Preparing for Worship – Ashley Robinson, pastoral resident.
Last week, Jenna and I set out on a day trip to seek out something we had both been missing since moving to Dallas — fall colors. Jenna, my fellow pastoral resident, is from Arkansas, and I am from Atlanta, so we’re both used to having vibrant reds, yellows and oranges surrounding us in the fall.
Jenna found a destination that was close by, and she had a playlist ready — St. Dolly of Appalachia was the song leader for the day. I packed snacks and other essential survival items that one might need in the deep wilderness of Dallas. We put our full trust in the GPS, but as we kept going, we noticed that very few of the leaves were changing colors, and we began to lose hope that we would find the scenery we were looking for. When we drove up to the initial destination, the landscape before us was laughable in comparison to the beautiful pictures that a travel blog had promised. Laughable to me, at least.
I enjoyed a fantastic laugh at our expense while Jenna pulled over to regroup and quickly research another place where we could find fall colors in Dallas. I guess we hoped to find in fall leaves something familiar, something beautiful, something that reminded us how lovely a change of season can be. Eventually, we found all of those things, but we did not find any fall colors to write home about.
What we did find, finally, was a delightful hideaway at Cedar Ridge Preserve. We discovered there a beautiful web of well-maintained trails, which were perfectly acceptable to me, a rather indoorsy person. Instead of seeing a spread of fall colors on our walk, we stumbled upon a butterfly garden that hosted plants that are local to Dallas. Butterflies darted around us as they ate from an indigenous cactus plant, to my surprise and delight. Even though we saw a tiny branch of familiar fall colors among the trees, Cedar Ridge Preserve was not what I expected, but was just what I needed. I got lost in laughter, and I found myself in moments of peace. I stumbled into gratitude and began to hear a clearer “yes” from our Creator.
I have to wonder if our preparation for worship might sometimes feel similar to searching for something familiar, something beautiful, something that reminds us how lovely a change of season can be — all good things. As we prepare for worship, may we also allow ourselves to be surprised by what could emerge from unexpected wonders.