Unfailing Love

The sun had been above the horizon for more than two hours. My back was against the trunk of a Buckthorn tree. On the hike to the tree, my heart skipped a beat as a brilliant Rooster Pheasant exploded on my right and cackled its way to safety away from me. A few minutes later my eyes picked up two deer grazing in the western distance. They moved into cover when they saw me approaching. Would they come to where I now sat? No, but perhaps the others in the shelter of the ironwood, oaks, and ash forest might. While sitting, my movements were small. A Pileated woodpecker called; once. A Red Bellied Woodpecker flew nearby. Though my movements were to blink and breath and my sounds none; it saw me. There is proof, a photo just before it flew into the distance. Lacking the patience of a “sit on stand all day deer hunter”, my quiet sit lasted just thirty minutes. It’s ok, the plan was photos only, everybody lives. Following the deer trail deeper into the woods, it was clear that some time before another human had traveled westward on the trail. The tracks were frozen in the snow. The deer walked over them. My tracks were added. My movements now were slow, deliberate; walk 4-6 steps and stop to listen. My eyes scanned the tree tops. There is a Great Horned Owl in these woods. But, not this morning. Then the “pee wee” of a Black capped chickadee sounded behind me. My chickadee whistle answered. Soon, there were 3 or 4 of the boundless bundles of black and white energy in the trees over my head. More proof, one paused just long enough to activate the shutter. There was still morning left, so my journey westward continued. My heart still optimistic. A deer photo was entirely possible. It was walk, then stop and listen and scan through the forest for movement or the tawny color of whitetail. Coyote tracks intersected the trail, then paralleled it. My anticipation was high, anything could show itself. Though human tracks were evident, they were old, made days earlier. It was a pleasure to spend the morning here, alone. My optimistic mood moderated as the return journey began. Backtracking through territory already seen, my hopes for wild subjects to photograph faded. Photos of a coyote or a whitetail would have been nice. But my reward was already provided. My eyes had witnessed beauty. My mind was stilled, stress reduced. Physical activity and walking provided exercise. Health was one reward. Memories of a quiet forest filled with wild things was another. Refreshment of mind and spirit was given. Earlier in the morning, before the hike for photos, my eyes read these verses from Psalm 33:4-5 For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. At creation, God looked at what He had made and saw it was good. His word brought all things I witnessed this morning into being. His word continued to hold all of creation together today on my hike. Yes, we can trust everything He does; it’s always right and fair. He makes the sun to rise and set with perfect predictability. One more thing, it has been on my mind all day; my eyes and heart witnessed the last part of this verse on the hike this morning: the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth. Is it possible to see the unfailing love of God? Go outside, sit and listen. The earth is filled with His unfailing love.

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