My husband Bill and I went for a hike yesterday on a trail known for its springtime display of wildflowers. At first we walked at a pace conducive to a fitness hike. The sunlight cut through the trees like a spotlight on a incredible arrangement of new greenery. As we trekked along the trail, the landscape looked like an elaborate green carpet, comprised of a random selection of plants.
But then we slowed down to a crawl, examining the tiny flowers around us, looking up each one in a field guide, and identifying each type by the shape of the bloom, the colors, and the attachment of leaves. As we looked closer, the green came alive. There was no randomness here at all, but a precious collection of flowers, identifiable by the intricacy of design, each one carrying the distinct markings of a family, every plant personalized. They all had names.
As we were passing a young couple on the trail, the young man asked us with excitement if we had seen the Jack in the Pulpit by the side of the trail, a hundred feet back. He pulled out his phone and showed us a picture of the plant. "They are rare," he said. "I haven't seen one in five years." We traipsed back, and sure enough, nestled among some wild violets, we spotted the small plant.
"Hike like a three year old," Bill remarked. We know how slow three-year-old grandchildren walk, looking closely at every pebble and bug and flower. "What is that?" "Look at this." And Howie's favorite, "What dat called?" I hope that we never lose that sense of wonder.
We returned mid-afternoon from our jaunt through nature, marveling at the beauty we saw. And as I rambled alongside the cabin, picking up sticks blown down from a storm, I saw the wildness of our own backyard with different eyes.
Dwarf crested irises surrounded the big tree in our side yard. And I saw enormous pink, yellow and white Trilliums that would have dwarfed the ones we saw on the trail.
Both underneath the deck and over by the woodpile, I immediately spotted two Jack in the Pulpits, which I am sure I have passed by a hundred times, not knowing what they were.
We didn't need to travel anywhere at all to discover what is rare and beautiful. Our culture and our own ambitions push us to keep our eyes on the next yard over, always looking for the next step, or pursuing the next season of our lives. And we miss what is right before our eyes, precious, good and full of wonder.
And so, this morning, as I prayed to be sensitive to the next step God has for us, I stopped mid-sentence, and prayed that God would fulfill this step. I don't want to miss it.
...yet you have brought us forth
to a spacious place.