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Walking in the Woods

“Divisions are best mended outdoors, unobserved by crowds, and in some mutuality of needs.”

This is a line from Wendell Berry’s short story, “Drouth.” It rang true for me yesterday on a walk in the woods.

Southwestern Virginia experienced this spring-like day like a warm embrace, the sunshine on our shoulders and breeze tousling our hair. People of all ages were on the trail by the New River: college students jogging, elderly people walking, kids on bicycles and tricycles riding. Some pushed children in strollers; others led dogs on leashes. The river was high from the recent snow melt and seemed to urge us all. Go, she babbled and gurgled over the rocks, Go forward.

Our son was listening, his little legs propelling him down the path and over the bridge, in and out of the shadows of the trees. But he stopped for each passerby, offering his attention – a look both curious and cautious. In other places, people would not have stopped; they would have continued with their work or their errands. But there, outdoors, dividing walls fell down. Sam smiled and the stranger smiled back, exchanged a simple greeting, shared a moment, a unity however brief.

Explore the world, Sam. I’ll be right behind you, walking and watching, listening and learning – a mutuality of needs, to love and be loved.

Sam walking




Explore our world.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.


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