Today was the first day I spent alone hiking in our new hometown. Over the summer, we devoted our time to acclimating the children to the area…discovering waterfalls, picking berries, hiking trails and meeting neighbors. They started school last week, allowing Smith and I to catch our breath and tune into meeting our own needs. He spent an afternoon fishing last week, and I decided to go hiking solo on the first slow day I had.
This morning, after the kids were safely off to school, I packed snacks and water and headed off to the North Carolina Arboretum, aka, the best place in the world. Alone. Thinking about it on the drive over, it dawned on me that the last time I spent several hours a-l-o-n-e would have to have been at least three months ago, before our move from Florida. I haven’t had a lot of one-on-one time with nature during our transition. I missed it.
As I entered the gardens, I took my time, reading each plant identification label, stopping at the shaded benches along the path to my planned hike. I noted the slow progression into fall, the dogwoods fruiting, leaves of the giant trees beginning to change and asters in full bloom. A warm September morning full of promise and life. Each step I took brought me back to the root of peace, reflection of the Creator. How lucky to be able to spend an entire morning being present in an orchestra of harmonious landscape, giving thanks, admiring the dirt. All dirt is healing…but the dirt here clumps in your hands, no sand running through your fingers, clumps of delicious earth that smell like a luxury spa treatment.
I hiked alone for a couple of miles, no one else on the path. The solitude allowed me to be grateful for all of the upheaval of the last few months, the move, the new schools, the new neighborhood…an adventure into the next chapter of our lives. I had the feeling that amongst my prayers of the last year, the prayer of direction and guidance was surely answered. It’s as though God knew exactly where to put us, almost as if the perfect choice was laid before us with grace and love that only the Creator could provide.