Thursday, June 26, 2014

Parfrey's Glen

Beauty for the eyes both majestic and miniscule, woodsy fragrance so heady and delightful the senses can't possibly take it all in, melodious sounds of birds and babbling brooks to soothe the soul, this is what my family and I find at my favorite hiking trail, Parfrey's Glen, part of Devil's Lake State Park, near Baraboo,Wisconsin, where we revel in God's gifts of natural wonder on a much needed annual family visit.

Parfrey's Glen begins with an easy, paved trail through a wooded area but quickly evolves into a deep gorge of sandstone and quartzite carved out by the ice age millions of years ago.  The temperature is easily ten degrees cooler within the gorge than what we experienced on the paved path.  A few years ago, sturdy wooden bridges carried the hiker over the rocky stream-bed to a small waterfall until the floods of 2008 and 2010.  The effects of water on the Baraboo area were so strong during the floods that the man-made bridges were washed away.  The Glen was closed to the public for nearly two long years.  The trail has since re-opened but without the bridges, and the hikers must now navigate the rocks and fallen trees carefully so as to keep from twisting an ankle on the slippery rocks or falling into the water.  To call the trail difficult is an understatement, and yet, the thrill of the challenge and the beauty of the surroundings makes the hike well worth it and brings me to praise God for His glorious creation with one of my favorite prayers, the Orthodox Akathist Hymn.

O Lord, how lovely it is to be Thy guest. Breeze full of scents; mountains reaching to the skies; waters like boundless mirrors, reflecting the sun's golden rays and the scudding clouds. All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing the depth of tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of Thy love. Blessed art thou, mother earth, in thy fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last for ever, in the land where, amid beauty that grows not old, the cry rings out: Alleluia!

Thou hast brought me into life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where in the azure heights the birds are singing. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams. We have tasted fruit of fine flavour and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on Thine earth. It is a pleasure to be Thy guest.

Glory to Thee for the Feast Day of life
Glory to Thee for the perfume of lilies and roses
Glory to Thee for each different taste of berry and fruit
Glory to Thee for the sparkling silver of early morning dew
Glory to Thee for the joy of dawn's awakening
Glory to Thee for the new life each day brings
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

It is the Holy Spirit who makes us find joy in each flower, the exquisite scent, the delicate colour, the beauty of the Most High in the tiniest of things. Glory and honour to the Spirit, the Giver of Life, who covers the fields with their carpet of flowers, crowns the harvest with gold, and gives to us the joy of gazing at it with our eyes. O be joyful and sing to Him: Alleluia!


  1. When I was a child growing up in Rockford, IL my family would camp at Devil's Lake every summer. Camping there is one of my favorite childhood memories. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Mary, how blessed you were to spend time at Devil's Lake with your family each year! I pray that my children will one day treasure their memories of our time there as well!

  2. Magnificent. Both the photos AND the words.... you took me right there and I could smell that woodsy fragrance! Ahhhhhh....

    1. Thank you Nancy-you are always so kind!