A pale blue sky. Warm sun on our backs. Florida scrub stretching on for miles. Sharp saw grass carpets the sparse forest of scraggy pines.
Through the wilderness, hard pressed gravel gently curves and draws us on. My men lead the way. I am the minority gender in my clan. I like it that way. They huddle in a pack, swapping lines from Star Wars and The Princess Bride. I hang to the rear, drinking in the sight of four sets of shoulders, four sets of feet and hands. Strong. They plow into the future… at least today.
Around a bend, the forest thickens and envelopes us under a canopy of Florida cypress. My men head into thicket, leaving the path in search of treasure. I am struck by a treasure of another kind.
Growing in a stagnant stream, bell-shaped tree trunks stand silent, majestic. Other worldly. They look to be storing up the water like a swollen elephant’s trunk. Brown oval shaped leaves litter the forest floor, making the space appear untouched, forgotten. This wonderland was waiting for us to discover it… an off beat beauty reserved only for those willing to risk leaving the trail.
Central Florida wilderness astounds me, delights me. I like the surprises. What I see here is like nothing I’ve known in the deserts of Arizona, or the beaches of California, or the rolling hills of Indiana.
Creator God, thank you for showing me beauty in my Florida surroundings. Thank you for strangeness. You’re teaching me to trust you and receive the unfamiliar from your hand. Soften my heart so I can receive even more.