North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    During the working hours of most days I find myself looking forward to turning away from the rut and routine of daily work and entering the sanctuary of the great outdoors. Trail running has turned into the one particular thing that gives me a much needed physical, mental, and spiritual uplift. My wife even tells me she sees a difference in my countenance and outlook having spent time in the woods.    For me, time spent running between trees, along creeks, by green shrubs, and on dirt roads does something to heighten my spiritual perspective. I must confess part of my woodland love is most likely an inherited trait from my parents and grandparents, for both sets were raised in the country and didn’t lack for good wholesome outdoor activity. Growing up in a rural community helped me appreciate the words of John Denver’s hit song, “Take Me Home Country Roads”, because that’s how I was raised.

    Childhood in the country was full of wonderful memories for me. And I can’t think of heaven without something of the freedom that being in the outdoors brings. The outdoors is the ideal; a slice of heaven on earth. The woods in the country are full of healing because there the trees grow to their fullness and perfection. There’s blessedness in that and I like to be among the beauty of it. There’s color, vibrancy, and life to be enjoyed in the woods and to forsake the enjoyment of it is to take part of living for granted.

    The woods are full of bird nests. During my trail runs mockingbirds and cardinals line the road ways. In the woods, the crows hold their conventions. The blue jays play their pranks among the brush. The yellowhammer and woodpeckers do their carpentry and exploit the beauty of the hardwood. The quail scamper across the road in front of me and the foxes lay in wait hoping for a feathered meal after I pass.

    As I run deeper into the woods, there’s a growing fragrance as I near the place where the creek runs along the trail. This is where the spring seeps from the ground and rare delicate ferns grow along the sides. Green moss cover the rocks that line the edge of the creek bed and they serve as a carpet leading the wild animals to the water source.

    There’s a continuous evergreen smell in the woods. Simply breathing in the fragrance of the pine and the cedar trees elicit a sense of healing. I like to think this evergreen aroma is a perfume of God’s own medicine for tired men and weary women.

    The woods are full of precious things of every sort. Jonathan, of the Bible, David’s best friend, once found a bee tree in the woods and he filled himself with the sweet honey. The Bible says, “Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and when the people had come into the woods, there was honey, dripping. Jonathan stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance was brightened and he felt refreshed” (1 Samuel 14:25-27).

    The woods are also full of berries; edible ones. I’ve found blackberries, their cousins the dew berry, blue berries, and even mulberry trees. On a recent excursion, my wife and I, along with our four children, picked a bucket half-full of blue berries on a Sunday afternoon. There was joy, laughter, and peace as we walked and talked along the way.

    I’ve often seen bullaces and scuppernongs hang from the vines of the trees right before the fall season. It’s quite the thrill to shake the vines from the tallest trees and have the freshest and juiciest of all scuppernongs fall at your feet. It’s like nature’s candy falling all around you. Do you sense the purity of it? The woods have a healing nature and I call it my “hiding place”.

    Vast oceans become what they are because somewhere in the woods a small little brook is formed. Nothing is hardly sweeter than the evolution of a little brook; which feeds a creek, which feeds a small lake and eventually a river, which leads to the bay, then the gulf and the ocean.

    Once while running on part of my favorite trail, a small, wild fawn rose up on its spindly legs. He trotted a few steps and stopped and I stopped too. I was able to get as close as 10 feet. There was a mutual stare and then we both continued on our way. I’ve ran with cottontails, squirrels, and a myriad of other wildlife.

    There’s solace and lessons to be learned from the woods. Perhaps you need to get away and visit one near to where you live. Maybe you too can have an experience with God in nature’s solitude. The closer we get to God and the more we open our hearts to receive His rich blessings, not only will we be happier ourselves, but the more blessing and benefit we will be to all who are a part of our world. Like the psalmist David, we should all seek comfort and our strength form a greater source; the Higher Power called God Almighty.

    Whenever we find ourselves sick, weak, or in trouble there’s the temptation to seek help from sources that are beneath God. We mustn’t yield ourselves to that source only. To do so, is to forsake our true “life line”. Sickness and pain, even trouble of all kinds can be rare blessings if it brings us into a closer fellowship with God. God can be found anywhere, but there’s a significant beauty in feeling His presence in the woodlands with all of its peacefulness.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. He recently published another book titled “Living With Purpose Volume III” and it can be purchased on Contact him at:

Posted by on Sep 25 2016. Filed under Church News, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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