I’ve been uneasy lately.
This time of year is always difficult for me, and I can never put my finger on why that is exactly. I think it’s a combination of nostalgia for all the days and years gone by as the kids grow so quickly, mixed with excitement for the wide-open calendar of summer and all the various activities we’ll likely fill those days with.
It’s also a time of year where, very often for me, God goes silent.
Or I get too busy to hear.
Today, I felt there was only one solution. I took a walk along Baxter’s and my favorite trails this morning for the first time since my solo memorial walk after his death. It was muggy, warm and overcast, as we are expected to get rain later today. But God has been silent around here, and so I went off looking for him in the places that I used to hear him best–nature. Immediately as my feet took to walking, I heard the call of the birds, I saw wildflowers blooming, and I thought of all the miles Bax and I covered along those trails as I huffed and puffed my way through the hills and valleys.
Before Baxter, I was never really one for the great outdoors. I was content to slide my thermostat from the warmth of 68 degrees for the winter to the refreshingly cool 72 degrees of summer. It wasn’t until I had Bax that I suddenly had a reason to be outside every single day, even if only for a moment sometimes. Because let’s face it, with a dog, getting outside is necessary. This morning, it was time to admit to myself that I’d been avoiding walks ever since his death. Without Baxter (or at least without having another dog) the walks seemed pointless somehow. And I suppose there was at least a small part of me that felt like I’d be betraying him if I walked his favorite trails without him. Still, God had fallen silent and it had reached a point that I knew I’d need to get back out into nature in order to hear him again.
It didn’t take long.
As I felt the warm breeze on my face, I was reminded of the fiery, windy, breath-filled Spirit of God of Pentecost (which we celebrated this past weekend). As I stepped into the shade under the canopy of trees on the hills, I was reminded of St. Catherine’s meditation, and I thought about my life and how the Tree of Me must look. As the sun beat down on me in the wide-open blacktop as I passed over the parking lot, I remembered that this is still the same sun– so many thousands of years later– that shined for Noah after the flood, working with the sky to make a rainbow of God’s promise that the world would never be destroyed. (This took my thoughts to animals going in two by two, of course, and I was reminded again of Bax.) I suddenly realized, though, that while I missed my walking partner terribly, I was happy to have my feet moving again. The whole process this morning seemed to be nature’s way of saying that things must change. Life is moving on, and I can either go with it, or resist it, but it’s moving on all the same.
It’s an easy decision.
I’m going with it.
And as I heard the birds calling to each other in the treetops, and watched the squirrels hurried movements up and down the trees, I remembered that while I can get caught up in my head with all kinds of to-do lists and nostalgia and plans for the future, the truth is, life is always only happening right now.
Yours and mine.
And I took a deep breath.
And I felt the silence.
And I breathed in nature’s perfume.
And I remembered I AM.