Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dying seeds

Sunsets are evasive in these parts, but as faithful truths remain while hidden, the ebbing light rays make their descent on my day, and for this I am thankful. The morning light makes my sleep sticky, but the open door welcomes the rays that make the earth smile. I had a lovely dinner tonight with two precious gals. We breezed through many topics; bewilderments, disappointments and complexities, and while the topics were vast, the solution stuck out as salient as a sail, and I land with all my thoughts in Ecclestiastes: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (12:13-14)

I tremble when I first read these verses, but grace then enables my heart to stand aright and I am instructed considerably. This life, with its many complexities, snares, deceptions, and disappointments is simple when our eyes see through truth, but is devastatingly difficult when we attempt to discern events and our responses according to what we see, or how we feel.

I have been noticing more with time, that my life is enriched considerably when I take time to savor. I need not even make this more spiritual than it is, but I simply must stop to see, consider, and be changed. We are output oriented, but in order to produce anything beautiful, we must cultivate, nourish, and even allow our hearts to lie fallow for a time. No ground can sustain growth without rest and replenishment, and so neither can we. I am also convinced that seeing, considering, and savoring always leads me to thankfulness. The joy is supplanted into my life, and I am not looking around allowing envy to adhere to any of my members. If my Lord is mindful of sparrows -- and me, than I want to lean in to listen to their praise as He instructs me in mine.

Thankfulness, of course sows such gracious kernels that multiply contentment, conserve energy, and increase joy. Thankfulness is soil into which no bitter seeds can sprout, and this perspective can save and sustain a sorrowing heart. God's ways are right, His judgments inscrutable, and His wisdom in sovereignty -- far beyond our comprehension. I wrestle, falter, and fail, but coming back to my Maker each time, I see anew the vastness of His mercy, the purity of His commandments, and the enlightment that comes from seeing Him a little more as He is. While summer parades herself in the prodigious extravagance of bounty, draw away with me, and consider how each thing has received life, and what will supplement yours to greatest fruitfulness and abundance.

While summer boasts of prodigious days and ardent affections, I am inviting you to counter this output with the input of all that has been spoken. "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed my heritage is beautiful to me." (Ps. 16:6)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm not quite sure what I'm hoping to say tonight as I write, but like most days, words dunk and swirl about until they're birthed -- somehow, some way, and somewhere. I'm just now sitting down to do what I love, and it's 10:00. I write of the plight of us American's, and in so doing, I hope to stir up some clarity with you all.

It seems I am running constantly to catch up to some set social quota which has been placed upon my brow. I don't know the origin of this standard, or who even regulates it, but I feel it, wriggle beneath it, and try in every possible way to get out from under it. I am as the ever-scavenging squirrel, hell-bent on seeking and storing, and never reaching my quota. I feel I have begun making calls, returning emails, and going to dinners to appease the ever-growing complaint that I seem to not like people. Word came back to me that it was said that I was "weird, and don't know like to be around people." I do like people, but how many can one manage well, and what kind of relationships can one possibly have when there are so many to satisfy?

I've been giving this much thought, because, while I've always felt this to some extent, it seemed different before. Perhaps, at this point in my life I am satisfied with the relationships I already have, and I'm not looking for clumps more. Perhaps I've frittered away so much of life in socializing that I'm tired of it comprising such time -- maybe I'm getting old -- but one thing is sure: I'm not satisfying the desires of others, and I am quite frustrated.

I do not wish to write a rant here, but rather to seek out a solution with anyone who is willing to offer suggestions. I love to write letters. I love to write. I love beauty, people, richness, and anything generally resembling the struggles of, and connected to humanity. I spend my days pondering the inlets to souls, and the respective tinctures to administer therein. I love people, but I am quite tired of trying ever so hard to explain why I am not everywhere, doing everything, with everyone at the same time.

I feel like one of those old wind up toys whose crank is always turned, and from whom a great outpouring might result, if time allowed. The skies are tight and bolted on their unseen, tilted axis, and I spit out the reality of unrecorded sunsets. Faces fade as young one's wed, the middle-aged observe, and the elderly pass on their way. Events occur enough in a day to maroon one to an island of contemplation from which he need not leave. The crooning crickets hum above the acoustic music I play, and I sit here stuck in these thoughts. More activity, less thought, and a numbness that radiates to the epicenter of humanity. So much skittering, and so little produce. I want more from my days, and it seems that less equals more in every equation I encounter. Any thoughts?

On this note, my beloved book club gals and I discovered an enchanted little pathway behind my cottage the other night. It has been a blessed refuge these past days, and I'm enriched each time I enter this shady alcove of branch and leaf. The temperatures here passed comfortable some time ago, but somehow, it's been fun. I'm enjoying again the flora, which is secondary when skyline's and mountainscapes abound. My garden is growing nicely in this different soil, and I'm slowly [hopefully] mending my back.

I write this all because I really am desiring some feedback. I need not consolation if chastisement is due, and if anyone has some life to give me, I invite you to do so. I hope you are all well as summer makes her full approach in every corner of the northern hemisphere.

