Owls and Squirrels and Peace of Mind

20141008_105118
My view this past week. Many thanks to the property owner who allowed me to hide among the trees and renew my soul.

Twelve days of vacation; I needed it more than I knew.  And it was glorious.  I had no real agenda.  There were no exotic travel plans. My greatest desire during my scheduled time off was to spend as many hours as possible sitting in the woods, waiting for a deer to wander past.  If my view was good and my aim was true, I would come home with meat for my freezer and a story to tell my family. Fully decked out in camouflage, I had my bow, warm gloves and a great hiding place.  I was ready.

However, I suspect the deer were on to me.  They spread the news.  They sounded the alert.  And much to my Bambi-loving friends’ delight, I didn’t see one deer during my entire vacation.  I didn’t see one in the woods, or beside the road driving back and forth, or near my neighborhood, or even in my dreams.  So, when people ask if I went hunting, I have to respond that I am anything but a hunter.  I’m just a guy who enjoys looking at trees and nature…and I’m okay with that.

In truth, while unsuccessful at the hunt, the experience was unparalleled in it’s impact on my heart and my soul.

Each morning I would leave my home at 5:15 and drive the hour-and-a-half to this fantastic piece of property that boasts deep woods, rolling prairie, cornfields, marsh and pond.  I gathered my belongings from the car and stood in the darkness, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the black.  I would then hike into the woods, allowing at least forty-five minutes before daylight.  Finding my spot on the bucket next to the tree, I would prepare my space, set my bow, hang my pack, and lean back against the strong Maple, ready to listen and wait.

One morning, in the darkness of those woods, I enjoyed Barred Owls calling their familiar “who-cooks-for-you” as it mixed with the Eastern Screech Owls calling back and forth.  Finally, with the brusqueness of an old uncle and as if to tell them all to quiet down, the Great Horned Owl made his presence known.  The woods once again became quiet.

The light rising over the Randolph County farmland illuminated a rainbow of colors on rain-dappled leaves and dew covered grasses.  It reflected beautifully off the small, lily-covered pond, as steam rose gracefully off the surface and into the chilled morning air.  The breezes blowing over the cornfields and up the hill created a song, a chorus of sound; a rustle of dry corn, the clicking of limbs high overhead, the rhythmic drum of the windmill as it turned in time with the wind.  The birds flying from tree to tree, branch to branch entertained and dazzled with their aerial acrobatics and enthusiastic calls and songs.  It was magical.

As the sun came up over the horizon, the rest of the woodland world came to life.  Squirrels chased one another and investigated the forest floor.  Two Pileated Woodpeckers called to one another and met in a grove of trees just forty yards from my position.  They shifted up and down large Hickory and then flew off in a rage, only to return and repeat the performance.  Canada Geese passed overhead in V-formations, honking furiously to one another as they prepare for their long flight to warmer climates.  Chickadee, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Dove and Nuthatch dotted the landscape, searching for breakfast and making quite a show.

No, I didn’t see any deer.  But in the end, I realized I didn’t need to.  This vacation was a retreat for my soul.  It heightened my senses.  It awakened my spirit more than I could ever have imagined or hoped.  Each day was a blessing and I’m so grateful for the time.

The Color of Spring

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerhaps the most powerful aspect of changing seasons from winter to spring is the burst of color.  Sure, warmer temperatures are nice.  Of course, singing birds add a song to the air.  Yes, growing plants are better than bare branches.  But with spring’s arrival, there is a celebration of color, a parade of pigment, a hoopla of hues.

Reds, blues and greens burst forth where just weeks before there was nothing more than dark browns and grays.

Violet, magenta and yellow expand and blossom with each passing day, replacing a blah background of winter’s sad colorless world.

Of course, with the color comes the work.  However, mowing a few times a week is a small price to pay to have a carpet of green grass return from the dead.  Trimming back expanding branches is no burden when I can spend the evenings lounging in the shade of the Maple’s verdant canopy.  Pulling some weeds in the garden beds is a price well-paid for the beauty of daffodils and tulips that spot the landscape with color.

The rainbow of color never ends in this season I love.  And I am so very grateful.

Quiet Streams

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh, God of All,

May we know quiet streams in our souls.

May we find tranquil waters in our hearts.

May we experience the delicate trickle of love and grace

In the center of our being.

May we hear your gentle whisper, like water spilling over river stones, well-worn with the passing of time.

AMEN.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

kDear Lord of Light,

As the weight of the world builds in our hearts, may we breathe in your goodness and breathe out our pain.

As the chaos of our work week accumulates all around, may we breathe in your order and breathe out our frustration.

May we breathe deep the breath of God.  May we take into our very being your grace and peace.  May we be enveloped by your sweet fragrance of love and mercy.

AMEN.

Peace in our Hearts

IMG_4186Dear Lord of Life,

May we know your peace this day;  Not only in our physical being as we take advantage of a day of rest, but in our very souls, in the depth of our hearts, in the center of our being.

Fill us with your name.  Let us hear your voice.  Allow us to be surrounded by your Spirit, your calm, your control.

May we know you more fully.

Trust you completely.

Rest in your Peace.

AMEN

Confidence and Calm

IMG_4208Dear Heavenly Father,

As the clouds roll in and the rain pours down, may we stop and listen to the thunder and know your majesty.  May we listen to the patter of the rain and know your concern for the details.

May the storm and the rain convince us of your ability to handle the situations that weigh heavy on our hearts.

May the wind and the water remind us of your knowledge of our position and your desire to handle every part of the problem.

May we turn our eyes to the sky and our hearts to you.

Amen.

A Prayer for Emily

017Father God,

You know my heart and my desire for my daughter’s safe return.

Even as I write this, she is over the Atlantic, winging her way back home.

May her journey be an event of a life time, but her travels uneventful.

May her memories of her trip be sweet and her desire to be home even sweeter.

May the care she provided to those in need change their lives, just as it has changed her own.

Grant her peace.

AMEN.

The Game of Life

IMAG3381Wise God,

There are so many times that it seems this life is nothing more than a game.  We must determine what pieces should be moved and if we choose wrong, we pay the price.

There are other times that we feel that we are nothing more than pawns and some cosmic force is sending us around the board against our will.

Either way, we are unskilled in the rules.  We are ill-equipped to play.  We are out of practice and over-matched.

And so, today, we ask that you would help us understand the point.  Give us insight into the plan.  Lead us in your wisdom that we might win, even one small battle.

AMEN.

A Prayer for Guidance

100_9612Dear God,

Decisions have to be made.  A choice looms.

Two roads offer themselves and we desire Your wisdom as we select the best road to take.

May we have insight into the direction they will take us, the journey we will experience, the sights we will see because we decided to take the right or left pathway.

And may we know peace when we are at the end of the journey, no matter the decision.

AMEN.