There’s a park on the shore of the St. Mary’s River, a short walk from my office. When weather permits, and sometimes even when it doesn’t, I spend my lunch hours there writing, reading and praying. When staff moves the tables and benches inside for the winter, I’m forced to make other plans. Until then, I get full value from my mid-day breaks by spending them in this naturally refreshing place.
On a late October day I sat at a picnic table in the park surrounded by books, paper and lunch. A north wind sent chills through my too-light sweater while noisy geese congregated nearby, planning their southbound flight. The sun peeked from behind the clouds every few minutes but not long enough to take the shiver from my arms and back.
Others drifted away, driven from the park by the cold. I knew my days there were numbered so I stayed and watched a tour boat make what might be its last trip downriver. Understanding my sadness at saying goodbye to my lunch hour retreat, a little blast of sunshine blessed me. I wilted with pleasure and thanked God for it.
As I nibbled at my sandwich and let my senses drink in the grandness of my surroundings, from a stand of thick pines came the distinctive whine of bagpipes. After a few priming notes, an invisible piper filled the air with Amazing Grace. Its notes drifted over the water. Quickly tourists gathered on deck, arms wrapped tightly round their trembling bodies. A few walkers broke stride to stand and listen. I didn’t speak with the other lookiers but I shared with them a sacred moment on a bleak October day. Tears flowed behind my sunglasses as I remembered the generosity of His grace to me. In my notebook, I wrote –
O limitless grace
Grace that saved my soul from sin
Grace that healed the brokenness within
Grace that brought my loved ones in
Oh Grace, awesome, limitless grace.
Continue strong, continue long
Until that appointed time when all who’ve partaken of grace
Will fall in wonder before your face.
Ten blissful minutes later the phantom piper emerged from nature’s closet of pine. We clapped, this sprinkling of strangers and me. Thank you for warming our souls today by reminding us of God’s never-ending kindness. The piper took a bashful bow.
One day I will stand with throngs of people I don’t know and together we’ll applaud His amazing grace.
What message is October sending you?
I couldn’t write about October without sharing with you my favorite fall photo. This is the road our cottage is on – this stretch of it is called Jerusalem Road. My sister, Brenda, a gifted photographer took this photo in 2008 and every member of our family has a framed copy.