On my morning walk I pushed open a gate leading into a wheat field and saw standing in the field a fox. It didn’t run off and being familiar with that particular gate and its loud squeal as it closed I held it open. For some minutes I watched the fox as it sniffed and moved around the field until some sense of my presence caused it to look at me and it ran, and was gone from me.
I like to go early and if I can I want to be the first to walk the familiar route because then I get to see things which will be gone once other walkers go before me. A common sight at the moment are flocks of Canada Geese on the fields grubbing seed fallen during harvesting. Soon they will be gone on their annual migration back to wherever it was they came from.
Recently I have developed a bad habit. During the early part of lockdown I subscribed to an online book club which has a wide selection of books and, unusually, lots of good Christian books. It also has an audio book section. On my walks I have taken to wearing head phones and listening to audio books and this has interfered with my times of reflection which used to occupy my thoughts as I walked.
Taking time to stop, to be still, to let thoughts tumble around and see where they fall is for me a means of relaxing. When there is a lot happening and much to be decided upon I find my time for reflecting gets squeezed out. I’ve added to that by getting into the habit of listening to audio books.
I’m struck by how often we read of Jesus going to be alone to pray; how he would spend a night in prayer before choosing his disciples. (Luke 6:12) Again in Mark 1:35 following a period where he has healed many, cast out several demons and preached to the people we read that whilst it was still dark Jesus went to “a desolate place to pray.”
I’ve been wondering if the restricted social contact and strange environment caused by lockdown is the reason I’m filling what used to be quietness & stillness with busyness. Is it a way of avoiding being aware of the many uncertainties and anxieties surrounding us all? Things change so quickly; overnight in some cases, when suddenly we are told wedding receptions have to be cancelled, towns are put in lockdown and people are told to quarantine.
Watching the fox in the field, listening to the early morning bird song feeling the breeze I’m reminded again this is God’s world. It’s not the way he intended it to be but he is still sovereign, his promises are still true, he is faithful.
As he prepared to depart from his disciples Jesus told his disciples: “ Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He didn’t say it would be easy for them, he warned them what they would face, he did say he had all authority and he would be with them. It’s in the quietness, listening to the silence that we may discern that still small voice which is able to drown out the raging storm.
Heavenly Father, in this busy, troubled world you are the rock upon which we are secure. Forgive us for those times when we step away from you and allow fears and uncertainties to assail our thoughts. May we abide in your son Jesus of Nazareth and know the peace that sustains those who trust you whatever lies ahead. Amen.