photo by Beth York Bonham
The packed earthy trail wound through the deeply wooded forest. Majestic mountain crags surrounded the woodland rims and rose like flames against the azure sky.
I was paralyzed of sorts, my feet wouldn't move. I just wanted to stand silently and breathe the scent of dirt and dew and pine into my soul. I love the woods, I love the trees and I feel so alive in the midst of all that variegated greenery and bark. Words of worship clamor for release when I am in the fields and forests of God and the cry of my soul resounds, "Where can I go and meet with my God?" Psalm 42:2
As I stood surrounded by the greatness of creation, I knew, I just knew, he was there beside me. And in the knowing, my smallness engulfed me. Someone once said that if God were small enough to be understood, he wouldn't be big enough to be worshipped. It was under the canopy of that truth all my worries fled.
I think Adam and Eve must have experienced this same elation as they walked in the garden in the cool of the day. Gen 3:8
Jacob was said to have carried the scent of the earth and smell of the field on his skin. Gen 27:7
David, a man of the earth and poet for the soul found refuge and inspiration in creation. Psalms
Jesus frequently escaped to places of solitude and beckons us even now to follow--
Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.
I wonder...what poetry and praise filled Jesus' soul as he ascended to the heights of the mountains? What kind of ethereal attachment to the beauty of the earth reminded him of his purpose and the sacrifice that would take him away from it all.
"Remember me!" I heard Him whisper. To the wind. To the trees. And to me. I realized then that yes, he was saviour and God, but he was also a son, a brother, a friend, a child, a teenager with desires. He loved this earth, its smell, its beauty and its people. He had an earthly journey and a human story to tell as we all do. God yet man. Like all of us, he doesn't want to be forgotten. We need to preserve moments in our day to reflect and "remember him."
Sometimes I fear we get too caught up in the practice of religion and forget to practice the presence of God. How easy it is to let the distractions of the day rob us of the silence and serenity found in creation, that vast wilderness of forests, fields and mountains God would use as a healing balm to our spirits if we would only go.
Kim Thomas states it well: "Overly concerned with what has been, stressed and consumed by what is yet to be, we tend to forget that life is happening in the immediacy of this instant". (1)
Eugene Peterson hit the nail on the head; "The fullness of creation is not realized in compulsive activity, but in the quiet contemplation of what is." (2)
There is a spiritual continuity and circuitous connection with creation that is restless inside of us, urging us back to our origins, back to a faraway time and place recognized by our soul; God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed. Gen 2:8
"In that day I will respond, declares the Lord-- I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.
I will plant her for myself in the land."
God has made the earth and skies to be an observable, experiential and tangible testimony of His presence. Come away with Him, find a place of solitude and rest. Find a place of worship and prayer. He is waiting for you.
True worshippers, "Will he always have to go to a church to find them, or might there be one here and there in an ordinary house, kneeling alone by a chair?" (3)
Might there be one here and there found walking a winding trail in communion with his creator?
This is my fathers world. Lose yourself in it. I dare you. :)
(1) Kim Thomas, Living in the Sacred Now.
(2) Eugene Peterson, Praying with Moses
(3) Elisabeth Elliot