Wednesday, July 17, 2013

passion that grows on trees

Ever heard of Julia Butterfly Hill?

Probably not. 

The only reason I remember her is that I mentioned her story in something that I wrote in the early part of 2000... see, Julia was this chick who lived in California, and became famous because she moved into a... well, an odd sort of house.  So strange, she even named her house Luna.

Sort of like Tara from Gone with the Wind, but not the same.  She moved in on December 10th, 1997, and lived in that home for 738 days, before finally leaving. 

Wait, did I tell you that Julia was living in a tree?  A tree she named Luna.  She disagreed with the She was living about 180 feet in the air at the top, in order to prevent this tree from being sliced down by loggers.   See, the Pacific Lumber Company was clearing some wooded areas, including some redwood forest trees in Northern California. 

She was a part of a group that was rotating in and out of the trees, in an effort to stop the cutting... people were staying a few days at a time, and they wanted someone to volunteer for a week.   And so Julia said she would.

Julia, branching out.  Two years in a long time.  Quite spacious, though.
I mean, check out that trunk space.  I'll bet the loggers couldn't wait for
her to leaf.  Should I go on?
Says Julia: "An hour and a half after reaching the base of the tree, we got the last of the provisions up. By then it was midnight. Finally, I was able to put on the harness and ascend Luna. It seemed an exhausting eternity before I reached the top. When I finally got there, I untangled myself from the harness and looked around for a place to collapse."

And there she stayed.  For 738 days, she lived on two 6x6 platforms.  She exercised by moving about the branches and trunk.  She didn't wash her feet very often, finding that sap on the bottom of her feet helped her stick to the tree for better traction.

She used solar powered cell phones, became an "in-tree" correspondent for a cable tv show, and commanded an 8 person crew that would hoist supplies up to her as needed.  She slept in a sleeping bag, cooked on a single-burner propane stove. 

Through it all, she suffered from freezing rains, 40+ miles per hour wins due to El Nino, helicopters buzzing around constantly, angry loggers attempting to intimidate her and an actual siege by company security guards.

Finally, on December 18th, 1999, a little over 2 years after climbing to the top, Julia Butterfly Hill struck an agreement with the Pacific Lumber Company... they agreed to preserve Luna the Tree, and all of Luna's brothers and sister trees in a 200 foot radius.  As part of the agreement, $50,000 that was raised by Julia and her activist groups was donated to the logging company, which was in turn, donated to a university for research in forestry.

She has since parlayed this into a lifetime of protests and such, as well as a book deal with her memoirs, being the subject of a documentary and even getting arrested in Ecuador for similar protesting--they didn't respond well... the Ecuadorian president said, "The gringo has been arrested..." and said gringo was soon deported.

Oh, and according to her Wikipedia page, she's a vegan.  I kinda feel like they could saved that 2.3 seconds of typing, because I think we could have done the "lived in a tree to protest logging/vegan" math there...

There are many words you can use to describe Julia Butterfly Hill.




Maybe a need to re prioritize her life.



Yes, Passionate.  Like it or not, this chick was passionate about what she believed in.  Whether you think she's brave and wonderful, or a complete moron... she is passionate.

And I think the difference in enthusiasm and fervor and zeal versus passion is that you can lose the first three quickly... you can be enthusiastic for something one day, and the next day be down and lose it, and the following day be excited again... "fervor", "zeal", kinda the same thing.

But passion is developed.  And lost over time.  And gained back over time.   And we have to be careful not to lose our passion.

I'm pretty sure that maybe on Day 78 of her journey atop a tree, J-Butt might have thought, "What the crap... Am. I. Doing?" and perhaps on Day 123, maybe she thought, "I would love a clean toilet right now" and on Day 201, she might have thought, "So... I have missed the last 48 weeks of Friends... and did Clooney come back to ER?" 

And when the loggers were calling her what I can only imagine are ugly names, she probably shed some tears.  And when Pacific Lumber came to her and said, "Hey, if you come down, we promise we won't cut down THIS tree... just the rest of them..." she might have been tempted to say "Okay, good enough" and come down and had a steak a tofu dog.

But she didn't.  Because she believed in what she was doing so much, she didn't allow her emotions to take over... she didn't let the temptations of a lesser goal to overtake her.  She knew what her goal would be, and was even quoted as saying, "I gave my word to this tree, the forest and to all the people that my feet would not touch the ground until I had done everything in my power to make the world aware of this problem and to stop the destruction."

This tells me that she recognized she couldn't do it all, and she knew there were some limits... but she wouldn't stop until she had done everything she could have done. 

And this is where you come in.  What is your passion?  If you give it up because you get emotionally dinked, its not passion.  Its a hobby.  If you walk away because you settled for a mark way, way before what you believe your passion is, its not passion.  Its just something you enjoy doing.

When the zeal is gone, when you are unenthusiastic about it... if its truly passion, your passion will remain.

And so goes the way of the Christ Follower.  Passion.  Keep chasing God, even when the Spiritual high of a great worship has worn off.  Passion.  To keep working even when you feel as if you aren't making a difference to anyone.  Passion.  When there is no zeal, no fervor, no enthusiasm whatsoever, you keep the pursuit of God in hand.  Passion.

God pursues us with Passion.  Every time we hurt him, every time we turn our backs on him, every time we deny his name and deny the cross, He still comes after us.  With a Passion.

We all are passionate about something... even if its being passionate about not committing to anything.  Even if its just an addiction to the warm fuzzies.  I'm passionate about writing.  About movies.  About my family.  And sometimes, I'm passionate about God... and that's just honesty.

Here's the challenge... to find your Passion, and if it's anything other than the relentless pursuit of God as he pursues us, to channel it to that pursuit.

Let's just hope its not in a tree.

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