Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wandering in the wood and serendipity

As part of my daily routine I walk about 6 to 7 km a day and when I was in Australia I did this every day. My daughter lives in a small community of about 100 people in the Alpine region of Victoria State. My daily routine, was that I would walk from her place to a general store in Mirimba,  which was about 7 km return. One day I decided to change the routine and walk in the forested area that Adam had told me about. I walked to a park which was about 2 km from my daughters house, and then started on one of the trails.

The sign at the beginning of the five km walk said there would be historical artifacts and buildings along the path that were left over from the logging done in the earlier part of the last century. I was curious so I set out on the path and was hopeful of finding some artifacts. As I went along the path deeper into the woods, I knew I would be longer than usual but as I walked early in the morning only my wife would know if I was later than normal.

I had not said that I was changing my normal walk so that if I was late she would think I was walking along the highway to the store. It was a beautiful fall day about 18 degrees with the sun shining on the trees. As I walked I noticed the odd piece of machinery and other small artifacts. About 3 km into the walk, I noticed a narrow path snaking into the woods along to a small hill and I thought I noticed a small shack about 300 yards along the path. So being curious I wandered off the main walk and went along the path. As I approached the shack, I noticed that there was mosquito netting along the front of the shack. As I went closer I noticed that there were shelves on the inside of the shack filledr with canned goods.

I thought to myself that this was probably someones supply shack and so I glanced in and did not see anyone and then turned to go. As I turned to go I heard a loud voice say "Hello". I jumped about three feet and returned the greeting  looking around to see where the voice had come from. I could not see anyone in front of  me, behind me or on the hill above me. The voice continued, "No I am in here," I turned back to the shack and looked in again and I could see at the back of the shack, sitting on a bed was a man in his early fifties. 

He asked me some questions, without leaving the back of the shack,  about what I was doing and I explained that I was visiting my new grandson and that I was from Canada and enjoying the walk. He asked me if I had enough water and was indicated that he was willing to share his water with me, if I needed it.  We talked about the joy and meaning of life and the wonder of nature and the peace of the forest. He asked if I was a "true believer". I was not sure of how I should answer this question, but since he did not ask if I was a 'true believe in a God" I answered yes, as I am a true believer in the good of  humans.  He then came off of his bed and approached the entrance and handed me a piece of cardboard with a verse from the Bible written in pencil on it.

I realized at that moment that he had been more afraid of me, then I of him. However, once he had established that I was a "true believer" he relaxed and was willing to come out to see me. I thanked him for his kindness and conversation and continued along my walk.

When I returned to my daughters home I asked her about the man, and she indicated that he was a local hermit living somewhere in the woods but every know and then he would come into the community to knock on doors and spread the word of God to the people. She said he was harmless but she was surprised I had found his home as not very many people knew where he lived.

I love the serendipity moments of life, and the wonderful characters that come into our paths and that enrich our souls and make life so exciting. I thought that my grandson will be growing up in a very special community that tolerates and perhaps celebrates those that are different and unique.

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