they told us to wake up and take our bibles out into the woods. they’d tell you which verses to read and the only requirement was that you had to be by yourself.
i’d never done this, but each morning i went. i looked around and one by one my friends disappeared in between the trees. i liked it.
i liked the fresh, new day. i liked being by myself. i liked the permission to be alone.
had i ever just been alone in the woods before? i couldn’t recall. the quiet was so helpful to my mind, but after a couple of mornings, nature began to break its silence.
written words can’t portray a stoic soul the way a stone sat and stared at me with its heavy quiet. no fable tells of hands outstretched like the branches reaching, giving and taking back the sky. the laughter of children tumbling down hills can’t compare to the joy set inside a rolling landscape.
and i could see it. i could hear it.
i’d end up on a dock each morning. i would open the thin pages and sit with words, write my own and i would be still. the lake sat with me and waited with the patience of a wet saint.
then, one of those times, god showed up.
i sat and looked. quiet.
the air shifted and the sunlight was visible. the water hummed. holiness extended a hand and introduced itself to me. a spirit joined me on the end of that dock and it wasn’t mine and it quickened mine.
i stared around aware of the difference the presence brought.
this one was lovelier than mother or father. i didn’t speak. i didn’t pray a prayer. i didn’t walk down an aisle or raise a hand when heads were bowed.
but in a moment, in a twinkling, i’d gone from plodding to flight.
time has a different quality in the presence of god.
that first time i stayed on the dock for i don’t know how long. i came stumbling up the hill after the spirit hovered over the waters and made all things new. i noticed particles floating in the warm sunshine. i rubbed new eyes with new hands and felt new in god’s good world. there wasn’t a narrow way. there was only him. this jesus.
and no thought had ever been as comforting as this one: things were not as i had believed.
god existed. if i could have missed this large detail, what else could be true? what else did i have wrong?
for the rest of the time, when i went into the woods early in the morning, i was met.
i wasn’t going out to be alone, i was going out to meet someone. and still now some twenty years later, i am met. i trudge out looking. looking for the invisible god in the quiet places that speak louder than words.