Thursday, October 9, 2014

Who Needs A Change of Scenery?

The dusty patches near the edge of the drive are stamped with overlapping hexagons, proof that I have literally been wearing a path between my house and my in laws' end of the farm.

Each week since late July, I've been slowly increasing my distance, on my way to 13.1 miles for the half marathon in January 2015.

After seriously twisting my ankle and spending the spring recuperating, I began at the beginning--a single mile march five days a week with my three children.  By the time my little trio bounced aboard their first school bus of the year, I had moved up to two miles, three times a week.

That was almost three months ago.  By Monday, I will be up to 10-mile treks, but don't be fooled--I am no athlete--not by a long shot.  I am slow, ever afraid of failing in this task, and hyper-conscious of how other super athletes will look down on me on race day as weak so much so that weeks ago, I enlisted the help of a prayer "accountability" partner.

But in the midst of all these fears, the pain of losing a toenail, and mornings with over 90% humidity, I have come to enjoy these two hour breaks from the noise of life. More importantly, I have come to enjoy this time when it's just me, my praise music, and my God.

Even on the hottest of days, I have discovered that I can meet with God out here in the midst of His creation more easily than inside my well-air conditioned prayer closet. 

Perhaps it's just the sheer length of time without any interruptions that draws me into conversations with Him.  There is no distinctive tinkle of new text messages, no telemarketers, no email, no Internet, no pile of laundry to be folded--in short, no distractions.

Somehow, though, I think I find God more outdoors because of  my surroundings.  Just being in the midst of His creation makes God seem that much more awesome and incomprehensible while at the same time that much closer and approachable.

When I look up, the wind drifts a kaleidoscope of autumn hues through the airy void before me.  They dance and hover to invisible heavenly melodies, occasionally brushing against my shoulders as their Creator draws them to the earth.  With each step, I hear the distinctive crunch of death and am reminded that each breath I take is a gift.

I rapidly plant one foot in front of the other, suddenly noticing mere inches from death a snail who carries his nearly transparent yellow home across the gravel.  His pace is so slow compared to mine that he seems to not even move as I blow past.  Yet, when I come back to the same spot seven minutes later, I am surprised to find no trace of him and am instantly humbled by the thought that my perspective of time cannot be applied to other parts of God's creation.  God's time is fast enough to accomplish His purposes.

Another day, a furred red ant weaves a seemingly chaotic trail before me; yet, I am aware that even in the perceived aimlessness of his God-designed decisions, there is purpose, no matter whether I can see it or not.

Ever present are the brash young red cardinals of spring who have now matured into more careful adults.  One flees from my presence as I round the end of the barn, even when that flight means forsaking a breakfast of grasshopper.  The insect panics at being trapped between me and the bird, leaving behind the gray camouflage of the limestone path and taking flight high into the rising sun.

This mistake born of fear instantly illuminates its presence to the young hawk and blue jay hunting above in the towering pines.  They swoop down together, the small jay quickly breaking off in the pursuit when he sees he is out-winged.  In the time it takes for me to make four steps, the hawk catches the insect midair and flies back to his invisible blind to wait for another, leaving the air empty as it was moments before.

Inside my home, I can become too easily convinced that I am god of my domain.  I control the temperature; create and destroy; change the colors of the season; give life and death within these walls.  Everything does as I command it to do.  In there, it is too easy to not need God because I have it all under control.  Or at least, that it how it seems.

But out here in God's wonderland, I am reminded of how truly small I am, how little I actually control, how dependent I am upon His grace for all things--even for a single breeze to give a moment's mercy from the humid heat  Out here, I am keenly aware of how life and death are separated by a single strand of spider's silk that can snap with the slightest breeze. I see the danger of making rash decisions born out of fear.

A stagnant prayer life suddenly sees flesh form on dry bones by simply moving outdoors, by changing scenery from one place where I feel in complete control to one where I instantly am confronted with the truth that I am anything but.


  1. I have found few things as good for the soul as outside walks/runs. So true that nature quickly puts our place in creation in focus. I am prepping for the quarter marathon the Saturday before your race. It took me a year to work up to it and I still keep having injury set backs. Apparently my hip and knee don't line up, who knew?

  2. Good for you, Kellie! I can't imagine a year's worth of setbacks. My family will add your name to our nightly prayer list. We already pray for me to be healthy with my running. The kids will be running the kids' marathon that morning with you. Wyatt is hoping to do the 5K for the "big" medal.