A New Season

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For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:11,12

The last time I wrote (if I remember correctly) I was in a bit of a funk. I was missing the doves that were a regular background noise of my prayer/meditation times in Arizona.  I had seen them in the area and wondered why I never heard them. I discounted it as part of a necessary season I was going through along with everything else. Now, it seems I hear one several times a day. God has given them back to me, along with Spring and flowers everywhere. The sun has touched down and the earth is truly full of His glory. As I write a Mockingbird is singing its heart out, so loud it almost comical.

I am happy to say, my heart feels lighter. Maybe it’s as simple as the weather. We walked to the lake today. That even sounds amazing doesn’t it? As much as I have whined and groused about all the things that bugged me about my home state since moving back, to be surrounded by all this beauty (and of course being close to my family) balances things out quite nicely. When weather permits I go down to the little river shack to pray. My old faithful LL Bean robe gave up the ghost and I had to throw it out. That’s what I would bundle up and walk down in, but my friend found another online and surprised me with it. I think it must have cost her a bundle, it weighs 5 pounds!

Now that the weather is warming up, I will go down more mornings before work. We have had some BBQs here lately and that is a very welcome change, to be able to cook outdoors is something we missed so much. Here is what Elaine made for my Aunt, her old sink washstand was rotting so she rebuild a frame and added a little cooking space which works great. The old wood is in the wheelbarrow!

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There is something Holy about creating something, isn’t there? It is truly a blessing to be able to work with your hands and make something better, give it a new life. After all, we are created in His image and God is the ultimate Creator. During Lent, we remember God’s great work of redemption, His greatest and most awful gift. Awful because it cost Him everything, great because it was the greatest act of Love He ever did and will ever do again.

He is our hope, our joy…..now and for all eternity. Nature reflects this, especially at the turn of the Seasons.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Henry David Thoreau

Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking. Frederick Buechner

 

 

One thing I’m sure of

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“A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.”

“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.” Quotes by Thomas Merton

I thought it fitting to start the New Year with quotes by one of my favorites, Thomas Merton. The second quote echoes what I was feeling as I walked down to prayer this morning. The thought that wouldn’t let itself go was this:

Whatever I do this year or any other, without God it’s a wasted trip.

I was thinking of Merton as I always do when I am close to nature. This morning as I sat down by the little river shack, I thought I heard the owl. I don’t hear it often and when I do I make myself completely still so I can hear it. What it is about nature that makes one lean in and listen? I guess that’s how I stay in touch with the Holiness of God. There is a purity in nature that this artificial world just cannot duplicate.

“Help me to love better this year,” was my prayer as I read over 1 Corinthians 13. It was a deeply humbling experience when my Pastor friend once encouraged me to lead the Bible study on these verses once. I never forgot it. We’ve all read those words so much they’ve become like a nursery rhyme. Just about every Christian wedding we hear it. But when I studied it, I saw how incompletely I really do love.

I see Jesus staggering with the cross up the hill. That is 1 Corinthians 13 personified. I saw Him forgive the mockers. I saw Him return from the dead and ask Peter if He still loved Him. I saw true love. And someday, I will see it radiating from His eyes when He looks at me. How can I not try to love better?

I see this past year and it’s staggering how far we’ve come, what we’ve been through. How I struggled with this move and now we are on the other side. It’s been a year of joys and turmoil. Equal parts fear and faith. Equal parts stress and anxiety, but also resounding love because we know who is on the trail ahead of us. We carry our home with us, in more ways than one. He is our true North. This year, and every other.

So it’s on to 2017 with Jesus. We are heading to the coast to bring in the New Year. I see hope ahead.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

Day is done…….

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It’s growing late….earlier I watched stars shyly make their sequined appearance one by one in the cobalt sky. Humans and animals alike have settled into deep breathing for the rhythm of the night has caught us all. The house creaks, and the events of the day flutter, collect, and float down and gather at my feet coming to greet me again here in my quiet chair. I smile, for it was a good day. Soon all the lights will go out for me and I will say a prayer and talk to God unless I fall asleep first. Later, in the deep dark when it’s morning but not quite morning, worry will come to find me. But I am ready for it. I have the 23rd Psalm.

Times like these I reach for Merton’s hours. So now I look for Monday and it’s here:

Let us live in this love and this happiness, you and I and all of us, in the love of Christ and in contemplation, for this is where we find ourselves and one another as we truly are. It is only in this love that we at last become real. For it is here that we most truly share the life of One God in three Persons.

Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours.

Usually, you just don’t need that many words……..I am finding that out. The more I write, the more I realize that to be a good writer, you need to be an even better editor.

