“I’m taking a walk over the hill; maybe I’ll see something.” I grabbed the battery and popped it into the camera.
Tom looked at the clock. “I think you’ve missed that opportunity… it’s a little late to surprise the animals.” Everything is allowed to be later on Saturday mornings. Especially me.
“That’s ok,” I responded. I finished tying my laces. “The scenery will be peaceful and perfect for time with God. As long as I don’t meet anyone else in the woods trying to scare me.”
A week ago I stood at the top of the hill shouting, “I KNOW it’s YOU!” A figure – a man – had jumped off the path into the woods ahead. Silence.
“I have a stick, and I hit hard!” A thin walking stick. Not really helpful. Maybe I could throw it like a spear. Probably now would be a good time to turn around and go home. Like *run* down the hill home. It had to be Tom hiding in the bushes. On the other hand, I had left him on the couch watching baseball 15 minutes ago. There was no way he ran up that hill. Minutes passed. I crouched and waited. Sure enough – Tom finally emerged from the woods ahead. All smiles and and chuckling and very pleased with himself. The man let me leave the house for a quiet walk in the woods and then raced up the hill to scare me. And yes, people, he’s all mine. He knows me and knows where to find me. And I love him for knowing. And running up a hill to scare me.
The night before I had stopped by to see our neighbor. She walked methodically along her flower beds and I fell in step. She pulled a plastic laundry basket with a string behind her to hold weeds and dead plant clippings. I offered to pull the basket for her, as usual, and received the response I expected.
“No. I can do it. Thank you.” We continued walking.
“Do you want to see a wild orchid?” she asked. Yes. I did. She introduced flowers and herbs like cherished friends, pointing out various uses for each one. She reads plants like I read piano music. I do not speak “plant” very well. Hence my stunned amazement to find flowers thrown all over our property when we bought our home. And hence my neighbor’s stunned amusement to find how little I knew about some of the plants. Ok, most of the plants.
“Here it is. See?” Her hands reached gently to hold the thin stem like a treasure. I would have mistaken the orchid for a weed; it was not stunning or eye-catching like the orchids I had seen before. It was quaint and plain and you had to look carefully to see the lovely blossoms. Hidden treasure in plain site. If you knew where to look.
She showed me another flower that a friend had brought to her from Hawaii. The flower was in residence under a huge pine tree. It ruled the space and immediately drew your gaze. My neighbor talked about the timing of the thriving blooms. A time for everything.
Rain drops spattered and we stepped under the branches of a towering pine tree. Our conversation continued for a few minutes until the huddle of clouds broke up.
We turned together and looked across the meadow.
“Do you mind if I take a picture?” I asked. The whole field was aglow. When I was little my aunt told me, “God loves to paint the sky for us. See how God painted the sky tonight? Isn’t it beautiful?” God was painting the sky again and splashing colors all over this particular piece of earth. It was beautiful.
I followed my friend as she emptied her basket. She pointed out mint leaves and pulled golden rod and we visited the turban lillies. Another friend of hers, she said, a Master Gardener, had planted the other daylillies nearby.
Our last stop was at a choke cherry tree. “I’ve never eaten a choke cherry,” I said. I had passed this tree for five years and never noticed the fruit or known its name. I think people are like that sometimes; we think we are unnoticed and maybe a little lost on our journey towards Home. Especially if it involves cancer and medical treatment. Or maybe we’re just blooming where we’re planted whether anyone notices or not. But God notices. He sees our fruit. He knows where we’re planted.
“I’m not surprised you’ve never eaten a choke cherry,” she responded. It was not a criticism. Just a fact. She examined the leaves and plucked a few berries and I picked some to try.
“These are sweet!” she stated, pleased. “They are usually a little bitter.” We spit out the seeds and talked about choke cherry jam.
I returned home with thoughts about lost and found plants. And people.
Feeling a little lost? God knows right where you are and where you need to go. Trust him and ask for direction.
Feeling alone in some trial? God holds you tenderly and will nourish your life as you rest in his care. Even if you don’t see his hands.
Hiding on the sidelines and unsure of what may be ahead on the path? God will walk with you if you step out in faith. His protection is better than any walking stick.
Are you on the wrong path – even if it seemed filled with light at first – and now feel surrounded by the dark? Good news. God loves you so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to find you. And me. Tell God you’re sorry for what you’ve done wrong. Accept the gift of Jesus’ death on a cross that paid for the sin that separates you from God. He’ll care for your soul and light the journey Home.