Company on the Trail

The God Who Sees

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” John Muir, The Mountains of California

When I got up this morning the wind chimes were clanging again, and the patio umbrella trembled in its stand. Yesterday, some of the neighbor’s roof shingles had stuck up straight like a bad comb-over. Today I guess the wind had shifted because they were back down flat, but it was going to be another windy day.

I wasn’t going to go to the mountain, but sometimes you can’t let the weather stop you. I needed my little slice of nature such as the desert can provide. I parked the car and crunched up the trail, once again so glad I shelled out the money for Merrill boots. The gravel and sharp stones on the desert trail can be merciless on shoes. In good shoes you can let your feet do what they were meant to do and you worry less about slipping.

As I walked I felt the familiar buoyancy, my soul untethering itself. It’s a bit like coming home, the trail is. It doesn’t look a bit like the trails of my childhood, there are no pine trees here as there are high up in the Sierra Nevada but somehow it doesn’t matter. That’s the thing about hiking. Each trail is really an echo of the one before it and they all eventually join each other.

Hikers know this.

As I walk, I find myself thinking about the wind and how sometimes it can be a Holy thing to go out and join up with the weather when it’s less than perfect. Harnessing ourselves to something uncontrollable is what we do when we give God control of our lives. The Holy Spirit can make you do some unpredictable things. Like one minute you’re minding your own business listening to Michael W. Smith sing “Majesty” and the next minute you are kneeling on the kitchen floor with your hands in the air.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

As I walk on, I pause along the way and look at some things close up. A bird’s nest tucked inside the arms of a spiny bush, a scraggly tree covered in miniature purple orchid-like blooms. I relax into the rhythm of my footfall and find myself thinking of my Dad. He taught me that if you are really quiet, nature will talk to you. He also taught me that while nature should always be respected, it should never be feared.

He also taught me the wild freedom of peeing in the woods and that it’s okay to blow your nose right out there in the open, even if you’re a girl. The wilderness gives you permission to do things you’d never do anywhere else.

Another thing about the trail, it sets your mind free to meander down its own path. Somehow the conversations you never find time for at home, you can find time for on the trail; almost as if it’s safe to take them out since you know the trees and rocks and birds don’t listen.

Or maybe they do.

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Sometimes the trail brings surprises too, in the form of friends who meet you there. Thank you E! You showing up was the perfect end to the hike, I had no idea you were there!

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