On Friday, before speaking at a MOPS group about slowing down in our fast-paced world, I stopped to snap a couple of photos. Days of rain had given us nothing but gloomy gray skies, but that morning I awoke to the sun’s yellow bloom against sea-blue sky.I gazed, amazed, at a backdrop of red and yellow leaves, as if awakening in Technicolor Oz after several tiring, black-and-white days in Dorothy’s Kansas.Then I spoke.Among other things, I encouraged the moms to get outside with their kids and enjoy God’s creation as a way to interrupt the perpetual motion of our minivan-based lives. We need the calm, I said.Afterwards, I decide not to race home, but to explore a wooded area near the church, where a sign hangs from a thick beam: “A Sacred Pathway.”A leaf-coated gravel path weaves through trees.Along the way, benches with small crosses invite quiet moments of contemplation.Further in, a circle of rocks surround a fire pit.And a smooth metal cross boldly reflects light and shadow, even color, while proclaiming God’s love.The sun warms me, even though filtered through leaves. I feel the rock’s granite ridges and settle into a relatively flat, angled area that faces the fire pit.I look up.Sun.I look over my shoulder.Cross.I could sit here all day.But this Sacred Pathway is only a brief respite.I rise from the rock after giving thanks, and then slowly continue around the loop, pausing to note the beauty.Acorn caps lie atop beds of maple and sweet gum leaves bunched up where wind brushes them—nudges them—together.I look up from the soft watercolor arrangement and realize I am at the end of the path. The welcoming sign is blank on the back.Before exiting, I stop.Deep breath.I turn around and think how easy it is to give thanks in a space that posts reminders along the way.Then I pass under the sign and emerge from the shade of trees into full sunlight that glares off the asphalt parking lot.
My minivan awaits.
This post is written in community with L.L. Barkat’s On, In, and Around Mondays writing project, Laura Boggess’s Playdates with God, and Michelle Derusha’s Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday.
Kathy Robbins says
Beautiful. I liked that you took a detour off of the beaten path to experience life in the moment. And I like that you shared your experience.
I’m glad I took those few moments, Kathy, not only to live it but also to share it. Thank you for joining me for a few moments’ rest.
Sometimes I think I need signposts along the beaten path of life. This is so beautiful, Ann. I feel a stirring in your writing lately. Maybe it’s just me. I love this time of year. Lovely words.
I’m not fond of this time of year, but I’m glad my writing seems to offer a little something more. 🙂
” . . . how easy it is to give thanks in a space that posts reminders along the way.” This makes me rethink the way I decorate my home and fill my space. 🙂
Erin, I’ve tried to do small things. Even something as simple as hanging from the rear view mirro a cross made of spools that my daughter brought home from VBS one year. It dangles there, a simple reminder.
I need more. 🙂
Marlene Williams says
Wow!!! So beautiful, Ann!!
Thanks for beautiful words, and beautiful writing, and
sharing God’s love with all of us.
So glad I know you!!!!
Marlene, thank you. Thank you so much.
S. Etole says
Your words and photos made that path available to us. Thank you.
It was such a short path, but it’s nice to linger here, virtually, with others.
“I turn around and think how easy it is to give thanks in a space that posts reminders along the way.” Maybe I need to take your advice, slow down, and just look for them. This is beautiful, Ann. I could feel the quiet.
Hm…I think that is so much the message Ann Voskamp is trying to share with the world, to look for those reminders, those small signs of God’s love and grace, and give thanks for them.
It’s easier to notice signs when they are really obvious, like a humongous metal cross stuck in the ground! 🙂
Megan Willome says
I would love to go there!
One of the things I find difficult about slowing down (and this may be a public-school peril) is that I have no control over my kids’ schedules–the coach does, or the band director, or the teacher. I can limit the number of activities, but not their scope.
Megan, they made the most of a very small space. It made me wonder if I could create a little quiet enclave in my back yard somehow? I have to chew on it, but the tightness and simplicity of their little path made me sort of think of simple, creative gardening ideas I could try next spring…if I’m not hacking up a lung like this past spring! 😉
It is definitely more of a challenge as the children mature and begin to make some decisions of their own, going out with friends on a weekend, etc. If we feel that our family is maxed out, then we can consider limiting what we can limit and slowing what we can slow, but often there truly are a few things that are non-negotiable–things over which we have no control. Those, we have to deal with and then tweak what’s left.
Shelly Miller says
Ann, I find myself doing this too. Taking my camera to catch the beauty outside. Love these kind of walks, they give perspective in the middle of the rush and hurry. Thanks for visiting my blog today!
I loved this walk Ann. It takes only a few moments to quiet our hearts and bring us that sense of His presence, and we are forever thinking there just isn’t time.
Wise words sweet girl.
Sharon O says
This post was wonderful. I enjoyed the pictures and the words and the whole idea of going slow, breathing in the cool air and enjoying the sun on your face. It was breath taking…thank you for the reminder.
Hazel I. Moon says
How wonderful after your encouragement to the Mom’s group to enjoy a respite where you could capture those lovely photos!
Nice to have a moment to relax and enjoy the outdoors before heading home.
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
Thank you for a sacred walk along a peaceful, colorful path. I feel rested just gazing at your fall photos. We are still hitting 90 degrees!
Diana Trautwein says
D-e-e-p breath. That’s what this was. Thank you. Each word, each picture spoke peace tonight as I read. And I’m with Laura – I sense something stirring in your writing, too. Likin’ it a lot.
Connie@raise your eyes says
So glad you were able to encourage those MOPS ladies to really see and hear, while in the midst of the everyday and to give thanks for that. If they heed, those words can carry them through rough days.
What a special place. I often find after I speak that I need a little respite for my soul — what a beautiful place to find it.
Michelle DeRusha says
This, Ann: “how easy it is to give thanks in a space that posts reminders along the way.” I am learning, slowly, to look for those reminders along the way. They are everywhere — it’s just a matter of slowing down, as you so eloquently demonstrate here, and opening our eyes.