The small things

I spent much of my time away this summer camping and hiking in the United States and Canada.

Early one morning I drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard and the first place you can see the sunrise, in the continental US.

The next day, I hiked to the top, greeted by the crowds who had driven up. On foot, I was struck by the difference in how I experienced the mountain. Driving, I was focused on the large scale, the turns in the road, the vistas at turnouts. Walking, I appreciated both the beautiful views, which showed up at so many more places, but also the varieties of vegetation, small creatures, and rock formations as well as the sound of the birds. 

Hiking offered an opportunity to “see” differently. Arriving at the summit was not about locating a parking place, locking up, and getting to the overlook. Instead, it was marked by the glory of bursting out of the shadows of the tree line into the bright sun of the wide-open granite slopes. 

In my travels, I covered more than six thousand miles by car. I hiked fewer than a hundred on foot. Traveling by auto allowed me to view destinations I would not have seen otherwise. Driving in Acadia National Park, along the Bay of Fundy, on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire gave me incredible views of geology on a grand scale. Traveling by foot allowed me to actually “see” where I was. Walking was an invitation to notice God at work in one alpine tree (less than a foot tall, but maybe close to a hundred years old) a butterfly fluttering through flowers, or lichen slowly reclaiming a fallen tree for the earth.

We will not be aware of what God is doing, either in the wider creation or in own our lives, unless we pay attention. When we commit to notice the small things, that attention helps center us in the presence of God. And the confidence of God’s presence offers us grace and peace for wherever the journey of life takes us. The grounds of All Saints’ provide wonderful opportunities to experience God at work in creation.