Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lessons at Kilometer 2.5

It’s said that a person can never go home. That’s not true—I do it whenever I can.

Home surrounds Gillies Lake. The lake’s not as big as it used to be, only two and a half kilometers around. If memory serves, that’s because there isn’t a dredge stuck in the middle of it anymore, pumping out mud from the mineshafts that run under the town.

The city has turned the lake and its surrounding fringe into a conservation area complete with walking trail. So let’s go for a walk.

Most of the local ducks hang out near the picnic tables at the entrance. They know there will always be leftover bread for them. I watch for a while. The thermal travel mug will keep my coffee hot until I get to my spot. The ducks remind me that God has a picnic table too. Like them, I wait with eager anticipation for His supply. Unlike them, He doesn’t bring me scraps. It’s always first-class with God.

As I walk on, there are signposts giving directions and posters revealing interesting information about the lake’s habitat. Their presence reminds me of how important God’s directions to me are as He speaks through His Word and by His Spirit.

A few summers ago, a friend asked me to dog-sit. Chloe loved the walk around Gillies. She respected the bigger pooches, but I had to watch her around the little, yappy, ones. Their self-importance drove them to challenge her. Given half the chance the big Lab would have been more than happy to swallow them whole. I laughed at her but remember how often my own insecurities have caused similar reactions. As time passes, I’m learning just how “big” I am in my Father’s eyes and how little I have to prove.

I walk past the recently planted saplings. Each tree has been placed in memory of a loved one who has passed on. At the base of each is a small plaque with the person’s name inscribed on it. Memorial trees, in various stages of growth, dot the park. God will remember me, not with a plaque under a tree, but with a signature written in blood in His great Book of Life. That’s even better.

The path begins to climb a bit, crossing a creek that ends in a smaller pool of quieter water where the ducks and geese raise their young. I’m thankful for God’s “still waters” where I can rest safely. There are lots of benches, but I wait until I get to the one at the top of the hill. Here I sit to drink my coffee and look out across the lake.

The bulrushes and long grasses whisper in the breeze. Little ripples, scattering watery diamonds in their wake, flash across the surface of the water, chasing each other in their race to the finish line at the shore. The summer sun is hot on my back. It’s quiet.

How strange to be so removed from all the activity taking place just a short distance away. It’s like a world inside a world. I am reminded that this is how a Christian lives, in a holy, hushed world of intimate relationship with God even in the midst of chaos.

I walk again. The path curves along the eastern edge of the lake. There is another entrance on this side. A few cars are parked, their drivers napping behind the wheel, or taking their lunch breaks at one of the several picnic tables.

Then the path curves again, moving into brush and trees on the north end. Birds, butterflies, and bugs, flitter everywhere. There is the sweet smell of wilderness right here in the heart of town. Here, more than anywhere else, I feel God walking beside me.

The western side of the lake, just beyond the beach I used to come to as a kid, was the last to be developed. Here, the faded elegance of what was once “Nob Hill” (the politer version of “Snob Hill”) overlooks Gillies. Until recently, we still had to climb the hill and make a detour along several blocks of city streets to get back to the entrance to the conservation area. Today, a wooden walkway surrounded by trees and grasses runs right along the shoreline, avoiding the houses. The path is finally complete.

Someday life’s detours will also be a thing of the past. The circle will be complete, and I will be home, really home, in more ways than one.

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