At the Oak Tree

ByKevin Kuzma

At the Oak Tree

At the Oak tree,
Three paths are mowed into the underbrush.
The first arching to the right.
A second bending left.
And the third running straight into the autumn hillsides.

I have been on the straight path in every season
In the spring when the fields have been burned black
And the first green breaks through the soil
Turning the hillsides into what could pass for Irish countryside

I’ve walked these paths in incredible heat
Where the grass was sun-starched white
And crumpled beneath your steps like frozen snow

I was here walking one lovely Christmas Day when my children
Were spending the holiday with their mother.
The lake here and the two ponds were frozen solid
And the red berry bushes that feed the deer hung over the trail like mistletoe.

On this day, the fields are golden.
After a rainy September, the leaves on the trees have turned golden
And fire-flame orange.
Even the weeds are lovely — their feathery tops giving them the look of prize wheat.

On this center path, I walk off into all this color
Leaving my truck and all my worldly worries in the small gravel parking lot.
This is my prayer trail where, amid all this beauty,
I send my prayers up to God
Or simply give the time to Him in silence
Listening to what he has to say to me.
I have heard the Lord speak to me in chaos,
Through the background noise,
But here, in this peace, is where I feel He rests.

The creek water runs smooth and clear over the stones
Someone has placed in the rush
To allow for passing without soggy shoes or dampened pant legs.
I hop across and now, much deeper into this Garden of Eden,
I hear the rushing waters of a much larger stream,
For which there is no easy way to pass,
And the last chirps and whirs of the cicadas and other insects
Before they burrow away for the winter.

A crow gasps a low, taunting warning
As I feel the cool water slap and splash on my ankles.
This is His creation, overwhelming my senses.
Colors that burn, voices that both frighten and relax,
The scent of everything clean and natural.
You lead me on a straight path
Where all I want to do is follow your voice.

Lord, I ask that you not whisper today.
Shout what you have for me into my ear.
Send your word for me down to this fallen place
Where in this land, all around me,
Your beautiful creations are preparing to pass away.
Myself included.

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