A walk into the woods

Andy Henry reminds us in this morning’s Fruit of the Vine of God’s message for us in the 23rd Psalm. Because even though we “read that psalm as a metaphor” it is possible to experience “its truth in a very literal way.” While visiting family, Andy took time for a walk. Went outside. Into “the woods behind my parents’ house.... I was literally walking beside gentle streams and literally resting in green spaces.”

This August, I parked my car and decided – in an attempt to get outside more – to walk whenever possible, even if it meant reordering my day in order to make time for moving from place to place. Newberg is a small town, but an errand here and there adds up. I cover between 2 and 5 miles most days. Sometimes more. And I’ve noticed changes. My breathing is slower. My thinking is less rushed, more creative. My head feels cleaner, clearer – like I can see.

This is what Andy felt in his own lived experience of the psalm: “I noticed my strength returning and my perspective expanding.” And he offers us a challenge. “If you were to write your own psalm or poem of God’s care in creation, what elements and experiences would you include?”

I’d write about the different angles of light. I’d write about a section of sidewalk where water pools in the rain. I’d write about a produce market that stays open late on weeknights. I’d write about the smell of cinnamon and fried dough from a Mexican bakery I pass almost every morning. I’d write about the sense that God is present with me in creation – about what it is to be with God and aware of God and waiting for God all at the same time.

Andy asks us to notice how God, the divine Shepherd, “knows where to lead us for the nourishment, guidance, and healing we need. God knows the ‘good medicine’ we need for the moment.”

This week, it’s my hope that God will lead you “to places of renewal and teach [you] the peace of wild things.” In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying a doughnut from that Mexican bakery. And I’ll be praying for you.

Eric Muhr