Devotional, Easter, Eureka Springs

A Sacred Surprise

          

Grotto Spring at Eureka Springs


I spent last week in Eureka Springs, a town named for the abundance of springs bubbling out of its rocky hillsides. At one time, the waters were believed to provide healing benefits and attracted people from near and far. Now the springs are just stops along the way for tourists exploring the quirky little community.

  One such spot, Grotto Spring, is situated near the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow www.writers colony.org  where I stayed. At this time of year, the town is abloom, just begging for exploration. Within an hour of my arrival, I stuck out to take it all in. I stopped briefly to admire the landscaping around Grotto Spring, but I didn’t venture down into the cave-like structure because I was distracted by its beautiful surroundings. Plus, it looked dark and dank.

During a later trek, my companions mentioned there was a place to leave a prayer at the back of the grotto. I was surprised, and we paused just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of a flickering light within. The cave still looked wet and uninviting, so I didn’t bother to go down the stairs.  However, my curiosity built overnight, and the next morning, I retraced my steps and actually walked all the way down into the small room formed by the bluff above. It was quiet and the air was perceptively cooler. Just inside, a bench jutting from a wall, beckoned. At the back of the structure, I saw the light shining steadily from its alcove.
     


Except for the man-made floor, the surroundings felt as ancient as the garden tomb. I could almost feel the despair of Jesus’ followers as they placed his body on a similar outcropping and their later confusion when they found the grave open and empty that third day long ago. 

Suddenly the cave took on a sacred feel and I understood why the alcove had been shaped to hold the light. I didn’t leave a prayer, but I said one, and the experience changed the focus of my day as I considered  the significance of the empty tomb. 
I wish you a similar sacred moment today filled with resurrection joy.

 
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Matt. 28:6

Devotional, Eureka Springs, Faith, Spring, walkways

Watch Your Step

Today is Palm Sunday and I’m at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs. I miss my church family, but I also enjoy being with two writer friends in this little town known for its crooked streets and gingerbread houses. I suppose I could find a service to attend, but instead I’m occupied with thoughts about a walk I took on Friday.

 
 

It was a glorious day with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s. Tulips, hyacinths and other spring flowers nodded in the breeze while fuchsia-pink redbuds and white dogwoods laced the hillsides. I couldn’t resist walking through the neighborhood as I waited for Talya and Tom to arrive.



My trek began along a pea gravel path that soon connected to a section of walkway in front of the first house on the street. The walk had been fashioned from flat rock set in stepping-stone style. At the neighbor’s property line, the stones gave way to an older section of concrete slabs broken and buckled by tree roots.

I found smoother going in front of the next residence where the owners had constructed a new sidewalk of faux granite designed to fit in with Eureka’s historical character. But once past that yard, I encountered more rough walkway, the composition changing several times as I moved past various dwellings.

I was conscious of the uneven surfaces, but my focus was on the lush scenery. That was, until I stumbled on a jagged edge lifted by invading trees. I kept my balance and slowed my pace, trying to divide my attention between the beauty beyond and the irregular surface. It wasn’t long before I was distracted by another scene and tripped again. Managing to stay upright, I slowed down even more, telling myself to concentrate on where my feet were landing instead of on the landscape. That worked until a particularly pretty flower grabbed my attention, and I stumbled a third time.

I stopped, feeling clumsy and a little old as I remembered breaking a bone in my foot a couple of years ago while walking in this very neighborhood. Where was that agility I used to take for granted?  But I told myself—as my son sometimes says—it’s all good. I didn’t fall. (I’d like to think that’s because I’m fairly active and work on my balance.)
 
However, those stumbles were like a signal flashing:

Slow down. Watch your step.    

I crossed the street and started back toward my lodging on a better sidewalk. When it ended, I moved into the road to avoid the worst sections of walkway I had encountered before.

Soon spiritual applications of my experience began to percolate in my brain. Here are several thoughts and Bible verses that came to me along the way.


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Ø  Long before he was a soldier or king, David was a shepherd who understood the way of the deer in the rugged terrain. He said:

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. (2 Samuel: 22:33-34, NIV).
 
Note to self: When I find myself on rocky ground, I can ask God to make me brave and sure-footed.
 
Ø  David’s world was smaller than ours, but it was full of violence and danger. As he faced opposition, his confidence was in God. He prayed:
 
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! (Psalm 143:8-10, ESV)
 
Note to self: When I’m afraid and begin to worry about the state of our world, I can make his prayer my own.

Ø  Solomon wrote a great deal in Proverbs about who we should hang out with and the kinds of paths we should take. Here’s one of my favorite portions.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8. E SV)
 

Note to self: When I’m unsure of my own judgment, I can depend on his to guide me.

Ø  And finally at this stage of my life, I think of Paul’s words as I take stock of my plans.
Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), 16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16, Amplified Bible)
Note to self: I can pray each day to recognize what is truly important and make it my priority.
 
Whatever is going on in your world today, I hope you will be confident in the God who knows your name, find yourself walking on a smooth path and feel the joy of His presence.