Friday, November 30, 2012

The smell of snow

The imperceptible shift, a slipping into place, some vast force steals in silent. And we wake to a different world, one hushed and reverent. 

Muted hues quiet the noisy orb, and while everything and everyone still screams and rushes around, the veil transfigures it all, shushing it to the background, bidding it cease striving, telling it, “Be still.”

The landscape has not changed; no blanket of snow hides the shapes of rock and tree, no blizzard winds blur our senses, no extreme temperatures threaten our endeavours . .. and yet, everything alters, because we can smell the promise.

Somehow, the pledge of snow’s arrival sets the heart to rest, and awakens it to lively dance. This paradox slips into cognisance without a syllable, and we grapple for words to describe the transformation. We inhale light and quick, wonder catching our in our breath. Yet we exhale long, the sudden revelation of beauty inviting us to pause and gaze in reverent stillness.

The mingling atmospheres of heaven and earth harmonize, their vibrations unifying. And somewhere deep in our soul, we hear the music. When nature sings clearer than our screaming, false-inflated cacophony, worlds still, and we remember. Sometimes it’s only a whisper, and don’t whispers speak louder than our bustling shouts and crazy winds?  

Words float through the calm. . .  our minds can’t quite make them out, but the heart understands. We look up. We peer beyond our own realm. We aspire soul-ish for a dream outside our experience and cognition.  And sometimes, redemption consists of quiet nods and paced breathing.

A word comes in the pregnant air, almost undetectable, completely unmistakable to those who hear it: Be still, and know that God is God.

Here we rest. Here we wait. Here we live and scurry and endeavour . . . and aspire, listening for the building echoes, watching for the consummation, remembering the promise, and the One Who made it.

Photos courtesy of google images 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A walk to remember

I set out to discover, to find a walk for my soul, a way to remember. It’s a journey within a journey: and isn’t this how life spins us? 

Mist rises from pond’s mouth, living air sighing happy at the sight of sun, and my soul rises to breathe it. 

First lines of the day’s new song penetrate the world in shimmering rays. It’s an ancient melody, an aching ballad, a groaning hope. The aged earth sings it fresh to its Creator in this autumn, the first time for this day, the same as each day since her inception. And doesn’t the habit of mercy meet us new, and old, each day?

Dependence on fresh graces can stagnate into assumption and dullness, unless we receive eyes to see. It humbles us, making us a forever student, one who always needs more than they know. But it makes us alive, hunger beckoning us on, because we have tasted this goodness. And doesn’t grace upon grace spiral up like this, where we come around again and again to the same beauties, always new

Guidance and boundaries dot the walkway, and grace isn’t so much a tight rope to be nervously balanced as it is a fenced enclosure, in which to dance. And how often do I listen for the invitation to celebrate? 

Walnuts scatter across the path, seeds fulfilling their destiny, many of them disintegrating into fertilizer, never to realize their potential. And how many of us rot away? And how can we help it, unless we are rescued and planted? One road leads to ultimate death, the other to fruitful life. And how many lives pass through time’s ebb, never living the glory of resurrection? How many victims never get the chance to even breathe this air? How many lives snuffed out so soon, so needlessly . . . and the world can be cruel

The path winds upward, and it has to. We have to know there is something above, something more, something to dream for. It requires more energy to climb, and round the bends; and often the dullness of resignation calls louder than the pain of hope.  And don’t we have to know that there is something good ahead? The breeze tells us, the sun invites us, the path beckons us on. And isn’t the path itself a mercy

I find the long road. I turn right and follow it to the end.  It’s a raised embankment, with deep ravines on either side. And isn’t grace a highway between two ditches

The road ends sudden, cleared and built for a purpose fulfilled, and that is all. And it is enough. Some journeys end abrupt, and we cannot retain sight or use of all the paths we walk. Each leads on to another road, and if we stopped and built cities, the journey’s wonder would die. And how often do I settle for the safety of apathy, of a life so protected from pain that I lose a reason to die, and a reason to live?

