Even amid other travelers, the forest felt hollow, incomplete somehow. The melting snow crunched beneath my boots, causing me to work as hard as if I were walking through sand along the beach. A few spots were icy; those shaded and worn smooth by cross-country skiers. Up ahead my mountain man leads the way, completely in his element. Beside me, one of our dogs sniffs and marks the stumps as his own. Today is the perfect weather to see the last of the snow. Soon mud will cover the land as the snow melts and the underbrush begins its ascent to the sunlight. We pass deer and rabbit tracks, as well as skier and sledding tracks. With the underbrush gone or covered with snow, it’s hard to follow a trail. The young pines look like modest schoolgirls, their low branches weighted down creating beautiful green skirts.
Silence is never uncomfortable in the woods. The feelings and discoveries, questions and wonderings that so easily grasp your mind, your soul, lead each hiker on her own journey while traveling the same path. It happens in real life as well, but it’s easier to see in the white, brown and occasional green of the winter woods.
The same scripture, poem, work of art, even adventure can, indeed does, speak completely different truths to each person. One sees the immeasurable joy at completing the journey, while another only focuses on the plodding steps, cold wind and animal crap along the way. I think, perhaps I mix the two. I have to remind myself to look around as I often tend to focus on my next footfall. But looking down holds its own discoveries. Tiny bits of evergreen, small marks of animal tracks, wooden debris from a woodpecker’s feast. I think its easier to see the beauty in someone else’s reality, to be distant enough to look beyond needed repairs and shortcomings. It’s like that with people as well. Those closest to us suffer the closest scrutiny while we make allowances or assumptions for others. Perhaps that says that stepping back a bit can lighten the mood, soften the focus in order to see the beauty in one another.
Where do you go to feed your soul? What are the smells, the sounds that comfort you there? If it’s somewhere far away, have you found an oasis nearby your home? What might it look like?
(Space will be provided here for readers to journal.)
Creative, Renewing God,
Thank you for the gifts of nature and sound! Today, I will look for you in my surroundings, and point out to one of your children a gift I see in them. Help me to see your mark in my own life. Amen.