Most of the time I walk the dog the same path every day which I like because I get to see the smallest changes in the landscape that occur as we go through the seasons, things that are not immediately obvious if I was seeing them for the first time. I would like to say that on my walks I am always tuned into what is going on around me and appreciative of creation in all its glory but the truth is, like most people, I am either so wrapped up against the weather or so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I trudge the path on automatic pilot a lot of the time and am sometimes home before I even realise I have left.
About a month ago there were some strong winds which felled a tree from the side of the field right across the path I normally walk. The first few times we climbed over it and then started to find a way around and now a month on, I can see a new path emerging as others have come and trampled the grass around it and not only is a new path emerging but new plants growing at the side - the landscape has shifted.
Sometimes there are trees felled in our lives, unexpected changes, maybe the career path we had planned on doesn’t work out, a door closes, something stops us in our tracks. Such events force us to stop trudging on the same old path, to stop and look at the landscape and to walk a different way. We might resent it, we might fight against it, but sometimes it is good to be forced to take a different route, and in time who knows it may become a whole new landscape.
As a young man, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was admitted to medical school to train as a doctor but forced to leave when his family could not afford the fees, he then went into teaching until the system of apartheid introduced a teaching system he could not adhere to and so he went to theological college, not for the noblest of reasons but because, as he himself admits, he had few other options. The rest, of course, is history or as he likes to call it “God’s little joke.”
Maybe we need to enjoy the felled tree, take time to look at the landscape, the birds are still singing, the hedgerow is still blossoming, God is by our side, all we need to do is find the new path.
“in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”
Proverbs 3 vs 6