Last Sunday was a beautiful, blue sky day. The early morning temperatures were cool enough for me to don a fleece pullover and a Buff over my ears and under my bike helmet. It was a great day for riding the Lake Wobegon Trail! My bike riding would try the patience of any get-from-point-A-to-point-B-as-quickly-as-possible rider, for I will stop on a dime if I see something interesting along the trail. Luckily Chris is patient and good with the brakes.
Our destination/turn-around point was the little town of Avon. They have a nice picnic area, look-out tower, and restroom right beside the trail. As we neared the stop, we noticed groups of people carrying lawn chairs and blankets towards a newly built pavilion. This was the same spot we had seen Garrison Keillor perform his show a number of years ago for the people of Lake Wobegon. Today, in the new pavilion, a large wooden cross stood behind the microphone and music stands–it was church on the Lake Wobegon Trail! We stood with our bikes as the pastor greeted the outdoor crowd and gave a prayer of thanksgiving, and the small band of musicians and singers led the congregation in an uplifting song of praise. We didn’t stay for the whole service, as we had nine miles to ride back and a stop at St. Ben’s before the noon hour, but church on the trail stayed on my mind.
One of my sudden stops along the trail was when I saw an exquisite blue flower shining amidst the green grass ten feet or so from the bike path. What was this glorious wildflower?
It looked like it was in the bud stage, ready to open, like a Balloon Flower. But my after-ride searching found that it was Bottle Gentian, a native perennial that blooms in August and September–and this was full-bloom. The fused petals never open and are pollinated by bumblebees, one of the few insects strong enough to pry open the closed flowers.
Luke 12:27 Consider how the wildflowers grow; they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!
Another wildflower in its full glory was Joe Pye Weed, along with its companion Goldenrod. We have a small patch of Joe Pye Weed in our woods, but it was wonderful to see it in its native state–in the boggy areas along the trail.
The flowers shone like amethyst and gold in the morning sun.
Psalms 103:15 A person’s life is like grass; it blossoms like wild flowers.
As I was looking side to side at the flowers, Chris had his eyes on the trail ahead and halted us both with a quiet exclamation of “Deer!” I have been so used to seeing does and fawns that it was surprising to see the velvety antlers of the young buck.
Psalms 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and sets me securely on the heights.
Another unusual sight stopped me in my tracks. Hanging low from a Linden branch not far from the trail was a papery nest….
…with a whole congregation of Bald-faced Hornets!
Spotted Jewelweed loves boggy areas and shade. This wild impatiens is an annual and often grows in large clumps. It blooms July through October and is said to be an antidote to poison ivy and a treatment for other skin disorders.
Proverbs 3:13-15 How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver, And her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire compares with her.
“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” This quote is commonly attributed to Martin Luther and acknowledges that intimate connection between God and Nature. Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” The Bible uses Nature to speak to us about God, and it is in Nature–with the flowers, wildlife, and insects–that God speaks to us. Church on the Lake Wobegon Trail happens all the time–are we willing to see the splendor, to hear the prayer of thanksgiving, and to sing an uplifting song of praise?
May the God of peace grant us understanding and wisdom so we may be blessed with the fullness of Life more precious than gold or jewels. Amen.