Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth.
-- Sirach 37: 15
Return to Lost Dog Canyon - Part II
Just before heading out from the house, I had scanned an article about some lunatic who had disrupted a Christmas Eve Mass in Cologne, Germancy. Apparently a shameless woman had jumped on top of the altar topless, with the words "I am God" scrawled on her torso. She was a part of the notorious, pro abortion feminist group FEMEN.
On the drive to the mountains with my dog, my heart was turned to the Lord in an attempt to console Him, but it was also weeping for this lost woman. How exactly does one console the Lord after such vile blasphemies? How does one pray for a woman such as this, trusting that those prayers could make the slightest dent in a heart grown so cold?
Lily waited patiently on the trailhead while I fiddled with my gear and strapped on my day pack. Still dwelling on the horrific news article, I shivered a bit and quickly scanned the overcast skies. A small blue patch was enough for me to ditch an extra layer of fleece, confident that the skies would be fully clear soon. Having remembered the needle nose plyers this time, I slipped them into a side pocket on my cargo shorts.
The previous night I had also remembered to view some aerial topography to plot a better path up Lost Dog. This involved adding a nice stretch of Ringtail Canyon plus a bit more of the trail groomed for the general public, so I encountered quite a few other hikers for the first 3/4 mile.
There were also several other dogs on the trail with their owners. One couple gave us a warning as they approached that their pit bulls weren't "very friendly." I smiled at them as we passed, giving them a wide berth, and wondered why anyone would want to keep dogs that weren't very friendly.
There was also a dad with a couple of young boys, and some other family groups, which included a mom pushing a newborn in a stroller up a difficult stretch of trail. That was a first for me, and I told her as much with a hearty smile. It was the littlest of hikers, and here I thought that I had started my kids out at the earliest opportunity. As odd as that encounter was, there's very few things that warm my heart quite like the sight of a baby.
A short time later we were off trail, heading up Ringtail Wash in an area marked as "Sensitive Habitat." I'm sure this has more to do with the abundance of wildlife than the sandy and rocky terrain, since we immediately spotted a regal looking sentinel perched high up in a tree in the middle of the wash. It was a large Cooper's Hawk eyeing us calmly (pictured below left).
I hadn't been in this particular stretch of canyon for quite some time, and frankly had forgotten how spectacular it was. There were also thick patches of jumping chollas littering the ground with their thorny spines, so I had to use my pliers frequently to pull the painful barbs from the dogs fur and my exposed flesh. Even with the thorns, I was able to stay more peaceful and focused on silent, simple prayers.
Three miles further up, I crested the top of the wash and took some time to enjoy the expansive views, if only for a brief rest. I was fumbling around in my pack to get the dog some water and snap a few pictures when I suddenly realized that I had lost her leash. That was definitely a problem, because I would have no way to restrain her from any potential dangers or other dogs that would undoubtedly be plentiful back on the groomed trail.
I thought I could improvise a leash with one of my camera straps, but wasn't sure it would hold. It was such a small inconvenience, but I continued to worry about it as we headed back down the canyon. Of course I prayed, and it seemed as if Jesus was reassuring me that I would find the leash. Even so, I had to keep berating myself to trust more, even in such a small matter.
I felt better as we walked, focusing more on the issue of trust, but stumbled here and there in my thoughts, occasionally thinking that the odds of finding the leash were slim. Still, I needed to trust, and right at the moment that some real, trusting resolve finally got the upper hand, I jumped over a large boulder, landing on a gentle patch of sand.
There was the red leash laying right at my feet.
I stayed there for about an hour with Lily, resting by that boulder, expressing gratitude, and taking in the lively song of birds perched in nearby scrub. A couple of the songs were new to me, so I searched the area in detail until I finally located the sources: a tiny Loggerhead Shrike and black tufted Phainopepla which I had to look up in my 'Birds of the West' field guide to identify and record as sightings.
So now that I've recounted this hairline slice of my life and had some time to reflect on the matter, it seems pretty obvious that this kind of scenario plays out far too often. True, I can always take practical steps that are of some benefit, but the fact remains that I fret about far too many things when the Lord is simply asking me to trust, love and pray.
Trust. Love. Pray. Could Our Good Lord possibly make it any easier?
Next Blog Entry »