A Tale of Two Trails

 

The area I call home has a variety of paved trails where a bicyclist can spin car-free and carefree.

As I rode on my favorite of these trails recently my senses were alive to the incredible beauty of this route that meandered through lush groves of sub-tropical trees and alongside a gently flowing waterway. Gorgeous flowers were in bloom. All manner of birds swooped high and low, including the always-inspiring  osprey and swallow-tailed kite. Vibrant red cardinals flitted about the brush, and a variety of stately wading birds found meals along the water’s edge. Rabbits scurried on green grass, fish leaped out of the waterway, and warm Florida sunshine beamed down from a blue canopy decorated with white towers of cumulonimbus clouds. The eye candy of this trail was undeniable, and all of these small glories filled me up inside with a delicious joy.

This is the trail I would love to ride every single day!

 

 

 

A juvenile ibis hunts for some lunch along the Upper Tampa Bay Trail

A juvenile ibis hunts for some lunch along the Upper Tampa Bay Trail

 

But the particular bike trail I chose to ride on a different day was far from glorious: the sultry air carried a stomach-turning stench as it circled around a local landfill, and the swarm of large birds in the sky above were vultures. This trail also had a canal next to it, but the murky brown water was highly suspect with trash littered throughout. A large section of this route was built right next to a busy road, and the sight, sound, and smell of automobiles was far from appealing. No wildlife of any consequence was found, and no enthralling views were to be seen. A water treatment plant next to the trail was another of many blights. A couple of the underpasses revealed sketchy-looking characters sitting off to the dark sides and I was glad to be pedaling past quickly on a bike rather than nervously walking by them.

 

 

You might wonder why I would ever want to take that nasty trail again.

And yet the reality is that these two wildly different yet accurate descriptions are for the exact same bike trail.

What I see on any given ride along this path is what I choose to focus my attention on.

As I power along on my bike, will I train my senses to truly see all the everyday beauty surrounding me, crying out to be savored with a heart of thankfulness? Or will I set my sights on all the imperfections, all that displeases me, all that is wrong, leaving no room for grace and gratitude?

 

 

 

An anhinga drys off his wings in the abundant Florida sunshine

An anhinga drys off his wings in the abundant Florida sunshine

 

I choose the intentional practice of childlike wonder – eagerly anticipating the treats Creator-God has in store for me each new morning as he reveals his excellence, his beauty, and his love through the ordinary delights of life.

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“This is the day that the LORD has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118:24)
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The message on the bench that greets me at the trailhead serves as a great reminder

The message on the bench that greets me at the trailhead serves as a great reminder

 

[Note: for the photographically curious, images in this post were created with a Nikon D7100 DSLR w/Tamron 150-600mm, an iPhone 6 Plus, and Adobe Lightroom 5 processing software.]

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