Thursday, April 4, 2013

Strength in Adversity

Maid Elizabeth and I were driving to town last week, talking about all of the weighty matters that were on our minds, when our conversation took a turn to the philosophical.

Recently, we have been working on numerous building projects using "reclaimed" wood from my childhood homestead.  This lumber was harvested from our property, the timber of which had not been been touched in well over 100 years, if ever.  My father cut the trees down, had the logs hauled to a local mill and the logs were rough cut into dimensional lumber.  Over the years, that lumber has been used to build barns, outhouses and board fences.  It has been remade into arenas, outbuildings and porches.  It has been left untreated - exposed to the elements, and yet, it retains it strength and natural, rustic beauty.  As my parents have dismantled unused buildings and fences, Sir Knight and I have inherited some the the well used lumber.  It has taken shape as raised garden beds, chicken coop doors and window boxes.  Although rough in form and weathered in appearance, it is solid and sturdy - ready to serve in any capacity for at least the next two or three decades.  This lumber needs no special care, requires little maintenance, yet performs its duties with the dignity of a weathered soldier.

As we talked, Maid Elizabeth noted the differences between our "old growth" lumber and the lumber harvested from today's managed forests.  The old growth lumber is solid - hard as a rock.  Often, nails bend when you try to hammer it together and holes have to be drilled before it will accept screws.  Old growth lumber will hold buildings together for a century only to yield its bones to a newly conceived structure to serve yet another generation.  While old growth lumber seems to defy the ravages of time, lumber from our modern, managed forests pale in comparison.  It is soft, porous and splits easily.  While outbuildings used to stand untouched for generations, now they require constant maintenance with an expectation of replacing them in 30 years.  Over the years, the quality of the wood itself has declined sharply, rendering its usefulness infinitely limited and its longevity a mere fraction of that of the old growth lumber.

So, what has changed?  Adversity of course.  Old growth timber was reared in adversity. It accepted whatever blessings or curses nature chose to heap upon it.  During times of want, the trees grew slowly, hardening as they matured.  Years of drought would cause their roots to stretch deep into the earth, searching for precious water, while hard winters appeared to stunt their growth but actually hardened their core, preparing them for whatever hardships they may have to endure in the future.  The result of this adversity?  Beauty and strength unparalleled.

Lumber harvested from managed forests can hardly be compared to its old growth predecessors.  The trees that produce today's lumber have been watered and fertilized, with constant thinning so that each tree is assured adequate sunlight.  Our forest management practices have sought to relive our forests of the burden of suffering, thus producing a weak, inferior, disposable substitute.   What seemed wise in the hearts of men has become the very core of weakness.

And so it is in society.  We have sought to replace adversity and suffering with ease and equality and in doing so we have produced generations of weak, inferior and disposable human beings.  We have not had to stretch our roots deep or strengthen from the core of our being out.  Shunning hardship we have stunted our growth, leaving us spindly and unfit for service.

Where do we go from here?  We have to begin seeing adversity as a friend, something to hold close and cherish.  We have to realize that in the darkness of suffering our core is being tempered, girding us in strength, and that strength will fit us to serve our Lord and our fellow man for generations to come.  Rather than shrinking from suffering, we  must have the will to find strength in our adversity.


  1. my sentiments exactly....i believe this is one of your best among the other best.

  2. You are the 'bestest' writer ever, your writing rivals some of the best writers out there. I always enjoy reading your work.

    No question strength comes through adversity. This is proven over and over again. I love the scene in the Bible when Moses and the children of Israel were at the shore of the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army baring down on them; what did the Lord say when they were crying out with fear? "Why are you crying to me, GET YOUR PEOPLE MOVING!"

    I love it!! I chuckle every time I think of it and love to read it. They were facing a scary moment for sure, but did the Lord feel sorry for them? NO! We all need to use the back bone that we have been given. Strong people make a strong nation.

    Bless you Enola.

  3. i loved this post. so true. this is being reflected in our society. selfish kids grow up into selfish spoiled parents and the cycle continues. a few of our neighbors are prime examples of this. they live in a home they cannot afford unless mom works, and the kids are showing all the signs of being raised in daycare-loud, rowdy, unaware of any needs but their own. so sad. perhaps if we keep getting the message across that there is a better way for all of us things may change.

  4. You are a VERY insightful woman! I love your missives.

  5. Enola,

    We as humans are our worst enemies. Our country is always changing how things are made, planted, grown and processed. The reason, money.

    Great post Enola.

  6. Well spoken, a keen obsersvation... Keep up the good work.

  7. Well done. We gutted a house from the outside this summer. If the old part is the original farm house on the place (as we suspect)it is 100+ years old (that "bricklook" tarpaper was siding layer # two). The contractor commented both on density difference in the old lumber and the new, along with the dimensional cuts. One hundred years ago when someone measured a 2" x 4" it was actually a full 2" x 4"........

    As an educator (technical area) I see the same thing in college aged students that you commment on. It is really sad...... natokadn

  8. That is an excellent observation, and spot on I might add. All the little conveniences we have invented in the last 75 years have made us weak and vulnerable. Who in the 1800's worried about an EMP destroying everything we had worked for? And now, humor notwithstanding, we are fighting to break the chains of civilization and get back to the day when we could do what our grandparents did. It's become a whole industry, this prepping and canning, dehydrating, gardening, farming, survivalism. Our pursuit of happiness has turned into a pursuit of money and things. They won't feed us or house us if the grid goes down.

  9. Well said, thanks.

  10. Years ago, while drilling holes to run some coax through at a friend's farmhouse-I hit what I thought was metal(the place didn't have plumbing, so I wasn't worried I'd hit a pipe-the drill wouldn't go another millimeter. Turned out the house was built around a log cabin..hitting that old wood was like hitting steel(had to reroute the coax around the original wood!). I might be mistaken, but aren't trees from tree farms selectively bred to grow fast? Wouldn't that explain the lower quality wood? There's nothing wrong with technology, or conveniences, so long as you don't become overly dependent on them. Too many are owned by their toys..