Pere Marquette Rail Trail made for a lonely sojourn in the cooler temperatures this weekend. Lonely was just fine with me, allowing me to soak in the solace of nature and all the autumn beauty. It was a peaceful and soul-warming place to be, far from the endless stream of stress in which we all seem to be caught up lately.
The trail is a long one (30 miles), and I only did a short portion of it, but it was just the fix I needed.
Leaves and pine needles scattered themselves along the trail. Water burbled along underneath an old railroad span. I tucked my hands down in my jacket pockets with the chill.
Geese flew overhead, calling out enroute. They are like old friends to me.
Another sound captured my attention on the part of the trail close to town – the brisk clop-clop of a horse pulling an Amish buggy mixing it up with traffic along the side of a nearby roadway. I noticed with interest that seeing something like that through vegan eyes evokes a feeling that is a far cry from the quaint charm it might have evoked at one time.
So, too, the calves in their little individual sheds that I saw on my way to the trail.
There was a time when I would feel a simple delight in such scenes. No more. I am too conscious now of the suffering inherent in our use of animals. The animals themselves, though, do inspire with their individual beauty and selves.
My trail excursion came after a thoughtful visit to a small church. A mere handful of people came together there, along with two small dogs that had the run of the place. It was the closest picture of community I’ve come across in quite a while.
For all our memberships and ‘involvement’ in things, we’re increasingly isolated by divisive rhetoric, fear, and the stamp of our personal value in terms of purchase or production – in this world where our very selves are commodified. Churches are not exempt from the phenomena, all too often both generating and exacerbating them.
Happily, this little glimpse into a functional community revealed none of that.
This was just a few people wanting to do good in this world, in the simplest of ways – together.
It was a nice picture to carry with me onto the trail. The peace and beauty of the place, coupled with that picture, translated into a hopeful feeling.
People – wanting to do good in this world, in the simplest of ways. Together.
Kinda sounds like a plan, you know?