A Frozen Prayer Walk

Muskegon Frozen Dunes 1It was cold. Very cold. I had ventured out to the Muskegon State Park to do some snow hiking and praying. In the first time since I’d been in west Michigan again, I had an opportunity to do what I loved to do so much to recharge–go hiking. And it was cold. Very cold. But worth it. As I stood on the frozen shore of Lake Michigan, the snow fell ever so softly, dampening out the noise save for a woodpecker searching for good at a tree.

I had driven up to Muskegon, an hour or so drive from Hudsonville, and had streamed Air-1 on my phone the whole time. As I entered into the state park, I turned off the music and enjoyed the silence of the moment, the tired on the snow, taking the somewhat tight turns through the park, almost hitting two wild turkeys. It was good. It was silent. It was wooded and it was mine. Save for the other people who were parked along side of the road.

After looking at the various trails, I decided to go along the lake shore and walk the giant dunes. Little known to this southern Californian ex-pat, sand freezes and becomes the same consistency as concrete. I learned this the first time I slipped and fell.

As I lay on my back, checking my vitals, seeing the range of motion available, I had flashbacks to the Badlands two years prior where I broke my knee. The only thing bruised was my ego. I did a quick look around to make sure no one saw me and then continued on.

I slowly climbed the first set of dunes. Small, yet slippery. I crested the top, narrowly avoiding twisting my ankle stepping into a hidden crevasse in the snow. I looked over all around me, surveying the land. I breathed the cold air into my lungs and listened to the silence.

The words to a song came to my mind, lost in memory of the last Sunday morning’s worship service. “Never once did I ever walk alone.” Kept repeating through my mind as I gingerly made my way down the dune…and slipped once more. I slid a bit down the dune but was fine. I walked a bit more to the next set of dunes, higher, huger, larger than the ones before.

I picked my way through, meditating on the words “I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from” (Psalm 121:1). The dunes weren’t huge by comparison to the mountains I knew growing up, but they were still a hard climb in the snow and ice. I grappled with the frozen snow, my feet landing in hidden crevasses. My eyes upwards to the top.

I slowly gained my way to the top, looking over the vast expanse ahead of me. Nothing but straight walking to the shore line of Lake Michigan. And then I looked down. Oh, I wished I hadn’t. It was a straight drop into small round balls of frozen sand and snow. There were many ways down, but I knew if I went down, I had to come back up again some way. I walked the dunes, looking for a way back up, but found none.

Muskegon Frozen Dunes 2So I stood still. I took in the silence. I inhaled the coldness, felt the snow land upon my face, and listened. I felt a calmness for that moment. A peace for that time. And then the cold came back.

I delicately descended down the dune, looking for footprints that I had made, trying to avoid some steps while looking for the ones I needed to make my ways down. I started walking again along the frozen sand and slipped and fell once again. Knowing that no one was there to see me, I pulled myself up and continued on.

Arriving at my car, I saw people arriving, coming with sleds and snow pants. Snow pants would have been a good idea for sure. Why hadn’t I worn them?

I sat in my car, still silence within, people talking outside. I drew in a breathe and felt the cold again in my lungs.

I had a moment. A moment of silence needed. I took time to stop. To stop to think, to stop to listen, to stop and enjoy the silence. The silence that God offers, the peace that he brings. In that moment upon the snow, ice, and sand, I knew that I had been given a short rest that I needed to continue on.

So, where do you need to stop and seek rest and silence? Where do you need to take a moment to do nothing but enjoy the gift of silence given by God? Take time to do that. Take time to stop and rest and enjoy the silence given by God. And when you do, he will speak to you. Not always with words, but with that pull upon the heart, the movement in the soul and a still small voice reminding you of his presence. That is what I experienced that cold Monday morning.

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