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Monday, July 21, 2014


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The sun was setting, the day’s final light slipping through the thick foliage surrounding me. By my side was a sleeping Golden Retriever, Silas, worn out from a busy day of hiking and exploring. At my feet embers radiated heat, burning orange as fresh wood caught fire. The day’s choir of birds and squirrels completed their act, and after a brief intermission of utter silence, the crickets and frogs sang us the rest of the way.

As the smoke from the fire ascended to the evening sky, descending through the leaves were white fluffs from a cotton wood tree. Gracefully gliding, the weightless seeds turned ablaze as they reflected the evening light, becoming little balls of fire. Soon, their glows transformed into the flickering spectacle of a forest filled with lightning bugs. The dense elm trees and maple trees began to illumine like a pine tree in December, a light shining in the darkness.

Just as it rose, the sun set, and then escaped behind the western horizon. Without light, nighttime consumed the campground. What was once seen became hidden. A familiar path became foreign. Isn’t it funny how different things look and feel and seem in the dark? Silas’ head remained up, ears back, his breathing a sort of quiet, but heavy, as he listened to the trees come alive. The chill the storm ushered in settled between the leaves, resting on the already expended branches.

The flames danced, swayed, and flickered with the breeze. In the stirring of the night, the woods and pastures appear joyous in their abundance now in a season of warmth and much rain. The lake is beyond its banks, overflowing into dry creek beds and walking paths, spreading its mirrors out upon the fields of the valley floor. It has become like God’s love or sorrow, including at last all that had been left out. All the while, my face, heart, my being was warmed by the fire’s light. The solitude soon ushered me to sleep. Finally I found rest.


I read somewhere once that the interior life should consist of moments of relaxation, freedom, and ‘browsing.’ Some do this via literature or music. We must remember though our time is limited. We need to be by ourselves. When we are by ourselves, we soon get tired of our folly. In that tent, under those stars, having finally submitted to the rhythms of creation, I learned that my folly did not fit in with the eminent sanity of trees, birds, water, or the sky.

The silence of the woods forced me to make a decision, which the tensions and artificialities of society may help me evade forever. I, you, we, must get out every once in a while. I, you, we, need a good garden, access to the woods, or to the sea. I, you, we, need to run to the mountains and to the hills. It is at these places, between the twinkling of the stars and the chorus of crickets, where we will find the silence that asks us the most important question: do you want to be yourself or don’t you?

[Pastor Adam Quine, First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln]



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