Monday, June 20, 2011


The words of this precious little book have been as the earth these past days. The warnings and admonitions are as the thorns and brambles which hem a man onto a path, and the mercy's and goodness as the hollyhock and rose of sharon which grow upon both fertile and barren ground. Gomer, and faithless Israel are as the shooting crops of summer, which limp and spring -- live or die, depending upon that glistening orb which is perceived, but can never truly be seen. Covenant mercies are stretched and hung as that elastic, changing screen of sky, which binds and hugs humanity with wispy clouds and foreboding storms, and illumining and granting life to all under its care -- the sun; hung on some great pivot, as a pendulum without swing, the silent metronome which clicks and measures the days, time, and seasons for every creature upon this globe. The word of the Lord tacks up every element of Creation and says "this is why, how, and from whom these things have all come." I must share these verses with you all.

"I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. " 2:19

"Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come in trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days." 3:5

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." 4:6

"and they have played the harlot, departing from their God" 4:12

"so the people without understanding are ruined." 4:14

"Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord." 5:4

"I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." 5:15

"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth." 6:2-3.

"For your (MY) loyalty is like a morning cloud and like the dew which goes away early." 6:4

"and the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth. For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

"Yet they have not returned to the Lord their God, nor have they sought Him." 7:10

"and they do not cry to Me from their heart..." 7:14

"they turn, but not upward..." 7:16

"though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My Law, they are regarded as a strange thing." 8:12

"Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you." 10:12

"I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their laws; and I bend down and fed them." 11:4

"...My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled." 11: 8

"For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath." 11:9

"Therefore, return to your God observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually." 12:6

"Yet I have been the Lord you God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied their heart became proud, therefore they forgot Me." 13:4-6

"Return, O Israel to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of you iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, "take away iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips." 14:2

"For in You the orphan finds mercy" 14:3

"I will love them freely" 14:4

"His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine, His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon." 14:6

"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoeveris discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them." 14:9

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hill Country

That old bypassed pit - despair, has held me now these past days. The weight of physical pain without a promised departure, unanswered prayers, and a general lack of a sense of connectedness to the world around me has left me suspended and drooping around that dreadful chasm of unrealized and unseen hopes. Hope swells and swings about the trees, and beckons down to me through the slivered sunlight and the slipping sounds on unspoken lips -- it is everywhere, and nowhere at the same time.

I am amazed at how quickly the mind forgets what it knows, and the heart forgets what it loves. Days slip and sulk in their folly until something triggers reality back to the spirit and a prodigious cascade of lost time spills out onto a sloppy canvas of celebration.

I shed tears at strange times. I am struck straight by the sad beauty of humanity, and a few days back as I walked the block, I encountered a lone woman retrieving the mail with her cat. Her hair was managed, and her clothing appropriate, but all over her countenance was silence speaking of spilled life, and confused loss in passing years. So much pain, so much loss, and now -- with a few houseplants, a rusty gate, preoccupied children and surly grand's, the woman holds in her heart those last morsels of what was, and trades the current reality for a daily spin through her memories, fearful of death and disgusted with life.

Joan Baez's song rolls again through my mind as I think of this life, and how wearying it is. There's simply no way around it. Squealing babies are born on the grief of pallbearers shirttails, as no time seems to elapse in the season switches, and the mourner's cries. Greatest joy is embroidered in the threadbare cloth of seaping sorrow, and it is only by grace that we might see the glory in any of it at all.

I got a little turned around on my walk after I saw the lone woman, and by the time I returned, my back was completely aflame. I laid down and cried. I wretched about for comfort and began to sputter and spit my needs to God. With a gracious response, the words of that mornings reading came: "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." Smeared requests lifted from my lips, and all those crowding cares were dismantled and seperately sent up to my Maker. The thought that the one who made me, and who upholds this wild world cares for me was almost too much.

I laid down that night to realize that the stacking cares had again surrounded me. I'd forgotten what had earlier soothed me, and I took to rooting through my memory for what had seemed so right. I remembered feeling like I had backed myself into a shelter, as if on my side -- lying down. The Presence enveloped me with a great yellow soothing, and I was drawn under a canopy, functioning as the world's umbrella. The fullness of the earlier verse appeared in my mind: "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time. . . Casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7.

The sweetest injection of joy and peace came to me as I slipped into night. That mighty hand of God, which provides grace to know, love, enjoy, perceive, understand, live, move and have my being -- that Mighty hand provides my place of rest. Granted, it is the most obvious place for the creature to be, but how oft are we otherwise, and inviting of His opposition? Dear ones, recall with me those sweet times at His feet, when you saw Him as He is, and you as you are, and that just, righteous, mighty, omnipotent hand led you into His presence, and thus into worship. Please, lay aside any encumbrance, and all the sins that so easily ensnare, and run with me this race marked for us. Only He can pull us down, and only He can raise us up.

I cannot speak of the benefits wrought to my soul, for they are the ineffable glories known to a dead heart made alive, but I will spend my days trying, and hope that some souls might furthered in this process as well. It really is a wonder that a Holy God could not only have, and execute a plan of Redemption, but also, as He exacts every detail in this restorative process, He takes the praise of a little sinful creature and transmits their sullied conscience with His Son's final cry, creating a raining crescendo, that falls unstoppably upon His Majesty. Oh to grace, how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to thee...