Today I am taking time to spend with God. As a pastor, this is vital to my spiritual health. As a human being, it’s just as important. It’s no different from breathing the air – without oxygen, the body dies. Without the breath of life, the spirit dies.
I’m not sure what to expect, to be honest. My plan is simple – to take the dog as my companion, and to walk along the Appalachian Trail for a few hours, stop for a break and something to eat, and then head back a few hours. I imagine that there will be stops along the way – time to take notice of what is around me. Time to see or hear nature. Time for the dog to stop and sniff all sorts of wonderful things. Time to stop and reflect and listen to what God is whispering into my heart.
I am not going with an expectation to hear some kind of miraculous epiphany. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. I just don’t have that many questions right now. I’m just experiencing life as I go.
I scheduled this day away with God on the Monday of Holy Week. It’s a bit crazy – there is much to be done before all the worship services coming up later this week. But in another way, this time away makes a ton of sense – it’s an opportunity to start the week on the right foot. It’s an opportunity to start in silence.
Monday of Holy Week is traditionally seen as the day Jesus re-entered Jerusalem without any fanfare (according to the Gospel of Mark). We went to the temple and did the unexpected – he flipped tables and drove out the animals and upset the status quo. On his way back into Jerusalem, he curses a fig tree.
I don’t plan on cursing any trees. Nor am I going to be flipping tables. I’m just going on a walk, and taking in the story of Jesus’ final week before crucifixion. And I’m keeping my eyes open for where God shows up on the journey. It’ll be God, me, and the dog. And a whole lot of nature. Nature has beauty, and it has natural cycles of seasons and life. Nature has organisms eating one another, and others assisting others. Nature has sound, and it has silence, if it is far enough away from human touch.
Today is a day away with God and dog. Tomorrow I am back to Holy Week.