“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes – The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I spent a recent Friday afternoon on the Silver Comet Trail in Hiram at the Florence Road trailhead. It’s a wide, smooth asphalt path cutting lazily and unobtrusively through nature, dotted with moms and strollers, dudes with dogs, bike-riders both leisure and hardcore, walkers, and, yes, you might even spot my wheelchair from time to time.
Aussies – especially the aborigines – schedule journeys they call “walkabouts” fomenting a deeper connection to their inner selves as they disconnect from the life that holds them captive and trace the ‘songlines’ of their ancestors. I can rarely ‘walk’ amid nature without sighing out praises to our Creator God under my breath as I smell the loamy air, inhale the pure organic fuel that ignites my senses, and play the witness to the divine diorama.
I love Eugene Peterson’s prescription for pastors: a weekly sabbath, preferably with your spouse, with only two stipulations, to pray and to play. He wrote in his memoirs The Pastor he and his wife have used Mondays for decades now, without fail. Those Mondays, for them, were as sacred as the taking off of shoes.
(And God said “this is very good.“)
In her book Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard reverently closes her seventh chapter with
Never lose a holy curiosity, Einstein said; and so I lift my microscope down from the shelf, spread a drop of duck pond on a glass slide, and try to look spring in the eye.
I suppose that’s what these pictures reflect: my own looking spring in the eye. It only takes getting out – often just minutes from your home – and finding bits of heaven-on-earth all around you. If only you have eyes to see.