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A Sabbath Walk

RESTORING THE SOUL


Douglas' buckwheat blooming in front of the shrub steppe landscape

Each day of the week has regular chores that must be done: feeding the animals, milking the cows, watering in the greenhouse. Those are things that must be done, things that can’t not be done.


Spring brings with it a plethora of additional tasks: preparing garden beds, sowing seeds, transplanting starts, and keeping the soil just moist enough to give new seedlings a good beginning. Fences need to be mended, grass mowed, and weeds--which seem to appear overnight and in abundance--pulled. There is always more to do than we seem to have time for. We are designed to work—it’s a blessing.



But oftentimes at the end of the week, we are worn out, done in, and ready for a day of rest. For us, that day is Sunday. It’s a day that is set aside to be different from the others. It’s a day for family, for reflection, for restoration. It, too, is a blessing.


And in the spring, with warm days beguiling and wildflowers blooming, we often go for a family Sunday walk. It’s not our usual hike—it’s more of a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of stroll. No hurrying, no pressure. “Should we head east? Should we go up? Should we return down the draw?” No one usually cares, so we follow our noses.




We stay together, but loosely: sometimes visiting as a whole, sometimes breaking into twos or threes, and sometimes a member strays for a solitary sojourn. At the sighting of wildlife or an unusual find, an announcement is made, and we all come together again to enjoy the discovery.



elk with antlers in velvet stand in the tall grass by the edge of the woods

Often we walk in silence, drinking in the solitude and beauty of the landscape: wildflowers blooming, new oak leaves shimmering, native grasses bending in the breeze. The hills surrounding the valley are green this time of year, with large swathes of yellow from blooming balsamroot and antelope brush; the ridges have a comforting softness about them—like a flannelgraph background before the story characters have been placed.




If we look closely, we find miniature landscapes in the lichens on the rocks; after a rain their varied colors become strikingly more vivid. In many places where the soil heaved during early spring frosts, we find small colorful stones and—every once in a while—pieces of knapped arrowheads.



wildflowers blooming in front of the sunset

It’s good to be outside under a big sky with the beautiful, interesting earth under our feet. Petty problems melt away. Worries grow smaller. Agitation is swallowed by peace. The vastness of the expanse around us reminds us of the One who is bigger than we are, the One who never sleeps nor slumbers, the One who has given us the gifts of hard work and Sabbath rest.


sunshine, clouds, and hills in the shrub steppe landscape

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