tree searching for the answer to a curious imagination.
I still go into the woods for the same reasons: peace and quiet and to not hate anything. I enjoy the shadows, the wind, the leaves of yesteryear, and the flowing waters. I have something in common with the creeks – we both find joy in simply meandering on and on through God’s Creation. Out in the wilds I find bodark trees and the hidden springs, startled foxes and rolling meadows along with fields overcrowded by lightning bugs.
I don’t remember much of what them school wardens tried to teach me, but here is what I do recall. My dog leaping onto a log to cross the creek. Studying the almost divine nature of the Patterson Tree. Tramping along far away from any path in the deep woods of my grandfather’s land. Falling asleep under a willow tree.
And here is what I know now. My God, my Creator. The God who continuously paints the sky and has raised up mountains also has a fine sense of humor. I know this because through a Divine Appointment I married a school teacher! She is the willow tree that this old oak desperately needed. Together we have a daughter who loves the woods. She can navigate her way home when I try to get her lost using only her God-given Jones instinct. She is also on the honor roll at school. I have never, ever, not by a long shot, been anywhere near the honor roll. But raising a Woods Princess has been one of the great honors of my life.
I get antsy if I am too far from the forest. I am grateful to a merciful God that my brother’s subdivision is near the woods in Texas. My whole life, the suburbs and I have had an understanding to just not talk about our differences. So, during our visits, when suburbia gets to be too much, I head over to the woods on Pecan Creek and take a deep breath.
And that’s what it all comes down to, just taking a deep breath. Isn’t that what we all want? More breathing and less Math?
So, when my time has come and I’m dead and gone, find me a river and a hollow log. Send me meandering along to meet the Father and give my regards to all the poor souls that tried their level best with me.
I wonder if the place being prepared for me is in the woods? No matter what, I’ll go satisfied. For now, I’ll be among the woodlands with no numbers in sight.