A Walk Through the Woods

Life and Happiness

My dad did something to his knee so we went to the doctor to have it checked out. Dad was upset, not because he had hurt the knee, but he had hurt his hunting chances. You see, today starts deer hunting season in PA. (Gun season, I should say.) Dad was concerned he wouldn’t get out this year due to his miscalculations in how far he could push his body.

Now, I wasn’t quite as concerned for this aspect. My dad is 71 and he’s spent the last several weeks working on their house roof. This meant climbing ladders frequently. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful my dad is a very active 71 year old, but…that doesn’t mean I want him humping it up and down ladders on a daily basis. I just want him to be active and safe and not hurt himself. Is that too much to ask? Frankly, I couldn’t care less about him hunting – it’s just another thing he does that makes me worry about him.

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But while sitting in the waiting room, Dad started to talk about hunting. He spoke about his younger days and how he and my uncle would park in a certain spot and walk up the mountain. I knew right where he meant having lived here my whole life. “The further up you went, it just turns to all rock,” he said. He told me how he used to jump up each one like a billie goat. “Getting too old to do that kind of stuff now.” He shook his head, remembering.

I thought about all the times he’d told me about hunting through the years. It’s always been something he enjoys, but not really for the hunt. My dad loves PA, loves the scenery, loves the mountains…he even loves the snow, I think. (Something we DON’T have in common.) He always loved hunting, not for the sport of it, but for the nature of it. He told me one time about just relaxing on a rock, not moving much, when a little bear cub came walking up to him. He shooed it off, not wanting to incur the wrath of any mamma bear who might wander up, too. But he was awed at the splendor of nature and so thrilled that it had come so close to him. Now, as we sat in the doctor’s office, I could see him contemplating never getting out in nature again.

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I’ve grown to love nature, like my dad, because of his stories and because, I guess, it makes me feel a similar way to how Dad feels. Today, I felt like I needed to get out of my house. I’d had a rough day yesterday and I needed some fresh air to clear my head. I took a walk on a local path my town maintains. The fall is my favorite time to walk there with the changing colors and the late afternoon sun winking through the barren limbs. I listened to Christian music and felt the breeze and sun on my face. Suddenly, I understood what Dad had been so worried about. I’d be upset too if I couldn’t enjoy this moment in the outdoors – this moment to catch my breath and renew my spirit.

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Turns out Dad’s knee was okay and he’s probably out in the woods as you read this. He said he’d take it easy and stay away from the rocks this time around. But I know he’s out there, pushing his limits, breathing the fresh air and renewing his spirit – and he probably will be until he simply can’t anymore. And, even then, I bet he finds a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this moment with my father. Thank you for reminding me about his humanness and his love of nature. I’m so thankful for these times I have with my loved ones and pray you will continue to enrich my life with their presence. Father, for all our hunters today, please keep them safe and may they respect your land and feel your peace while traversing it today. Amen.

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