There’s an unmarked trail in the Sipsey Wilderness that you can only follow at night.
I know this because I blazed that trail. I was trying to create a two-ish hour loop that I could take teenagers on at night (long story in another blog maybe, to quell the psychopath vibes of that last sentence). The first year I relied on a GPS and paper map and it was a total disaster. We had to turn around and go back to camp early.
Walking in the woods at night is different from daytime, even with flashlights. That’s because your range of vision is dramatically shorter. In the daytime a downed tree is a minor nuisance. But at night it’s a trail killer. During the day you can make out a clearing in the forest 50 yards away. At night it’s reduced to 5.
Life is like that sometimes. There are times when you have a plan, work it and can really see your future. Life is comfortingly predictable. Then there are times, perhaps following a tragedy or career change that really shortens your gaze.
So I went back during the daytime and placed reflective thumbtacks, no bigger than a dime on trees about head high, spaced 30-40 yards apart. In the daytime you’d never notice them blending in with the lichen. But at night, with just the nod of a headlamp, they shine like stars.
The next year we easily completed the hike, moving from one beacon to the next. You still often couldn’t see the path. But you could see the waypoints.
Life is like that sometimes too. Sometimes you can’t even see the next step to take, much less the final destination. But only a pinprick of light in the darkness to guide your heading.
So God built in seasons.
The sun rises and sets everyday moderating our daily rhythms. The moon wanes and waxes every month. The star paths bend north then south marking our yearly trip around the sun and setting the agricultural cycle. Generations are born, grow up, make a lot of bad decisions causing their parents to gray early, and the cycle continues.
Then there’s the week.
It’s the only cycle not marked by anything in space. The week is untethered from the sun, moon, stars, harvest, and teenagers. It is illuminated by the pinprick of the Sabbath, the holiness of time.
After the six days of creation it would have made sense for God to name a mountain or city or river as holy. Instead God consecrated a day: a sanctuary in time, a refuge from the trappings of space, a beacon illuminating our path of faith.
But only if you notice.
So on this Sabbath day I invite you to notice. Read a book by the fire. Call a friend. Go on a hike. I think I’ll head to Sipsey. Shabbat Shalom friends.