I A few weeks ago Joe and I had a business appointment in Houston and stopped by to get lunch in a busy restaurant that is famous for the delicious enchiladas prepared in its kitchens. We enjoyed our lunch, but the food is not what stopped me on my way out. In the middle of an adjacent dining room sat this magnificent carved prayer rail. It might have seemed oddly out of place if not for its careful placement on wonderful Mexican tiles and my sudden realization that it delivered a powerful message: You can pray anywhere.
I quickly took my photo and wondered if anyone ever takes the invitation to kneel. All the way home I wondered about the prayer rail and thought of the stories it could tell. How many bent knees and clasped hands have rested on its dark wood? The same God who heard those prayers heard mine offered in gratitude.
Even in our most cherished moments, it’s there—this “something more,” a feeling that all life can offer is not enough. C. S. Lewis says of our best experiences, “They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
bright in this dark spot
on evening’s path,
I find a star.
tomorrow the glow will fade,
breath and wish will blow it away
but for this moment
it is my gift of light
I love the ancient oak trees growing near our church. To look through the arching branches reminds me of the relationship between ecclesiastical architecture and the hands of God seen in nature.
rustic arbor of arching branches
twisted in patterns of Gothic lace
inviting me to look beyond
Easter may be a noun defined by a day of family gathering, celebrations like egghunts and pastel dresses, and a special church service. But Easter is more – an action word. Like wonder and worship, it is also a verb.
“It is like a display of spiritual fireworks dazzling us with each burst: LIfe! Power! Love! Triumph! Transformation! Hope! Joy!” ~ Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year
scarlet torch reminds
Winter does not last. Spring comes.
I am alive.
photograph by Jeremy Parker
When I first saw this photo, I almost missed the tiny, solitary figure of my 11 year old granddaughter standing still to gaze at the beauty of this mountain lake in Nevada. She and her sister hiked here with their Daddy, my son. They fished for trout in the clear cold water. I am thrilled to see that Maddie also stood still and experienced the wonder of tall reaching evergreens, and glistening lake with its ripples and reflections. I like to think about the beauty she experienced here, the sounds and fragrance of the woods. I have seen her Dad stand still and wonder, too. I believe moments like this do come suddenly, as glimpses, when we turn a corner. I am thankful I can experience this with her, prompted by a photo, felt deeply in my heart.
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… –Madeleine L’Engle, from The Rock That Is Higher
We thought our one hard freeze killed this young lemon tree. Even mature citrus trees in our area suffered from the well named “killing” frost. The little tree sat, leaves withered and dropping, until all life appeared extinguished. So we found new green growth and budding leaves a happy surprise. Our lemon tree is a story of Spring and Resurrection in its leaving and returning,
Spring sings surprise
white petals hold raindrops
green leaves wait their turn
the turning days begin
reaching into soul search
dark with unknowing
each step on this road
closer to liminal light,
distant dawn of Grace
A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see far, far, away – the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. ~ Alexander Schmemann