I walked along the edge of the Chesapeake Bay when the tide was at its lowest, along with my energy level. The desire to have a day to ‘be still’ had led to the decision to fast lunch and spend about five hours in quiet reflection at a friend’s vacation home. Now at three in the afternoon, I was tired, hungry and wanted a nap. My spirit desired to connect with my Creator in some meaningful way, but I had trouble convincing the rest of myself to focus.
At high tide, one cannot walk along this particular area of the bay, but at low tide there are a few feet of sand espoused. My sneakers sank too low in the spongy, water-logged sand and the air had the scent of a swamp. The gnats were having a party, flitting from plant to plant, as were other creepy, crawly insects along the ground. I continued my slow walk, carefully stepping over a dead praying mantis. I paused a second as I realized that though I had seen many praying mantis over the years, I had never seen a dead one. Guess they have to die also, I reasoned to myself. An over aggressive plant growing along the side forced me to walk out nearer to the waters’ edge as it greedily covered my path in its reach for the water. As I did this I had to step over a small puddle of water that apparently missed the flow of the tide. More death – this time a crab lay there expired.
My mind lazily talked to God about this, why is there so much death and sadness? Why do I have to be walking over it? This kind of feels like my life … walking through sadness recently, dealing with loss and being unsatisfied with my circumstances. At the same time a glimmer of expectation rose up within me and propelled me forward. I can get through this I reasoned … ‘this’ being both this walk and the rough spots in my life.
I had to see what was beyond the slight bend up ahead. It looked like there was a patch of dry sand up there. More dirty sand collected on my previously white sneakers as I moved forward while brushing the insects from my neck.
As I rounded the bend, I was stopped in both my physical and mental walk. There was an area of wild plants rambling through each other in a beautiful unkempt way … bulrushes, iris, hibiscus and trumpet vine. Butterflies gracefully hurried here and there, looking for the sweetest nectar. A dragonfly from a good-looking family line paused briefly on a leaf directly in front of me. The stark colors of his delicate wings shimmered in the afternoon sunlight that reflected off the still waters of the bay. My spirit rejoiced at the beauty of it all.
Thank you God, for showing me that after walking on paths that are messy and hard with sadness along the way, there is an overabundance up ahead. Moving forward is what will bring me to a place where I will be overwhelmed with an overflow of colors, textures and beauty.
– Janet Oberholtzer, Monday, August 21, 2006