Prayer in the Palisades

If you think I’m crazy, you may not be the only one. If you think I’m a bit nuts, it’s probably true. But I love going hiking when I can despite the weather. Three weeks ago I took a trip at Pease Creek, along the shore of the Missouri River, muddied my boots off the beaten trail in 30 degree weather. And yesterday I did the same at the Palisades State Park.

There’s something about being outdoors for me that recharges me, that makes things doable. I recently finished a book called Leading from the Inside Out. It talked about self leadership. Taking time to lead one’s own self. To take time to fuel yourself as a leader. And that’s important. That’s needed. And as a spiritual leader, I know I need to spend as much time in prayer. And this is why I love prayer walks in God’s great creation. I love being in the woods, being along the shoreline, being in the fresh air away from things to find time to pray.

Jesus did just this. He took time away; He took time in a separate place to pray. And this is what I’ve learned is needed from time to time. To tell the truth, if I go more than a week without doing this, I go nuts.

And so yesterday I was close to Palisades State Park and took a wrong turn, landing myself in Minnesota. After looking like a dork to the Minnesota welcome center, I found my way to the Palisades.

The air was cold, burning my lungs as I trudged along the King and Queen Rock trail. I took each step, watching the stones, remembering my past escapades with hiking. Each step along the way, I looked out along Split Creek, breathing in deeply the air, allowing it to fill me. The cold wind whipped across my ears, numbing them. As I approached the King and Queen Rocks, the steps I took were filled with prayer. I thanked God for a moment of peace and silence. I sought Him in the times of silence that I had. I thanked Him for his care and direction. I thanked him for my time of recovery after surgery.

And I did what I normally do while hiking, I stepped off the trail. The King and Queen rock was filled with square jutting out pieces. Each one a tempting stair to climb higher and higher. A small tree grew from the cracks, a bonsai out of place.

I sat there on the cold rock, reflecting on God’s great mercies. Reflecting on the blessings he had given me. Just a year earlier, I was on crutches and then a cane with a broken knee. And now I’m doing it once again, going off the trail and climbing rocks. Will I ever learn? Nope.

I turned back along the trail, heading back to the warmth of the car. Traveling around, I came to the Split Creek Trail. It beckoned me to try it.

I kicked through the leaves before I developed the odd paranoia of kicking a sleeping rattler. The trail curved down a small hillside, making it’s way to Split Creek’s shoreline.

The ice in the creek flowed as flotsam and jetsam in the wake of the current. I walked along it, noticing the rabbit tracks, the signs of life even in this cold November day. Breathing in the chill, I stepped forward. The path uneven, my steps though were sure.

God is truly gracious. His mercies truly are new every morning. My thoughts moved from things of the day, to things that needed to get done. I kept finding myself looking at my phone, taking pictures and uploading to Facebook things that scenes of the world around me, wanting to share what I experienced.

The cold air numbed my nose, my heart grew ever warmer. I felt God’s peace and warmth, His caring hand. I truly felt refreshed and recharged again. I felt peaceful.

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