My Dear Son,
The days of your childhood are passing through my fingers like the silver-winged butterflies of fairytales, and as much as I might like to try, I cannot reach into the pages of life’s book to catch them. You are still little enough now – little enough to delight in feeding the Canada Geese, little enough to ask, and ask, and ask again the questions that will help you better understand the bits of life unfolding around you, and little enough to occasionally bring a treasured blanket as we cuddle together and read.
But one day, my son, one day (much sooner than I can help you understand), you will not be little anymore. You will be big, and it will be time for you to go out into this forest of a world. I’ll be there with you for a while, sharing the things I have learned along the way. But the day will come when you will be called upon to make your way through the tree-covered paths without me. This journey will require courage.
In this forest, you will see the beautiful as well as the monstrous, radiating from the hearts of those you chance to meet. You will encounter wonder and joy, along with sadness. And you will be challenged in ways I cannot foretell.
You will have opportunities to become many things, and to shape the forest in many ways. Be careful what you choose, for in the forest, there are those who protect life, as well as those who seek to tear it apart.
There will be wolves in the forest. Some may appear sleek, elegant, and grace-filled. Others may be masterful shape-shifters, not resembling wolves at all. You may be surprised by their strength as well as the apparent ease with which they move about. They will captivate many with a fixed gaze and a melodic voice. Take care, my dear one, for their words are as rich as they are dangerous. Their mercenary minds will attempt to discover your mission, your direction, and any potential weakness, that they might take advantage, or slow your progress.
It is not enough though, to warn you away from the influence of these wolves. It is not enough to dodge, hide, or run away. As is the way of the forest, my son, your journey is perhaps even more about what you must become than what you must not.
The being you must choose to become during this journey is a woodsman. A woodsman knows the forest, and quietly observes everything in it. A woodsman is a hard worker who gladly seeks to share. A woodsman is not only aware of the danger inherent in wolves, but keeps a listening ear at the ready, in case there is a cry for help. A woodsman is humble and kind; even as he offers a helping hand, he does not boast of the strength in the arm that moves it. (There is wisdom in the story of Little Red Riding Hood, my son, and if you’ve forgotten just how it goes, it’s worth reading again.)
Yes, a woodsman is what you must seek to become, in your mind, and in your heart.
As a woodsman, you must carry a torch of truth.
As a woodsman, you must work hard and be watchful.
As a woodsman, you must be mindful of those around you.
As a woodsman, you must seek to spread hope and kindness, in the face of danger and doubt.
The forest is counting on you, my son, and others like you. You’ll learn to recognize the others as you observe and grow – these woodsmen who carry torches of truth.
And whether I am by your side, or watching from the lush banks of a stream just beyond your view, as often as I can, I will whisper in your ear this fervent reminder:
Beware of wolves, my son; become a woodsman.
Sarah Elizabeth resides in a small Southern town with her husband, son, and their not-quite-therapy comfort dogs. She once enjoyed a life with a slightly faster pace as an award-winning reporter, and marketing professional, but these days her life is much more quiet. She writes about life observations, experiences with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, chronic illness, and occasionally, her love of Jane Austen. Latter-day Jane and Sweeten the Lemons are her thinking places. Click here to follow on Facebook.