This is a story about an overwhelming feeling. A feeling, like a dark cloud that swirls around on a summer day just waiting to burst open. A feeling of searching for what was and wondering and praying on how to get it back.
I used to love to take long walks. Whether on the streets of my beautiful town of Nazareth or on country roads, my feet always took me on an adventure that brought enjoyment and peace. My walks allowed me to take pictures of everything and anything that spoke to my heart. Photography is another passion that filled me like a measuring cup of sweet sugar. It still does when the dark cloud is not following me. The cloud darker on some days pestered like a thorn in my side. Although I managed to get through my day and do what I had to do, something continued to weigh me down.
Maybe part of that dark cloud is my Parkinson’s. However, I knew deep down in my heart there was more to it than that…
Day in and day out the devastation of deadly storms that raced across our country and around the world leaving death and destruction tugged at my heart. I found myself crying for those who had lost so much. The number of deaths from Covid ripped another part of my heart. I wept for those families who did not have an opportunity to say good- bye. I prayed that my arms would grow and grow so I could reach the families left behind and hug some peace back into their hearts. My arms are still the same length while those hurting hearts continue to suffer.
I never understood racism. We were all created by God in his image. We all have eyes to see the beauty that surrounds us and the ugly that tears us apart, ears to hear glorious and not so glorious words, a conscious to know right from wrong hopefully leading to good choices, and a heart to find love and give love. We all laugh, cry, and feel pain. No matter how hard I try, I will never understand anyone who cannot accept others for how they choose to live their lives, whom they love, the color of their skin, or their religion.
Integrity. It is a word used very loosely today. Telling the truth, standing up for what you believe in, has always been very important to me. Somewhere along the line, it has been lost. And I fear, it may not be found for a bit. What a shame.
There is much more to the continued growth of the black cloud; the insurrection of our Capitol, hunger, homelessness, mass shootings, mental illness, and the hurting of all around our world, is sometimes more than my heart can bear.
I prayed for an answer. I waited and waited for God to intervene. It’s hard to wait on God’s timing when your heart is yearning.
One day, my husband invited me to take a walk on a nearby trail. It was a sunny but cool day. I thought of excuse after excuse like, “ I might lose my balance.” or “ It’s too, chilly.” My dear, sweet husband just smiled, then walked to the garage and brought up his old red ski pole and handed it to me. He also brought me a sweater and light spring jacket. Even though I really had no desire to walk the trail, I packed a little over the shoulder, purple bag with my camera just in case a flower or something in nature caught my eye. Then with the dark cloud following me, I sat quietly in the car and watched the view from my window whizz by. Finally, the dreaded arrival.
As we started our walk, a slight breeze wandered through the leaves. The subtle sound like the fluttering of butterfly wings made my heart skip a beat. It was if a choir of baby angels were speaking to me. It almost sounded like, “ You are not alone.” Although I thought it was touching, I was not ready to even imagine that God was stirring up something in my heart.
Walking a little further, then rounding a bend, the wind picked up and those precious leaves continued their song. This time, their tune getting louder, prompting attention, “ We are not giving up. Just listen.” But again the dark cloud won out.
As we came out from under the trees, the sun was shining and the wind had died down. Another song or should I say many songs were filling the air almost as loud as the flapping leaves on the trees. This time, red breasted robins sang their little hearts out while several cardinals accompanied them from the trees. I remember hearing a little chickadee and the sweet sound of a few yellow finches. Then the morning doves always in pairs joined in. From a short distance, I could hear a woodpecker pecking out his song on a tree. The melodic sound floated through the air. As I stood taking in the majestic chorus, a small smile inching and growing filled me with anticipation.
I suddenly wanted to keep walking. Each step brought a wave of hope to a wavering heart. As we got closer to the one- mile marker, my ears perked up at the sound of running water. Holding my walking stick, I walked a little faster, reaching the railed fence that framed a view that took my breath away. Looking down over the steep hill, a beautiful, quite wide creek flowed and meandered around trees and over rocks. The peace that had started nibbling now flowed like the water in the creek through my ears, to my eyes, washing over my heart. As I stood there I knew there was a reason I was on the trail.
My walk back was quite different than when I started. I felt lighter. Each breath I took filled me with a sense of renewed hope. The empty fields waiting patiently for the newly planted crops to peek through looked brighter and hopeful. Budding wildflowers’ green stems swayed with the confidence of beautiful things to come. The sun peering through the tender young leaves on a tree lined trail glimmered on the jagged edges of cut slate reminded me that hope is perpetual even when the heart is heavy. The winding creek whispered a sweet sound of continued promise with its every change of direction. Reminders of rebirth, beauty and creation greeted me at every turn. What I could not see as I started my journey, became crystal clear near the end.
Soon, I was back to where I started. I turned and looked back down the path thankful for my husband’s suggestion. What started out as a negative ended as a positive. Something beautiful and wonderful had happened to me. My heart encouraged, and ready to accept what I could change and give what I cannot change to the Man I know who brought me to this beautiful place. I believe that the journey was the answer to my prayer. Or, maybe just the first part of more answers and lessons to learn. The drive home was inviting, with me looking out the window at the beautiful season of spring. Like spring, this was a new beginning.
I realized that day, that although I cannot change this confused and hurting world, I can make subtle changes to those I love, and those I meet daily. I have and will always be a firm believer that when we show and give love, it becomes reciprocal, spreading, and affirming. When we accept all people, the power to connect, plant seeds of trust, and work to build relationships creates a wreath of lasting friendships. Friendships that continue in a circle of listening, conversations, building and never tearing down, and above all loving, forgiving, and accepting. A wreath that allows each of us to bring our own unique self. A wreath that stands for integrity and doing what is right. Just like a beautiful seasonal wreath that hangs on our doors or on our walls, it is a circle of beauty, just like each one of us. My journey to the trail fed my soul with what I needed. It opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds ,and the love that lives in my heart. With each step I took, I realized that I am not alone. Each vision of his handiwork kept creeping, filling my heart with the many colors of his love for us. I learned to appreciate the little things life has to offers. And to find something to be thankful for each day. Life with its ups and downs, sadness and needs is worth living. Just as dark cloud appears on a stormy day, behind those clouds, ready and waiting is a bright yellow sun assuring a better, hopeful day. I am in love with hope.