Transcendent Moments

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton

Our farm yard looked like it had a retro remodel update this past week by heavy winds and rain, the green sod now covered with a mottled yellow brown shag carpet of leaves.   This transformation is temporary as this new carpet will soon start to rot under the burden of endless days of wintry drizzle and freezing weather.

Today’s epiphany:  only 8 months ago, none of these leaves even existed.  They were mere potential in bud form, about to burst and grow in a silent awesome explosion of green and chlorophyll.   After their brief tenure as shade and protection and fuel factory for their tree, last week they rained to the ground in torrents, letting go of the only (and so transient) security they had known.

Now they become compost, returning their substance to the soil to feed the roots of the trees that gave them life to begin with.

Recycled by transcendent death,
so momentary,
so momentous.

Doorway Between Two Worlds

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“I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.”
~Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk

Some doors in our lives remain forever closed and locked.  No key, no admittance, no way in, no way out.   There is clarity in a locked door with no choices to be made.  If there is a choice and I’m unsure of what I should decide, I tend to run scared.

The locked door is an invitation with the potential to change everything when the key is handed to me.  I now must make a choice, even if the choice is to do nothing.

Do I lose the key and stay put where things are at least familiar?
Do I  knock and politely wait for the door to be answered?
Do I simply wait for the moment it happens to open, take a peek and decide whether or not to enter?
Or do I boldly put the key in and walk through?

The choice to be made is as plain as the key resting in my trembling hand.
When I approach, drawn to the mystery, the door is already standing open.

Fear not.
For unto us a child is born, a son is given.

He is the threshold between two worlds, the unlocking love that allows us to throw away the key.

Thankful for Fragility

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. 
Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

How can I appreciate something
that is a constant,
like breathing the next breath,
so predictable
it never registers
in my consciousness
until the moment
it might be rent asunder,
just as delicate as a web
hanging heavy with evening frost?

Within that deprivation
is the realization
that what I rely on
for my very existence
is not a given.
Suddenly it becomes
the most precious thing of all.

For that ephemeral knowledge
of our fragility on this earth,
for our dependency on our Maker,
who gives us our next breath,
or not,
I am truly and forever
thankful.

Grace and Gratitude

photo by Josh Scholten

Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth.
Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo.
Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightening.
~Karl Barth

Nothing separates our thankfulness
from the gifts we’ve been granted.
We have been given life, certainly.
But that is not all,
though more than plenty.

Beyond imagining,
we are given forgiveness.
Offered a new life,
undeserved.
An opportunity to
make things right again
by forgiving
the unforgivable.

It is possible to be grateful every day
without knowing grace.
Many voices raised today
speak of thankfulness.

But to know the gift of grace–
experience its resounding clarifying brightness,
its gentle, compassionate merciful touch
every day, every hour, every moment
every breath,

we must respond, thundering
our gratitude at the spark of God,
echoing unending thanks
in our every breath.

photo by Josh Scholten

Interrupted

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So I’m sauntering through life, enjoying the view, appreciating each mundane moment, doing what I think I was meant to do and whammo!~clobbered by a cold wave that knocks me off my feet, chills me to the bone and stops me in my tracks wondering what just hit me and why.  It feels like I’m drowning.

I feel rudely interrupted because I was ill prepared to change course, alter expectations, or be transformed by life’s sudden cold shower.

I can’t think of any situation where interruption initially feels good.  It shocks because it seems unexpected but I have chosen to be someone who must be rudely interrupted in order to change direction.

God doesn’t just soak me to the bone–He made my bones and heals my fractures.  He doesn’t just knock me to my feet–He offers His hand to pull me up again.  He doesn’t let me drown–He throws me a life preserver that I must choose to grab and hold on to.  Then He wraps me in His warm embrace like a huge towel to remind me where I come from and where I’m heading.

We interrupt this life for a message from our sponsor. 

I’m ready to pay attention.

The Hush of Advent

photo by Josh Scholten

There is that moment
of silent expectancy
as a choir
lifts their books
together
when the conductor,
readying them
for what is to come,
lifts his hands.

As if
one body,
they take
a first breath
that unites their
tones and words
together.

The audience waits in
suspended sanctuary
of sweet longing,
wanting to be
carried away
on a stream
of voices.

And so too
Advent is the hush
before we break
into jubilant song,
as God
lifts His Hands
to ready us,
looks deep into our eyes,
breathes with us
as if one body,
stepping away from the podium
to sing the Words
alongside us.

The Scent of Work

Fireflies are daughters to the stars
And go in the countryside to catch the scent of hay
Which is the scent of God
Because it smells of work–Giovanni Cerri

Our horses are now officially pulled off the pastures for winter, relegated to smaller dirt paddocks until the fields have rested, recovered and dried sufficiently in April to bear their hooves and teeth again.

So I climb the ladder to the hay loft daily to toss down carefully stacked bales of hay placed there by our hay crew four months ago.   I release the dried stems from their bondage by twine.  The scent of July work hits me full force; I’m transported back to the sweaty days of hay mowing, tedding, raking and baling.   It was just yesterday, so it seems, that my children and their friends were picking up these heavy bales and tossing them onto the trailer, and then bringing them into the barn.

The scent of work on the earth, like fireflies to the stars, is the perfume of heaven.