Nymph, angel or spirit? Walking through untouched nature in a autumn wonderland this morning, I feel an exceptional closeness to God… actually I always feel this way in the woods. But since our loving God, ‘I am’, is an indescribable presence to us dust mote humans, I find myself looking for signs of His/Her presence in Mother Nature usually as a mysterious, fleeting nymph called Serendipity.
As I meander along the trail, I recognize Serendipity (God’s presence!) in the murmuring tree tops, dancing shadows, fluttering leaves, bird songs, and burbling brooks. Through them, I hear Him gently say to me, “Be not afraid…My peace I give to you,” and I smile. A squirrel chatters overhead.
Another day of coronavirus self-quarantine dawns and the TV shows another night and day of riots and shootings. A quiet prayer for peace and law and order forms in my thoughts as I slowly sip my coffee. Then, in my old age, I sadly reflect on the state of my America which I have always loved, respected, and honored. But enough for now! On my iPad Pro, a Facebook memory pops up from four years ago. As nature’s beauty and simplicity are always my escape from the evil and hate rampant in our world, I happily share it again. God’s blessings and peace.
Along the road at nearby Lake Martin on a warm spring morning, I see a decaying stump spotlighted in a sun beam. Around this old stump, a new creeper vine spirals upward toward the light, grasping tightly to the dead wood where it can for support. I remember my father’s smile. Life rises from death and will not be denied!
“…The Lord is near. 6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4: 5-7)
The old man, soon to be 80 years old, awakens on a Tuesday morning as he always does. He lies quietly in bed, listening to his wife’s soft breathing, and thanks God for this new day, her untroubled sleep, and their continuing health. Glancing at the sunlight on the sheer curtains, he sees promise of another typical hot summer day. But he also happily notes that days are finally growing a bit shorter now.
Wincing at a twinge of arthritic hip pain, he silently crawls out of bed, puts on his slippers, and eases down the long hall to the kitchen. The house is soundless as it always is each morning, except for a faint lawnmower. In a few minutes he holds a steaming cup of coffee in his hands, thankful for the modern ingenuity of his trusty K-cup coffee machine. After opening the sunroom and living room drapes, the old man moves to his favorite glider chair and sits to relish his coffee, meditate and pray, and consider the new day ahead.
In the stillness, he becomes aware of the endless ticking of the old wall clock, a sound that has become quite familiar and, perhaps, even friendly for the last six months. It has been that long since the old man and his wife of fifty plus years decided to self-quarantine themselves against the deadly coronavirus mercilessly ravaging the whole world. If it was solitude they wanted, they have it now in abundance! But he also thinks how blessed they and their family have been so far and gratefully thanks God again. Next, reflecting on the day ahead, he accepts the inevitable again: that this day will be much like all the other ‘pandemic’ yesterdays. It is like being in a submarine, he smiles, with the hatch closed and afraid to open it! Reciting the Serenity Prayer, he then takes a savoring sip of coffee, inhales the wafting aroma, and opens his daily haiku notebook…
My wife, Bobbie, and I love the mundane or ‘garden variety’ beauty of mother nature, such as the wildflowers, small creatures, shadows and nuances of colors and textures that the casual observer fails to notice. Even the subtle changes of the beginning or closing day present a trove of moments for haiku and photos.
They say she is a ‘whisperer’ and that she can ‘talk’ to God’s smallest creatures. I saw her today while wandering a nearby woodlands trail with my camera as I looked for that elusive nymph, Serendipity. She was picking wildflowers in a field, wearing a blue and white gingham dress, and carrying a half filled basket. A late summer breeze frolicked across the field and the flowers bobbed their heads at her as if asking to be picked too! Dragonflies and butterflies flitted about her while a pair of doves watched from an old wooden fence. She saw me and smiled sweetly as I walked past on my search for Serendipity.
A quiet walkabout in the woods, along a stream, or even in a garden is a necessity for me. With the stresses and anxieties of our world, seemingly always in constant turmoil, I often search for the grail of inner peace in the solitude of nature. There I feel God’s nearness and sense the warmth of his love as he speaks to me in bird songs, cricket chirps, rustling leaves, whispering breezes, and trickling streams. Wherever the path winds, there is no loneliness…only a feeling of peace, hope and trust that all is well and in accordance with God’s will.
Why it took most of my 79 years of life to fully open God’s gift of faith is a mystery. Why did I waste so much time, especially when he also gave me my most treasured earthly gifts, my precious wife and children? Perhaps it was always his plan, as time and space is irrelevant to God and only how we use His gift of faith is.
Note: Thanks to my good photographer friend, Teresa, for her wonderful photo which inspired this haiku poem.
Many thanks to a good friend and excellent nature photographer, Moura Maun, for her inspirational photo of roseate spoonbills. They seemed to be apprehensive about something… perhaps a young egret trying its shaky wings out, oblivious to a hungry alligator waiting below!
The streets in one of my favorite walkabout areas, a business and professional community called the Oil Center, are lined with upscale cafes and shops. I never know what or who I might see while roaming the landscaped sidewalks. Celebrities often visit too and and don’t hesitate to greet common folk like me!