I awoke one fall morning to discover a dense, dripping fog. I dressed extra warmly and headed over to the Rhododendron Garden, one of my most reliable places to encounter God. I parked my bike and ambled down the winding path, noting the rich visual texture of the early fall colors wrapped in fog. I mused, “So what does God have in store for me today?”
I walked out onto the low bridge across the lake and saw a beautiful heron about 100 yards away on the far shore. As I gazed at it in appreciation, I detected motion to my right, and realized that a second heron was flying my way. It swooped just a few feet over my head, so I could hear the whooshing of its wings, then it landed in a tree about 50 yards past me. I reflexively uttered the words “Thank you!”
God has a sneaky way of moving one from the third-person “God,” “He,” or “She” to the second-person “You.” Once that happens, one knows that the seeking is over and the encounter is on. I said “Is that what you wanted to show me, or is there more?” and God said “Walk on.”
Just a few steps farther I was stunned by the sight of enormous spider webs stretched across expanses of rhododendron branches. The strands of the webs were coated in dripping fog and sagged dramatically under the weight of the droplets. There was just enough sunlight to illuminate the webs and set them off starkly from the dark rhododendron leaves, appearing as if they were floating on their own. Again, an instinctive “Thank you!” crossed my lips.
I rounded the bend to head back to my bike, praising God for the richness of His creation and for the love He had shown me by sharing it with me. But as I cleared some tall rushes I came across another heron standing in the water no more than 15 feet from me. God said “Stay in the moment – I’m not done yet!” So I stared deep into the eyes of this enormous, elegant creature, and I felt my soul fill up beyond what I thought to be my capacity.
When, at last, I felt it was time to move on, I strode quickly through the tall trees, down past two more herons, and plopped onto a bench to catch my breath. After takeoffs and landings by herons and ducks, the sky grew still, and I leaned back to gaze upwards. I discovered I had seated myself under a canopy of beautiful, small yellow leaves intermingled with pods that looked like fuzzy caterpillars, all silhouetted against the light grey fog in the sky. Yet again I was forced to speak: “You just don’t let up, do you?”
And God replied “Remember this morning, and the lesson it brings: listen to my leadings and seek me out, and I will let you find me.”