Park & Pray

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By Joy DeKok

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7 (NIV)

When my heart hurts, and it’s warm outside, we ride. With Sophie and Tucker riding shotgun, hot coffee or cold water (sometimes when it’s really bad, DeKok Pondboth), my cell phone (in case of an emergency) and tissues. No journal. No Bible. No pen. Because I know where I’m going, I apply Off to my skin and hair. We live in mosquito, horsefly, and tick country and I do not donate my blood to them voluntarily.

We ride through the wildflower garden, down the back road, between the fields, into the woods, and finally to the pond.

There, I park and pray. Out loud.

Dogs are fascinating animals. Sophie & Tucker know when I’m talking to them or God. And, they know just when to reach over and lick a tear or two off of my face. They sit quietly until I’m done watching the woods and pond like two furry sentinels. I get the feeling, they’d enjoy a reason to save my life. They love me that much.

My don’t fit a prayer program or acronym.

For me, praying is like making soup. I put in it what I have.

The other day I stayed long. I know that because my scalp was sun-burned, the tears had long since dried salty paths down my cheeks, and the dogs were curled up together on the other seat asleep in the heat.

My time at the pond started with my problems – one of them so big I thought I might be sick from the pain. My head was not bowed, my eyes were not closed, and my hands were not folded. While still in awe of the One I was going to meet with, I was not feeling a church kind of restriction.

Instead, I approached God with bold reverence. I talked to Him with my voice, my hands, my tears, and at least one good hand slap to the Gator steering wheel.

Pretty soon I heard someone singing. It was me, and that was a surprise because when I started I didn’t think there would ever be a song in me again. Some grief is like that. As released the words of my heart into the open I felt covered. By God. By His love.

My voice was scratchy and way off key, but the words and melody came. “Father, I adore You. . .” My prayer time continued its evolutionary journey into praise, thanksgiving, and acceptance for all He is doing even though I don’t like some of it at all. I can only thank Him because I believe with all my heart He sees what I cannot and knows what I do not.

When I was prayed out, I started the Gator, the dogs sat up, a red-winged black bird scolded me, a yellow warbler on a cattail near my arm flitted away, and a bullfrog in the pond tried to compete with the major vibrations my ride caused to ripple across the air.

After the dogs and I had long drinks of cold water in the kitchen, we took a nap. Sometimes that’s how it is after a park and pray.

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7 (NIV)

Joy DekokJoy lives on thirty-five acres of woods and field in Minnesota between Rochester and Pine Island. She’s been married to Jon for thirty-five years and they enjoy their many nieces and nephews. Their dogs, Sophie and Tucker, keep them company when they explore the land riding their John Deere Gator or while watching the many birds and animals that visit their feeders.

She has nine books in print and is working on a novel series featuring main character, Olivia Morgan called The  Northern Lights Series.

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