Well this blogging is harder than it looks. There is a significant learning curve and then the daily discipline of writing. I can get to the parks easy enough – it’s the writing things down afterwards that causes problems. But I am getting there. This morning I decided I shouldn’t walk in a park but stop and write. I ended up with a list of 19 topics to blog on. I guess the thing to do is to go by the ancient scrapbooking principle: start with today and work backwards.
So yesterday Buddy (our dog) and I went for a walk at Fountain Head Regional Park. Some friends of mine had alerted me to the beauty of this park back in May when I was telling them about my sabbatical. They did not steer me wrong. Buddy and I stopped at the first parking lot. There weren’t that many people there. We walked over to the first map sign and saw that there were three trails from 10 – 18 miles long. We decided to do a half hour walk out and a half hour walk back. We entered the forest. We stopped to read the grave stones for the Davis family cemetery and then we headed off down the trail marked with a single blue paint mark on the trees.
It was around ten o’clock and already sweltering. But it was cooler on the path under the shade of some very tall and beautiful trees. I love walking in this kind of forest. Everything is tinted a bright yellow-green in the light filtered through the tall canopy. There was not much underbrush so one could see for quite a ways. The air was filled with rustling leaves and the songs of birds. It was like entering another world. It is a worshipful thing to stare up the trunk of a 50 foot tree and to see the blue sky and sunshine through its canopy. I always stop and thank God for trees when I do that. There were several magnificent specimens there that brought forth an extra ‘thank you God’ from my soul.
Buddy was so excited he could not get down the path fast enough. It was a bit rigorous going up and around and then down to the stream bed. Buddy stopped for a drink and I pulled out my water bottle too. I took a picture of some mushrooms; which were abundant in the forest as it had rained recently.
I love how the path beckons one forward into the future.
As Buddy and I headed up the next hill we came upon a box turtle. He pulled in his head. Buddy gave him a quick sniff and was ready to move onto the next thing. I asked him to stop long enough so I get could a picture. The turtle was nice enough to stick out his head and start walking again. We went on – over hill and over dale – (poor dale) – and saw more mushrooms – and stopped in several places to admire the view of the forest and listen for the birds.
After we had gone about half an hour into the woods we decided it was time to turn around and head back to the parking lot. I was glad I brought Buddy because it was a bit deserted. We only saw one jogger up to this point. But on the other hand, if I didn’t have Buddy I would have found a place to sit and just soak in the atmosphere of the forest. It is in those quiet moments alone that one truly has time to talk to God and to listen to the message from the forest and the Holy One.
Just as we started back we heard voices further up the trail. We had walked a little ways and found the voices had drawn closer rather quickly and as I looked back I saw two horseback riders. In all the time we have had Buddy I don’t know that he had ever seen horses and I was not sure how he would react to them. So we found a spot to pull over and wait for the horseback riders to pass us by. As they approached Buddy was getting ready to put up a fuss when I called out to the riders to say we were there and to tell them I wasn’t sure how Buddy would react. The first rider said a few words of thanks and Buddy’s noise caught in his throat. I don’t know what he was thinking about these really big creatures but I guess one doesn’t put up a fuss when they speak English and talk back to you. We continued on and soon ended up back in the parking lot.
It was so wonderful in the forest. Just a few steps in and the busy suburban world of Northern Virginia seemed to melt away. The feeling of peace pervaded the whole atmosphere of the forest. As I took in all the beauty and majesty of the forest I could understand that Bible verse that speaks of the trees clapping their hands. As I walked I could sense the praise of the Holy One happening in the song of the forest and the critters. Praise to God from whom all blessings flow…praise him all creatures here below…Praise him above ye heavenly host, Praise Parent, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen. It was a great way to start the day. Amen.