You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
~ Isaiah 55:12
For several years when I was growing up, we lived deep in the hills of Southern Indiana. The valleys that we called "hollers," often held small streams that we called, "cricks." Our holler embraced the small crick that ran the length of our property in front of our home, and then headed south into the Hoosier National Forest that bordered the backside. Among the trees that lined the crick were huge old sycamores. If you have ever looked closely at the leaf of a sycamore, you realize they are like giant, mitted hands, reaching upward as if to praise God in the heavens.
After a rain, the trees would send out a fragrance that would permeate everything around. It's sweetness was the presence of joy among the forest, and I have to admit, even as a young man, I would sit on the old porch swing that hung from the branches, and simply admire how it gave thanks.
This morning as I let our dogs out and walked across the damp grass, I caught a glimpse of a childhood memory that reminded me of the words found in Isaiah, that I am to "go out in joy, and to be led forth in peace."
Perhaps it was the morning dew that was still hanging thick in the air, or the bees that were already dancing among our morning glories, but there was this intense, overwhelming presence, leading me into a place of gratitude.
I stopped and wondered just how many days I have lived and failed to realize that the role of goodness and mercy in my life, must begin with joy and peace. Of being able to stop, and recognize the gratitude, even for dew that I know my grass will drink in, and I will be faced with mowing the yard sooner, rather than waiting for the weekend.
I suddenly realized that there was a reason humanity was created in a garden, and that God would choose a place such as Eden to initiate a relationship with creation. With all the concrete that I face each day as I drive from one location to the next, often testing the role of mercy and peace, I recognize that this moment is necessary. It is God's way of offering my spirit the chance to be fed, and to allow for the joy that is to follow me throughout the whole day.
Perhaps my prayer this morning is filled with more than just gratitude. My prayer also is an invitation for others to experience this as well.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.