The rails to trails is a great use of unused tracks and an excellent resource for communities. Today we walked a portion of our local trail and it was busy with both bike and walking traffic.

Not everyone is a fan of the trails. For some, it means a public trail through the middle of their property. Sometimes houses were built close to the tracks before the home owner knew of the rail to trail initiative. These families aren’t excited about public access so close to their personal residence. I totally get that.

Most of the time, the trails run behind houses, on the edge of properties. This gives every passerby a birds eye view into the secret places of these private properties. The backyard is where people generally put things they don’t want to share with the public. Swimming pools, children’s play yards, gardens, patios and picnic tables are the types of things we tuck away behind our houses. The front yard is reserved for those things that say “welcome,” it is here we put our best foot forward, so to speak.

As I walk the trails, I am mindful that I have visual access to the private spaces of others. It reminds me of an account in scripture.

After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard. One day he drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers. Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked.

Genesis 9:20-23

Noah unknowingly found himself in a vulnerable position. Ham, who encountered Noah first, went out and told his brothers. The other two, in an effort to protect their father, backed in and covered Noah with a robe. They protected his nakedness. Ham exposed him. Shem and Japheth protected him.

When I am on the trails, I want to protect the nakedness of the land owners who allow the public to use the trail. It means I don’t litter, I don’t go onto their property, I respect the boundaries.

It’s important to do the same with people I meet. There are times I inadvertently learn something about a person – their nakedness is there before me. What will I do? Expose it or protect it? I know what kind of person I want to be, but it isn’t always an easy choice to make.

How about you? Are you careful with what you know about others? Do you protect their vulnerabilities? Or are you quick to share that with someone else, further exposing the individual?

You get to choose. Choose wisely! Just a thought for this Tuesday morning!

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