Saying thank you: a simple journey


So much makes sense on our out-of-the-way wooded trail. This is the Michigan trail that encircles a lake, making for two miles of sheer wondrousness, as fall seasons morph into winter seasons until spring pops up again, glowing and bright.

I am a gratitude person; I don't know if my journey has been harder than yours or if anyone's counting anyways, but I will say this—I have to be. And no matter what trial or season I may be in, this trail brings peace. Before long I am distracted by sheer beauty, in minutes I am transported to a place seemingly unspoiled. 

Here it is not hard to beat a path to praise.

This year the beavers have done their work well and there are stacks of wood chippings etched out by their teeth, laying in carefully shorn piles.


I have cried on this trail; I have sung songs of joy; I have laughed and held the hands of small children. Each year they grow bigger, these nieces and nephews. Soon they will be bigger than me. Deciding to join us on the trail is a mark that they are now venturing out into the big wide world.


Without knowing, you see, you have been observing photos snapped by a seven-year-old. She taught herself to take photos with my iphone; I showed her how to brace herself against a tree for support. In minutes perhaps, she will be 15 or so and combing this trail with a professional camera or something. There is no stopping of time; but for a few minutes on this trail, the clock appears to stand still.

If I look back over the year, the trail prompting a review of the journey, I see a world of hurt and transition. I also recall the seeming victories—walking away from an accident in which I was hit by a truck, graduation from seminary, new friendships and writing opportunities, an important book ready to be released into the world.

The trail is an anchor no matter what a year brings; I hope we're still walking in it when I'm 80, still marveling in its mysteries, still trusting that God meets us here.

The three-year-old has almost accomplished the two-mile walk as we approach the end of the path. He flings himself into the leaves for rest. I am tempted to do the same.

Instead, I pick him up again. "C'mon, you can do it. Keep going. We're almost there."

Come what may, the trail reminds:  "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." -NIV, Psalm 27:13

How have you experienced the Lord's goodness this year? What promises do you cling to that spur you on in your spiritual journey?


God saw all that he had made. And behold, it was very good.Genesis 1:31, NASB

If you are like me, God often speaks to you the loudest through vast mountains and delicate butterflies. He calls your name as wind whips through tall trees, as the woodpecker peck-peck-pecks, as the cicadas begin to hum their noisy tune. Take a few moments to enjoy his big, beautiful Creation today, why don't you? And, while you are it, not only look—but listen. See if praise cannot help but spring forth from your heart, see if prayer becomes as natural as breathing.

And meanwhile...enjoy this:


This is my father's world

and to my listening ears


all nature sings, and round me rings


the music of the spheres


This is my father's world

I rest me in the thought


of rocks and trees, of skies and seas


his hands the wonders wrought.


This is my father's world.

O let me ne'er forget

that though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.


This is my father's world:

why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad.

-"This is My Father's World," text by Maltbie D. Babcock, music adapted by Franklin L. Sheppard