An ancient king once cried out to God in a time of desperation and desolation. “I sing in the shadow of Your wings!”
I am astonished.
“I sing . . . ?” Is that what you and I do when we’re feeling crushed? By really, really hard stuff. By the eminent loss of something or someone we’ve put our blood sweat and tears into. By the enemy of fear and deep personal doubt?
There is something to that, something about our soul crying out in a surrendered way to Someone higher and greater than our loftiest self. My soul sings . . . maybe my mind hasn’t caught up yet with what my spirit somehow understands. That singing can light the way to a path forward.
Can we follow the lead of an ancient king and give voice to our angst with a song?
How many trees have you walked under today? I often ask myself that when I’ve left my building and am walking across campus for a meeting or for lunch. Some days, weather permitting and pending appropriate footwear choice du jour, I will get off the concrete pathways and walk through the grassy Commons on my way to the cafeteria.
In those brief moments that don’t happen often enough I am reminded about authority. There is something about walking beneath the branches of the tall trees with the lacy green branches that gives me a calming sense that Good and trusted authority provides the shade that I need to be under.
Humans struggle with the concept of “being under“ anything or anyone else. There’s that somewhat glorious independent streak in our nature that wants to be above it all. Good authority is a protective, shade-giving entity of sorts where birds will come to nest in its branches. Bunnies will nibble fresh grass beneath its shade, squirrels will frolic and gather what they need.
If I am under good authority there is cause to be thankful, to flourish, and to invite others to that place. If I am that authority there is cause to be ever mindfully aware of the ecosystem that exists beneath my branches and to intentionally throw some shade in the best possible way. Its Sunday and perhaps a lovely day for a walk on the grass that just might take you to a tall tree you can place yourself under to reflect.
What am I running from?
I may spend my down-time in the comfort of a cozy armchair and be running from. I may be immersed in my chosen career and be running from. I may be living a dream life I’ve planned for and or have stumbled into—here it is! I’m living it! And I’m running from.
Is it a fear or a judgement someone cast on me? A shadow from my past that taunts me (and always at just the right-wrong time) or a view of myself that I just can’t shake? Some old scar from a wound inflicted at the hands of another? Even a misconception that holds little truth, in reality, but in my mind . . . oh, its gospel truth.
“Running from” feels like the right move at the time but no matter how fast or how far I run that thing is still there when I look behind me. Thats because running from isn’t a permanent solution. Separation from, getting some distance between me and that “thing” can be good in the short term. Like I should run from a roaring lion to save myself, right? I’ve put distance between me and that thing so I have the time and space to think and pray about my next move. Or I create time and space to ignore and deny and block out that it’s even there.
When the time is right, when I’m exhausted from running, when I am willing to look at that old shadow and shine a light on it, then I will be able to flip the tables and begin running to. Yes, to as in towards. Having a safe and trusted friend at hand is a good thing in that moment. Not just to unload my darkness upon but to be fortified by. Someone who might say, hey, let’s talk about it. Let’s look at it together in a different light, from a different angle. So, note to self, stop running from. Take a breath, sit a spell and realize that “running to” might just end the ongoing running away from.
The sturdy wall bracket, fashioned to resemble a cherub with outstretched and feathered wings, supports a small collection of my vintage books. Its super sturdy. The handyman who hung it for me said I could do pull-ups on it, he had secured it to the wall so very well. I liked that. Its a heavy piece so having it installed properly was an original concern.
But, I’m past thinking about the mechanics of it and now and when I look across the room, I see support in action. Books being held by a comforting angel.
Who is upholding you? Is it the love of someone who’s faithful and true; is it the strength of someone who, perhaps gone now, never let you down and always believed in you?
By showing up time and again in times that aren’t fun and times that are hard we uphold each other. We need that, like it or not. We can try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps but to make it through storms that come and go and come again, we need to be championed, supported, heartened. Not falsely propped up with flattering words but upheld by honest truth and with simple grace. Strength isn’t about going it alone after all. Its about being supported by real live people who care enough to be there when we fall as well as when we soar. A beautiful life will involve upholding others as well as allowing ourselves to receive strength and support from people – God’s support system on earth.
It isn’t always easy and it often isn’t exactly as we had pictured in our mind’s eye. But step into it we must.
Well, actually there are other options but I adjure you today not to choose one of them. Our lives are ever evolving—what they look like, how they’re shaped and as living beings we grow in small—sometimes gigantic ways every day. Barring physical illness, even our fingernails and the length of our hair does it’s thing and grows. SO WHY NOT YOUR SPIRIT? You’re not done. You’re still growing. You’re still expanding, and depending on where you are in your own life cycle that rate of growth may be accelerated or at a snails pace but the truth remains. Our lives are moving forward.
Alternate choices may include many, many crafty options such as boxing up our dreams for safe-keeping, to be placed on a shelf for “some day” or perhaps burying them in the cold, dark ground, out of sight therefore out of mind. Maybe making them comfortable in an easy chair, out of the action of day to day.
Graceful and talented ice dancers will skate backwards just long enough to set up and then execute their next spectacular move, wowing us, taking our breath away. They do this entirely by design with an end result in their vision. And that vision, whether with flourishes and triple axels or not has one purpose and that is the same one we must choose daily. That is to move in one exquisite direction otherwise known as forward.
A friendly local couple stopped by for a drink last night. They do so practically every evening sometime between 5:30 and 7pm. I keep the bird bath full of fresh water for this couple and a few others who occasionally stop by when they’re in the neighborhood.
