The LORD leads me beside still waters;
they restore my soul.
They lead me in right paths
for their name’s sake.
– Psalm 23:1-3 (NRSV, adapted)
My son and I hike along, looking for the next flash of color. Those who knew the way through this forest have gone ahead of us, painting blue blazes on the trees to lead us in right paths.
I think of the ancestors who set aside this state forest, the ones who blazed the trail. What did they think we’d be using this for? Did they know that one day we’d be out here because we had nowhere else to go except the living room? That we’d be walking their path in search of virus-free air?
What about the ones who built the local library? What would they say if they knew the building was closed, the books inaccessible … but that the library was going strong, doing a rip-roaring business restoring people’s souls with books downloaded from the sky?
How about the founders of your church? What would they say about the still living waters God and your pastors are pouring through your screen each week despite the shuttered sanctuary? Would they recognize you as their church, worshiping there in your jammies in the living room?
Maybe hiking in the woods to escape lockdown isn’t what the sylvan ancestors envisioned. Maybe accessing your library on your phone isn’t what the bookish ancestors planned for. Maybe church on the computer isn’t the kind of thing the charter ancestors would have wanted.
Or maybe it is, exactly.
For the gifts of the ancestors, for the paths they blazed and the institutions they started, and for your Spirit, showing us new ways and purposes for using them, thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.