August 2020 Tidings

Pastor’s Pen

Wait for it

Heidi and I were just on a three-day getaway to Bayfield, Wisc. We had a lovely time but not great weather. One day it rained off and on all day. That didn’t stop us from trying to go hiking, though! We heard about a wonderful shoreline hike fifteen miles to the west starting at Meyers beach. Got there only to find out the trail was closed due to fallen trees from a storm a few nights earlier. OK. Never mind.

“Let’s go back to Bayfield and look for hikes there,” we said. So, we settled on a two-part plan: first, a trail that began on the edge of town and went up along a ravine. Then, after that, we’d head down to the waterfront for a shoreline trail. The ravine trail was a nice, wooded trail that kept going up. Good! We’ll get some vertical in! But the longer we hiked, the more the rain came. And with the rain, the mosquitoes were roused. We soldiered on to the highpoint of the trail: a lookout that was completely blocked by trees.

Not wanting to take the same route down, we opted for an alternate route. Apparently, the super-muddy, ultra-buggy one. We knew that there was an option to cut back to the original trail after a bit, though, so we kept an eye open for that. Never came. We kept walking. Eventually, there was an opening in the woods and we suddenly found ourselves entering a cemetery. The rain had only increased. How did we come upon a cemetery? It’s like the beginning of a slasher movie where an attractive, young couple (it’s my story) are out for a walk on a dark, gloomy day and stumble upon a cemetery that’s not supposed to be there. The rest is all downhill from there.

But we hung in there. “Here’s the road that leads right back to the middle of town,” I deduced from looking at Google maps. We walked along the road in our soaking wet shoes, glad that we at least had rain jackets with us. Eventually we got back to where we were staying, and no ghouls had followed us from the cemetery. I asked Heidi if she was game for the shoreline hike. She was not. Time to dry out and read in our rental unit. I certainly understood. I, however, was headed for the shoreline trail. I figured since I was already wet, and I wanted to get some more steps in, why not?

After four tenths of mile on the shoreline trail, I encountered a barricade. Trail closed due to damage. “OK, that’s just the way it is today,” I said. Nothing more can be done. I headed back into town. The rain had now receded, and as I walked down by the waterfront, I stumbled (there’s that word again) into a privately funded public garden right there in between some apartments and the trailhead. Looked interesting, so I walked in.

And I was enchanted. Sure, it was a small little garden, but the flowers were beautiful, and the path was red brick. It contained some old fishing ships displayed like artifacts. It had a pond with delightful statues of children playing or reading by pond’s edge. And in the pond were lily pads with gorgeous lotus flowers! Mostly white, but with a few violet ones as well. Suddenly I had my camera out and I was engrossed in the delicate beauty of the lotus flowers and the bronze girl reading her book.

This somewhat miserable and disappointing day had unexpectedly led to something enchanting and life-affirming.

In the year 2020, and many times in life, we slog through it. We can only hope to chance upon a tranquil garden with beauty, life and fragrances that nourish our spirits back to buoyancy.

Psalm 23 reminds us, “he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”

Song of Solomon 2 gives us a vivid promise of spring that always follows winter:

The flowers appear on the earth;
   the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle-dove
   is heard in our land.

Life gets much harder than anything a rainy, muddy trail can throw at you. And for that reason, we all need to remember that our God is the God of resurrection, of beauty, of life. Our God knows how to give good gifts to us. Remember this on your tougher days.

God’s Peace,
Pastor John

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