Saturday, October 24, 2009

Walking up a mountain and down into the clouds

Yesterday we took a hike with a few friends up to the top of Turk Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. The trail was roughly a mile in each direction, mostly through gentle forest. The last part was a scramble up big rocks. At the top we found a spectacular view in every direction.

Our reward was the walk itself.

This was all new territory for Lori and me. The trees are blazing red, yellow and orange. The day was very overcast, and at the top of the mountain we were enshrouded for a time in the clouds.

As we walked down, a member of our party, the Rector Emeritus of St. Paul's, proclaimed that we were "descending into the cloud of unknowing." And so we were, and it was quite wonderful. The smell of the trail was sweet, and the feel of soft earth under foot made me feel at one with the trail. A drizzle kept us cool.

You might say this was my homework assignment for the week. Earlier this week, in my Wednesday book discussion group on Barbara Brown Taylor's book, An Altar in the World, we talked about her chapter on "Walking as a Spiritual Practice." Her point was to notice the walking; to not be in such a hurry to get somewhere.

We told stories about our favorite places to walk: in the woods, on beaches, on the streets of cities. I certainly can add this trail in Shenandoah National Park to my stories of places to walk.

I hope you find a place to walk today, if only to the mailbox, or to a comfortable place inside your home. May you feel at one with the earth, and at one with with the One who created it.

The photos were taken by Lori on our walk.

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