First Baptist Church, Richmond, TX December 8, 2017
A few days ago, a rare (for this area) snowfall briefly covered our homes, our gardens, and our church. Young and old rushed to the windows to watch as flakes began to drift down. Later, the rushing was to go outside, to lift faces and palms to the wonder. I often think just when I need the sense of wonder quickened, a gift like this comes to do just that. Wonder at snowfall or the tiniest dewdrop glistening on a rose petal is a nudge to be open, to remain open-eyed, to be receptive to the fullness and expectancy of Advent.
Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder.The wonder keeps us open-eyed and exceeds our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make. ~ Eugene Peterson
Recently I found this large bald cypress bathed in morning sunlight. Every ferny leaf seemed to glow. I wanted to capture that luminous image before the light changed. It is a birthday week for me so I have spent time considering what I have learned in these 77 years and ways I want to spend the time ahead.
I am grateful for light and the ways it touches and changes. I thank God each morning for the new light another day brings. I am grateful for being able to see this, grateful for grace to know that as light changes, new ways of finding and seeing it will remain.
“Defend me against the chances and changes of this life, not that I may escape them but that I may meet them with firm resolve; not that I may be saved from them but that I may come unscathed through them.
Defend me from discouragement in difficulty and from despair in failure, from pride in success, and from forgetting you in the day of prosperity.
Help me to remember that there is no time when you will fail me and no moment when I do not need you.
Grant me this desire: that guided by your light and defended by your grace, I may come in safety and bring honor to my journey’s end…” ~ Norman Shawchuck
in shade under pine trees
stepping slowly through pine needles
careful in this dark corner
I laughed to find
one bright spot
here Fall brings no leaf peeper
for leaves with scarlet and amber
but there is change in the way light brushes leaves
the slightest shift in angle, a beckoning gentleness
my heart is dappled with the touch of autumn light
from caterpillar to chrysalis
she watched and smiled and waited
gift unwrapped, waiting done
girl and butterfly, quivering with excitement
lift new wings and fly!
saffron tissue ruffles
May I have a dozen of these?
This one tiny shell is less than 2 inches tip to tip, half the size of its photo. Although I have a basket of shells that are larger, I keep this one on top of the gratitude journal in which I write every morning. I pick it up before I open the book. It is almost weightless in the palm of my hand, yet it is heavy with stories.The shell is one of a number of True Tulip shells collected when Joe and I went with our sons out to the mud flats off Sanibel Island, Florida. We spent most of the time on the beach near our rental apartment, searching for shells, building sand castles and a tracking a hurricane! Our sons still talk about it.
We added this to our last few days on the island because of a disappointed 9-year-old son. Jeremy used his trip money at the local Wal-Mart to buy a throw net, a net with weights that can be cast out to bring in small fish and other treasures. After only a single use, the net was stolen from the area where he had carefully spread it to dry. We planned the trip out into the flats to gather shells to soften the loss, an adventure all of us would enjoy.
I had no way of knowing in 1980 that many years later, one of the smallest of the shells collected during that family fun would be held in my hand during my morning prayer time. It is one tiny shell, holding the sounds of the ocean and the laughter of my sons.
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