More from the Canyon

I did not expect the birds to delight me so. That first morning during my quiet time I am visited by a Nuthatch that I have never seen in my feeder and he is so cute with his showy white breast and fan tail. His quick movements lift my spirit and I find I am watching him instead of contemplating scripture.
Later, after breakfast, in morning worship, Jeffrey talks about letting God speak into us through nature—through the crouching redness of the sky slowly unfolding, the way light is a second skin on water…through a tiny Nuthatch visitation and the beauty in our winged creatures? All weekend long I can’t take my eyes off of them. I take small crumbs of bread and bits of dehydrated fruit back to my room to leave for these feathered angels. I see my friend the Black-capped Chickadee, a sweet-faced Titmouse, the familiar vibrant red of the Cardinal and a strange dusty blue bird I’ve never seen before. The one morning I run, a flock surges through the quiet overhead and I am amazed at the sound the wind makes under wing.
“It feels different this year,” I tell Cheryl, when she asks. “Good, but different.”
The landscape speaks to me and I feel my smallness. We are kayaking—or rather he is. I’m just along for the ride–when I ask David, “Can you get closer to the canyon wall?” He steers me over to that stony skin and I run my hand along its glistening surface, let water droplets moisten my fingers.
“I feel like those shrubs growing out of the stone,” I tell him. “It’s like: what are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here.”
He laughs and says sometimes he feels the same. But when I touch her, she touches me back and the canyon whispers all the prayers that have been said within her embrace—she whispers them back into my heart.
I’m walking with Megan amidst a butterfly migration and we stop in the middle of the road.
“Look at the sky,” she says.
And the way the blue falls over the trees is a song that is singing something new into me. Psalm 3:3 tells me that He is the Lifter of my Head and I find that it’s true: everywhere I go I’m looking up. Except when I’m looking down into beauty from Circle Bluff.
“It’s been about the people this time,” I tell Cheryl. And I think about my friend from high school who picked me up at the airport—drove two long hours under threatening sky so we could be together. And then home again. I think of the prayer she and Jennifer and I shared along the way and the hug we shared when she left. I think of the friends I’ve known through words and how sweet it is to squeeze a hand, look into eyes. The way we laughed (“You are more joyful than you seem online,” one sweet friend told me.) and the ways we prayed. Oh, just to be together and take up space side by side.
With Nancy
With Pat
With Megan
Linda and Sandy
With Lyla
“Yeah, it’s been about the people.”
And the birds. And the land. And the water, He whispered. And you and me.
I had to leave early for the airport Sunday morning, so I missed the worship service. But I remember this:
Small affirmations, believe them, one of the speakers said.
I am. Really. I am. It’s all worship.

With Jen today:

And Michelle:


  1. says

    The canyon walls whispering prayer. Those are five beautiful words, lady, and they gave me chills. And those photos–what an honor to show up here at your place. What joy, seeing all these faces again. I’m having a hard time moving on, thinking about other things. Maybe that’s okay?

  2. says

    Me too. About the people. One afternoon I just sat the whole time from lunch until dinner, chatting with people. (I was super lazy this time; another afternoon, I slept the whole afternoon away! 🙂

  3. says

    David rowed me along that same glistening rock wall, water dripping into the Frio, ferns poking out of the cracks and crevices.

    Thanks for sharing the messages in your lyrical style. Your words sing.

  4. says

    Somehow I expected to see different birds. But they were there, too. All my feathered friends. And I heard an owl when I walked early in the morning. But there was this black white-billed duck that David and I paddled up on.

    Can you imagine what prayers that canyon holds that have been whispered and now whispers back? And that water that fell against the wall–collected tears that now feed those shrubs?

    The canyon has changed me. In ways I can’t even express yet.

    And the people–you–Him–the people. I’m still there in a lot of ways.

  5. says

    Random and totally not the point, but has anyone told you that you look like Marg H from CSI?

    Okay, onto other things — I am a tiny bit jealous that you got to meet so many soli sisters.

    And to the most important thing — I am so glad you were nourished and fed and loved.

    You are. You are loved.

  6. says

    Oh Laura, you’ve outdone yourself (although I think I may say that here every time!). Thank you for bringing me with you down to the Frio and with these much-loved friends. This is an incredibly beautiful post. And from the start, with the nuthatch, I thought to myself, “But that IS worship!” — and so you concluded in the end.

    Noah, my oldest, loves nuthatches. They are so tiny, I have trouble spotting them in the shrubs sometimes. But he always points them out.

  7. says

    Wonderful post. Beautiful photos! I recognized so many, before even reading their names in the caption. Guess I’ve been reading many of you quite a while now.

  8. says

    Yes, though it was the first time for me, it seemed to be about the people. I loved the long, lingering conversations, the laughter, the moments together. I expected it to be more about the writing, the craft. But instead, it really was about the people. And nature. And being with Him. Youve captured it all so well.

  9. says

    Thanks for letting me peek over your shoulder.

    As I’ve told others, my heart was with you.

    I’m hoping next year the rest of me can tag along. 🙂

  10. says

    Even I, however many outward or inward miles away, can hear the water lapping, those oars pulling, and the tiny bit of wing …

    Thank you for this rest. Needing a quiet retreat of my own tonight, I was grateful to find this spot of worship.

    So thank you for winding through the Frio with expansive words and sharing three heartfelt, holy chords.

    In worship, there’s always a communion which stretches far beyond us.

  11. says

    You’ve put so many of the things I have been thinking into such beautiful words Laura. It was my first time, but the connection to the others was something so very special. It was all I had hoped, and so much more.
    I can’t tell you how delightful it was to spend time with you.

  12. says

    Though a brother, I feel a little out of place here, but your writing is impactful; insightful for me. And FULL. Full of the Joy of real Living.
    So Thanks, Laura.

    BTW, in a fit of shameless self-promotion, I would like to say that people who like Laura’s “ministry of the birds” might like my “WRENSONG”. It is amateur stuff -I’m an amateur – but, like Laura’s great stuff it is right out of the heart.
    Blessings, All.

  13. says

    A get away does refresh and renew our spirits. When we can meet with friends, and also meet new ones and worship together and learn – – it magnifies the event.
    Viewing birds and nature gives us a thrill as we see it up close and enjoy the moment. Lovely Post!

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