Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, July 17, 2021

It was a path familiar to me, until suddenly it wasn’t. Where was I? For a moment I was lost.

It was only later that I recalled with pleasure a quote attributed to American pioneer, guide, and explorer Daniel Boone. When asked if he’d ever been lost in the woods he answered, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”

This day I, too, was bewildered, but only for a moment. Then I saw what had confused me: a large tree had fallen across our path, changing the customary landscape.

It wasn’t large enough to cause us to turn around and head back to our starting point; we could clamber over it. With my usual curiosity I wondered why it had fallen and when; this path is ten minutes from our house and we’d trekked this way not long ago.

But my mind was busy with more than these questions. What impressed me the most was how one fallen tree could have been so disorienting.

I thought how the global pandemic was like one giant Redwood of a tree, crashing down on our familiar paths, changing the landscape of our lives. We might have lost our footing temporarily, but we regained it. We clambered over, with help from others.

I will always remember those who helped me climb over and keep going: my cheerful, resilient husband who claimed that he enjoyed having me work from home those fourteen months; my sister who called from three time zones away, especially in the early months, to boost my spirits; our friend who did grocery shopping for us before we started curbside pick-up; my church family, who willingly pulled together to create online worship services, Sabbath after Sabbath, to keep our fellowship strong; friends who surprised us on my husband’s birthday and later during Pastor Appreciation month, with masked drive-in celebrations in our cul-de-sac; faithful folk who phoned in for prayer meeting every Wednesday night, thanking and petitioning the Lord; and so many more memories of people who blessed us and continue to do so.

Because, pandemic or not, we are all walking this path until we rest in the sleep of death or until Jesus comes. We attended a memorial gathering two days ago, and learned of the death of another friend as we were driving home. We attended a memorial service this afternoon, and will attend another next weekend. An email last week brought news of another death.

In the midst of this sorrow there is joy: we anticipate baptisms next Sabbath and a wedding in two weeks; we celebrate a recent out-of-country wedding, news of the safe arrival of a baby boy, and look forward with another family to the birth of their first child.

Once again I murmur Paul’s words from Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

It is good to walk this path together. For me it is necessary. When something unexpected and unwanted falls across my path, I know I can call on family and friends for help, for encouragement, for prayer – and I can count on our prayer-hearing God to answer, from His great heart of love and compassion.

May you know the nearness of His presence as you walk your path this week.