Earlier this morning Zero and I went for a walk on a new trail. We were just outside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge among the groundhogs, hawks, and other singing birds. I found myself feeling extremely grateful to have this space so close to our home. I felt like I was walking on Holy Ground.
On the way back to my car I was allowing all the sounds of nature to fill my consciousness. As I was taking it all in, I couldn’t help but think about the Holy Ground I was walking on. I couldn’t help but think about how much beauty and life had come out of this place. I also couldn’t help but think about the death and destruction it must also claim.
The land I was walking on became a place where chemical weapons of war were developed during World War II. After the war it became a place where agricultural chemicals were created until the effort to create the Wildlife Refuge was started in the 1980’s.
To many of us it seems as though this effort was creating something new, but that really isn’t true. In the full picture of the land I was walking on, the Arsenal was only a momentary departure from what had always been true.
The impact of the chemicals created on the land was catastrophic. The water and soil were contaminated and the land was no longer doing much to sustain the wildlife that had always called it home. The poison of the chemicals ran deep. The poison of war ran deep. The poison of sacrificing creation ran deep. The poison of allowing our need for connection to be forgotten because of deep fear that eventually turned to hatred ran deep.
But despite how deep that poison runs, it is not the deepest truth about this land. That which is deepest and truest about this land is what we are trying to rediscover now. It’s not new. It’s actually very old. It’s not only an effort to create a space which can sustain wildlife. It is an effort to remember that this was always the point. It’s an effort to invite the life to spring forth which can eventually overcome the impact of the poison that seemingly destroyed it.
This pondering felt like a messy, but true analogy of human transformation. We sometimes incorrectly believe that God is trying to transform us into something new. While it might very well feel new to us, God is inviting us back to what has always been true. God is inviting us back to what was true before the poison became our understanding of reality.
Just like the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, the poison runs deep within us–but not the deepest. Do you remember how I started this blog? Despite the tragic recent history of this land, I felt deeply as if it was Holy Ground. Not because of the recent efforts to make it something that sustains life–although I am grateful for that–but because it has always been Holy Ground. God is calling us toward something new that actually takes us back to what was always true–that we are also Holy. No amount of poison can ever undo that.