Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Song of the Road

I lift my cap to Beauty,
I lift my cap to Love;
I bow before my Duty,
and know that God's above!
My heart through shining arches
of leaf and blossom goes;
my soul, triumphant, marches
through life to life's repose.
And I, through all this glory,
Nor know, nor fear my fate--
the great things are so simple,
the simple are so great!
-Fred G. Bowles

I began my morning in the rocking chair on the porch with coffee and 2 Samuel. I've been struck by David's life these days, and the depth of integrity the man possessed when he walked in intimacy with the Lord. His heart stood in awe of His words (Ps. 119:161), was tremendously blessed and gifted of God, and yet in the height of it all, was lead astray.

I finished my reading and headed out back to inspect the plants. The clouds were spread like cheesecloth, and draped the antique sky with vapor doilies and deep inlets of the truest blues. My eyes assessed our current delight: the blueberry bushes. So many analogies have been forming as I pick those little gems. One bush dwarfs the others and is full of rich clusters, while the others long branches drape and complain with their slow ripening, and sparse specimens. Proper pruning was lacking on our part, and the result is the slack harvest of the present. My mind skips back to David, and the evening upon his roof when it was the time when kings go out to battle, and he instead was home.

The nature of summer causes a tossing of previous rigors, and invites a beautiful repose of gaiety and joy. Warm breezes whisper of darker months and train the heart to praise for this faithful change. Longer days call us outside, barefoot, bronzed and beaming. But, as mentioned above, they can lead us out onto the roof when we are to be at battle. I read an excerpt on Sunday that penetrated me so deeply it was as if I'd been entirely unfeeling for the past weeks. Complacency had convinced me it was the peace of God.

Our danger is this, and not merely for the gross sins, but for the more deceptive one's, wherein we drain our vitality and zeal for the friendship and impotent promises of the world. We sow seeds in dissolving soil, and allow our garden to erode. God's grace is amazing, and thankfully His faithful hand will prune and pare us back to reach that great harvest of righteousness. Listen to Him friends, and tuck yourself back in to the single-minded first love He so desires and deserves from us.

I finished the day picking black raspberries and driving past waving soybeans, and the silver backs of leaves. My dear friend handed me a note at our departure, and its contents depicted that perfect tension of enjoyment that comes from a disciplined heart of love. On beauty:

"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty. They will behold a far distant land." Isaiah 33:17. "Beauty is God's handwriting." -Charles Kingsley. "In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." -Christopher Morley.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yesterday afternoon my dear friend Lisa came (with her caravan of little one's) to the place where I was gardening. Her six little passengers sprang from the Suburban and took off running to the field for ball, and we headed to the gardens to mulch. Conversation is never slow, and off we chattered about the happenings in our lives. Lisa tells fantastic stories and always teaches me new words; last night her words filled my ears and heart with such a sweetness that I must share. She found this story in a little booklet called the "Fish Catcher" while she was at Farmer's Market, and in short, here it is...

A widowed mother was to wed her only daughter, and preceding the event she took meticulous care to all of the details for her daughter's day. She had prepared magnolia bouquets and spreads for the church, and at the end of the wedding's eve, she closed the doors and beamed on the beauty of the radiant display.

The next morning she hopefully entered the church to find withered, sagging, and black flowers adorning the halls. The power had gone out the night before, the air conditioner thus stopped, and the closed windows suffocated the delicate flowers. Despairing, the mom panicked and fled the church. Where could she find replacement magnolias on the day of her daughters wedding? She drove through the neighborhood in a frenzy, asking God why He'd done this to them on this day... Halting, she spied a lawn full of blooming plants. She ran up the steps, pounded on the door and yelled in tears "I need you!"

Inside the front room was an 86 year old man who had been holding his head in his hands crying at the loss of his wife. On Monday she'd died, Wednesday they had her viewing, Thursday they buried her and today he sat in lonely despair asking God who could possibly find need for an old man like him. The abrupt knock on his door shocked him out of his sorrow, and the words "I need you" cut right through him. He responded in complete awe - "you do?" She explained her dilemma, and he his, and the two revelled and were blessed by the intimate care of the God who heard them. To think that God could ordain a power outage just so this woman could carry hope to this man? Amazing. The man worshiped God for the life He'd given, and decided that day that he'd use the beauty of his flowers to bless those in need for funerals, weddings, and other events that couldn't be afforded. The man realized the value of his numbered days, and went on in praise of His Sustainer.

