an early winter morning walk on the Visitor Center Loop trail

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir

The best sleep of the night seems to come only a couple hours before rising. I had places to be this morning, which my wife reminded me, was only twenty minutes to be, where I had clearly and deliberately texted my friends I would be, less than twelve hours earlier. The best thing about having friends my age is that we can meet on a chilly Saturday morning in our worst, pulled-barely-together, just-out-of-bed attire. I didn’t even consider a brush through my hair. With some fresh coffee in a to-go cup, I avoided eye-contact with Dexter and Comet as I got out the door.

While I missed having Dexter to pull me up the steep gravel path on the backside of the Mission Trails Visitor Center loop, I am grateful that I have such faithful friends. There often are things that a solitary walk in nature can soothe. Sometimes, a walk and conversation with those you have deep, enduring friendship, is not so much personally reassuring but is an opportunity to encourage others.

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Luke 10: 25 – 28 (NIV)

Prayers for healing, for our children and grandchildren, for hope and for wisdom in how to help – we cannot answer among ourselves. But our Lord can and does. Particularly when we continue doing the things Jesus did. Being a friend. Encouraging a woman who was surprised at how rude other donors were – at a Goodwill donation site. Returning by way of the bagel shop, having a little conversation while there about Einstein’s compared with Starbucks coffee, about work and local firewood selling, were opportunities to meet neighbors I had not known before. And gave me inspiration for today.

The creative process is mysterious; a conversation, a ride in the car, or a melody can trigger something. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu


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