Monday, November 27, 2006

Our Saturday walk

It was a gorgeous afternoon. We did something I should have done a very long time ago. Coty and the boys and I took a long tramp in the woods and cow pastures back behind our house. The kids have explored and played back there from time to time over the last couple of years. Sometimes they walk all the way to the gas station beyond and buy fountain drinks. But for some unexplainable reason, I’ve never walked back there. What have I been doing for four years?!!!

Over our back creek, through the woods and up a hill, you come to a little knoll that overlooks a pond. From the knoll, you can't see any houses, only the rolling pasture, and the woods on the hill behind, and the quiet pond below. We walked up the hill and surveyed the pasture dotted with black cows. On the hilltop, we discovered a tree with a bit of mistletoe in the branches. Matthew climbed the tree and inched his way out the branch, eventually getting close enough to snap some of the mistletoe with a stick. Interesting reading the history of "kissing under the mistletoe." It's another of those pagan traditions that has continued in seasonal celebrations to this day. I never thought much about it and didn't know the origin of the tradition. Like many things, it has absolutely nothing to do with a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, but comes mainly from a Norse myth. The botany of the plant is pretty interesting, though. It’s an evergreen parasitic plant and has a number of medicinal uses. But I digress...back to our walk...

Beyond the hilltop is a darker and quieter cedar/pine wood. I noticed how the sound of your footsteps changes depending on what you're walking through. Oak leaves and pine needles sound very different underfoot. Through the cedar wood and down another hill, we came to a spot further upstream on the creek we had already crossed. There were large raccoon tracks in the soft mud at the water's edge and deep deer tracks on the bank. If only I'd had my Plaster of Paris! I could have made some really nice casts of tracks. Maybe next time!

All along the walk, I was collecting. A bit of moss, some lichen, pine cones and sweet gum balls, seed pods. Little treasures. They are now lovingly arranged on a ceramic plate on the shelf in the front hall, reminding me of the small beauties I often overlook.

I really can't believe I've lived in this house for a little over four years and NEVER walked back there. I have been WAY too busy. I have now purposed to walk out there at least a couple of times of week. I'm going to have to put my mucky-muck boots back in service.

Saturday's walk refreshed me - heart, body, and soul. I love being in the woods. I remember long tramps in the woods near my grandmother’s house in SC when I was a kid. I remember the first time I heard a covey of quail take off. It sounded like a mack truck. When we lived in Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time in the woods behind our house. We picked fiddlehead ferns in the spring and swam in the river in the summer. We saw deer and raccoon there, too, and not just the tracks.

Somehow moving here, I got disconnected. I don't know why. There was really no reason. I can’t do what I could do in MA and hit the Appalachian Trail a couple of miles from my back yard, but I can sit on the knoll overlooking the pond, or feel the moss under my feet in the cedar woods. I can be still and listen to the hawk calling overhead and watch it reel and turn on outstretched wings. I can notice the rocks in the creek and see how they crack and cleave. I can feel the air get cooler as I descend the hill to the creek’s edge.

But there’s something more I can do. I can pray and listen, in the quiet of the woods and pasture, to the voice of God, the creator and sustainer of it all. I can gather small treasures and be reminded that He is the greatest treasure. I can look for glimpses of His glory in all He has made, remembering that all nature declares its Maker's praise. I am deeply thankful for a walk that has prepared me to move into Advent - renewed, refreshed, quieted, physical and spiritual senses alert, ready to ponder, watch, and wait for the coming of the Glorious One, veiled in flesh, who shines in all He made.


Melanie said...

There is something about being out in nature that allows us to see more of God's glory. I've been reading through Genesis and I'm so amazed at how much God thought of when we created this world. Everytime I walk by the river here in TN, I'm reminded at how loving our God is to give us such beauty to enjoy.

Beth said...

I love walking by rivers, too. What a blessing to be close to one so beautiful. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Any signs of our turtle family?

Beth said...

Sorry, signs of the turtle family this time, though the boys have reported seeing some of their cousins. Once in the summer they saw two snapping turtles at the edge of the pond.