Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A mystical autumn walk

The mystical light of God

After an autumn forest walk, my mind is on the majesty of God.

I’ve drunk deeply of the mystical sunlight of God, and am still full from the draught. How wonderful is God, the creation He has made? How unworthy am I to enjoy it, and yet…and yet...was it not made for me, and I for it?
I sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.
I sing the goodness that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command and all the stars obey!

Since childhood I’ve had a recurring dream, where I walk to the back portion of my yard, or property, and there discover a vast forest, opening from my home and bounded only by my imagination…yet somehow safe, and blessed and filled with the goodness of God.

And, I experienced something like that, on this walk. Holy mystery!

A spacious place, free from restriction

I walked a soft forest trail until it opened to a field, stands of red and white oaks, maples and cherries and scrubs giving way to waving prairie grass. And then I found an old, grown-over gravel road on the edge of the field, which led then to a vista of mingled fields and grass and trees, panorama which followed this road for miles…pure beauty and creation dancing in autumn sunlight.

I was alone with the animals and scenery, ‘walking with God in the cool of the day.’

I walked and worshipped, tracing the flight of dove and hawk, and myriads of songbirds and squirrels. Several deer danced in front of me, surprised to see me…one young doe ran a few yards away, turned around and looked at me as if to say, “And what are you doing in my kingdom?” It was, if I may be so bold as to say it…a very female look! And I just laughed, and bowed and walked around her area with care.

A friend, wild at heart

As I retraced my steps, measuring the miles back to my truck, I noticed an animal several hundred yards across a field…along the woodline. At first I thought it was a deer, and then as I grew closer, I realized it was a large dog. It was hunting in the edge of the wood and field, moving and stalking with ease. It noticed me, and a game of hide and seek began. It ducked into the woods, and then popped back out to see me…looking for all the world like an overgrown puppy, ears alert and eyes questioning…sort of cross between a German Shepherd and some other dog. I whistled, and it ducked back into the woods…only to re-emerge several yards closer. Each step brought us closer…and I whistled again. This time, s/he seemed tempted to run toward me. Perhaps half-wild and mistreated…I could have made a friend of it, if I would have had the time. We played this little game of respect, and finally I saluted it and continued my return, and it continued its hunt.

Two deer and a silent companion

I walked back along the road, with the sun dipping close to the trees, and hills spotted in shadow and sun. And there, in the sloping autumn sun, the magic of the walk continued: Two buck deer walked out ahead of me, gradually feeding out of the forest and unto the road…heading for the clover of the field. I slowed my steps, wind in my face, and walked up behind them – every drop of latent Native American blood in my veins now surging, on call! And there, God must have smiled looking down on us. The three of us walked along the same road for awhile: both of them casually following the road instead of crossing it directly, and me stalking silently behind them, wondering just how long before they scented me…a little, unlikely parade of God’s creatures! They both were beautiful animals, one a young six point and the other an older eight point. I moved in time with them…when they would step, so would I; if they swung their heads to the side, I would halt, and melt into the scenery. And so the parade-dance persisted…until they decided to leave the road for the field.

They finally walked into the field, turning sideways to the road. Now I knew the game was up, as they would surely spot me – in my blue jeans and black t-shirt, and forest green hooded shirt slung across my back, but not on me. And sure enough, as they moved a few yards into the field, they saw me. Talk about surprise! They thought themselves all alone, and then wow! What was this behind them? Animals can register the funniest expressions, sometimes! I almost laughed out loud…but now the game was at a new level. I was on their turf, and did not want to frighten them. And yet, I had to walk their direction, past them, if I would make my truck before nightfall. So, I continued my slow pace, keeping my head down as if I had not seen them. I knew that if I made eye contact they would be gone…so walked slowly and steadily toward them on the road. Both of them were frozen: the young buck standing alert and tall, every muscle tense; the older buck crouching down in the tall grass, making himself ‘invisible.’ And so I walked…watching them with peripheral vision, taking care not to break my soft stride…

And it worked! I walked past them, only a few feet away…and they let me pass without taking one step away or jumping up in fright. What a dance! It was exhilarating, a brief touch of man and animal in the autumn mists…

I walked about 70 yards past them, and could no longer resist – I turned, and made full eye contact with the younger buck. He quivered as if he’d been shot! I laughed, silently and gladly. He remained still and we measured one another in respect. He sensed that I meant him no harm, and calmed. I smiled then, laughing gladly and turned back to the road…feeling the ancient, lost call of Adam.

Worship under an oak tree

I walked into the sun, and then turned back into the forest edge, where the trail met the first field. There, I lay down under a majestic oak, and watched the sun paint the leaves in varied hues: what glory! Have you ever noticed the watercolor pastels that the autumn sun paints on autumn leaves, shining in muted, yet glorious display?

There, I looked up, beyond oak leaves, into the sky…a deepening blue, and gave thanks. For a moment, I was one…with God and His good order, receiving and casting myself to the dance as a child on the waves. The sunlight played upon me, as squirrels vied for the acorns…and a gentle dove rested in the heights. And I gave thanks.

For a moment, such a brief moment, I felt the order of Adam…to care and enjoy creation under God, and so serve God in the act, fully…a glory to God in the highest!
Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise!

Silver moon and silent song

With only the barest light to see, I made it back to my truck. And I started out…only to be stunned into silence by a harvest moon, rising full, just above the trees, painting the scene with silver brush of evening hues…

Ah, the beauty and majesty of God! Did ever Artist paint with more majestic brush? Does He not know what He is about? Is He not painting our lives with the same care, and brilliance? “Jesus is the Master painter, and the Holy Spirit is the Master’s brush…to be dipped in the colors that portray the Father’s love…”
And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop
And every house must have it's builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

And the wrens have returned and they're nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out!

Be praised, Abba! Son! Spirit!



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