This time last year I almost needed an air traffic controller for my little local “tavern.”The smallest little birds would come first to drink and bathe, probably about seven of them. Next were three to five medium sized little visitors, some with red heads and some with yellow chest feathers—a colorful bunch! They were followed a few minutes later by my friends pictured here, the peaceful and cooing doves. Then something changed with this delightful and enjoyable evening routine. A single large black crow began making its way to this drinking hole. A few weeks later a young hawk took up residence in the greenbelt and would camp out in a hidden place in the overgrown honeysuckle on my garden wall. And then an owl began to swing by late at night. It was all good having these new folks stop by for refreshments and to be part of the growing circle of life. At first the only thing I noticed that had changed was that the family of three rats were gone. Vanished. Awesome actually! And then the two lizards that would hide under the geraniums but come out to sun themselves, they too disappeared. Hmmmm. I missed them sunning and supercharging themselves out there on the patio. And then the smaller birds were no longer bathing happily and chirping away. All that was left were the doves.
Getting quickly to a point here, sometimes someone comes into your circle of friends who has power, influence, may be swifter than the others, more intelligent, more driven, and . . . with a greater appetite and need for more. It’s on us to somewhat moderate our circle of friends, standing up for the smaller and weaker ones when needed. Yes, it seems cool at first when the “rats” on the edges of your group get weeded out until you notice that the friends that brought you joy have gone into hiding as well.
It definitely takes all kinds to make this world go round and yet a little prevention goes a long way in nature and also with our circle of friends. Protect the good. The birds of prey will take flight if they come to understand that friendship is a place to enjoy each other and find refreshment instead of it being a place to devour.
I use this gold rimmed drinking glass everyday. Its always in position, right below the spigot of a one-gallon, oversized mason jar-like beverage container that I use as a water jug. I’ve always thought the little glass had a Marrakesh kind of a vibe but all I know is that I like it and after many years I’ve never grown tired of using it.
Today I saw it in a different light. For a change I carried that glass full of water into another room where I was reading. It was still early morning so I had a lamp on. The light shone through the pink glass and illuminated it and for the first time I saw it differently, “in another light,” as it were.
The thing I noticed most was that the previously non-descript scrollwork design was actually made of a simple, repetitive leafy vine pattern. Ah, life right there in my hand and I was unaware of it!
Sometimes it takes seeing the everyday in a different light. A friend you know, an elder in your family, a curmudgeon at the post office or at church. Light reveals. Sometimes we see someone in a negative light when in reality they are seeking truth and beauty as hungrily as we are. Sometimes we cast a rosy glow on someone because we desperately need them to be good, caring, and kind but occasionally the light of day will show us differently. The streaming sunlight may reveal that they are not who they appeared to be and disappointment may set in. How much of that has to do with who we thought they should be because we needed (unconsciously perhaps) them to be fair and just. Oh, the light reveals the truth. The pure in heart have no fear of the light and its revealing power. They welcome transparency.
Others. . . not so much. The light does reveal the unseen and happily there is much more loveliness than there is not and it lies waiting to be revealed.
Shine a light.
I struck a match to light a candle and was startled when a tiny spark flew from the burning match on its way to connecting with the wick. The hand poured candle in the custom made cement jar created by a local craftswoman was sitting on a fully utilized bookshelf in a carpeted room. There was obviously more than enough “tinder” on hand to set this room in my home ablaze. I nervously moved a basket and velvet pillow that were on the floor and in the flightpath of that spark. Not being able to see it and knowing that the tiny ember was still there, all else I could think to do was to grab a nearby water mister and douse, or spritz shall we say, the entire area where the spark had landed. I was purpose driven in that moment. “That spark shall not live to create a flame!”
We’re not always that intentional when we whip out our metaphorical misters and put out someone else’s spark. It happens more than we know unless we’re mindful.
When the spark of a new idea someone brings to the table doesn’t make sense to us we snuff it out. When their early glimpse of a new dream seems impossible (to us) we may redirect them to an endeavor that seems more practical. To us.
Let us not be guilty of killing a dream or mission or purpose that seems risky, unlikely, or impossible simply because the idea is beyond the scope of our own understanding or comfort zone. The idea or innovation may light the way for unseen others in the future. Be not too quick to extinguish that spark.
Have you taken root? Are You growing well? Thats the point after all.
We each did not come in to this world to do nothing but exist, obtaining what we need to scrape through another day.
In this Sunday morning moment I think of Nick V. from Australia. Born without arms or legs. He cannot run a marathon and win. He cannot pledge allegiance to any flag in any country by physically placing his hand over his heart. He can’t plow a field and harvest it’s crop. But Nick V. is established. Nick V. is growing and doing well. Exceedingly well. He travels the world and encourages audiences large and small and whoever will listen to maximize all that they are and all they’ve been given and, in essence, get established. For a purpose. Whether to educate, inspire, build a home, raise a child, write a blog, pour a glass of wine, provide clean water in a distant land, open a door for a lady or a door of opportunity for someone outside your small circle.
Are you growing and growing well? Get it in your head early that you have a purpose and that you need to grow into it. Don’t get stuck trying to figure that part out—it will come.
Grow and get your soul established And you may just find that the thing that makes you stronger will also lead you right into who you were born to be and what you were meant to do.
What do you want?
Some times we know exactly what we want and other times our mind is blank and we just don’t know. Think about it for a minute if you need to.
And what do you need to do to actually realize and enjoy or grasp what you want? Are you already actively engaged in a strategy and pursuing what you want? Then, give it time.
Work towards it. Pray for it. Give it time. It may come to pass after 15 long years of sacrifice and desperation and waiting or it may take three weeks. The wait time would be more predictable if the worth of the thing you want were quantifiable by a formula of value equals waiting time. I would like to enjoy some homegrown organic cilantro and dill in my next salad but if it’s coming from my garden it’s gonna take a few weeks to germinate, thrive, and be ready to harvest. Time. What we want can magically appear in the blink of an eye, in the snap of a finger. That does happen. But hang in there if it takes longer than that and give it time.