Broken Down Walls Hidden in the Woods

The aromas and sights still fill my memories … sawdust, wood varnish, dusty old furniture stacked on top of each other, cast aside junky furniture, yard sale rejects … all waiting for the touch of my grandfather’s masterful hands so they can be made into pieces of furniture that would once again be used. I would walk the aisles of his shop in Mayberry (Mount Airy), NC and be amazed at what he could do. Even today, I own furniture repurposed from old pieces he worked his magic on. And every once in a while in his shop, I discovered pieces I would use my imagination on and play with them. Forts created, time travel, and more. The aromas and sights still fill my memories.

My grandfather, Roy Estes, and my brothers & sister

But this week is about lessons from the trails. Stick with me, it all connects. One of the more interesting joys of hiking is discovering old homesteads, walls of houses that were abandoned decades, maybe centuries, before. I try to imagine what it would have looked like in its day, who lived there, what did they do in life, and why did they decide to leave.

Storage, near Corbin Cabin … Virginia

I’ve seen remains of buildings that have nothing left but the mere foundations of stones that had been collected from the surrounding mountains. I’ve explored old barns and cabins that now are nothing but a skeleton of decaying wood – or piles of wood just rotting on the ground. And I’ve stood inside structures that have nothing but broken down walls left.

The remains of an wall and fire place … near Lakes of Otter, VA

Many hikers still might use these structures as a place of safety in a storm, a camp site, or just a respite from the weary journey. Evidence of this are fire remains, cleared out spots in over growth, or just the trash they left (no fine too big for this gross ‘leave no trace’ violation.)

Old Wall off fire trail up to Crabtree Meadows

We are going through some trying times … coronavirus aside. But I look around and I see people acting stupidly. There are spring breakers gathering in throngs on beaches – ignoring the guidelines and health professional recommendations. Churches gathering in scores, breaking the 6 foot rule and the small crowd recommendations. And people feeling invulnerable, in spite of the health repercussions on themselves and those around them.

I also see lack of control in addictions, eating habits, financial management, behavior in relationships, and more. And they reap the whirlwind due to past behavior. There is a verse that ties this together …

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Proverbs 25.28

The concept is self control, ruling your spirit. Controlling your speech, spending, appetites, emotions, habits, where you look, what you think. Self control is like a wall … it protects you, restrains you, defines you. And the wall needs to be maintained … vigilantly.

A year ago, I was thinking our country, our world was spinning out of control. All you saw were news reports on racism, political discord, extremism, and more. Yet, I can see what we are going through with the COVID19 has slowed us down, caused a pause, forced us to rethink things. Could this be a way back to ‘self control of the spirit’? A way to avoid the collapsing of our individual and societal walls that lack self control?

As one article puts it … Self-control is the difference between victorious living and defeated living, between standing firm against temptation and giving in to temptation, between keeping our witness and possibly losing our witness. Are our walls needing repair, or are they standing strong?

Will this season we are going through be good or bad? Only time will tell. Like my grandfather’s shop, I want to take junk in my life, broken areas, and repair them with skill and vigilance. I’m going to try to take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen and repair my self control.

What about you?

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