Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.”
Isolation is a natural response to suffering the loss of a loved one. It is difficult to concentrate which makes driving somewhat perilous. Frequent and unexpected waves of grief also make one hesitant to venture out into the world. I remember driving to the bank one day to deliver a copy of my husband’s death certificate. I pulled into a parking space and reached to turn off the engine when a song about the death of a loved one came on the radio. It was mournful and full of regret for not spending more time together before it was too late. I simply froze and sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes. That is not what anyone wants to do in public.
Thankfully, a good friend who was also a recent widow, wanted to go out West for a couple of weeks. She had cared for her husband for several years which kept her close to home and unable to travel. So, we joined a small tour group and began preparing for our trip. We visited six western states and six national parks. We made twenty new friends and had a wonderful experience.
My husband and I had visited some of the same places so it was bittersweet at times. When our group visited Zion National Park, I looked at a trail cut into the side of a hill and remembered hiking there with Ken. The memory overwhelmed me and caused a new onslaught of tears. I was thankful that the rest of the group had their backs to me as they searched the skies for a baby Condor just learning to fly. I retreated to our tram and fought to gain control of my emotions once more. My friend noticed my absence from the group and joined me in the tram. She held me while I sobbed and shielded me from the group should someone look my way. I was grateful for her friendship.
To avoid a repeat performance, I began to concentrate on the beauty and majesty all around me. Our great country has such varied climate and terrain! We traveled through deserts and mountains, through small communities and large cities. All around us nature was putting on a grand show. Just the sight of the Tetons and the majesty of the Grand Canyon nearly took my breath away. As time went on, I felt the tightness in my chest gradually give way to Joy. God was healing me through His creation.
Joy is the natural state God wants for His children. It is all around us: in a bird’s song, a gentle breeze, and the loving hand of a good friend. Yes, Joy is all around us, but sometimes we need to leave our comfort zone to experience it. God used nature to help me through the toughest days of my life and gave me everlasting Joy to strengthen me on my journey.