Hospitality to Strangers

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,” Matthew 25:35 (NIV)

            Traveling alone in a foreign country brings new and interesting experiences.  I think I was more open to communicating with strangers and taking more risks when I was alone.  In England, I had visited the town of Spoke on Trent – the home of Spode china.  I arrived at the train station and began to look for places to stay the night. 

All my pictures are on slides from 1992

            I visited the Spode factory and then began walking to some of the areas recommended at the train station.  This led me to a “dicey” area of town and to some office buildings.  I went into the offices and asked a lady where there were places to stay near here. She gave me directions and off I went. Me and my trusty red backpack and a small roller suitcase. 

          After walking about 30 minutes, a car came and stopped near me.  It was the lady from the office.  She said, “It is not safe for you to stay in these areas.  I will give you a ride to a better area of town.” I thanked her, and said, “I will be fine.”  She said, “no you won’t” in that lovely British accent.

            We talked about my travels while she drove me to the outskirts of town to another area of Bed and Breakfasts.  Then she totally surprised me.  She said, “Come home with me for the night. I live out in the country, about 30 minutes away.  My brother-in-law is coming for supper and my husband is cooking.”  I could not believe this woman was inviting a perfect stranger to her home.  I could not believe I accepted.  She lived in a rural area with sheep grazing in the fields nearby, a large red brick  home, and a totally isolated part of England. 

All my photos are slides

            I had the best roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner and delightful conversation, after her husband and brother-in-law recovered from the shock of a stranger appearing at their table.  The guest room was on the third floor of the house situated under the eaves and was beautifully decorated.  The next morning she drove me back into Stoke-On-Trent.  I asked her if she would take payment for the night’s stay, supper and breakfast.  She refused and said, “Someday, you will meet a stranger and you must invite them into your home. That is payment enough.” 

When have you shown hospitality to strangers?  Have you ever received the hospitality of strangers? 

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Angel Protection

Psalms 91:12 “They Angels will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (NAS)

Miracles occur even on trails where you least expect it. I was hiking in Switzerland with my friend on a trail that passed through wooded areas and into stunning clearings. He was ahead of me about two hundred feet and I was coming out of the trees onto an area of the mountain where you could not see the top of the mountain to my left.

adventure boulders clouds daylight
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As I stepped onto the path, I felt a hand on my shoulder and paused. It was a feeling, and I paused maybe two or three seconds. As I took my first step, I heard something and looked up. A huge boulder at least two feet in diameter came bouncing down the mountain onto the trail and continued down the mountain. I stood there stunned as my friend turned around to find the source of the sound.

I called from across the clearing, “I could have been killed.” I told him what had happened when he reached me, he hugged me and we continued on the path. The Angel most certainly “bore me up in their hands” or the stone would have killed me.

adventure blue boulders clouds
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Have you felt God’s protection in the mountains and in your life? What accident have you avoided?  What bad decision do you regret? Have you ever encountered on Angel? 

L’Abri

II Samuel 22:2-3 “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock in who I take refuge.” (NAS)

I spent a weekend at L’Abri in Switzerland when I was dealing with the realization that I would not have children. That loss took me to a small village and a house that I rented. The house was filled with Christian books and most important, the woman that had lived there had left her Bible. It was marked through with underlines, dates, and people’s names that I did not know. It was worn and tattered, but I found it a precious source of strength.   There I read and walked and prayed and gave that loss to Christ. I took the Lord as my rock, fortress and deliverer.

I remember placing that unknown and unnamed child at the foot of the cross and Jesus allowed me to give that child to him. His love and compassion in my grief and loss were life changing and the miracle of his Presence in that cabin was life changing. Whenever I think of the love and grace of Christ for us, I know he ministers to us right where we are, but sometimes he allows us to climb a mountain, rest in a valley and bring us to a place of refuge. To listen to tapes of good speakers, men and women of God, people who have experienced something that you are going through will remind us that God is good, caring and the source of all peace.

Wherever you are right now, do you see this place as a place of refuge? When has God been your deliverer?

mountain ranges covered in snow
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brown wooden cross
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Contemplation

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” I Timothy 2:1-3 The Message

Contemplation. Observation. Examination.  Taking time.  

There is a solitude found by water. Flowing streams draw us to look into the stream.  The rocks shimmer as the depth changes with the current.  Perhaps the sound reaches your sense of hearing.  The repetitive change over time brings us to stillness.  Smell can be deceiving as it shifts with the breeze over the stream.  

