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Posts Tagged ‘walk’

One morning Alf and I went for a walk. On another day Roger and I walked through the woods with his dog Charlie. And yet another day, Mike and I walked a trail along Sherman’s Creek. Every Sunday, Joann walks a half mile to church.

None of this is by accident. Walking the areas around Duncannon is an enjoyable exercise. The streets and sidewalks, the waterways and forests all bring pleasure. But this is more than pleasure. It is also a good metaphor for what we are trying to do. We are walking together as a community called church. And we are walking this journey in and around this place called Duncannon.

Interestingly, Duncannon sits along the Appalachian Trail. In fact, it is one of the few communities the trail actually passes through. There is even an Appalachian Trail Festival held here. It is even more interesting to me that we gather to worship on the trail. Our building is located on High Street and to walk on High Street is to literally walk on the Appalachian Trail. You did read that right. The white blazes that carefully mark the trail from Georgia to Maine pass directly in front of the church building. Anyone who enters the front door must step onto the trail before entering.

I rather like this. A church on a trail. While we all may not be on our way to Maine or to Georgia, we are all on our way somewhere. My suspicions are that all hikers are interested in spirituality on some level, whether intentional or not. There is something about the trail that calls to the soul. To hike the Appalachian Trail is a pilgrimage

To gather as a people of God is also a pilgrimage. I cannot help but remember that God has always called people to go out on a journey. We are a people who belong to the Way. Walking together as a people called church. When we say we belong to the Way, we are being very intentional. This is not a generic spirituality. We are following One who claimed to be the Way. This is truly an adventure.

 

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A walk around Wildwood Lake reveals a wetland full of benefits for the ecosystem, natural beauty galore, and an abundance of habitat for a variety of life. Currently, it also serves as habitat for an exhibit “Art in the Wild.” A lap around the lake includes a number of creations influenced by nature. My favorites are skillfully crafted “Man in the Mirror” and cleverly named “WildWood.” These spark thoughts for my own artistic creations. At the northwest corner there is a bat house where I envision a signal from Commissioner Gordon hanging nearby. Of course, I would call it “Batcave.” The west side of the lake is bordered by the towpath that follows what is left of the Pennsylvania canal. At one point, a fallen log rises from the canal. The end that protrudes from the water is split in a way that suggests the open mouth of a crocodile. I call it “Hook’s Nightmare.”

Keep your eyes open for a small but healthy deer herd at the lake. On some occasions I have found myself unusually close. Expect rabbits and chipmunks running across the trail in front of you. On three separate occasions I have discovered climbing groundhogs. One was halfway up a tree, another had climbed a chain link fence, and yet another was lounging on a limb overhanging the water. One evening, I turned to find a Red Fox following me on the path.

If the sun is shining and the weather is warm, expect turtles, frogs, and snakes to be sunning themselves. The canal along the towpath is the best place to find them. Last week, I watched tiny snapping turtles making their way to the water. There is almost always action at the upper end of the canal, where silver maples and other trees that like wet feet shade the water so that it covers almost entirely with surface algae. Here turtles and frogs become more difficult to find. They emerge from the water covered in algae like a team of Special Forces in camouflage that perfectly matches the surrounding environment. To find them here do not look for turtles or frogs. Instead look for shapes that are different from surrounding shapes. Look for something sticking above the surface. Look for an oval balancing on a log. Those two side by side circles looking straight at you just might be the eyes of a bullfrog. Chances are you will be seen first.

At the bridge that crosses Paxton Creek, look for large carp or a school of bass in the water below. Look for the dorsal fins of larger fish moving in the shallows at the south end of the lake. Look for red-winged blackbirds in the cattails. You may see a Belted Kingfisher dive for food. Wood ducks and mallards and Canada Geese and other waterfowl are spotted easily. But it is the wading birds that may be the signature representatives for Wildwood. Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets can be found all over the lake. There is a good chance you will find a Green Heron and a White Ibis was spotted here earlier this summer.

Listen as cicadas and crickets and thrushes and bullfrogs sing the songs of Wildwood. Taste the mulberries and raspberries that grow along the trail. Wildwood Lake both sounds good and tastes good. And it looks good too, photographers love it. So do walkers and runners and bikers. There are a lot of reasons to love it. I suspect that Macbeth’s witches would even love it. After all, it is a good place to find the type of things they might be looking for; eye of frog, tail of turtle, feather of heron, buck velvet, tooth of fox, wing of bat, skin of snake. Yeah, I think they would like it. I suspect that you would like it too.

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This week in Nashville, Barbara Brown Taylor took us for a walk in the dark.  Walking in darkness wakes you up to the use of your senses.  In the dark, we become more alert and aware than we may have been in some time.  Still, we try hard to stay out of the dark.  In many places we have done a good enough job with light that we are not able to see the stars even at night.  Brown Taylor comments that the poor of the world are far richer in stars than we are.  And she cautions that before we replace the lights and the fixtures to make them more lasting and efficient we should ask ourselves if we have become too dependent on artificial lighting.  Brown Taylor is wondering if our fear of the outer darkness is just a reflection of the darkness that is inside us.

She takes us to the Gospel of John where we find Nicodemus in the dark.  The Gospel where we learn about the Light of the world (she adds that this is the Gospel where it seems every noun is capitalized to describe Jesus).  She asks whether Jesus met him there to enlighten him or to “en-darken” him.  To help him to recognize that he was in the dark.  The Nicodemus dialogue can be confusing, it is for Nicodemus.  As with wind and rebirth, we do not often know where we are going or coming from.  But, Jesus’s words remind the reader that there are things we do not know first.

She reminds us that Moses was caught up in the dark cloud of God’s presence.  Accepting this divine darkness is to be willing to live in the cloud of unknowing.  Brown Taylor wonders if it is time for us to be walking in the light and soaking in the dark?  After all, we walk not by sight.  But by faith.  Perhaps it is time to recognize that walking in faith means walking in places where it is difficult to see what comes next.  There is much here that we do not understand.  And she uses the term “theolatry” as something we choose to worship because we do not understand God.

Brown Taylor leaves you asking questions like whether living in the spiritual dark is a bad thing.  After all, God has done some of His best work in the dark.  Do day and night, light and darkness contradict one another?  Or complement one another?  Certainly, we cannot have one without the other.  Besides “when the sun goes down, God does not turn the world over to some other deity.”  So then, can walking in times of darkness strengthen faith?  Is there a better way to learn to walk by faith than when we are not able to see the way?  She adds that it is ok to admit that you do not know where you are going but you are going anyway.

This discussion reminds us that Nicodemus encountered more than an answer.  He encounters one who reveals that he is walking in the dark.  Interestingly, after the lecture, we stepped out into the night.  It gave some immediate time to think about what it means to find your way in the dark.

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