In the Woods…

We are getting ready to move soon. There’s a lot of stuff in boxes in my life. Everything seems to have a place and most of those places are currently found inside boxes. Living with most of your daily stuff in boxes can be extremely frustrating.

This morning I went into the woods on a nearby trail with one of my daughters and my wife’s “lapdog” Lily. Lily is a boxer labrador mix that we adopted after our friends’ dog became overly friendly with a neighborhood dog. She’s a kind hearted dog but hates being cooped up.

The woods are a magical place. The woods are one of the few places where my middle child is occasionally struck speechless. The majesty of wilderness tends to calm her restless mind as there is plenty to look at, plenty of things to notice, and the ongoing task of watching where you are stepping.

This morning the ground was a bit moist from recent rain and Lily ended up dragging me along some pretty slippery surfaces. Her paws and nails clearly had better traction than my sneakers. We enjoyed the walk tremendously despite being startled by a jogger’s German Shepherd visiting without a leash and without warning. Thankfully Lily is a very easygoing dog. I think that I jumped more at the sudden appearance than Lily.

I stopped to take this picture of Lily because the woods were breathtaking between the light of the sun pouring through the branches and the greens and browns everywhere. Despite being on a strong leash due to her tendency to run after wildlife, she seemed more at home in the woods than she normally seems in our home. I could almost feel Lily sigh with contentment a few times on the hike.

Psalm 55 is an interesting psalm. In that particular psalm, the psalmist is struggling with the grief and sorrow that comes from a friend’s betrayal. The psalmist is clearly having a difficult time with a painful situation, but what’s interesting is the response to the situation.

The psalmist wants to flee to the wilderness. In the wilderness there seems to be a kind of peace that the psalmist desperately desires. In the daily moments of the situation the psalmist finds storms and wind, but in the wilderness shelter can be found.

I can understand the psalmist’s desire for the shelter of the woods. Like my dog, I too enjoy moments where we are not surrounded by boxes. There is something glorious about being in the woods even when German Shepherds occasionally appear out of the nothingness.

Let us Ramble: On Keeping Silent

What does it mean to keep silent? There are opportunities to share and to overshare for practically everyone with access to the internet, so what does it mean to keep silent? Ecclesiastes teaches us that there is a time for every matter under the sun. Ecclesiastes 3:7 states outright that there are times to speak and times to keep silent.

I awoke this morning pondering silence. I say I awoke this morning, but I honestly did not sleep much last night. We couldn’t find the cat. She just went AWOL at some point and every couple of hours I would restlessly wander the house calling her. There was no sign of her anywhere.

At four AM I went outside and started circling the house calling out to her. I heard no reply. At six AM I went out to let the dogs do their numbers. Suddenly there was a meow. The cat managed to get underneath the bay window. How? I have absolutely no idea how she got out, why she chose to hide there, or why she suddenly called out to me. I was glad she called out.

We often allow ourselves to get backed into corners through our own silence. We have a great idea, wander off into the darkness, and suddenly realize that it is very cold, dark, and rainy outdoors. I am probably anthropomorphizing, but we let our pride get the best of us until we know we need to call out for help. To keep silence when it leads to our own detriment is something some of us do far too often.

At the same time, as I ponder silence, I find myself thinking about next Monday. My wife and I will be going to the doctor’s office and we are going to be learning some good news that we will not be sharing with others until the 12th of August. We have a pact to keep silent on the subject until we can share it with our friends and communities together. We will keep silence because the silence will neither hurt nor damage others. This time is our time to share in this knowledge as partners and to prepare for the hubbub that will come after the announcement is made.

So, what does it mean to keep silent? Is silence an opportunity or a risk? Is silence a choice or a privilege? Is silence enforced or is silence a blessing? Is silence all of these things at different points? There is a lot to contemplate about silence in my mind this morning.