Gentleness Lately: The Hollows

16 The day is yours, and yours also the night;
you established the sun and moon.
— Psalm 74:16 New International Version (NIV)

In the hollows

the forest valley

summer growth has peaked

a tangled den of vines and green and moss and mushrooms and creeping things

spiders webs and snakes

among the lovely light

butterflies in flight

We hiked Shaddox Hollow Trail this weekend, in Arkansas.

No one but the four of us in view.

Every cobweb on the trail spun new

for walking through

so Jeff finally found a huge branch to swing in front of him, to go before him.

He could exhale a bit.

We stopped to stare at a walking sick with six legs.

“Oliver look at this.” “It’s like the one we just saw at the Nature Center.”

At Hobbs Nature Center, we were the only ones visiting that day.

Oliver got his own private lesson on reptiles by a park ranger.

He brought out a three toed turtle and a sack that held a speckled King snake.

There was also a walking stick in a clear container and which he let out to crawl over our hands. Oliver passed on the offer, but he did feel the scales of the snake and the shell of the turtle.

An exhibit on caves highlighted the stalagmites and stalactites.

My friend recently moved into a new house, remodeled and gorgeous, clean except for some nocturnal things that hadn’t quite moved out yet. The bats from the chimney came into the house to greet them. She hid in the closet, while her husband swung a broom around the house chasing the bat.

And yesterday during twilight, I go to close the blinds in the nursery for the day only to spot a spider right out the window spinning its web. A pattern forming mid air was a bit mesmerizing. I stopped to stare before shutting the blinds on summertime. The morning brought with it Oliver’s first bus ride to school.

In pre-k they toured a school bus to prepare them for Kindergarten. Oliver came home eager to ride the bus. His Gigi said “that’s a big step.” In which Oliver replied “It is a big step, but they have a rail.” And this morning as he stretched his legs and took that big step onto the bus, I noticed a sign also. “Watch your step”.

All the new things, all the over growth, and hollow places

we face.

And it might make us feel hesitant and cautious, or overwhelmed with all that needs tending to

but as I returned from our camping trip and went to church on a humid August morning

I listened to a sermon about anxiety and gentleness.

Based on Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:4-7

I smiled because I often wrote Philippians 4:5 on all the thank you notes I would attached to my house portrait paintings.

Then the pastor’s wife got up to share what God had put on her heart.

It was about spiderwebs and spiders. Us clearing the cobwebs on our own, only for the anxiety to return again. Then she reminded us about God’s ability to get the root, the source of anxiety, and offer us His peace.

Even in the hollow, humid, hot, overgrowth, creepy crawling, darkness, the big first days, the big first steps. There’s a peace waiting to hold onto us, the gift of a hollow hand, a space for holding onto what we can’t give ourself, what only He can give.

I see so many facing the hollows, and I see God’s glow and warmth facing them, gracing them with His presence as they walk on and move forward.