Hylophobia is the fear of forests.
In thinking about the Bible, I realized that I didn't know a lot of stories relating to forests. Certainly I had heard about King Solomon securing trees from Lebanon in order to build his temple, but beyond that I was drawing a blank. It's not that there weren't forests. Historical maps tell us that much of the highlands of Canann and Syria were covered with forests, but what stories evolve from a forest setting? In the second book of Samuel, Chapter 18, King David sends his troops out to fight in the woods of Ephraim, east of the river Jordan. It is a battle which ultimately leads to Absalom's demise. David's troops route the opposing armies inflicting heavy blows. Specifically:8 The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
The forest swallowed up more men than the sword. It was the density of the trees that essentially caught Absalom's armies. Absalom himself was trying to flee through the forest when his hair caught in a branch, leaving him hanging for ultimate capture. Yes, the woods can work against you. 2 Samuel 18:8 is why I am a self-diagnosed Hylophobe.
I was asked today if I could recall a time when I was surrounded by people whose purpose was to support me through a hardship. Not really. Most of my life has felt like me just working to get somewhere or get through something. It has always been something I need to deal with; nothing I want to burden anyone else with. I am, after all, terrified of forests. I am uncomfortable being surrounded by trees, even if their purpose is to give shade, create life-giving oxygen or provide food. I don't know how to exist in a forest except to chop down the trees in order to reach a place where I can survey the land more clearly. The forest is where men are swallowed up.
I've recently found myself in a forest of fine trees, which I've almost immediately set out to burn down. After all, there will surely always be a new forest, more trees. Perhaps by the time I walk to the next clumping, I'll be stronger, different, less afraid. Having recently taken my children to view "The Lorax", I am reminded of it's message: if you use resources without making an effort to protect them, one day they will be gone forever.
Just something to think about for this day.