Post 40/2020 Saturday 12 December . . . O Holy Night, a French Christmas carol (1847), resounds through the ages: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, / For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” What? Where? Really? In 2020? Hope alive for a weary world right now? It’s a message Christians take to heart in Advent waiting. As in the hymn, On Jordan’s banks the Baptist’s cry (1837), that speaks of the anticipation of Jesus’ Advent: “Stretch forth your hand, our health restore, and make us rise to fall no more. Oh, let your face upon us shine and fill the world with love divine.”
Sadly, the news of the day reveals less than wonder. Yet there is hope. The thrill of hope. Hope for the whole world. In the US we’ve been subjected to messages that revolve round and round and round like a scratch on a vinyl record. The kindest thing I can say to such message bearers is that properly tuned minds do not work that way.
Our physical world is getting a tune-up. Our political world is getting a shake-up. Our spiritual world is waiting, expectant for a new infusion of hope. While weariness lingers, I am so refreshed and inspired by the proclamation of Jesus’ birth, as in the hymn, Where is this stupendous stranger (1765): “Where is this stupendous stranger? Prophets, shepherds, kings, advise! Lead me to my master’s manger, show me where my Savior lies.”
I’m here to say that nature has been kind to us this year. We’ve found ourselves richly blessed in visiting parks, preserves, and open areas far and wide. The far part was an early year visit to Cornwall, UK. We came home early because of the coronavirus pandemic that circled the world.
At home I’ve been surprised by all the in-between, liminal really, outdoor natural areas we’ve come across. That is, the swamps and wetlands that quietly bind up space between land and water. Wow, I’m seeing them in a new light, as part of what it takes to manage and heal nature.
Our walks to early December have covered 1,300 miles. Even from my few steps following aortic valve replacement in August to ongoing almost daily walks, including a 12-mile walk during cardiac rehabilitation in October, we’ve been blessed with health, contentment and anticipation of the time we can safely burst out of our bubble.
Enough of that, here’s a recount of activities this week.
Boot Lake County Park
Boot Lake drew us back for the second time this fall, again, after an errand that took us to Elkhart. It is located north of the city, almost at the border with Michigan. The weather was, as one might say, perfect, though the parks department has closed the restroom/toilet: “Due to Covid 19 restrooms are closed indefinitely.”
A long walk in Goshen
Elkhart County River Preserve Park
A plaintive wave
Be thrilled with hope. Be filled with childhood wonder. Be.