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Lost in the Woods


9 February 2024

By Susan Oxley of Seattle, Washington, USA

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

I got lost in the woods today.

An unexplored trailhead beckoned me beyond a muddy entrance into a steep decline. New spring undergrowth crowded into the trail with young blackberry vines, tall weeds, and poison ivy. I walked carefully, reveling in the green challenge and shadowy depths of unknown territory. As the trail branched and changed, I consistently chose the left fork, believing that it would eventually lead me back to civilization and home.

I suddenly faced a deep ravine, where the path had been washed out by recent rains. I turned back, chose another fork, and came once again to the ravine. And again. I would have to retrace my steps—but could I find my way? Twenty minutes later I knew I was lost in the maze of little-used trails. The woods were bordered on three sides by residential areas, with beach on the fourth side. There was no danger. But being lost is an uneasy feeling.

I pushed on, trying to make wise choices. And this time, instead of watching the trail and underbrush, I lifted my eyes to watch the canopy of leaves overhead. Eventually I found what I was looking for: less leaf coverage and more light. The canopy continued to thin, trees became less dense, and I found a trail that led me to someone’s back yard. The adventure had ended.

Life is like that. We push forward over rough patches and through weeds, focusing on the tangles of life. Then we pause to pay attention. We remember that we are surrounded by God’s love, held in God’s arms. We lift our eyes and dimly see God’s light shining through the shifting shadows overhead. When we focus on the light, open to changing directions, we can find our way home.

Prayer Phrase

“…he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:32).

Spiritual Practice

Breathing God’s Compassion

Light a candle and sit quietly, reflecting on the fire and light of God. Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Image each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you exhale. Pray to have the Spirit of Christ radiate from your life like the gentle flame of a candle.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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