This last weekend, we took a hike along the Spokane River. We got a little turned around on the spider’s web of trails, and I was frustrated. But then we rounded a bend in the path and came out at a beautiful turn in the river. We could look up and downriver at the trees leaning toward the water, their leaves just starting to blaze into autumn fire. We paused to take in the beauty.

Approximately 0.5 seconds into absorbing the scene, one of our dogs’ leash magically came unclipped. He immediately bolted (because running away from us is his favorite game). Needless to say, the magical fall moment was broken.

At first, I was really frustrated that Scott, my big, lovable dog, had ruined this moment. I’d spent far longer than I should have longing for a hike in the fall air. And when I finally got a moment to pause and breathe deeply, he ruined it. Never mind the fact that he came back within a minute.

We continued our hike, and I continued to walk Scott on his reattached leash. And he kept close to me, so I could pet his back while we walked. The sunshine was brilliant, and every group we passed admired Scott and asked what sort of dog he is. It was as if God leaned down and just smirked kindly at me. The beauty of these moments isn’t in stoic perfection. The beauty of these moments is in the messiness. In the silliness of a dog who knows he’s cute. In the too-warm-for-the-flannel-I-wore sunshine. In the frustrations. In the chaos as well as the calm. God is not far from us in chaos, though it may feel like that. Rather, God draws even closer in our moments of great need.

As we enter yet another month of the pandemic, where chaos seems to be swirling everywhere around us, may you know that it’s not just okay to take rest. It is necessary. We all need to pause and recharge during these difficult days, whether that’s a cup of coffee on our patio or sitting a little longer in our chair to feel the carpet beneath our toes or if it’s hiking. May you lean into the breath of God all around you.