Emmanuel of the Bush Trail…by Andrew

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Often, I feel God slip into step beside me when I’m romping through a bit of new snow under old trees, chasing after my dog.  Nature seems to amplify God’s presence for me. Sandy Hills, just east of Floradale, offers of hint of wild beauty and lifts my heart in the new snow.  My dog and I trot along the path and wait for God to sneak up on us.  One thing you realize while walking the many paths of Sandy Hills is that it’s a garden and like all gardens, it was intentionally cultivated. Why?

Someone felt the need to preserve a treed place. If you look at the trees along an east west axis, you’ll realize they were all planted in rows.  Someone restored a sense of the wild Ontario past, amid a sea of farmland.  As the years go on, wind will come and take a few trees down, others spring up in the holes of the canopy, and this ordered nature begins to look organic.  This reminds me that nature sustains us, and of course that God sustains nature … yet he often leaves us room to affect our surroundings.  One might say that he puts our stewardship to the test.   Will we squander the wonderful riches he has given us – renewable riches if we treat them right?  He sustains us in spirit and in body.  Here in Sandy Hills, I hear the promise of old, that God is with us.  He wants gardens for us to meander with him in.  Who will plant them?

We have social gardens, and while we aren’t called to worship nature, nor are we called to worship buildings.  We worship the creator who enters his creation as a baby.  A cherished creation.  It is the crib of civilization – we know of no other in the universe, nor another place where people can live.  The whole earth is his Bethlehem.  What he’s doing here we don’t know completely but I’m quite certain that without God and his sustenance – which includes his masterful ecological system – we would be nothing.  It’s a mystery, this garden of life we are placed in.  Yet, a regular old sandy, clear cut farm field, can become a wild garden under our supervision, a place where I am often beckoned by the spirit, to step out beyond the sidewalk and feel his peace and his inner whispers of the heart.

Hear these words of scripture and be encouraged:

Isaiah 55:10-19

10As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.

May you be led onto God’s path and into his peace.