We sit. Alone. Thinking. Having a moment of peace in a shifting world of chaos.  

Oak Creek at Red Rocks State Park in Sedona, AZ had flooded and showed us the power of the water as we had debris at our eye level. The cairns we sought were gone.  The water coursed through the flat rocks leaving rivulets slowly changing the landscape of the flat red rock.

Contemplation of time. Wasting it can be marvelous.

Where do you go to be still?  What part of nature feeds your soul?  Water? Trees?  Mountains? 

Cairns: Stones of Remembrance

Go back into the Jordan riverbed to the covenant chest of the Eternal your God, and each carry a stone upon your shoulder, (twelve stones for the twelve tribes of the Israelites) so that we may build a memorial of this day. Someday when your children ask you, “Why are these stones piled up here?” you will tell them how the waters of the Jordan parted as the covenant chest of the Eternal One crossed the river, and these stones will fix that memory for the Israelites forever.Joshua 4:5-7 The Voice

Oak Creek at Red Rocks State Park Sedona

Eight years ago, we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday under Teapot Rock in Sedona, AZ. We all decided to take a hike in the Red Rocks State Park.  The groups hiked along the Oak Creek and discovered hundred of cairns, piles of rocks, left by other visitors to memorialize their visit. 

Red Rocks State Park after flood

We hiked up the mountain (seen in the distance). We all distinctly remembered the length of time to climb the mountain.  One and one-half hours.  We reached the top of the trail and decided to return the same way we came instead of descending the other side of the mountain.  When we came in view of the cars in the parking lot, we checked our watches.  We had descended and completed the same hike in 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes.  Not one and one-half hours.  How is this possible?  I have no idea.  

Remnants of Cairns

Other friends and I went in search of this area on this visit, but they had an Oak Creek flood and all the cairns were washed away.  I still remembered the exact place.  I will never forget it. 

What do you remember about specific hikes? When have you returned to a place? Why? How would you explain the time difference in the hike?

Sacred Spaces – Sedona

Who can possibly ascend the mountain of the Eternal? Who can stand before Him in sacred spaces? Psalms 24:3 The Voice

Chapel of Holy Cross Sedona

A visit to Sedona should include a visit to The Chapel of the Holy Cross.  It is beautiful construction with a cross set deeply in the rock.  We parked at the bottom of the hill with the church towering over us.  The walk to the Chapel allows the splendor to slowly appear against the Red Rocks in the background. 

Walk to Holy Cross

The flowers and small garden lead you quietly into the courtyard to the doors of the Chapel.  

Garden at Entrance to Chapel of Holy Cross

There is a small chapel where everyone sits quietly, lights candles, and reflects on the symbolic cross sculpture with the awesome landscape peeking through the floor to ceiling windows. 

New (2018) Sculpture full of Symbolism; Hands, Tree Trunk, Apples, 12 Jewels

Below the courtyard is a magnificent newer home, which distracted me from the simple beauty of the chapel.  I turned away from it.

Below Chapel

God’s natural beauty. Quiet. Purposeful. Practical. Sacred Space. 

What ‘sacred place’ have you visited?  What churches, temples, or mosques have you visited? How does architecture help you to worship? Does it? 

Sedona Vortex

Vortex – Healing Energy

“At the same moment, Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”  Mark 5:30 The Message

“Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke: You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all. God’s kingdom is there for the finding.” Luke 6:20-21 The Message

Entrance to Boynton Canyon

Sedona, AZ is known for red rocks, beauty and the vortexes, which are thought to be places of energy that are healing.  People are said to feel inspired or uplifted after visiting a vortex. There are several to choose from with rumored differences in energy coming in or out of the earth.  We hiked into Boynton Canyon as a group, exploring the Red rock beauty.  

Man gave us Rocks, Wished us Peace on the Way to Vortex

There was Native American flute music from the resort in Boynton canyon. The light around the mountains were sparkling with the early morning sun.  We found a peaceful circle of rocks surrounded by painted crosses.  At the end of the hike, half of our group climbed farther up the entrance to Boynton canyon to experience the vortex.  

I had no feeling in my right toes after the 3-mile hike we had completed. My friend had numbness and tingling in the lower half of her body. The Boynton Canyon vortex is located between two tall spiral red rocks.  We climbed up to the saddle between the rocks and settled by a twisted juniper to feel whatever we would feel.  My friend took time to lie on the rock and rest.  I could not get my camera to work, so I sat there clicking through the delete options for five minutes or more. 

