Off The Beaten Path – PhotoBlogging In The Woods

I can go into the woods.

I can walk the paths before me, wander under a canopy of beauty.

And lose myself in the mountains. Experience long moments of solitutude.

Intentional in my aloneness. Choose to separate self.

Restore my soul. Surround  myself with  a symphony of birdsong. By design.

A canvas of greens and earth-toned brown beauty warm my soul like a woolen blanket.

Beside a stream. Life-giving water gurggles. Soul-restoring haven by the rushing. I can stand.

And like Robert Frost, name them, the woods lovely, dark and deep.

A place to rest in the lovely and the dark.

Where light shines though the Rhododendon blossom like a call, the other side of this refuge holds hope.  A promise in light.

And the water heals, the sound, the smell, the cool, and all that it gives. All of my senses capture the gift of the stream.

But I was meant for relationship. And I was created for community.

He calls me back into the arms of relationship. Into the community that is my world. The intimate one and the larger one of which I am a member.

And there is love.

And there is hurt.

And joy.

And brokenness.

And woundedness.

And disappointment.

And hope.

And healing.

There is every emotion that we were designed and created to experience.

In relationships with each other.

So I draw on the woods. I take from the tree-barked harbor. I leave the sanctuary of the solitutde.

And I live my life in relationships. I seek to build, restore, re-fresh, re-new, and re-love, again.

Each one.

Each precious, tender, sacred one.

And not in my strength alone, but in that of Creator God, maker of Heaven and Earth.

But those woods that Robert Frost knew so well, will call and I will go, again.

Tomorrow.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains-

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

The Maker of heaven and earth.- Psalm 121


“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” by Robert Frost “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Can’t Go Around It, Must Go Through It

Do you remember Red Rover. Did you play the game as a child where you called out “Red Rover, Red Rover….” to the opposing wall of linked-armed children? This is a game I remember well.

But what I remember most is the phraseology of the child’s game that went something like this– can’t go over it, can’t go around it, can’t go under it, must go through it. And so with steely eyes, and a huffing and puffing of all my might, and as much determination as a grade schooler can muster up, I would go running toward the chain link fence of gangly arms and attempt to break through. If you played this you remember the feeling of bouncing off the flesh and falling down on the ground, defeated and giggling if you failed. But if you won… well you were prideful, and pompous and celebrated the victory. You had smashed through the linked arms, broken the wall of defenses and crashed through the best efforts of your peers.

Dread has moved in, invaded my space, and is encroaching on my personal bubble. Do you know that space that is yours alone into which no one is allowed to enter? Dread is there. She is causing me to feel uncomfortable. She is robbing me of Peace. Dread steals Hope and belief in the best outcome. But what magnifies the discomfort is that I have given her space in my heart. Just handed it to to her. Dread, you may have a big chunk of me today. Take what you need.

So like the child whose turn it is to run the gauntlet of linked flesh and bone, I usher Dread out the front door, withdraw the invitation she sneakily stole to the party which is my life, and I run with Hope.

That which I dread, I have to run through. I can’t go over, around, or under. I will walk through it knowing that through Him all things are possible.

I may hurt. I may sting. I may feel disappointment. But I choose not to dread.

I choose Bold. I choose Courage. I choose God’s hand in mine, linked as I run into the wall, into the
obstacles.

I have over a half a century of life to look back on and see that He was there. Lifting me, encouraging me, carrying me, and teaching me.

With Him, we will toss Dread under the proverbial bus. We will take back that which she has stolen. We will set a place with fresh flowers and fine linens at the table of life for Hope. And open the books to learn all that He has for me from this chapter.

This is not a child’s game, this running the gauntlet of life. And I am not Brave, like a grown-up. I do not have Courage, like a mature adult facing the challenges of life. But rather,I am like a child nestled in my fear. I am vulnerable and scared. I long for someone else to take my turn. I wait until I have to go, to go and face the wall. I want to be last. Or worse, not go at all– into the wall.

But through Him all things are possible. in adversity and in challenge. So I grab the hand of the Friend of the Afraid and say, let’s run hard, this race together. I am white-knuckling the hand of The One Who Made Me and relying on His strength to knock down Dread.

And as I release Worry and release Distrust, I slowly gain Peace. And I gain the knowledge that right there in the bruised flesh from striving and straining against the wall, He sits with open arms. Right there as I tumble down, not laughing nor giggling in a pile of defeat, He is there to wipe the tear. He comforts me. He embraces me. He dusts me off so I can get back into the game with renewed Hope and renewed Courage.

And this time He has ushered the school-yard bully Dread, off the playground. I have called on His name. I have yielded my struggle to Him. I have sought help from The Advocate. And I am not afraid.

Can’t go around it, must go through it. Let’s Go God.