Saturday, October 1, 2016

Finding the Steel Tree

Last night I dreamed of running a 100 miler in the mountains. I'm not sure what mountains but they seemed familiar like I had been there before--but had forgotten. I look forward to my sleep every night because of the journeys I take, and this dream had me starting line wayafter the gun (just like in real life.) In the dream, I had work stuff that I couldn't get away from and was stressing majorly, but thought I could still  catch up and make the cutoffs. I was stressing over how I would disappoint people who were here to help me, and how I would justify my failure to people who thought I would fail anyway. But as dreams often do, the story drifted to where I was on a through-hike or fastpacking adventure and not in a race at all. I kept climbing and climbing, overlooking valleys, and I prayed my legs and body would hold out because it seemed this was really what heaven would be like.  I was lost on a trail that I was sure I could never remember how to return, yet kept running. I came upon a man who was walking bent over, so much so that his beard nearly drug the ground. I stopped to talk to him. He stopped and sat down on a rock on the edge of a rocky narrow trail with a 1000 foot drop-off. I immediately perceived him to be a supernatural being. His gray hair swept around his face, his eyes shone with a brightness full of life, and his words rang clear with melodic wisdom. I was dumbstruck (no surprise there--I am often at a loss for words.) I asked where we were, and some other empty questions and that part of the dream is fuzzy. But then I asked how to understand the meaning of life--a major cliche of a question when you meet a wizardly guru such as this. But clear as a bell, he said, "To understand the meaning of life, you must find the steel tree."

That's all I remember from the dream because Roxie flopped over and stirred me from my slumber. I rolled out of bed for a bathroom visit and took some Tylenol for a rare headache.

I  took Zeke and Roxie to the groomers today. It was a dog grooming place I have never used, and they were pretty busy but assured me they would have them bathed and groomed in a couple of hours. So, being the running addict I am, I went to the river for a few miles. I parked on the west side at the soccer fields and headed north to the pedestrian bridge and ran across--mainly to see what all is going on with the Gathering Place. I love the old RR/pedestrian bridge and will be sad if they replace it.

The water in the Arkansas is really flowing, and I took several pictures playing with different camera angles and photo settings.

The HDR mode on iPhone allows a photo with a 3-second video. Since the groomers had not called, I was basically killing time.

I bet you don't know where this waterfall is on the river. I wouldn't soak my feet in it though.

I took several panorama shots, and could not get one that had all i wanted in it. Looking at the 5-6 pictures I took, I like this one, and then noticed what looked like writing in the clouds. I blew it up, and to my absolute amazement, the words: Find the steel tree!!!

Well, now I had a directive. What is the Steel Tree, where is it, and what does it mean? Then I remembered a geocache hat was called either the steel tree or the iron tree--and as I recall is was on the west side of the river--somewhere. Was it further north or to the south. I was pretty sure I did not have time to get further away from my car by going north, so south it was--and if I didn't find this tree, I would look tomorrow.

I ran south about a mile or so, and I began to sort of remember what the geocache tree looked like, but I couldn't find it. Finally, I stopped at a grouping of park benches and tables, and sat down and tried to open my geocache app to see if I could find any more information about this tree. I have not geocached since I upgraded my phone, and also I had not paid the premium upgrade for geocaching since I just don't have much spare time anymore--so no help there. But then I looked down and something in the dirt caught my eye.

Well things are getting too strange. I looked up, and right before me was the tree. 

It had grown to twice it's size since I found a hidden geocache there a few years ago. And yes--this IS a steel tree.

This tree is made up of a large rusty steel pipe sticking out of the ground. Winding twisting vines have woven their way around the rusty trunk to the point that no one can easily tell that it's not a normal tree.

One steel offshoot makes a base for more vines to climb skyward. I wonder is that steel offshoot grew, or was it part of the abandoned steel piping left years ago.

So what is to be learned from this? I am sometimes pretty dense.  I am notorious for missing even the most basic of life's lessons. 

Maybe it's telling me to stand tall and proud despite all the things trying to wind and twist their way into my life.

No, maybe it's telling me that even when you are downtrodden and desolate, even viewed as an eyesore, to keep looking up. God can take you where you are, give you purpose, and make you beautiful.

Somehow I feel a little more complete finding this tree again, but I am still pondering the meaning of the dream and the steel tree. Am I missing the significance of the dream and the tree?

If anyone reads this and has any insight on the meaning, please share.

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