I’m typing this at 6:30 in the morning at Winter Park, Colorado. For the last few days I’ve attended the Renovare Retreat. So far it has been a rich experience. But first a note about the place we’re staying at. Snow Mountain Ranch is one of the facilities of the YMCA. Lollie and I (if I can confess) use to come in here when we were done with a hard day’s mountain biking. The place used to be so wooded that it was hard to see the different buildings.

When I drove up I was shocked by the fact that thousands of trees were removed. Thankfully Wes Roberts warned me about this, so I made the necessary inward shift. Seeing all the clearings where trees used to stand makes me sad. But it is necessary. All these trees have been cut down because of a certain little creature – the Mountain Pine Beetle. It’s funny how this little creature has arrested my attention in the midsts of this conference.

Yesterday I decided to read a bit on these little creatures and their devastating effects.

What I’ve discovered have been mulling in my mind for the last eight hours (or using the beetle metaphor; tunneled little holes into my brain matter).

The brochure at the YMCA says that,

Over 80 percent of the trees at Snow Mountain Ranch are or were lodge pole pine. A lack of species
diversity
has led to an epidemic that will cost Snow Mountain Ranch more than $2 million in logging, burning, chipping and reforestation.

The phrase that jumped from the page was “lack of diversity”.

When mono-cultures develop; it also attracts predators who special in the killing off of these homogenous groupings. Without diversity, growth gets stunted along the way. This struck me as true for people too. Especially church folk, for we desperately need diversified communities. Diversity in age, race, ethnicity, economics and dare I say even religions are essential for our growth.

Another paragraph that got my attention states that,

The Mountain Pine Beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosa, is native to the forests of western North America. The beetle is between 1/3 and 1/4 inches long. Trees that are not growing vigorously due to
age, crowding, drought and root disease are susceptible to an outbreak. Officials say 80 to 90 percent of lodge pole pines more than 5 inches in diameter in Grand County will die in the next two years.

The image of crowded trees also reminds me of the culture we live in with its lack of breathing space. Maybe like the pines, we look at each other from our individualized existences oblivious to the fact that we’re being eaten by an insect that methodically works on the essence of our being.

Needless to say, walking and staying in this place with this metaphor poses many questions to my own life. And then I’m reminded of my Leader who was the master of metaphor … who in a place like this might have said something like this : The kingdom of God is like the silent working of a Pine Beetle epidemic!