A walk in the woods is like prayer - letting go of yourself in the presence of harmony. Hope is not the best place to settle. At some point it becomes irrelevant unless as a stepping stone to faith. When I walk in the woods it restores my faith.
I used to spend a lot of time trying to understand the Bible, attending and participating in church services. I don’t do that any more. And today as I walk in the woods I am thinking that maybe I ought to go to church after all, because it’s Thanksgiving, and in our church that was the custom – to go to church and after listening to a few readings and singing several hymns, members of the congregation were invited to stand and declare thanks.
But today as I’m walking in the woods, I'm declaring gratitude, only without others listening in – and without listening in to what others are thankful for.
I’m also thinking about my father who has been gone now for ten years. It hardly seems possible. I feel his presence today as I walk through the woods. Is it pure fancy or is there something to it? Maybe it has to do with a certain hymn my mother and I sang to him while he was, as a friend recently expressed it, making his transition. In those final hours together, praying with him and telling him we loved him, one of the hymns we sang was a thanksgiving hymn.
This is the day the Lord hath made, be glad, give thanks, rejoice! Stand in His presence unafraid, in praise lift up your voice.
We sang to the melody of Mendelssohn’s first Song without Words.
Today in the woods, where all the leaves have fallen from the trees, I heard birds singing. I also saw two deer crossing the path –a young buck and a doe. And later on a murder of crows settled in a neighbor’s trees.
It felt like March, with the birds and the sun and the green grass swept of leaves– much less like November. It was as if we might bypass winter altogether and head straight for spring. Would we miss winter if that happened, I wonder?
Last night Alex and Elliot and I read Psalm 46. I was showing them how the 46th word in is shake and the 46th word from the end is spear, hypothesizing that the bard himself had hidden this puzzle for us to find – that perhaps he had worked on the King James translation of the Bible. We got onto that because it was James I who gave his name to Jamestown and the James River in Richmond, and Elliot has come up from Richmond for the holidays.
Anyway, it’s Thankgiving. The turkey is in the oven and the family is gathered and I am feeling faithful. Hope without faith might well be irrelevant. It's best to move forward from that stepping stone, and one way of doing it for me, is to walk through the woods, leave myself there, and come out of the other end with a blessing.