I turn and retrace my steps, remembering, following back, so I can walk again, and travel further. And in remembering, we are re-made. The pieces fall into place, the melody played backwards teaches us what we could not know while questing ahead. 

And the paradox of grace tells us what we could not hear in the clamour, in the deafening pain, and the anguished silence:
“Yet I will still hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him.’
The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Treasures of Wait

We embark, she and I, on this journey planned months ago; now suddenly
revealed as perfect in timing. How is it that a spur-of-the moment
idea, an uncanny seasonal ticket sale, and a haphazard, crazed
schedule culminate in this gift?

The first flight ascends seamless, descends perfect; and we wait for
our second plane, enjoying the several hours allotted to us. We walk,
we muse, we get smoothies. And we look for our flight information,
noticeably absent from the board. Changed gates lead us wandering
around our terminal appendage, just relaxing.

The second pilot is sick, the gate attendant announces, and the
soonest replacement sits five hours away, so we must wait. We wander
back to food courts and eat an overpriced dinner. Conversation spills
out in the gifted stillness of this prolonged moment.
We explore our
souls; we speak life; we catch vision for the week ahead of us at the
International House of Prayer.

We read and wander, and enjoy each other, thanking God for the
unlimited text plans purchased on the way to the border. We are not
alone, and it is good.

Delayed again, this time without reason, and we stand around with
tired passengers. But we are happy; this trip is in Another's hands.
And it is for us to enjoy.

Cancelled, nearly six hours after the originally slated departure
time. People rush mad to service counters, only to wait long and
pensive for the rearrangements. We chat together: about rental cars,
chartered buses, and the business we travel for. Hours pass in this
way, looking for the shortest line, watching people sit and wait and
 talk And what more can we do? Our fate is not our own.

Batteries run low, so we charge phones, as one by one friends and
family quiet into the silence of slumber. "That was going to be our
joy," I muse. "Jesus is our Joy," she replies; and I see that in the
silence our delight can only come from the One Who gives us breath,
not from the breath of another person.

Last ones in line (still don't know how that happened), a little women
takes us to kiosk and looks up flights, geographic and calendar radius
varies as she explores the eroded options. She lends us her phone, and
we can talk to our waiting ride. All we can do in this moment is wait,
and praise. Worry melted long ago . . . I can't know just why, except
that we settle in the love and reality of the One Who charted this
course for us, the only One Who can get us through.
And sometimes, the
journey doesn't take you anywhere. You wait, and sit, and grow on the
inside, so you will have strength to walk the next leg.

Supervisors come to check progress. He finds a flight for the next
morning. He upgrades us to first class and puts us on it. I scream and
dance for joy, not caring that I look ridiculous. We give the
attendants chocolate, and carry our familiar bags to the curb, to wait
for the hotel shuttle bus.

We stand in the cold, make small talk, muse happy for the bed and
shower and breakfast waiting for us. We watch bus after van pull along
the curb, but none of them belong to our hotel. We wander along the
road, stopping by a bench where a pair of glasses sit forgotten,
intertwined in the rails. And how often, in the wait, do we lose
How often do we forget that there is good for us, because
God is good?

How often do we live a lie, as though we are victims and
demi-gods and the world must revolve around us?
Finally, we call,
grateful for the travelling American who uses her minutes for us. We
must wait again: 45 minutes till another shuttle comes.

We go inside to thaw and wait. I try to journal, but thoughts jumble
incoherent, so I just rest. And the shuttle comes. And we drive warm
and safe to our hotel. And we shower and sleep four hours and have
breakfast. We drive back early, proceed to the front of the line as
first class passengers, and wait.

Another delay. We go for coffee, spend our vouchers on gifts for
friends, and sit with the Word, our true meal. We are happy, even if
we can't know why. Eventually, we sit at the gate, we board the plane,
we gate check our bags. We settle, and smile, and everything seems
more wonderful than we could have imagined. Because we waited for it.

And sometimes, God lets us wait for Him, so that we can know He is
good, and we can enjoy Him more . . . in the journey, collecting the
treasures of wait.
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