Walking in Red

We were backpacking in September, so I should have expected it. Everything was dead or dying. Branches wilted and drooped. It was fall.

browning grass

drooping branch

dead flower

dead queen anne's lace

“Can you imagine what this place looked like a month or two ago?” I asked, taking uphill steps in my hiking boots with a pack on my back weighing fifteen percent of my weight.

“Yeah, full of wildflowers,” Charles said. I pictured what the scene must have been in mid-summer — the whole field vibrant with wildflower glory. But now, in September, only withering and wilting sorrow. Because of the fall, everything was dying.

We hiked for three and a half hours — plenty of time for my mind to do its destructive kind of wandering. I wondered, as I do now and then, if I was really being useful to God on this earth. I remembered when I asked a dumb question at work (over a decade ago!) and the other two engineers looked at each other, silent and smirking and obviously thinking, “She doesn’t even know that?” I dwelt on that friendship I had lost, and the other one. I replayed scenes at home with the children, remembering the graceless, yelling voice I had used with them. I thought of all the lacks and failures I exhibited as a wife and mother. I thought of the cruelty I had shown to a friend.

Then, in the midst of remembering sin and its effects, I remembered where I was: the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Sangre de Cristo — the Blood of Christ. God in His love had spoken to me. Child, you are walking in the blood of Christ.

I was walking in the blood of Christ, the blood that still flows over wounds to heal them, over sins to cleanse them.

When I remembered where I was, I saw that everything was red, or reddening. Creation bleeds before it dies, like Christ the Creator who also bled and died.

reddening leaf

red leaves

red buds

red branch

red leaf

red lichen

red rocks at upper lake

The wilderness itself, the mountains on which I trod, the leaves and branches and rocks, reminded me: I am forgiven. Jesus died for me. I am cleansed. I am walking in the blood of Christ — estoy caminando en el Sangre de Cristo.

I saw the shocking beauty around me — September beauty. The dying things were beautiful, too, there in the blood of Christ.

I spent no more time during that three-day backpack dwelling on sins, on failures, on pains inflicted and received. I saw the red everywhere, and I walked in redeemed joy.

And on top of that, the fishing was great.

Charles fishing at Goodwin Lakes

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8 thoughts on “Walking in Red

  1. I’m right next to you at Jennifer’s linky. So glad I stopped by. This is so beautiful, visually, yes, but the words were life-giving. I am walking in the blood of Christ. I am being continually cleansed. What a blessed truth.

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