Along the often-forgotten boardwalk that follows the shoreline of the lake.
Its cobblestones and wooden planks and concrete pourings all meld together to make a special path.
A path that allows for sightings of beauty.
Beauty in nature, and beauty in people.
Red squirrels scamper along the forest floor that parallels one side of the path.
They jump in the tiny trees that decorate the shore on the other side.
She comes face to face with one that seems to be looking for a handout.
They must be so used to people passing by every day, generous with peanuts for squirrels to store for winter use.
But she has nothing for them, so she watches them jump from tree to tree and burrow in the pine needles on the forest floor.
She never knew about their burrowing.
There is always so much to learn.
She thinks back to the baby red squirrel her dad found on the garage floor about 20 years ago, how her family nurtured it to full health, how they gave it the name Morgan, and eventually released it back into the wilds of the old, tall forest surrounding her parent’s house.
She has an affinity for red squirrels now. She sees Morgan in every one of them.
Seagulls gather on the sandy beach area, they squawk for a minute in loud chatter with one another, and take to flight over the water. She sees a rare beauty in the all-too-annoying birds today.
She was only going to walk for a few minutes, that was all she thought she could do. It’s been a long autumn already, with many anxious thoughts swirling around in her mind. Today was an experiment, this walk a test, to see just how bad or how good she’s doing.
She comes to the gazebo on the hill, the spot where she was originally going to turn around and head back to the car, but she realizes she is not even close to done today.
So she walks on, further along the path, drinking in the sunlight’s reflection on the calm water beside her.
She has always found peace by the water.
Now completed almost the whole lakefront path, it will be time to turn around whether or not she is ready. There will be no more path to walk soon.
A bridge. No one else around. A view that makes anyone feel lucky for a glimpse.
She stops. And stares at the sight. And listens.
Just look to Me. When everything crowds in and the worries come, when nothing makes sense and confusion gets loud – just look to Me.
She thanks God for the moment of clarity, for the truth that she can take home with her, for something to grab hold of in the chaos that comes.
Her mind starts to wander already – what if someone sees me standing here, alone, looking out over the water? Will they know something is wrong? What will they think of me?
Just look to Me.
Peace returns, and she knows she is ready to head back home.
Along the way she greets fellow walkers on the path, many of them retired, walking their dogs. Their kindness fills her heart – every smile they send her way, every “Good morning” or “Hello” seems to lift her spirits. She must have received at least 20 of them in her 40 minutes on the boardwalk today.
She gets back into her car, sips her still-hot jasmine tea from the travel mug, and already looks forward to the next walk – maybe tomorrow? maybe the day after that? Who knows what she will find on the boardwalk then. Maybe rain, maybe snow, maybe another dose of sunshine.
She’ll have to wait and see what comes next.