Hiking has become not only my sanctuary, but my prayer closet. I enjoy the solitude, the stillness and quiet. The quiet broken occasionally only by the sounds of the regional and migratory birds, a lyrical and sweet sound indeed.
I sight two birds in the process of nesting. What I can only assume to be the adult male simply from its actions, is hopping about the forest floor, methodically selecting and procuring sticks and moss. After gaining purchase, he hops up onto a rock, looks nervously about for intruders or a secretive thief, and then hops over to the nesting area where its mate waits. The waiting mate then takes over construction of the sparse nest, inserting the carefully chosen twig, then changes her mind and inserts it in a more wanting position. The pair is nesting among ground brush, something that I find most intriguing. They are beautifully colored, an orange-brown body and black wings with white patches.
I am so thankful for these sightings, Lord!
Another two hours into the trek and I have come upon a boulder field, a more uninteresting portion of the day’s outing. This area of little variation is striped and gouged from wind and rain erosion. The red clay hard-packed soil is difficult to tread across, inflexible and hard on the knees. One section of the trail has fallen way, probably from that last storm we had that lasted 3 days of heavy, heavy rains. I carefully avoid the weakened section of trail; I have learned my lesson the hard way. Do not step to the outside edge of a trail. A wind is blowing randomly with intermittent aggressive gusts. I look to the sky, only a few popcorn clouds, I’m confident I can continue without weather restraints.
At last the payoff, and a marvelous one at that! Panoramic views, absolutely breathtaking! A knock-your-socks-off vista. The cities in the far distance are ant size, miniatures of an assortment of lives in living color. I place my “squared” fingers in front of me and “frame” different sections, adding the diminutive lifescape’s to my mental library.I am reminded that I, too, am but a seemingly insignificant small dot on this planet. But the Lord has blessed me beyond my ability to adequately thank Him, and I will to rise to the challenges and changes He places before me. My life needs to reflect His glory and wonder, something that I will no doubt be working on and refining, happily, for all of my living days.
That last thought causes me to be overcome with humility and I kneel on the callous dirt, tears streaking my face as I speak praise to God, my Maker, and my heavenly Holy Father. Unexpectedly I’m reminded of an incident many years back and I shake my head involuntarily, pushing the thought from my memory, I want to focus on my God. My hands are in front of me, in an open, placating manner as I whisper praises to Him.
I quietly gasp as my hands are touched by someone, my eyes fly open but I am not alarmed. There is nothing in front of me, nothing visible that gently stroked my hands but I was definitely touched. I weep softly and thank Him over and over again. I realize that He is healing me of that ugly memory. The mighty, creative Craftsman is chiseling away at His masterpiece once again and it is developing right before my eyes, this very moment, no time to waste.
Oh God, You are so extraordinary!
If I had the provisions, I would have stayed the night. The hour or so that I spent communing with my Lord was so very special, another incredible cache of holy and prized moments that will remain with me forever. But practicality trumps and eventually I began my descent. Over and over, my mind revisits the gentle touch. He touched my hand. He touched me!
Now blurry-eyed from grateful tears, I mentally pull myself up by the boot straps and focus on the task at hand. I’m learning. I’ve graduated from “novice hiker” and I know what needs to be done. I place one careful foot in front of the other. Even though I stayed at the mountain top longer than I should have, He is aware of my time constraint and I do not descent alone. My God is always with me, guiding and protecting, interacting, intervening and teaching. He has given me a sound mind and I’m to use it to the best of my ability.
I have learned from previous experiences as well as from researching on the internet, what to be mindful of in the wilderness, especially at dusk like it is now. While staying on track with my due diligence, I continue down the mountain without fear and without hyper vigilance.
My God literally touched me and I am at peace.