Thoughts, Ideas and Inspiration by Melissa Earley

A Walk in the Woods Made All the Difference

I had two funerals to plan, a Confirmation Sunday sermon to write, an information meeting about a major building renovation to think through, church budget woes to address and a denomination to fix. So I went on a walk in the woods. The walk was for work. Really. One of the activities that is part of our church’s Re-Creation: Hour-Long Outdoor Retreats outreach activities this summer is a night walk and a campfire. I’d called about reserving a forest preserve campsite but the boy scouts had gotten there first. The camp site director suggested Camp Alphonse. It’s rustic, he warned, you better check it out. So I did. I put my dog Mandy in the car, drove to west Palatine, and went on a 40-minute walk in the woods. It was beautiful. It was quiet. The knots of tangled thoughts and feelings began to loosen.

And then a text binged: Could we meet on Friday? I felt a wave of irritation. I looked at my calendar and the requested time was free. It was my day off but if that time was best for them…my thoughts started. As resentment started to build, the Holy Spirit nudged. There in the woods I dropped my eagerness to please and my need to be important, silenced my phone and slipped it into my pocket. My response could wait. 

When I got back to the church I was as rested as if I’d slept 2 hours. I was better able to lead in a meeting that night, and more focused in my preparation for upcoming worship services. When I returned the text, suggesting a few times to meet other than Friday, I realized that it’s up to me to set boundaries on my time. I’m not a child anymore whose parent is going to put her down for a nap when she gets tired and whiny. I have to admit my limitations, and accept God’s gift of Sabbath rest.


  1. ed Roob

    Hope you are well.

  2. ed Roob

    Sorry, messed up the transmission.
    That was a great message, thanks.
    Sounds like you are very busy, hope you are well and enjoying your new post.
    Are you planning on climbing any mountains soon?
    Best Regards,

    • admin

      no mountain climbing plans at the moment. I was in Argentina in March and did some climbing then.
      Hope you’re well.

  3. Erin P. Gosser

    Guard your Fridays, Melissa! You deserve them!

    • admin

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Karen Brownlee

    I still follow you.
    I still miss you, too.
    Glad you’re taking care of you.
    All my best,
    Karen B from Northbrook

    • admin

      I miss you too. Hope you’re doing well.

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