Once in a while I like to go for a walk in a small park near me. The park isn’t exactly ideal: it intersects with a main roadway so you always hear the white noise of automobiles, but the birds and deer still come. I like to walk through it alone, less to enjoy nature, since you can still hear and smell the city, and more to get away from the degradations of the modern world.
The park has a stream. If I cross the most narrow part of the stream, carefully over the wet rocks in the middle, I can enter the back part of the forest. I walk beside the stream for a short while until I arrive at the thick fallen tree.
I rest on the dead log and stare at the stream. Insects hover over it. A grey mockingbird digs into a nearby bush. A nuthatch climbs a tree in front of me, looking for food. I take a deep breath and wonder about life, what will happen in the future, and if I will be able to endure the difficult trials to come.
I desire to relieve the pain of being a prisoner in my home. The lockdowns have made me weary. For too many months I have sat all day on the same wooden chair. Fantasy overtakes me; my imagination begins to run. I imagine that my savior Lord Jesus Christ is sitting next to me on the log. He’s right there, only three feet away, looking similar to the icon of Him I have on my wall.
I become excited and happy, restraining a big smile. I have a thousand questions to ask Him. Where should I start?
“Lord, why do the birds sing?”
He throws a little pebble into the stream, and the ripples create a big wave as if a motorboat passed by. “Their songs give glory to Me, just as you do when you pray to Me.”
I nod my head quickly as if I were a happy child whose father just brought home a surprise.
“Lord, how do they fly?”
“They fly like the angels. You will see.” His explanation felt almost wordy; I would have been satisfied with less.
“Lord, I read that birds don’t have any fat, and they must eat every day. Is that true?”
“Yes, every day I feed them, as I feed you.”
I wanted to ask Him about the flowers and the trees, the rain and the seasons, about pain and suffering, but I didn’t even care about the answers as much as hearing Him speak. His presence answered all questions. I intuitively sensed that the world could not have been made in any other way, that just one microscopic alteration from how things are would have made life unbearable for us.
Jesus stands up, signaling that He wants to walk. “Can I hold your hand?” I ask. He smiles and puts His hand out. I grab it and walk with Him through the forest though I much rather have skipped.
He points upwards towards the tree. I look but can see nothing, just a dense covering of branches and leaves. And then my vision changed. I could see through the foliage. A male and female cardinal were feeding their babies in a nest. I had never seen baby cardinals before. They were so cute. My vision returned back to normal.
“Lord, when is the world going to end?”
We reached the stream crossing, but somehow it had turned into a rapid. Only a tiny part of the stone I normally use to cross was exposed. There was no way I could make it without falling. I looked to Jesus and He nodded.
I let go of His hand and said to myself, “Lord, have mercy on me!” I closed my eyes and began walking. It felt as if there was only air under my feet. I made it across the stream and opened my eyes. I looked down and not even a drop of water was on my shoes. I jumped up in amazement with my hands raised in the air and turned around, but Jesus was no longer there. I peered through the forest but could not see Him. “No! Come back! I don’t want to be in this world anymore if I can be with You!”
I heard two people talking on the trail. The fantasy was over. I wiped my face. When the couple saw me, they put on their face masks. Maybe they smiled at me as they passed, but I could not see it.
I finished my walk through the park, filled with the weight of loneliness, yet in that moment I couldn’t help but wonder if I really was alone. Is Jesus not with me in my every step and contemplation in every hour of my days? Before getting into my car to drive back home, I looked upwards into the sky, hoping to see His sign.
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