The Hills Are Alive
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy.
– Psalm 65:11-12 (NRSV)
The house where I grew up is purported to have been a speakeasy during Prohibition.
It’s not too hard to imagine. The house sits atop a hill along a rugged path (not a metaphor), as out-of-the-way and nearly inaccessible today as it was in the speakeasy days, when a rough wagon track climbed the hill and then wound its way along the mountain. A traveler would have had to be intent on that hilltop destination to choose such a difficult path.
In my childhood, I explored those old wagon tracks through the woods, but these days, much of the path is overgrown with brambles. Only deer and small wildlife can navigate it easily.
But oh! There are wild raspberries too along that way, when the season is right. Blueberries and teaberries if you know where to look. Blushing mountain laurel and swinging vines.
The overgrown wagon tracks may be intimidating to wagons and wanderers alike, but God’s wild richness on the trail is no less abundant.
Which is a lesson I’m trying to hold onto in these days when life seems determined to take the most difficult path possible: The wildness of the way overflows with beauty and bounty, even when the path is rough. The tracks across the hills are dressed in God’s joy, even amidst the brambles.
Let your bounty, O God, be the source of my joy even when I am snagged by brambles. Let me recognize the beauty of your path even when the way is overgrown.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and Sacred Pause, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.