A Long and Wondrous Journey

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Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!

Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.

imagine! imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
~Mary Oliver from “Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me”

 

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Our rainfall this week was met with joy and relief, refreshing what had waited all summer parched and dry and dying.

Too little too late.

Across the country and in other parts of the world, this week’s rainfall caused flooding and destruction, threatening homes and lives.

Too much too soon.

This life’s too little/too much journeys are frightening, wondrous and arduous.

And this journey, this life, is ours to travel.  Let us pray for a little more just right.

 

 

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With Heavy Heart

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Outside the house the wind is howling
and the trees are creaking horribly.
This is an old story
with its old beginning,
as I lay me down to sleep.
But when I wake up, sunlight
has taken over the room.
You have already made the coffee
and the radio brings us music
from a confident age. In the paper
bad news is set in distant places.
Whatever was bound to happen
in my story did not happen.
But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.
Perhaps a name was changed.
A small mistake. Perhaps
a woman I do not know
is facing the day with the heavy heart
that, by all rights, should have been mine.
~Lisel Mueller “In November” from Alive Together

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It does not escape me~
(I wake every day knowing this)
the earthquake happened somewhere else,
a windstorm leveled a town,
a drunk driver destroyed a family,
a fire left a house in ashes,
a missing child finally found at the bottom of a cliff,
a flood ravaged a village,
a devastating diagnosis darkens
someone’s remaining days.

No mistake has been made,
yet I wake knowing this part of my story
has not yet visited me,
the heavy heart
that should have been mine
awaits,
still beating,
still breaking,
still bleeding.

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Between Midnight and Dawn: Drenched and Flooded

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“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
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God of our life,
there are days when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and weigh us down;
when the road seems dreary and endless,
the skies grey and threatening;
when our lives have no music in them,
and our hearts are lonely,
and our souls have lost their courage.

Flood the path with light,
run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise;
tune our hearts to brave music;
give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age;
and so quicken our spirits
that we may be able to encourage the souls of all
who journey with us on the road of life,
to Your honour and glory.
~Augustine of Hippo

 

Those final few days of His life may have been like this:
the sky oppressive with storm clouds,
the shouldered burden too painful,
the soul weighed down, discouraged, disheartened.
Each step brought Him closer
to a desperate loneliness borne of betrayal and rejection.

But the end of that dark walk was just the beginning
of a journey into new covenant.

Instead of rain, those clouds bore light,
flooding the pathway so we can come together to lift the load.
Instead of loneliness, there arises community.
Instead of stillness, there is declaration of glory.
Instead of discouragement, He embodies hope for all hearts.
The promise fulfilled spills over our path.
We are drenched in gratitude, flooded with grace.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

Ark Building

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I’ve got a bad case of the drearies. Rain has fallen heavily for just four days, with balmy temperatures up to 50 degrees, right after three weeks of freezing temperatures, ice and multiple feet of snow. As a result we have a state of emergency in our county with flooding in places that have not been flooded in decades, if ever. There are many people unable to leave their homes due to roads that have become rivers and some have had to sadly abandon their flooded homes. The drive time to work has been tripled because the detours are zigzagging all over the county.

Even those of us who are natives become overwhelmed by rain and moisture that clings to everything and everyone, blocking daylight so thoroughly that we leave for work in the dark and return in the dark despite lengthening days. The continuing rain is not predicted to end anytime soon, so I wonder about hitting the proverbial 40 days of rain. Indeed, it’s time to build an ark. Otherwise we may be left treading water as it rises around us.

Along with the local rivers and streams overflowing their banks, there is a new lake in our lower field. We have this little problem with our barn, located strategically at the bottom of a hillside. Four of our twelve stalls have standing water, so the Haflingers are bunking in the remainder, happy to be out of the wet, but insulted at prolonged confinement as there is no place to go outside without mud and mire. Regular flakes of hay bribe them into complacency. Things can’t be too bad when the best part of the day involves eating…

Ah, but it takes it’s toll on our psyches. Wet cold dankness without reprieve can be hard on man and beast. We are all waiting, waiting, wishing for something different, wanting relief. The Haflingers wait for their freedom from confinement and desire the sun on their backs once again, but settle for the memory of the sun and pastures as it is tossed in the form of flakes of dried field grass under their noses. I imagine they breathe deeply into that hay and reminisce about those warm lazy days in the pasture with every mouthful.

What do I wait for? I am discontent, antsy and eager for a respite from this. No one tosses a flake of hay to me to keep me from complaining, though it just might work if it was served with hot chocolate with whipped cream topping.

Actually, the waiting, the anticipation is for something beyond the temporary satisfaction of hunger or thirst. It is a far deeper need, and a greater want and desire. Our longing for light in our deepest darkest times can urge us forward, to prepare us for what comes next.

And it can come from the most unlikely source. It can come from a barn, bedded in hay, tucked in a manger. That baby whose birth we celebrated two weeks ago is the ark that keeps us afloat in the flood.

In our dreariest of moments, we must wait and prepare. The sun will return, surround us, dry us out and warm us, and we will be ready. In the mean time, I’ll crawl into the manger and tuck myself in and breathe deeply of the hay, pondering the promise of summer.

So I don’t plan to build an ark after all. I’m buoyed,  held up and here to stay: soppy, saturated, and drenched with the showering of life.

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