There is a park near our home, and the Lewis River runs through it, tumbling over rocks and tree roots to create the most soothing sound I know. As much as I love to walk rapidly up, down, and around the three-mile loop through the forest, I am inevitably drawn to one bench by the river. It would appear to an observer that my husband and I are stretching our muscles, but truly? I am listening to the sounds of that water. It soothes my soul. If time allows, we just sit. Sometimes, we come there simply to comfort our souls. Scripture says that God’s voice is like the sound of many waters (Rev 14:2). I believe that is why it calms and refreshes me so. What soothes you?
We are not the only regular park visitors. During the day, we observe beautiful young mothers pushing strollers while earnestly conferring with one another. How necessary is their fellowship. The little ones just sleep or feast on the sights and sounds going by. Sometimes our waves coax forth a smile. Our three-mile hike takes us by numerous playgrounds where kids of all sizes try out the equipment not so quietly! We love to hear their exuberant whooping, hollering, and laughter.
Earlier and later in the day come the more earnest joggers. As much as I admire their energy and well developed muscles, I wonder if their intense focus allows them to see the beauty? Our forest was once invaded by the local cross-country team. I know they did not begin to experience what some call “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku. Whistles blowing, feet pounding, faces red with exertion, and coaches yelling with stop watches in hand, they missed everything but the satisfaction of finishing a tough course.
The dog walkers are always present . . . little dogs, big dogs, and everything in between. Some of the dog people seem to really enjoy themselves, smiling, pausing, playing with their dogs and throwing sticks in the river. Others are so impatient; I wonder why they bothered to come. Their self-importance seems to suck the joy out of their lives and the entire park. I always pity their hurried dogs. Mostly, however, it appears the dogs are walking their humans. Once in a while I observe a pair so in synch that a mere nod of the head prompts the dog into a heeling position as we pass. I would like to be that in tune with Jesus.
We usually avoid the park on weekends. Typically, it is filled to overflowing with newcomers who don’t know park etiquette—dogs off leash and kids you wish were on one! Recently, however, we needed our “forest fix” on a Sunday. So, we found ourselves there in the midst of the crowds—observing the cavorting kiddos, barbecuing fathers, and mothers trying to protect little ones from all the dangers of parking lots and rivers. In the midst of all the hub bub and multiple languages, I witnessed much honor between the generations. Several times, I saw grandparents being sweetly assisted by grandchildren while other family members were spreading blankets and setting up camp. The affection and joy of being together was palpable. Young people were not disgruntled but eager to see that their grandparents had every assistance. It was worth enduring the weekend crowd to witness such loving interactions between multiple generations.
During the week, we often pass other couples quietly conversing and sometimes holding hands. Almost always, there are smiles and nods if not verbal greetings. We are kindred spirits . . . enjoying God’s creation with the companion He gave us. Life is good, and we are taking the time to receive it. And you?
Psalm 96:11-13 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.