Vortex between two Spires

I said, “When we stand up, we are going to hurt from the hike.” When we stood up, we looked at each other. She said, “The tingling is gone.”  I said, “I have feeling in my foot.”  In shear amazement, we descended the hill in silence.  What had happened?  We hiked the next day, and we had no pain.  Some sort of healing had occurred. What was it? I do not know.

View from Twisted Juniper

Have you experienced a “moment to remember?” When have you felt something you cannot explain? 

Sedona Red Rocks

Changes

Psalms 8:1, 3-5 “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed, your splendor above the heavens! I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that Youtake thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower thanGod, and You crown him with glory and majesty!” (NASB)

Sedona, Arizona: Breathtaking beauty.  How can my mind forget this scene?  The power of memory draws me back to this place again and again. Each visit is a “red rock surrounded by blue sky and green trees” step into a God created panorama of beauty. I have celebrated the new millennium in 1999.  A friend turned 50 under these rocks.  In 2019, a girl’s weekend to hike, visit, and get to a spa awaited me in Sedona. The rare cloudy sky made excellent photographs in the late afternoon shadows.

I went for the hiking.  Did I mention 5 vortex – plural located here? More on the vortex later.

Bell Rock – 1 of the 5 Vortex

Sedona has been truly touristy only in the last 20 years.  It is located two hours north of Phoenix and two hours south of the Flagstaff, off of Interstate 17 several miles.  Many have passed Sedona while visiting the most famous landmark in Arizona: The Grand Canyon.  Don’t miss it.

Outside our Lodging

The traffic, people, building, and congestion on the trails were a remarkable change from 20 or even 10 years ago.  Great restaurants were easy to find and we returned to ‘Creekside’ and ‘Wildflower’ multiple times as they were within walking distance. The stunning scenery distracts from the standstill traffic. A “minimum night light policy”, to make sure of the renowned darkness, preserves the night sky. This helps provide the starry wonder of past visits.

Late afternoon sun on the Red Rocks

Have you revisited a place and it changed so much, you were surprised?  What was different?  What did you miss? What did you enjoy about the change?  How do we visit the places in our hearts in the same way? 

History Hike

II Kings 14:10 “You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has become proud. Enjoy your glory and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall, and Judah with you?”NASB

            We visited the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock AK for an 8-year dose of American history. This is NOT a political post or verse. It was interesting to read all his accomplishments and the handling of the impeachment. The replica of the Oval Office is always interesting to see in all of the Presidential Libraries I have visited. 

Clinton Presidential Library
Little Rock AK

            The highlight was the White House Collection of American Crafts: 25 Year Anniversary (2019) exhibit by outstanding American artists.  Their works in ceramic, cloth, glass, wood and metal were presented in tremendous beauty.  Amazing!

            This was my first time to visit Little Rock in twenty years. My friend moved there three years before from Colorado and I wanted a catch-up visit. We have been hiking buddies for a decade. Delightful, friendly people and interesting blend of old and new Little Rock awaited me.  Worth a visit – but hot in the summer.

Grounds of Clinton Presidential Library

What do you like to visit that is historical?

Where do you go to learn about history? What do you like to learn about?

Adversity and snow shoes

Vail, Central Colorado

Isaiah 55:10-11 “Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.  They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Message

Vail Valley and Car in middle at bottom

The hardest thing about snowshoeing is getting on the shoes – without falling.  We layered on our clothes and first had to climb a snow-covered rock to get to the trail. It was a steep incline and we were panting hard by the time we got half way up the mountain trail due to the elevation and exertion.  It had been packed down so we did not have to create a trail and it was easy to follow. 

At the top we had two choices: go around the mountain on an unpacked trail we could barely see or go along the switchback along the valley.  We took the easy way. 

            We only saw two people, and they were in hiking boots.  Did we need these things that make you walk with a wide stance and twist your knees and hips outward?  Yes. They helped with the depth of the snow.   

We reached the pathway that goes all the way to Northern Colorado, but decided to descend down a new path in a creek bed.  I love to bushwhack when I hike, but had never done this with snowshoes.  It was steep and we had one fall over some rocks.  As you step over the rock, your shoes are pointed downward and it is easy to do the splits.  After an hour of heavy effort, we walked on an easy trail back to the car. Done.  I am done.  

Done


When have you taken the easier path on a hike, and had to do some difficult climbing or descending on your return? How do you handle adversity??