The gentle rain begins to fall around where I sit, perched high above the forest floor below in our screened in porch. In the distance, Grandfather Mountain sleeps under a blanket of clouds. Today, there is a certain “farmer” comfort to my being. When the soil has been properly prepared and the seed planted in its bed, it is then the farmer works hand-in-hand with his Creator, knowing the rains will come; all in God’s time. Once the skies open, it is like a sigh of relief for the earth below and the soul within; and so it is this evening.
In reflection of this past week, there is indeed a particular comfort to many more things than just the soft shower from above. Our Spring Break has been a much-needed regeneration of mind and body.
As I walk along the river on my trail that leads to Church, I oft wonder how many others would also love this route I take. Indeed, I could just as easily jump in the car and be at the doors of our sanctuary within five minutes, but there is something more spiritual about that thirty-minute journey that makes me want to walk instead. There is something healing in that journey. The majority of my pathway winds alongside the John’s River. There, the waters speak to me in various tones. In those voices, I find comfort and thoughts of distance times. From the seclusion of the forest to the dwellings of those in the tiny hamlet of Collettsville, there is a reminder that not all that goes on in this fast-paced world is good. There is a need in each of us for something slower, something to which the inner being can grasp onto and embrace. In the whirlwind of life, we often feel as if we are being swept off our feet. When we feel like there is no control, we must find a place to where we can be grounded, a place where the scriptures come alive and their meaning take root in the world before us, not in a distant place that is seemingly imaginary. As I walk along, the sounds, the images, the taste, and the smells of life abundant explode into my thoughts as one vision after another dance in and out of what I attempt in vain to attend. There is almost an inner tumult that cannot be explained, only embraced. For the quiet about, turns what cannot be controlled into calm, and the inner self that had been abandoned is allowed to awaken, one taking the place of another until there is hope once again of hearing what He has to say; that still small voice can once more be heard.
Each trip enraptures another nuance that heretofore, had been forgotten.
The root-laden path through the forest, like Jesus, walk into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, is alive with the multitude of nature’s chorus singing praises, lifting the spirit. The palm branches replaced by leaves and twigs, like a carpet of love from above. The spring that flows alongside which will eventually become one with the river takes its time, pausing here and there to take wonder before slipping silently into the waterway below. Around the next curve, tiny waterfalls play the melody to the tune of those beyond the greenery in the canopy above. Before I ere reach that blissful sound, my soul is already on fire.
A short jaunt through the vineyard and the miracle of Jesus at the wedding floods my consciousness. Their leaves just now budding, soon will become the fruit for which they were intended to bear. Like so many Christians I know, who have just stepped into their faith, but take time to grow and flourish so that they too might know Him in His fullness. Newness is the foundation of opportunity, and a faithful spirit is indeed a blessing to behold.
Before I can recollect my intellect, the rapids rush into my earshot. Purposefully, I switch my Bible from one hand to the next, its minimal weight barely being felt, but more so, the feeling of protection from the violent water below causes the motion. A multitude of echoes within the rocks and eddies, as often described when hearing the voice of God, like a thousand waterfalls; these white-water wonders below thrash about. Even so, there is a calming effect they have, through their anger, through their violent nature, there is something that says all is right within.
I sigh, and again I think of how many of my friends would love to journey this same path with me. How I could wish so many could take every trip to Church like this. How much more rewarding would those words spoken by the Pastor be received once the soul has been properly prepared by God’s handiwork? Like the soil of the seedbed, all is ready, now let us receive His Holy Spirit.
Thunder rolls through the valley just now. Its magnitude reaches up through my feet as mountains are one with the sky. Another thunder clap reminds me that I’m nearly in the elements, so care must still be taken even if I’m caught up in the moment in the story.
Yet, one cannot be without the other.
As my footsteps carry me eventually along the river into the little town of Collettsville, I find houses next to the river, well within its floodplain, apparently , victims of previous floods. The smell of ancient Earth reminds me of another place much like this, back where I grew up in New Harmony, along the banks of the Wabash River. There too, were places that all knew well which were potential casualties for when the water would rise. The earth smelled the same, a dark, damp musty-ness of antiquity. The houses were similar as well, modest dwellings with sparse décor. Humbleness overflowed onto the porches, where comfort overrode fashion. A place where the set of my favorite TV Show, “Andy Griffith,” might have been filmed. The little homes, each peculiar within themselves, had their own story to tell. The waning light of day made the soft incandescence of the lamplights within mirror the heartbeat of their inhabitants, warm and glowing. Slowly, one-by-one, I’m learning their names, but that will be for another story, another time.
Interspersed between homes, little kitchen gardens, as grandma called them, displayed a variety of early crops; cabbage, taters, onions, and broccoli. Here and there a brave soul had put out a few tomato vines obviously wanting to get the jump on their neighbors. The aroma of newly turned soil and fresh cut lawns wafted through the air. A sweetness that seemed almost enchanting.
Time being the present, there was no fear of what the world might bring, there was a silence only broken by the sound of the river running past.
Somewhere on the mountain beyond the river, in the darkness of the forest, a night bird called.
Somewhere near me, the thunder rolled once more.
To each there is a moment in time when we realize all that we do, we must do for a purpose in this life. Eternity, that time for which awaits, for which we must knowingly prepare, must not escape who we are now. All around us we are given the opportunity to awe in His wonder. Is it any wonder then how much more beautiful that which is to come shall be? There is only one thing that separates us from that, and that is simply that we accept what God has provided and allow Him to enter into our lives.
The thunder echoes through the valley, and I’m thankful for all that is.
Thanks be to God.
You can learn more about God’s plan for my journey at Mission to Ride.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,…”-Romans 1:20