Did you know that the fragile land above the treeline, called the Alpine Life Zone, begins at eleven thousand feet above the sea?
Have you ever stood where trees are unable to grow?
This fragile land, where the tundra meadows are a colorful mass of wildflowers, only has a growing season of six to eight weeks. There are some 250 specie more than one occasion I have stood shivering in the middle of summer clad in jacket and woolens – wind whipping around me – to ask myself, “How can anything possibly survive this harsh environment?”
The flora hugs the ground in dense mats to mitigate the severe mountain climate. Close to the ground they were designed to survive harsh conditions including winds up to 200 mph, dry air, low soil moisture and fierce sunlight. Incredibly, their rate of respiration and photosynthesis is much faster than a plant at lower elevation. Even their colors are vibrant because pollination and growth need to happen quickly because their growing span is so short. Each of these specific characteristics speak to me of intelligent design, a Creator.
In Rocky Mountain National Park you find signs posted in this alpine zone warning one to stay on the trails in order to protect the alpine tundra. The reason isn’t because these flowers are so very delicate that they are easily killed for they obviously can withstand the harsh climate far better than myself. Signs are posted because of the heavy, concentrated foot travel the the Park sees every season and that concentration can harm them.
I am thankful for the lessons of the fragile land above the trees teaching me that hard things make one strong.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that word FRAGILE.
I’m feeling rather fragile these days.
My husband and I have decided the time has come to put our mountain home up for sale. For three weeks I have had a heavy, concentrated time of decluttering. Anything that is heavy and concentrated may run the risk of causing harm.
Contents of boxes that have not been opened in seventeen years have been sorted through. Decisions have been made on what to keep, what to give away, what to toss. I’m weary. The rushing, the racing, the trying to get things done by a self-imposed deadline has done nothing other than cause brain-numbness.
Shouldn’t this sorting process of belongings that once defined my life be an enjoyable process?
I was in a hurry when I reached for a box in the storage room that caused another box to come crashing down. Five fragile angel figurines given to my daughter by her grandmother on every birthday for sixteen years instantly broke into small pieces the second they hit the cement floor, china pieces scattering in multitudes of directions.
I sat on the floor and with tears in my eyes and remembered another time, twenty-six years earlier when in haste, while moving furniture the bed had knocked a shelf where my other daughter’s birthday figurines sat and they too were smashed.
This hurrying, this not being patient – have I not learned this lesson yet?
My patient husband carefully glued back together these fragile figurines after I handed the pieces to him in a box lid all jumbled together like a jigsaw puzzle and sadly asked, ‘Can you fix these?’
Can I only hear my life sing when I am still?
Why am I in such a hurry?
I am thankful for the lesson of these fragile figurines, broken because I was in a hurry acting like my life was an emergency.
Have you ever seen a fine, filmy cobweb on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather – gossamer?
Lace shawls are like gossamer. They are very light, thin and delicate giving the appearance of being very fragile. I am knitting one right now with silk as fine as gossamer thread right now.
The knitting is slow, each stitch is very gingerly executed and with great care the beads are placed with a very tiny hook. There are 900 beads in this shawl pattern. The silk yarn is as narrow as an embroidery floss. My state of mind is much different knitting lace than it is when I knit other things. I’m very, very careful.
As fragile and delicate as lace appears there is something about it that may surprise you. Lace does not resemble lace as you know it until the very end when, after soaking to open up the fibers it is then stretched and pinned beyond what seems like the breaking point. Only then, as it dries, does it open up and becomes beautiful gossamer ‘floating on air’. Although the delicate thread looks like stretching would damage or destroy it, instead it creates a thing of beauty.
I am thankful for fragile hand knit lace shawls because I am learning as I stretch them beyond what I think they can bear so is adversity in my life. It produces beauty in me if I turn toward it to see there is a purpose.
Adversity is the ‘pruning’ process by my God to cut away the things in my life that don’t produce fruit. If I resist this pruning I become hard and bitter and consequently miss the fruit He is trying to develop in me.
What is fruit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)