“I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days, I set out during the night with a few men.” Nehemiah 2:11
The walks around where I live in the southwest corner of Edmonton are quite stunning. There are ravines and winding creeks and rivers and pines. Green is my favourite colour and my eyes appreciate the many shades that exist here in any given spot. One recent afternoon, I took a walk, and though my body resisted the effort, my eyes appreciated the experience. It was quite windy out and I was grateful for that as it was quite warm and the wind cooled my body as the sweat broke out.
My mind was filled with the memories of my night before on the Salvation Army ministry van. We were out from 9:00 pm to 3:00 am, ministering to and loving on women who are homeless, addicted, and/or in the sex trade on the streets of Edmonton. It was a particularly impactful night for me as it seemed I knew many of those who came on the van to select an outfit, get a lunch and receive prayer. After two years, I do of course know many of the women, but this night, it seemed like many of my “favourites” were there.
We had a new volunteer on the van who commented that I had a nice “motherly” way with the women and that it was clear they were comfortable with me. That stuck. I’ve always resisted the motherliness in me, which has been commented on since I was in my 20’s. As a young single lady, the last thing you want to seem to people is “motherly”. You want to be sexy, dynamic, vital, intriguing, challenging … anything but motherly! But now, as an older women in her 50’s, I embrace my motherliness as there is clearly a need for mothering of many. It took a while to move from resistance to embracing.
As per usual, I started out in the residential area close by. The homes and apartments seem quite peaceful and serene in this lovely area. I decided to lengthen my walk on this day and ventured across 111 Street into the Bear Paw area, where I found a beautiful park comprised of a number of green fields. I walked around the park and then headed toward the ravines. As I approached a bridge over a ravine, there was a mother and her four young children in front of me. I caught up with them, said “hello”, and the young mother said, “we are going to see the beavers!” I walked with them to the point in the bridge where they should have been visible building a dam in the river below, but they must have been on a lunch break, as they were nowhere to be found.
We parted ways and I began to make my way back to my residence via my usual path parallel to the ravine. A dragonfly seemed to be accompanying me along the way and I mused at how I once was afraid of dragonflies until one particular day (click here). I stopped at the most beautiful spot, overlooking what seems to be a peninsula or an island, with a river of water surrounding it. I decided to take a rest. I sat uncomfortably on the edge of the wooden fence and looked down the cliff face to the beauty below.
I noticed a few dragonflies flying around. I sat quietly, trying to absorb my surroundings. But it was probably three or four full minutes before I even heard the rushing water below in the river. I wondered that I had not heard it before. How could I miss it? I continued to sit quietly. Soon, I began to notice there were many crickets making noise and crawling around in the grass beside me. At least, I think they were crickets. Crickets out east are green and have somewhat translucent wings. These had the shape of a cricket, but were grey with black dots on them. They could fly at least short distances and when they flew, they looked black with a white rim all around them. I sat quietly for a few more minutes and noticed that there were actually lots of dragonflies flying all around the cliff face – no doubt it was a haven for mosquitoes and the dragonflies were being well-fed.
I marveled that I had no idea of the life that was all around me until I sat quietly for quite some time. And then more and more of what was going on in the environment was revealed to me as I settled and could see patterns around me.
Recently, I began a position with the Salvation Army and I have felt unsettled in this new arena and environment. But I realize that it takes a while of being still in this place to start to hear and see what is actually going on. And, that more and more will be revealed and become clear as I go along. Nehemiah rested for three days before he even assessed the wall of Jerusalem he was to rebuild. Paul (Saul), on his conversion on the road to Damascus, was blinded for three days, before being able to move forward in his faith. Leadership requires being still at times.