Sunday, February 20, 2011

Finding Rest at the Winding Well by Serena Haneline

St. Augustine once said in his book, Confessions: “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”
I decided to pursue some much-needed rest at Well of Mercy, a 110-acre retreat center in the middle of Amish country. I thought it a great place to escape the winds of worry and to hear God without all the distractions.

When I arrived, I found a winding trail running beside Hunting Creek, which cut through the woods. The way was flat and rather easy. At one point I rested at a bench that overlooked the creek below. Then I turned and couldn’t believe my eyes: the path jetted upward at a 45-degree angle. I then realized that our life is much the same way. It’s easygoing and then all of the sudden we have a mountain to climb.

After climbing the steep hill, I continued down the path, and noticed a blue metal bridge off to the side. I walked across the wooden planks and stopped, expecting to see a carved-out path on the other side. Instead, all I saw was a tangled mess of trees.

I thought of how so many people get weary of walking this narrow path. The mundane doesn’t exactly satisfy our craving for adventure. Many decide to leave the path to make their own way: through briars and mangled tree trunks, into the poison ivy – all in a quest for adventure and meaning. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12.

Then I turned and noticed a large rock on the other side of the bridge. When we think we’ve hit a dead end, God has made a way back to him, out of the briars and ivy and onto the rock of salvation.

I continued and eventually the trail ended at the driveway. Across the way was one of the highlights of Well of Mercy: the labyrinth (pictured above), which is a path leading to a center and out again. The winding path was again like my life: an array of turns, sometimes leading away from the center – that is, God. Yet after so many detours, I found myself there, in the center, and once again on a rock.

I thought of Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” I realized that God was and is indeed with me on this journey of life.

I found a sense of rest at the Well of Mercy. Before I went, my heart was restless, longing for a touch from the Creator who made me for himself. As I traveled the path through the woods, along the creek, over the bridge and winding around the labyrinth, I found that indeed my heart will be restless until I find my rest in him.

Serena Haneline lives and works in China Grove. Her job is at a family-owned preschool doing a variety of administrative duties. Her hobbies include reading, writing, speaking at Toastmasters and hanging out with friends.


  1. Serena,
    I could really relate to your story. I have found that resting and being still this week after surgery was much needed. Not only for physical healing, but for spiritual renewing also. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Serena, thank you for sharing this in written form--I enjoyed it when you presented it at Toastmasters, and it was good to be able to absorb its truths more fully in this way. Well done and wonderful reminder!

  3. Serena you are so gifted in writing. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Very thought provoking Serena... I needed the reminder!

    Thank you :)

    >><> Tom


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