I was walking down my favorite little dirt road today in rural Spain, enjoying the beautiful countryside and my thoughts as my only companion. Well, occasionally the sheep in the fields alongside me would baa, reminding me that they were companions of sorts. And wonderful ones at that. Have you ever seen sheep up close? Of course my favorite are the little baby lambs. They’re so cute, it sort of has the effect on me that puppies do. The adult sheep are fantastic to look at and admire as well. Their legs are so skinny and tiny compared to the rest of their bodies, which just sit on top of their toothpick appendages like fluffy wool pillows. They just munch away on the grass or stare so intently at you if they spot you, their lips pursing a bit and looking so pink and almost human-like. One of my favorite parts though of being in the company of sheep, is the sound of their bells around their necks. Not all of them get to wear them, but each little flock I see in the different fields I pass has at least one sheep, sometimes more, that is wearing the clanging metal accessory. The sound is not quite refined or fancy and at the same time, it’s not unpleasant or harsh…it’s just wonderfully simple and pristine and perhaps pure. If I had to describe it as a picture, it would take on the image of crystal marbles and jacks being tossed on the ground and pouring over a surface like a trickling cascade of water. How’s that for imagery?
Aside from the sheep, my daily walks down this dirt road are full of the vast open sky, ancient stone walls forming fields on either side, and trees and foliage of varying fun. Closest to me are the wispy tall grasses that grow lush green or a drastically different dry brown. They live in the ditches on either side of this dirt lane in el campo (the countryside) and there’s usually always a breeze making them sway back and forth or, as on this particular day, a constant strong wind that causes them to full-on dance. Just beyond the ditches are the stone walls. They are made of stones piled on one another in what at first looks like a half-hazard compiling of rocks. Yet now that I’ve been here a while, I’ve seen these walls held together by their concrete mesh and mortar that has them standing strong and upright for some several hundred years now, if not more. So I think their system of walls works just fine. And I love how they look…ancient and from the past. Rising on the other side of these walls are the trees that make me think the most of Spain – the olive trees. Their gnarled short trunks are not what my eyes are drawn to right away and instead I am quick to start gazing at their bushy tops. The myriad of tiny glossy green leaves look like tiny little finger nails and all throughout are perfectly oval-shaped olives. Most are black and stand out strong like small bulbs on a Christmas tree, while others are discovered when I stop and look closer since they’re not ripe yet and are still hanging on stubbornly to their light olive-green shade. Set against the back-drop of the blue sky, the trees make an impressive picture, so much so that I have determined they are one of my favorite trees. The other favorite would be Aspens, as it should be for any true Colorado-loving woman.
On this particular walk today, the sky overhead was full of ships of clouds. Yes, I said ships of clouds because they were that picturesque shape of clouds that we learn to first draw as children. You know, the kind that are slightly flat along the bottom, which today was also a shade of grey, and then tower up with curve upon curve of white-greyish outline that peaks like a rounded mountain or hill? Those kinds of clouds…They were floating steadily through the sky like large ships in a fleet or armada on an open sea. What was different today that I had not seen before, was that the sun had such a white haze around it, making a large part of the sky almost white. From that large halo of sunlight, that sporadically would hide behind passing ship clouds, the sky would ebb into the palest light blue, growing and extending further out into its brighter, bolder blue that I’m used to seeing in the sky. Below this and in my view of the ongoing end of my dusty road, I could enjoy the view of the distant hill ranges. They are tiered in three levels of hill ranges, each with its own shade of color. The closest and first started with verdant bright green and I could make out little fields formed from the stone walls traveling like thin grey threads. From there, the next range was in dimmer light and further distant so that it took on a dark heady green that had the slightest tint of navy blue. Beyond that, the last hills were more of a silhouette of simply slate-grey.
All this kept me company on this afternoon walk. It kept my eyes, ears, touch, and even nose busy and attentive, accompanying me as my feet moved step by step and my head turned every which way. I thought thoughts, contemplated what I was seeing, prayed and talked out loud to myself and God…and laughed spontaneously at myself and the sights. I’m sure if someone had been watching me, it would have been quite the site for them. Yet, I wanted to still my thoughts a bit; wanted to listen and truly listen. At this point I was heading back towards town, my walk on its closing end, and I noticed so much and heard so much when I really just listened.
After a while, the silence led to some thoughts…what if God were to stand right before you and say, ask me all the questions you have and hold nothing back, really…? Well, this came into my mind and I stood still and thought, I’m going to do that. So I started in my head to list off to God all the questions I’ve been having lately. And I realized that most all of them were about when. When are you going to do this, God? When is this going to be provided for me? When am I going to be there God? When will you answer this for me? When…when…when?
I went on and on. I really held nothing back. Then I finally got tired of it. Yet, I don’t think God was tired of it. I think God was fine with it actually and most likely having a good loving chuckle. And I stood and was silent and listened…and I heard a question back…
Do you really want me to answer all of that for you right now? Do you really want to have all the answers? Do you really want to have it all right now? Do you really want to know it all at once?
Wow…I realized I didn’t want all the answers now. That would be no fun. I didn’t really want to even have it all. Look at all I was already experiencing and already have. If I had it all, it would be too much to enjoy even one of the many wonderful things; it would be too overwhelming. If I knew all the answers and was given some amazing prophecy or gift of seeing the future, there would be no mystery, no reason to hope and no fun in having faith.
Okay God, good point. And thanks. Perhaps I get it a little bit more now. The interactive dialogue and experience with you, like walks on this day, are worth it and priceless. That and getting to ask you questions and share with you everything is pretty amazing too.