WALK WITH ME
I don’t know what made me visit The Spruce Tunnel this day. It had been a nice but challenging class this morning, but I was tired now and very hungry, and it was a cold, crisp day in the Far North. But I found myself making the stop, thinking the fresh air would feel good.
So unexpectedly I stopped the car and started off down the familiar entrance pathway to the Tunnel.
No skis this time, even though it was winter. And there were plenty of other footprints to show others had left their skis at home too.
I once did a photo-study of all the patterns made by boot footprints in The Spruce Tunnel. Fascinating. Sometimes you find interesting things when you look down, when you stop and focus on what’s very close to you.
I was wearing my warm fur-lined “short boots.” But my friends say they look like bedroom slippers.
Well, hmmmph! I bought them from the Boot section of the shoe store. They’re boots! They keep my feet warm!
I took a deep breath, feeling the (cold) oxygen fill my lungs. It felt good all over. I thought: I could have been driving the car right now – breathing stuffy, heated air. I could have been home by now: breathing dry air. This was nicer.
I looked way up at some of the deciduous trees, bare now in midwinter. Kept my eyes up there, just like a kid would do, until I was done looking.
It was peaceful, but it wasn’t quiet. There were many interesting sounds: little peeps, squeaks, creaks, lots of bird sounds. “Someone” was scolding me as I walked through. Maybe my peace was disturbing his peace; maybe a bird, maybe an irritated squirrel. Sorry, little critter – I wasn’t intimidated; you just sounded funny.
But I share this park with other living things. I know.
I saw an interesting log.
Nobody’s home, I guess.
Questions, questions, questions. What was I doing here? What made me come?
And then another unexpected, decision: of all the pathways I could have chosen to enter the Tunnel, I chose this one, rather than my usual eastern approach.
I was entering now a deeper stillness, when the “peaceful feeling” becomes a little eerie. A peaceful feeling becomes a spiritual feeling. The many duties and concerns that had kept my mind so busy fell completely away, and my mind seemed to become clear and open. I thanked God for . . . I don’t know. I just felt thankful.
Whatever impulse had driven me here was a good one.
And then I discovered “why” I had come. An unexpected purpose. And just
as I was wondering about the wisdom of being here, alone, in a great big park
with no other person in sight, and with no protection (whatever that would
be), I heard two people up ahead.
It was a man and a woman. They were enjoying the park together. They seemed happy, although they looked cold. When I got closer, and smiled to them, they asked me if I knew how much further they had to go to get to the end of the trail. “Not far at all.”
If I had entered the Tunnel from the other way, I wouldn’t have seen them. So . . . glad I could help.
But then our conversation began. The lady, the wife as it turned out, came over to me to show me the beautiful pictures of a pair of eagles that she had recently taken. And nearby! The eagles were obviously a happy couple too, impersonating a pair of lovebirds. How interesting. I was impressed. Such an image of majestic strength – and yet — life, love, bonding, babies; just like all life on this earth. “Abundant life!” “Be fruitful and multiply.”
The lady went on about her pursuit of certain birds for further picture taking, an obviously well-liked hobby of hers; and how often she just seemed to be “led” to the location of certain interesting or rare birds.
I learned about their motorcycle riding and an accident, one of seven, was it? And how they were so protected that they each had only bumps and bruises, even though their motorcycles were trashed. And how the accident led to the fortuitous discovery of impending blindness.
They both shared many other things, all the while expressing their thanksgiving to God. It was evident that they lived their Christian faith daily, at every moment.
I felt a little shy, and I shyly asked them if I could take their picture.
I wanted to remember them, to remember that this delightful encounter had really happened.
Then it was time to go. Just standing there had made us all feel the cold. We said our good-byes and “God bless you”s.
There was the end of the Tunnel waiting for me, and I took one last look at the tall black spruces:
And further way up high:
The Spruce Tunnel is indeed a place of great beauty, deep feeling, and lofty thoughts. I’m so glad I had made my unplanned stop here. I felt different – and better – after the chance encounter with that happy couple. Their bright happy spirits lifted me up and made a happy walk in the park even happier!
I’ll never see them again, but I’ll always remember their effect on me. And I hope I’ll try to have the same positive, unselfconscious faith-filled effect on others.
We who are believers manifest Christ for the world around us. We are witnesses to His love and to His Resurrection. We show the world what Jesus is like.
Or so we should.
Leaving the Tunnel, walking out into the wide world —
Finding my way back into the “normal” world — where I hope I’ll take this experience with me and I hope it will change me, just a little.