I have found a wonderful place for personal prayer retreats. It’s just over a half-hour from our house and it’s fabulous. Great accommodations. A scenic pond and some well-kept gardens are added attractions. But my personal favorite part is the acre after beautiful acre of nature with walking paths through fields and woods. I really like to walk and pray, and this place is like paradise for me.
Now, you should know that whether this retreat facility or others I’ve visited in the past, I have a tendency to veer off the paths. Of course, if I’m honest, this is not just a prayer retreat tendency. I regularly do the same thing in life. Nicely mowed paths just don’t offer the same intrigue as that creek bank or that forest over there.
While walking through an unmowed field on a recent prayer retreat, I came to a section where I was nearly blocked by briars and brambles. It appeared as though I might need to go back from the direction I came. But, instead, I decided to press on. Carefully picking my way through, I was able to find spots where the thorns were less plentiful. Only a few minor scratches – and a couple small thorns I found later in my socks – and I made my way through.
But I realized something in the process. I encountered no thorns – none, zero, zippo, nada – on the paths. It was only when I got off the paths that there were times when the going got a bit tougher.
See, staying on those mowed paths was safer, but it was also more bland. The views and the opportunities for things outside the norm were definitely better off the paths. I doubt I would have seen those four whitetail deer running through the woods from one of the nicely manicured paths. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have encountered the briars and brambles on the paths, either.
Some people love the paths – at the retreat center and in life. I have difficulty staying on the paths in either.
Which is your preference? Why?