I’ve only been on a couple of real hikes this summer. It’s just too hot for my taste. I either have to hit the trails really early or start at a really high elevation if I’m going to hike at this time of year.
I hiked with some friends from my Sunday School class in June – Julie, Anita, and Laurinda
Kim and I hiked high up on Mt. Lemmon in July.
But while I haven’t “hiked” much this summer, I’ve gone for a good long walk most every morning. And I still have the benefit of beautiful scenery even on my morning walks down the back roads of our local park and municipal center.
However, I don’t have the benefit of taking my morning walks with such good buddies as I’ve hiked with. Instead I see strange people and even stranger creatures.
There are homeless people who live down in the woods near our parks and I generally pass one or two of these folks each day. Don’t worry. I stay very aware of my surroundings and my surrounders. I detour to a different area if I need to.
But more than being scared of these dejected and dirty looking individuals, I’m saddened for them. Their plight breaks my heart. I don’t know why they’re here, whether they are mentally ill, down on their luck, fighting addictions, plagued with memories of the battlefield, or simply checked out of life. But I am sad that they seem so lonely, so detached, so tired, and so broken.
On a lighter note, I also see a variety of animals on my walks. I love seeing the cotton-tailed bunny rabbits, but I could do without the coyotes I’ve seen a lot of lately. And I’m always on the lookout for javelins, though I’ve only seen them a couple of times in the past four years. The jack rabbits are fun to watch, but the hawk that occasionally circles above gives me the heebie jeebies.
But the most precious sight I think I’ve ever seen on my walks was the little family that crossed my path like they were out going to the market the other day. I kid you not, I saw the Partridge Family strolling across the road with the father partridge leading the way, the five little babies doing their best to keep up, and the mother partridge nudging the stragglers along from the rear. I would have given anything for a camera.
I’ve decided to take my camera on my walk tomorrow, but I guarantee you I won’t see a living creature.
So here’s where I’m going with these rambling thoughts.
It occurred to me this morning as I encountered my two coyotes for the 3rd time in two days, “you just don’t have the luxury of choosing who will cross your path.” Sometimes you are delighted with the folks you encounter in life and other times you rue the day they entered your zone. But for some reason, perhaps even some divine reason, God allows certain folks to cross our paths at just the right (or wrong) time.
I’ve come across folks from Georgia just when I was the most homesick and desperately needed to hear a southern drawl.
I’ve encountered people with a sense of humor just when I needed to laugh.
I’ve met desperately needy people when I thought I had nothing to offer but quickly learned otherwise.
I’ve met senior adult grandmas who were far away from their own grandchildren when me and my kids were far away from their grandmothers and we desperately needed some doting.
I’ve shared a path with a Christian book publisher in the middle of the woods while backpacking the Appalachian Trail.
I’ve crossed paths with a little girl visiting Colorado from Russia who needed a little girl just my daughter’s age to come and play for an afternoon, even though they couldn’t speak the same language.
For the first time, I met the pastor and wife who minister at the church just down the road from us while we all attended a conference in California.
And I’ve had a surprise encounter with an old friend from high school while we both participated in the search for a missing girl four states away from our hometown – me as a minister’s wife and him as a member of the reserve national guard.
I could go on with one ridiculous
coincidental divine encounter after another, but I won’t.
Instead I’ll say what I came here to say and invite you to add your two cents.
I love divine appointments. Even when they are of the not so pleasant variety. Why? Because I know that God is directing my path and He orchestrates each encounter in order to either teach me, enlighten me, thrill me, comfort me, or challenge me. And I never know who I’ll meet next, but I know there is a purpose behind each encounter. Not that each person I meet will play some huge role in my life, but that each person is valuable and worth considering and worthy of my attention.
Some I will bless and some will bless me.
Sure, I especially love the people that I choose to walk beside through life – my family and friends. But I’ve learned to be open to the folks I cross paths with unexpectedly as well. Some may be as scary as the coyotes I’ve encountered on my morning walks and some may be as adorable as the partridge family, but they all have the potential of contributing something to my life.
So who have you encountered lately as you’ve walked through life? Have you made any new, unexpected friends this summer? Have you come across someone who knows someone who you know? Have you encountered someone some place different from where you normally see that person and it threw you for a loop? Or maybe you’ve been joined up with someone very different from you for some sort of partnership and the combination has proven more delightful than you ever imagined.
I’d love to hear about who has crossed your path.