A perfect autumn afternoon at Lake Martin, a short drive from home. The kind of day that brings a smile to my face, even when no one else is around, and chases stress and concern quickly away with beautiful earth-tones, stillness, and reflections, and life’s chorus.
I treasure my time in Nature’s solitude; it is my direct channel to meditation and prayer where God is always present. Blessings and peace.
Occasionally I run across an article that sparks meaningful thoughts in my mind. After a year of social distancing (actually self-imposed isolation), my wife and I begin the latter part of our lives, our eighties, amidst worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, family and friends illnesses and deaths, economic turmoil, and civil unrest. It would be so easy for me to just fade back into the woodwork, waiting for some change that may not come, and die a slow death of mental dullness watching TV movies. But that is not me or my wife! Creativity has always been a big part of our lives in many varied ways.
For me, nature photography and haiku poetry have been my creative interests for many years. I realize how important such activities are for mental exercise and personal enjoyment. I also realize that continued pursuit of these activities requires certain physical adjustments that aging requires. Such changes were, at first, hard to accept but prayer, meditation, and trust in a loving God always light the way.
The first snowfall in a late autumn woodlands is a glorious sight! Almost a cleansing of the year’s trials and pains as translucent whiteness slowly overlays the remaining leaves, branches, and grasses.
Standing alone amidst this wonderland, I can only marvel at one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind: nature’s beauty. I hear only the faint, pervasive sounds of falling snow, and raising my face to heaven, say “thank you, Lord!”
Silence surrounds me except for the chirp of a flitting red cardinal. From the blue sky, February’s sun filters through the leafless cypress and tupelo trees, imprinting the still waters with a kaleidoscope of browns and blues. I drift silently along, feeling a cool breeze and breathing nature’s scent.
One year into our Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, how the priorities of my life have changed! No longer do my wife and I plan fun shopping trips, cafe lunches, or casual visiting with family and friends. Add to that the stress of politics and the realities of turning 80, and we are now living in a new ‘normal’, maybe forever.
The one thing that makes our situation bearable is an unwavering FAITH in a loving, caring God, and the love and companionship we give each other! And one of the best ways to feel and hear Him is in the solitude and beauty of nature, where no words are needed but only awareness.
Christmas Season 2020. For me, a quiet time of reflection on the trials and tribulations this last year has heaped on the world, on us all. The ‘why?’ is the big question and the possibilities are many, including God’s retribution for the world’s turning away from him to purely random happenings in our complex world according to the ‘Chaos Theory’. Yet, while we humans struggle to understand the why and how of events, only Nature simply lives quietly with acceptance.
Whatever the cause (if any), we have an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities for the new year. We should put faith, love, prayer, empathy, understanding, and compromise back into our lives. And for me, the beauty and solitude of nature is the best place for a meditation with God/Jesus about my needed new outlook on life. As survivors of 2020, we still have so much to be thankful for, so let the loneliness of this Christmas season be a time for rekindling faith and trust in our loving God. Blessings and peace.
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.
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…
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.