“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. They will not fear when the heat comes; its leaves will be green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”—Jeremiah 17:8
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”—William Shakespeare
The day was mild and breezy with vivid turquoise skies that acted as a bright backdrop to billowy, clouds with ample spaces of blue in between. It was the kind of day that imbues my spirit with gladness, joy, and hope—hope for my loved ones; hope for my own personal journey; and hope, as corny as it sounds, for the world. It is as if I caught God smiling when He thought no one was looking—smiling at the potential instilled within each of us at our creation. Frankly, it was one of those gloriously cheerful days that if I were my younger self, I would have enwrapped myself with a mock-hug.
Alas, sigh, I am an adult; and, hugging myself in public would certainly provoke an odd look or two! Still, I walked along the familiar paths of Ritter Park with a Cheshire cat grin on my face soaking in as much of the radiance and positive energy my time permitted. Reflecting over the past months, it occurred to me how infrequently I have visited the park. In years past, I ran it almost daily, but a back injury abruptly halted my running, and for several months, even walking was prohibited.
Since August, when the back discomfort became too overwhelming to ignore and a doctor’s visit revealed three bulging discs and an extra vertebrae in my lower back, I began practicing yoga nearly every day in lieu of running, well, who am I kidding, slowly plodding along, in the park. That said, practicing yoga daily has been a positive side effect of my injury. My body, especially my back, core, and shoulders are certainly stronger. Additionally, because I tend to practice yoga first thing in the morning, I start my day with a mind that is more settled, centered, and peaceful—at least for a few hours! However, I never realized how grounding it was for me to spend time outdoors with nature until this injury.
Therefore, each time I am fortunate enough to be outside for any length of time, especially at the park, I have a newfound appreciation for its uplifting benefits. One particular advantage for me is the lessons nature never fails to present my mind, especially if I am not plugged in to any device. It is as if brain fog lifts, and God is right there whispering lessons in the vibrations of the rustling leaves. And, this day, in particular, was no exception.
My eye was repeatedly drawn to the towering trees that line the paths throughout the park. In addition to taking in the outstretched and soaring limbs, I further observed the outspread roots splaying in all directions at the base of each trunk. So thick and sturdy were these roots, they seemed to be playing peek-a-boo through the grassy soil with passersby. Indeed, there was a lesson here for me to ponder.
In the meantime, my husband, John, and my father, Larry Musick, were spending this glorious day fishing for small-mouth bass on Brush Creek, a nearly 60 mile-long stream that begins in Highland County, flows through Adams County, past the famous Serpent Mound and on to its ultimate merge with the Ohio River, approximately four miles west of Rome. As I continued on my ambling through Ritter Park, John began sending me pictures of Dad, the creek, and, of course, the smallies they were catching and releasing. Of noteworthy interest to me was a video of the bubblings, gurglings, and babblings of Brush Creek. The text accompanying the video simply stated, “I could listen to this all day.” I knew what he meant as I could listen to the sounds of the breeze playing in the trees, the twitterings of the birds, and the titterings of the squirrels all day as well.
Like the trees, Divine Providence is calling us to be deeply rooted in our faith, so deeply implanted, in fact, our roots, like the roots in the park, should be visible to those we encounter. Likewise, we must spread our branches wide enough to be open to receiving and appreciating the blessings that abound around us—even an injury has a blessing. In fact, it is those seemingly common miracles, like a beautiful sunny day, that should fill us with as much joy as those dancing leaves I overheard in the park.
Further, like the creek’s musical burblings flowing under, over, and around Dad’s and John’s feet, so we too should overflow with compassion and positivity to others even in the face of seemingly bad times—even droughts are eventually followed by life-giving rains. And, just like the stream kindly shared its “fruit” in the form of fish, we too must give to others—just as Dad and John gave back the fish to the stream.
All waters flow and merge together. Creeks flow into rivers, and rivers flow into oceans. Ultimately, all water evaporates to the heavens, returning to the ultimate Source. Likewise, so will our earthly bodies merge with all the souls before us, and the souls to come after us. The earth, the sky, the sun, the rain, the animals, the plants, and us—we are all from the same Creator. Why wouldn’t time in nature make us happy? My lesson to learn: time spent in nature brings me closer to my Creator the source of all energy, all peace, all wisdom, all hope, all joy, and most of all, love. We are one.