I am — or rather, was — a walker. I guess I got into it when I started timber cruising (topographic and timber quantitative surveying) for various logging companies on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, during summers in my high school and early university years. On graduation as a mechanical engineer, and afterwards with a wife and young family, I found no further time for walking — that is, until I turned fifty, and started power walking for my health and weight control. After several years of speed walking, I turned to endurance walking, and joined the Bruce Trail Club (Niagara Chapter). It was then, when I took the opportunity to “slow down and smell the roses”, that I really started to appreciate the wonder of God’s creation around me.
I live in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, at the southern end of the Bruce Trail. The trail extends 800 kilometres along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, forming the west side of Georgian Bay. It is beautiful throughout its whole length. At our end it is characterized by Carolinian old-growth forests with unique species of flora. I also live at about the mid-point of the Niagara Parkway, a 53-kilometre paved path that follows the Niagara River from Fort Erie at the eastern end of Lake Erie, past Niagara Falls, to Niagara-on-the-Lake at the western end of Lake Ontario.
It is difficult for me to convey the wonder and awe that I felt sometimes when I walked these paths. Near Niagara-on-the-Lake, I have sat at a snow-covered picnic table while eating a cold breakfast at 4:30 in the morning and watching the sun rise over the Niagara River with tears of joy and awe in my eyes. Whether it was the canopy of forest folding over me on the Bruce Trail, or the blue skies and clouds above me and the sun-dappled waves of the Niagara River beside me on the Parkway, I felt as if all this was my cathedral. And while I walked, I often felt that I was in worship, not only of God my Creator, but God The Creator, whose handiwork and mystery were all around me. As long as I did not permit myself to get distracted, I felt His presence lifting my spirits on the trail. My joy was expressed in a few stanzas of All things bright and beautiful sung to anybody nearby within hearing.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (NIV)
Since having multiple-bypass cardiac surgery and a replacement knee, I no longer walk these long distances. The most I manage now at age 80 is a half-hour daily walk with our little Jack Russell terrier. But what better way to end than with this verse from This is my Father’s world:
This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and ’round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas —
His hand the wonders wrought.
– Maltbie D. Babcock
Prayer: Father, may all who are Yours truly find and enjoy You wherever You have placed them in this, Your world. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Robert Norminton [email protected]
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada