It is no secret. I am well known for my love and passion for Texas. I write about it. I live it. It is real and not some contrivance or some kind of put on. Having said that I will in the next breath say that I love where I grew up. As people we don’t get to choose where we are born. Our moms made that decision for each of us. I feel blessed to be raised in a small blue collar community about 25 miles from where they made that movie, “On Golden Pond.” Laconia is smack dab in the middle of New Hampshire.
My family was a typical blue collar family. My father was a skilled glass engraver. He engraved fine, exquisite designs on wine glasses, decanters and any number of fine crystal objects. In those days, my mom was a stay at home mom and took good care of me. She saw to that I did my homework, my chores and went to church.
My early spiritual life consisted of going to church, Sunday school and Vacation Bible School in the summer. I learned all the stories in the bible and there were some pretty cool people in that book. But I can’t say that I had a real connection with my faith. I knew about God & Jesus, the crucifixion and the resurrection but it wasn’t clear to me exactly how that connected to me. I can say I didn’t completely “get it.”
Without a shred of doubt, my favorite time of year has always been the Fall. Growing up in New Hampshire at that time of year was wonderful. To watch the trees change colors and shed their coats was a beauty to behold. You have to experience that first hand to fully appreciate how spectacular that explosion of color is and how it affects your senses.
As a kid I loved going off by myself into the woods. There was such wonder there—a peacefulness I couldn’t get enough of. I would spend hours there. Sometimes just sitting under a tree and smelling the fresh air or listening to the breeze racing freely through the treetops. I enjoyed kicking my way through deep carpets of dead leaves that had already found their way to the ground. There is something special in that rustling sound. There is certain kind of freedom in the woods. I loved exploring new parts of the forest.
One day, I climbed over a low stone fence on Steel Hill Road near Winnisquam. As I kicked my way through a carpet of dead Maple, Oak and Birch leaves, a Red Maple leaf caught my eye and I bent over and picked it up. As I began to inspect it, I walked over to a large tree and sat down leaning my back against the thick trunk. For the first time in my life, I closely examined a solitary dead leaf. I was amazed by what I found. This one single leaf had veins much like my own bod., The leaf exposed many parts, panels—a network of connecting tubes or capillaries. I had never looked so closely at a leaf before. I was amazed. This leaf was once alive.
As I laid my head back against the tree I surveyed the ground in front of me. There were millions of leaves lying dead on the ground—millions of them, perhaps billions. I glanced up into the treetops where the few remaining survivors clung tenaciously to their withering lives. I looked at that Red Maple leaf again and realized one humbling thought. This did not happen by accident or happenstance. There IS a higher power. There IS a GOD. There MUST be a GOD. How else can you explain this single, solitary leaf? The intricacies of a single leaf did not just happen. In that moment, I BELIEVED there is a wonderful GOD involved in our lives—in my life. I remember thanking him under that thinning canopy on that crisp October afternoon.
I brought myself to my feet and surveyed the forest around me. I was in awe. I held in my hand a single leaf. Just one leaf from one tree that was the home of thousands of leaves just like the one in my hand. That one tree was only one of the millions of trees surrounding me. I was humbled and remain so to this day. I DO believe.
I gently placed that leaf in my coat pocket and took it home. It sat on my dresser as a reminder for the next several years. I found GOD that day in the New Hampshire woods. I am thankful he found me too.