It did my heart tremendous good to hear this wonderful story and be reminded of my God's intimate care over my life and all of His creation. "16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" Glory be to God!

I pray you are blessed by this, despite the holes and lacking details of this wonderful tale...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Proverbs 13:12
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I yearned for a long, hard run this afternoon, but found my clogged sinuses and achy throat a hindrance to my endeavor. I instead decided on some fresh made juice with extra ginger, and have settled in to an afternoon dose of musing. I first went to the scenes of Northern California where one year ago I was crawling up the curves in my weighted down old Subaru. She'd been smoking since Montana, but this day was especially hot, and drier than bones. I snaked along the belly of the mountains and wove through lavender fields, peach orchards, and shanty towns with large "Cerveza" signs. I distinctly recall a four way stop where I felt like the only traveler to have ever passed that way. I found a radio station that pumped that high kind of mountain music, and hoped a little that I might not ever reach my destination. I had a perma-grin plastered on my face, and my hair was stuck fast to my salty cheeks. I'd cried a lot since I left Montana, and the 18 hour drive to California ended up taking two days. Upon my departure, a dear sister had gifted me a most treasured box filled with sweet notes and scripture, and while reading, driving, and crying, I missed my road by at least an hour. In the west, roads don't always come as often as in the east, and when I was confronted with the reality of having to turn around, I decidedly said no. The bus driver from a Red Cross caravan advised I turn back, but seeing how futile that seemed, I took the road that ran parallel the highway, and lead myself on quite an adventure.

The road I took was gloriously beautiful, but I later found it to be called "hell's highway," and one that has claimed many lives. Ha! Indeed, it almost claimed the life of my old car, but somehow she dragged herself along those low coulees, and high mountains. I got spit out in the Bitterroot valley, and ended my long day in Idaho. I stayed in a motel that night and remember scrubbing my feet for what seemed to be hours. I slept needfully and set out for Nevada in the early morning. I wonder why I am telling this now, just as I wondered why I'd missed my road then, but all becomes clear in the by and by...

My dear friend called in the a.m, and cackled in her familiar and consoling way. She laughed off my follies and encouraged in her way; my burden lifted and I rolled along. Later, the phone rang and a new acquaintance appeared on the scene. The terrain was strange and grey, but very beautiful; it seemed tremendously wild and rolling, on a stark and melting canvas of ash. The voice on the line spoke of India, her daughter, and her love; our Lord. Tucked away in my doubts and doldrums, lay fresh hope that this new soul quickly uncovered, stoked and ignited. My deflated spirit lifted some, and this new presence was as the breeze that changes seasons, and the gentle hand that turns a page--thus closing a chapter.

Many hours lapsed and I received another call in Reno. I watched as the curtains closed on a scene I could have never arranged, and I wept some more as the sweetness savored, slipped through my fingers. I entered thick hemlock groves and deep winding roads. The wildflowers peppered every spare inch of ground, and divine shards of light sliced through every open limb. Sorrow and joy sing sweetly together, and my wilted hands reached out in enlivened praise; heaven touches humanity where the holy heals the profane, and that great gospel light again birthed grace to my soul. I was tossed out at the bottom of an enormous canyon that was littered with perfectly round and bulbous boulders that were scattered like meteors. The road seemed to have been built in fits of laughter, for the river below mocked in its placid unfolding down the canyon. The perfect wilderness ended abruptly and I was launched onto a four lane highway without even noticing. A great smile had plastered my face, and without my realization, my wrong turn had lead me on a soul-rendering two day journey with my Lord. He reaches me in the silence, and takes the ash heap of my sins and failures, and shines His great love through the cracks, thus revealing that gold cord of His faithfulness. Unpack your days in the light of that love; be reminded with me, tell the story that grows sweeter with time...