Monday, June 26, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Sunday Afternoon Hike

I started my annual afternoon retreat Sunday after church and dinner. The quiet drive is the first deep breath of my time alone. This year, I started out a little bit differently - on my way, I stopped at my favorite overlook for a couple of photos of the stunning beauty I miss seeing on a regular basis. I used to occasionally take my lunch break at this overlook and it remains one of my favorite views!

It was overcast and not chilly or overly warm. The yucca blooms seemed such a lovely focal point with the backdrop of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. But I didn't want to spend too much time here as I was eager to get off to my retreat.

A few minutes later, upon arriving at my home for the afternoon - I sort of impulsively decided to do something different. I parked in a new spot and took a walking path for the first hour. I noticed rock formations and wildflower blooms of Indian paintbrush and little mountain bluebells, many shades of the color green, various cacti and various rugged mountain nature embellishments.

When taking a retreat like this it can be easy to have too high of expectations. Wanting it to be a spiritual mountaintop, expecting to hear something life-changing from God and His Word, looking for a breakthrough on something specific. I had a couple of small things in mind that I wanted to process but mostly I just wanted to retreat and to refresh.

I was reminded by the burned trees in the distance of the raging fire a few years ago and how this place was generously spared though extremely close to where the fire destroyed so much. I was reminded of walking this trail years ago as part of a staff meeting. And I was reminded of how much I love the mountains, remembering our wedding in the Castle and so many lunch breaks on the grounds in various places.

This place has held a special place in my heart for a long time and it continues to be a place that I love to come. I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to visit and take these afternoons to be restored and in God's presence.

Every corner on the trail that I rounded brought a new perspective as the trail rose gradually higher. The layers of mountains became more visible. Colorado air has such a sweet and fresh smell to it almost all the time but when on the trail, it is more pronounced with woodsy scents. The scrub oak seems familiar and adds a spicy scent along with pine trees and more.

When I see the high foothills, I feel small and yet so safe as I ponder the majesty and beauty of the Creation we see before us which points my heart to its Maker. The various shades of red dirt and rock, the ruggedness. I know every place has its beauty but there is something about this place for me. Do you find that in the place where you spent the majority of your growing up years? It holds a special draw and place in our hearts for years to come?

I also thought of this: from this perspective the Castle seems so small but when you are right up on it, it is so big I get distracted thinking of how the original plan came to be, how all those stones were cut and moved to this location and built so elegantly and beautifully. The craftsmanship that has held up over time with quarter sawn oak walls and innovations beyond its time. Isn't this sort of like life? When I take a different path or even just a few steps back, it can really change or widen my perspective that is so narrow up close.

I was sort of wishing I'd brought my journal and Bible with me on the hike - but as I came back to my car, the sun came out and I was eager to find another spot to sit and reflect. More tomorrow!


Mom said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I love the varied perspectives, your reflections, and almost felt as if I had hiked this trail with you. :)

Unknown said...

You are So blessed to be able to do that!beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

Mrs. Paul said...

Monica, you have such an eye for beauty. Such beautiful photos you shared (again) today.

Simply Handmade Farmhouse said...

Wow, what a great place to be alone with God. I enjoyed the hike with you and the reflection you shared. Have a great evening.