Searching for peace on the ground

My treasures

Rocks and a hollowed out piece of wood found during my quarantine escape to the woods.

A week ago, my family made a spontaneous escape during this new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. We rented a lake cabin in the woods that wasn’t too far from home. It offered a welcome change of scenery while allowing us to maintain plenty of “social distance.” The day after we arrived, our governor declared a stay-at-home order, so the cabin became our new home for a few days. I can think of worse prisons.

While making lemonade out of lemons, we did the usual activities – fishing, hiking through the woods, reading, resting and eating a lot of calorie rich food. My favorite thing to do, hands down (other than consuming gooey desserts), is the hiking. My family is not as fond of that activity as they should be…but I love them just the same.

Every time we venture into the woods or near water, I start lagging behind because I’m on the ground finding stones, sticks or shells. Many of them make their way home with us. This hobby once delayed us at an airport while I unloaded my treasures that put our luggage over the weight limit. That’s a special memory that my family still loves to bring up every time I hoard more nature away in my backpack.

I don’t know why I like rocks. Or sticks. Or essentially… dirty things on the ground.

I think it must be their connection to the earth, which is also a connection to its Creator. I don’t feel particularly spiritual in these moments of digging and gathering, but back at home they provide a direct link to a path, a sandy shore, a mossy seat underneath a tree, a memory. They remind me of our uniqueness, and how diversity is essential to nature and humankind. They strip away the counterfeit and trivial, and provide me with a hands-on experience that is tangible and authentic. They convict me that God is as real as a rock in my hand, even when He feels very far away.

In all situations, we can find something to touch, see, smell or hear that reveals His presence. In the midst of this current season of uncertainty, or any that you will face in our lifetime, take hold of the very real things – laughter, tears, music, art, food, animals, literature…or a piece of driftwood, to name a few. Hold them close and relish in the simple, but honest beauty of these creations. I pray that you can find a quiet and reassuring peace, knowing that God is also holding and admiring us.


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