“We are restless till we rest in thee.” —St. Augustine
One day last summer I hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail with my daughter who was heading to college in the fall.
As we began our 11.7-mile trek at the Saddleback Mountain trailhead in Maine we were immediately surrounded by beauty. The terrain varied as we hiked... with wooded paths becoming rocky and then ascending through thick forests of green to pristine lakes that seemed to appear from nowhere. I was stunned by the beauty of the creation around me.
A few miles into the hike I noticed that while the woods were utterly silent with the exception of our footsteps on the rocky and sometimes wet trail, I still heard noise. As the sun streamed through the tree line above us, I knew the sound I heard didn’t come from anything around me. It came from within. I brought the noise with me.
My head was filled with stuff. Even on this picturesque trail in Maine, I had trouble pushing aside the distractions of my restless heart to appreciate the views of God's amazing handiwork.
How is it that we can be surrounded by God’s creation, yet not see the Creator?
I realized that it takes effort and maybe a little time to quiet the noise of our minds and our hearts and our souls so that we can hear God’s voice. Letting go of the concerns of my heart and the many distractions in my soul, I said a quick prayer of gratitude and finally began to settle into the rhythm of the hike.
After about three miles, an AT thru-hiker (the name for those who hike the whole trail) passed us by and we paused to chat with her for a bit. She told us she had been hiking the trail for about five months and would likely finish at Mount Katahdin in a few weeks.
After we left her and continued on, I thought about what five months in the wilderness would do for the soul. While I had to be satisfied with a single day, I was grateful for it. Not only was it time spent with my daughter, but it was also good for my soul. As we descended the trail, we said a rosary. I will treasure that day always!
I hope to remember that, while I can't hike the Appalachian Trail regularly, I can find time almost every day to get outside and appreciate God's creation. I can also make time each day to spend just a few moments with Our Lord. Life is full of peaks and valleys. With six of our nine children out of the house, and with the oldest at home a freshman in high school, there is enough "stuff" to worry about always! Yet, I pray that I remember to pause and to be grateful for the beauty around me, wherever I am and to turn over to God whatever causes my heart to become restless so that He can bring me true peace.
Still my anxious heart, O Lord, and help me to remember that I am restless until I rest in You!
Have you paused for a moment today to thank God for His Creation?