Some weeks are hard – hard to keep smiling, hard to see the beauty of life, and for no good reason. This has been one of those weeks, and the last few days in particular have been a struggle emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. What can happen from one week to the next that can make my life, which I know very well is so much better than I deserve, suddenly seem bleak, or frustrating, or exhausting?
That change is usually something in my heart, something in my inner self, that has become disconnected and out of joint. Knowing myself to be a very dedicated introvert, I recognize that part of my struggle has been the sheer level of activity that takes me outside of my sphere, outside of my cozy home life, without sufficient time to recharge myself. But I realized something else – Not only has there been no time for solitude this past week and a half or so, but I haven’t spent time in God’s wonderful Creation, which is one place that never fails to refresh my awareness of beauty, blessings, and life’s bounty. Time spent in God’s Creation always seems to renew my sense of perspective. Being an introvert, I spend a lot of time lost inside my own thoughts. When my thoughts are tuned to God’s goodness and to beauty and joy, my thoughts are a wonderful place to be. But when my thoughts are in a turmoil, perspective is almost impossible to have. What better way to get out of my own tumultuous thoughts, than to lose myself in discovering the joys of God’s Creation?
After church today, the girls and I went on a hike. We left later than we intended to, since we got sidetracked cleaning the loft, so we thought our hike would end up being truncated. Our goal had been to get to Hole-in-the-Wall, which we decided against because of the time, so instead we decided to explore the ravines and draws spiderwebbing off our well-worn jeep trail.
Clambering over deadfall and under deadfall, scrambling through steep ravines, down ledges as tall as we are, slipping and sliding over week-old snow still clinging to the shadowed places, carefully parting barbed wire fences to fit through between the strands of wire, laying prone in the stiff, brown grass to marvel at a pinecone, or at the funny little spiked heads of what were in the summer Wild Bergamot – What a delight!
Flickers of white gave away the silently fleeing deer, and Dixie’s black pony could be glimpsed in our east pasture when we came out on top into a meadow. As beautiful as was the view while in the meadow, with Grandma’s driveway in the distance and Harney Peak away on the horizon, I like the ravines the best. The cool shadows, the piles of deadfall blocking the way, the snow and ice in pools at the bottom, the sense of the unknown – What is around the next bend? Where will this ravine take us?
In all the time we’ve been out here, there are still places I haven’t explored. The unknown, unfollowed, un-searched-out ravines. The distant hilltop. The dry creekbed. If I climb that hill, what will be on the other side? What is this stand of trees hiding? What is at the end of this draw? Should I go left or right?
It is impossible to stay lost in my tumultuous thoughts when God is drawing my thoughts out of myself, into something so much more beautiful than I have a capacity to understand or contain or express.
The afternoon gave way to evening. The clouds shone, and the red earth seemed to soak up every ray of light and cast it off again, luminous in the strange golden light of sunset. Then sunset gave way to dusk, and the red-gold gave way to the colors of nighttime. Lavender shadows settled into the ravines, and the clouds became the soft grey of slumber.
Almost as swiftly as the last glow faded from the sky, the warmth settled out of the air. A delicious chill sifted between the trees. The breeze picked up ever so slightly.
December is a beautiful time of year. But any time spent out in the open, breathing deep of the freshness of the earth, anytime spent marveling at God’s wonders is sure to be medicine to the weary soul.