A Meditation on a recent hike, and Psalm 143:5-8
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you, my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails…let me hear in the morning of your Hesed, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
I take my children in nature often. This time of year I reminisce upon my years as a camp counselor, and all the LORD did in me through those summers of sleeping under the stars, countless hikes and canoe trips, a fox joining me at Vesper Point for my morning prayers; campers learning about God, me leaning in closer to Him, camp fires, laughter, sweat, overcoming fears, coyotes, backpacking the AT, Poison Ivy Island, Antietam Creek and a hognosed snake falling out of a tree narrowly missing the canoe, lighting that ripped a tree into splinters, sushi on my 22 hours off, morning coffee, afternoon poolside, popsicles and homemade icecream, the walk in freezer, Bub and Delores and her homemade chicken soup (with homemade egg noodles), wolf spiders, milkshakes, kitchen porch conversations with Carl, Sawmill Creek, tie dye t-shirts and homemade candles, wisdom and pottery from Jane, C & O canal toe path, Potomac River, singing, ropes course, and conversations with campers about life and faith.
People need to be in creation. I’ve known many who shun this idea. But we need to be amongst the works of God, musing upon them. Breathing in fresh air, seeing the various shades of green, hearing the songs of birds… God has spoken, and that revelation is beyond comparison to anything we find on earth. Yet, He also reveals much to us through His creation (read Psalm 19 and Romans 1:16-23 later). He plucks our heartstrings with His beauty. He renews our spirits with the musing we do. (By the way, science now backs all this up–a fascinating study for those who need proof to get them out of their paved paradise. Google sometime about the impact of trees on blood pressure, or the impact to our brains and hormones after just fifteen minutes surrounded by nature. Ahhhhh.)
Today, I heard the Wood Thrush. Its song is more marvelous than your average song bird, and more complicated than most modern “music.” The wood thrush’s song draws my heart immediately to a secluded mountain scene, streamside, away from it all…evoking memories (mainly ones shared by my husband, and various seasons of life we’ve shared), but also evoking joy.
I stop to listen, drinking in the scene, and sense of God’s pleasure, nearness, and sovereignty. My children listen with me.
Now back to Psalm 143. This prayer begins by pondering the days of old. My journal helps me do this. I often read and remember what God has done in and for me. But simply setting aside time to let your mind meander through old memories is good too. Then the psalmist ponders God’s works. These musings take time. Do you ever take this time? Too much time on your smartphone will make it difficult–but you can retrain your brain to learn how to focus, how to direct your thoughts, how to muse. Being around children can help too, unless you’ve given them a device! The psalmist then pours out his heart in earnest. His supplication followed a time of meditation on God’s works of old, works of creation, and works in his own life. Meditate as God intends, and your prayers will draw you into a deeper sense of His nearness, His love, His holding of you with His everlasting arms. We can ask for guidance, then, knowing we are walking with Him–which is so different than a quick “please bless this idea I have.”
Go out and find your “wood thrush.” That part of His creation that will help you muse upon His works, and fill you with His promised joy, and lead you into intimate prayer.