By Clifford Cartwright
“Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.”
Leaving the small gravel parking lot, the dog runs ahead a small distance down the trail, excited to see and smell the newness of the field and the forest, and pick up on the scent of those who have recently passed through. There might be a small watering hole ahead, depending on the recent rainfall, and the dog looks back seeking permission to go on ahead, because that is one of his favorite places to get a small drink.
The dog and I travel this short path often enough to notice even the most subtle of changes. The growth of the grass and blossoming of the wildflowers. The falling of a tree because of the intense winds or lightening. The new tracks left behind by various wildlife or people that have passed through. The occasional vocalization of a deer, squirrel, or crow as it announces our presence to its kin.
Big Field, as the dog and I call it, is one of our places of wandering...and wondering.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10
There is so much more to this world than the hectic, time-constrained agendas that we create for ourselves. The wanderer knows this.
Wandering, with no agenda and no particular place to go, while observing creation in detail and as it crosses our path, can lead to a deeper understanding of and a deeper relationship with our Creator, returning to us some semblance of wonder and awe that is a deep human need but often lost in our fallen state.
Maybe next time out, the dog and I will experience something we never have before. Most likely, that will not happen. Either way, wandering never gets mundane. There is always something that creates a new wonder in us, if we are paying attention as we walk.