Reflecting on Wilderness….

Summer is drawing to a close, on the Friday prior to Labor Day weekend. Leaves are already falling and the nights are cool. I love to hike or boat this time of year, when the days are still warm but not muggy. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Sarah Gulick, of her trip to the Amazon last year. This photo offers a haunting beauty, a hint of what that trip might have been like. I often ponder a photo for some time before writing about it, and began to wonder if this photo would ever offer up its secrets. Then a few days ago, Sarah posted a video about hiking in Death Valley. Both the photo and video make you yearn for the wilderness, to let go of the every day, to reconnect with the elements. There is a vastness in God’s glory we can so easily lose sight of, an infinite grace reflected in the Psalms.

10 For the LORD God is both sun and shield;
He will give grace and glory
11 No good thing will the LORD withhold
From those who walk with integrity
12 O LORD of hosts,
Happy are they who put their trust in you!
Psalm 84:10-12

We live on top of one another, crowding out the beauty that God’s creation freely offers. Even in the midst of decay or apparent desolation, we are struck by the bounty of nature, a bounty waiting for us to discover. We find hidden recesses, life amidst decay, creeks that may have changed their course. When we share these experiences, we create lasting bonds, an abiding legacy. We learn about one another in ways we never thought possible, and discover places lost deep within ourselves. Take time today to discover a patch of wilderness in an unexpected place. Look for birds and animals on the edge of a pond, or in a stand of trees along your commute. Walk to work rather than driving, or invite someone to walk with you during your lunch break. Get away this weekend, to hike or boat with family and friends. And always remember, even if you can’t get away, you can take time to see the world through Sarah’s eyes. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Sarah Gulick ©2011, to see her cinematography in the video entitled ‘Wilderness Hike, Death Valley’, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dClNiEy7Hj0

Reflecting on Hospitality….

We seem to have a bit of a break from the heat, so I am motivated to get things done today. Sometimes the smallest irritations can become obstacles, an ache here, a pain there. So I was drawn to this photo of a woman in the Amazon, taken by my friend Sarah. These toes belong to the woman that prepared lunch for Sarah and her group at they traveled along the river. The woman made everything from scratch on a low platform. She worked in a crouched position that reminded me of one of the yoga poses I strive to attain. Yet it was this photo that caught my eye. Look at her feet. No two toes seem to face the same direction. Her feet may ache, but those aches and pains don’t prevent her from making meals. She continues to offer herself to others, making delicious and nutritious food for travelers that come her way. What she offers is as much about hospitality as about food. The Bible is full of restrictions for other parts of our bodies, warning us against speaking out when we should be silent, or curbing our various physical appetites. Not so for our feet. Our feet are meant to be free. Perhaps her bare feet are a reflection of her heart. She doesn’t dress up, or wait for the perfect moment or occasion. She is simply present to those she meets. Take time today to consider what hospitality means to you. Open your home and your heart to others, for a cup of tea, or time to share. Simply be present to those you meet, and free your heart, and your feet. Photo by Sarah Gulick

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