In these unusual times I have taken to walking early in the mornings and seen the world from a different perspective. As I leave my home and exit the estate where I live, it is of those lovely bright spring mornings. The sun is rising behind
me, while the moon is setting in front of me.
As I continue on my way the road bears to the left, where there is a large grassed verge with a large cherry tree. I startle a bird in or near this tree, a buzzard, a very large bird up close. With a few graceful rotations of its wings it lifts into the air, its flight feathers twitching to guide it as it soars to safety in the trees opposite. It is such a graceful sight. Where can we fly to safety? “… I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4-6). What an assurance! An all-loving God asks us to trust in him.
I come to an open grassland area with a gravel pathway around its perimeter. Some areas have just been mown to allow access to the strategically arranged seating. The sun is shining; just a few days earlier it had rained and there is a beautiful scent in the air. It is an image used in scripture: He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth (Psalm 72:6). It is an image of the future, with a King who really cares (v. 12-14).
As I proceed along this pathway, suddenly three deer leap out and cross the pathway into the wooded area at the edge of the field. They pause, suspicious of my presence, but as I cautiously move away, they relax and begin to graze on the fresh spring growth. Such was their desire for this feast that they hadn't noticed me at first. A similar desire, for water rather than food, is evoked in Psalm 42:1-4 as a picture of our desire to be in the presence of God, as we do in these difficult times.
Close by the gate is a tall dead tree. Right at the top a great spotted woodpecker is hammering away industriously at the trunk. Oblivious of the human chaos that
surrounds him, he is doing what most of creation does, carrying on as God intended. It is we humans who get in the way.
What have I learned from my walk? Above all, that God is there all around us; his spirit is moving and guiding his creation. In these times people are fearful,
striving to encourage one another and help each other in the face of adversity, and that is good. People have been compelled to put daily life and freedom on hold, to pause until the crisis is past. To pause, to refrain from worldly affairs, is not to be idle. “Be still, and know that I am God, says the Psalmist (46:10).
To know God and his purpose we need to pause to be still. That is what we do every Sunday in bread and wine.