Tuesday, December 26, 2006

From On High

Today held a rather rare experience for me – a carved out piece of time to hike in the Pocono Mountain region. After walking through some open grassy land, I climbed a rather small and wooded hill and was quite rewarded to find myself on a peaceful and solitary cliff that overlooked the Delaware River. Nature had nestled out a comfortable seat with a tiny footstool on the edge of the cliff. A little moss, some grass that had not yet yielded its green summer plush, and enough footing to strengthen my weakening knees made the seat and its footstool the perfect place for a long rest.

I sat facing the direction of the west and watched the setting sun create dancing tessellations in the flowing water of the Delaware. I observed the cars passing by on Route 209 and thought how slowly they seemed to be moving considering the great expanse of the road below me. I stared at acre upon acre of fertile farmland, dormant in the late December month, and imagined the scene before me in the full bud of Spring.

I was surprised, however, by what riveted my attention and my thoughts in the panorama of the landscape: four hunters decked in bright orange clothing who meandered sometimes methodically, sometimes randomly, through the fields far below. I heard a couple gunshots while I sat and I struggled to see if the hunters had any game. I wished to have a pair of binoculars on the perchance that I could see if their hands held a prize for their long hours in the field. However, I could see no such thing. Two of the hunters appeared to scour the field in search of a fallen animal after a gunshot was heard. They eventually appeared to meet up and fall into a steady stride. I wondered if they carried a beast between them. Their steps seemed slowed, as if they carried a weight not their own. Eventually the pair stopped and seemed to have a dealing with something on the ground.

I was not quite sure why the movements of these hunters caught my attention. I certainly am not so intrigued watching shoppers enter and exit stores in a busy shopping center. But something about how these hunters seemed so small, so insignificant and so fragile compared to the vastness of the expanse around them, fascinated me. Their existence seemed temporary and the extent of their influence quite limited to the range of the rifles they carried. It was funny to think that men, such as these, experienced such feelings of importance, prestige and influence as I had seen on the news just several hours earlier. How could an object so small be capable of believing himself so powerful? An ant crawling on the floor of the kitchen seemed as remarkable and impressive as these orange men meandering about the land below me.

Odder yet was the thought that I was just as small as one of those hunters and just as fragile and temporary and frail. How did I feel so big when I really was so small? How did I feel so permanent when I was in actuality so much like a flower that grows and withers in its season? How would it be that God would look down from on high and cherish me as His daughter?

I had no answers, but only simple gratitude.