(Re)acknowleging my Desperation

Today, Lord I acknowledge my desperate state before you. Anything less means I am walking around in a state of delusion. When things are going well, it is so easy for me to think I have things under control. That I don’t need you quite as bad as when circumstances are:
unpleasant, painful, spiraling out of control………….But the truth is, I need you just as much and in just the same measure every single day.
Sometimes I act like a person holding up a golf club in the middle of a lightning storm. I flirt with the world, I skate on the edge, I get too close to swinging the doors wide open that should remain closed.
And I shouldn’t. Forgive me, precious Lord. Thank you for remembering my dust. Help me to never take advantage of your good grace. I acknowledge again that though you are completely Holy, you are not waiting up there to strike me down when I fail, but waiting with an arms open kind of love.
And forgive me for asking you once again to deliver me from things you have already set me free from. Sometimes I have amnesia. You are infinite Love. I remember again and again the great length you went to save me.
All the way from Heaven to earth.
Goin back to the foot of the cross today.

The enjoyment of being found…..

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:8,9

I found you! I said as I chased her around the tree and she shrieked for joy……I was playing with my niece when I was back home last. Her new game is hide and seek and she loves being found! She hasn’t quite gotten the hang of tag yet. When she talks on the phone, she walks around the house and thinks I can see what she’s holding up, maybe that’s because she Skypes with her Mommy and sissy……And she doesn’t like saying goodbye……we have that in common. She comes with the joy that is unique to special needs kids.

She is like anyone else, she loves being found, and belonging to someone. Isn’t that what we all want after all? We want to feel that feeling of seeing the one we love winding their way through a crowd to meet us, just us. And then the scrape of the chair when they pull it next to you…..they are there, you are no longer alone, someone has claimed you. They know things about you that no one else does….

Sometimes we even seek to be claimed by those who really don’t have our best interests at heart, but their own.

When Jesus claims us, we can be sure that He has our best interests at heart always. And He will never lead us down a path of destruction, but life, and peace. And because of our relationship with Him, we are also claimed by the Father and the Spirit!

Jesus endured that long, lonely 40 days of temptation in the desert so that we will never have to be without Him again….and those of us who live in the desert know just how bleak it can be, especially in the summer…….He endured the cross so that we can say with the unbridled joy of a child peeking out from behind a tree…..”You found me!”

He rose from that awful death so that one evening not so far in the distant future, in a another place, we will be walking in the cool of the evening in a place we can can only dimly imagine, and He will be there to meet us and say, “There you are, I have been looking for you, just you.”

And that time, we won’t be hiding behind fig leaves……..

Buggy thoughts……

I saw it as I wiped the cleaning rag over my bathroom counter. It was so small I almost thought it was a microscopic particle of dirt or something else, until it moved. Something made me look closer. It was so very, very small. How very large my counter top must look, as big as a whole world! I wondered how it even knew where it was going, for it certainly seemed to have a destination. There was something about the way it was just there. Any other day I may have just scrunched it up in a towel, because, after all…..it was so very small.

It moved me, watching that little bug. I could have smashed it without a second thought….sent it to a watery grave, and yet it didn’t know that. That’s what got to me, I guess. How many people are walking around just like that little bug, clueless that the God who created them has the power to stop their breath in an instant. And His great mercy keeps them going, because He loves them so much.

Loves all of us so much.

It humbled me, thinking of that little bug. So unaware of my bigness and its smallness….So unaware of what I could do. What I might have done another day. I think it was that thought alone that made me take it outside to a safe place. It was just too small to survive indoors. This morning, something in me needed to save it. At first it balked at my efforts to help it, it didn’t know what I wanted to do. I coaxed it onto a tissue and carried it outside and set it tenderly at the base of a shady plant.

Safe for one more day.

Finding God in the Landscape

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. ~Standing Bear
“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds…..” Psalm 148:7-10
Last evening I went for a walk, I just had to get out…..see a bit of the mountain silhouette against the sky. The Lord originally placed us in a garden, I believe we were meant to gaze on vistas, sit beside still waters. I think when we forget our place in the landscape we go a little bit crazy. We wonder why we get so angry at little things, like when something gets stuck on a clothes hanger and we break the hanger trying to remove it.
That is always a clue to me that I need to go out and get back in touch with a bit of nature……remember my place in it, remember how big God is and how constant. I just get a bit lost sometimes. It strikes me again that the life that most of us are living is unnatural, I really don’t think we were meant for all this chaos.
Our world today is filled with noise, movement, activity and stress. Sometimes it just all sneaks up on us,  
like it snuck up on me last night. I saw the cars whizzing by the freeway between the houses, but beyond that was the mountain……
Nature is the compass that God uses to set me right. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a very big dose. I think when we forget to notice nature, we forget to notice God.

photos from public domain pictures