Oak Trees, the Advent, and Icy Rain: Thoughts on Being Expectant

I planned my whole day last Wednesday around a jog. The forecast said it would rain most of the day with a short break in the afternoon, so I worked everything out in order to be free in the afternoon togo fora run. I am recovering from Achilles repair surgery, so actually being able to run a couple miles outside is precious to me. I hit play on my iPod and started down the street listening to Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons. As I made the first turn of myjourney into the park, the skies opened up and it began to rain — a frozen icy rain. I slowed my jog a little bit and was absolutely disgusted; I had planned my day to AVOID running in bad weather. For a moment, I pondered turning back. The rain turned quickly to complete ice. It was pelting my face and I worried about slipping on the path and re-injuring myself. After a brief hesitation, I decided to press on.

There is a long stretch at the end of my running path that reaches through a thickly wooded area. I have to admit, as I ran across the trail in the open field approaching the trees, I was pretty irritated with the weather. Something unexpected happened when I crossed the threshold into the canopy of trees though, and it was a bit overwhelming. Under the trees, the ice was hitting the dry leaves above me creating a wall of sound so impressive that I could hear it over my iPod. I took my ear-buds out and looked up in wonder. I closed my eyes for a moment and realized the sound was as intense and as soothing as the ocean. I found solitude in the winter woods and beauty in the noise, as millions of ice crystals crashed into the brown leaves all around me. I slowed to a walk and realized that if I had turned back and gone home instead of forging ahead, I would have missed this incredible moment. Because of my recent meditations on To Kill a Mockingbird, I immediately thought of Scout passing by the Oak Tree on her way home from school, slowing down to notice the gift left there in a knothole for her by Boo Radley. I know it sounds funny, but for several minutes I put my plans and worries aside and walked through those woods completely caught up in the splendor of the moment. If my day had gone as I had planned, I would’ve missed it. Instead, I put my agenda aside and walked through the equivalent of a scene from Walden. I felt the solace of the woods and found a momentof peace in this great song created by nature. Even with the wonderful prayers, scriptures, and traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday, that afternoon run was probably the most spiritual moment of my week. It reminded me in this very busy season that God is there in the unexpected moments. Especially the ones that don’t fit neatly into the plans we have for our day. I realized I should try to be a little bit more like Scout; more willing tolet go ofmyagenda and look around for the Oak Trees and unanticipated gifts. After all, this season of the year is all about being hopeful and expectant.

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