I have a very dear friend whom I know will forgive me for forgetting to post this until she reminded me in passing. Oops! Sorry ’bout that, Ramona.
The follow-up post will appear next week – provided my leaky brain doesn’t forget. Sigh!
“Pay attention, you ninny,” I chided myself. “You almost twisted your ankle!” A cold nose, a black head with hazel nut brown eyes looked up questioningly into my face. “I’m not mad at you, Gracie. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.”
A blanket of burnished red, yellow, and golden brown leaves carpeted the trail. Loose pebbles underneath had made my foot give way. Head down, making every effort not to slip on the uneven terrain and slippery rocks, I crossed some creeks and streams and followed a foot path up three steep ravines. The dog would often run ahead, only to return a minute or two later to stand in front of me. “What is it, girl?” I asked her, “Can you tell I’m having a hard day?”
Stop daydreaming. Pay attention. You’ve missed the second trail. Finish this bit here, and then you might as well do the old route and follow the power line back to where you started. For over an hour, the only sound I heard was the rustling of leaves underneath my feet and Gracie’s breathing. Look up. Not down.
“Is this me talking, Lord, or is it you?” I prayed out loud. “If it’s You, I have been looking up, listening, longing and wondering if I’m doing Your will. I feel like these leaves. Dry, brittle and broken. I want to know I’m making a difference here on earth.”
My words startled a pheasant, who flew up into the air, landing on a branch of a large pine tree. For another hour, I hiked across a stretch of wetland and marsh. I struggled now and then with the bog and pockets of quick sand as my feet would get sucked down into its soft, wet and spongy grip. I finally found solid, dry ground.
Towards the end of the hike, I found myself in what the locals call “The Pit.” An acre of sand dunes, perfect for mountain bikes and ATVs. I followed Gracie, the black lab, who began to bark and run towards a young woman and her two dogs. When we greeted each other, I noticed her tear-streaked face. “I’m sorry we startled you,” I said. “Gracie and I are still a little stressed out. I recently had to put down my much loved fifteen-year-old dog. Gracie still acts as if she’s searching for her best friend.”
Tears began to course down the young woman’s face. “The only thing that’s keeping me sane right now are my dogs. They’re my therapy.”
We stood in the middle of The Pit and I listened as she told me her story.
“Something bigger than this universe brought you here so I could meet you,” she said.
“It’s a God thing perhaps,” I acknowledged. “I’ve never gone through what you’re experiencing right now, but I do know what it’s like to go through . . .”
What I shared with this total stranger caught me off guard.
Now where did those words come from?
A look of surprise flooded the young woman’s face as she said, “So you do understand!”
I hesitated for a moment then asked, “Do you have someone you can talk to?”
I mentioned a name of a counselor.
The young woman laughed, cried and laughed again. “How can this possibly be happening? Here, in The Pit, in the bush? We’ve never met before, but I know you were meant to meet me. I’ve just seen him, and I was afraid to call him again. But because of you, I’ll call him as soon as I get back home.”
I opened my arms as an invitation. She came towards me. Gently I held her and let her heaving sobs subside. “I’ll never forget you,” the young woman said, “or what you’ve said.”
Now that was most definitely a God encounter. It’s okay if she forgets me. I pray You’ll place other people in her life who will love her into Your kingdom.
Waiting on you Lord, in prayer, is a disciplined refusal to act before You act, even when my circumstances appear to be barren, dry, empty and without any visible sign of activity and purpose.
O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary,