Out in the Middle of Somewhere

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My GPS often directs me to unknown places and I used to think it had something out for me.  I would end up going down dirt roads and in the wrong direction when I blindly followed and then I would hear that snarky “recalculating” when I tried to go another way.  It was not a surprise then on my recent return home that I ended up in Lost River State Park on treacherous narrow twisting roads that climbed to stomach churning heights.  It eventually opened to a breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys below. I stepped out briefly in one of the few places I could pull over to take a picture which does not do the awesome scenery justice.  The sun was still behind the ridge and the bare trees obscured most of the view but it was breathtaking just the same.

Descending this mountain ridge was heart stopping at times.  The narrow road, covered with leaves and difficult to see had several switchbacks and it began to snow.  I wondered what my GPS was doing sending me home this way, was this really the “fastest route” home?   “Really!” I said out loud  ” What am I doing here?”  The steep unguarded banks of the road and thoughts of getting lost here tightened the grip on my steering wheel as I drove at a crawl down the mountain praying all the way.

On the way down one pickup truck passed me, definitely a local who had no difficulty navigating the road.  I still have no idea how he made it around me on the narrow turn.  Once the road opened to a more pastoral spacious area my breathing and my grip on the wheel eased.  I was grateful.  Not only to have arrived safely through the mountain pass but for the opportunity to see and experience it.  It wasn’t until I returned home and Googled a map of the place that I saw there was another simpler way to go.  The GPS did it again but this time I am grateful for the remarkable views of the journey and the testing of my ability.  Some of the best growing I do is when tested.  I highly recommend a trip to this beautiful place and plan to return one day to really enjoy it.  Lost River State Park

Enjoy the journey, rerouting and all.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 NIV

 

 

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Monday Meditation -A Time for Everything

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Photo Credit Pixabay lindy15

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

One hour more.  One hour added to the day that will be taken back in the spring.  It is not a gift that is lasting.  However, the time that God provides is ours….for eternity.  When God gives it to us with our first breath, it is not taken away in another season.  If we believe that death is the end of our individual nature we are ignoring the signs all around us that speak hope.

Eternity is difficult to thing about , to rationalize or explain.  Science now talks about the expandable universe moving away from us at incredible speed and the “observable” universe holds about two trillion galaxies.  Google it!  It can make your head spin.

Everything in creation reflects the idea of eternity in simple ways and I don’t know about you but this gives me hope.  This time of the year especially reflects the unending circle and cycle of the seasons.  Here in the northeast ( and the southeast where I write today) as days naturally shorten the air cools and leaves turn showing incredible beauty right before they fall to the ground.  No longer connected to their source of life the tree, they begin their decay.  The tree though is now fed with the leaves it surrendered to the earth and waits through the chill of winter for renewed spring growth.  For everything there is a season.  Seed bearing plants also display this cycle of growth and change to new life.

Years ago wildfires claimed hundreds of acres in the Pine Barrens of Long Island.  I remember a well-meaning but distraught person coming to the door of my home imploring me to buy a t-shirt to re-plant the trees.  A noble and caring action but I explained to her that this wasn’t necessary.  When the ash blows away in the wind and the soft floor of the earth is exposed to the rain and sun, long ago dropped pine cones re-seeded the woods.  They claimed their space to root and rise to a new forest.  She may have thought me cheap however the woods are growing today.

The most beautiful display of eternity is relationship.   The workings of nature where chemical compounds that can exist separately will combine to create substance.  Oxygen and hydrogen creating water which life could not exist without and we are filled with!  Procreation in living things except in a few rare instances, takes two.  Earthworms are multi sexual and an interesting piece of a future topic.  Even our individual bodies require other living microbes to best function in wellness and wholeness.  And when we are in relationship with God, the creator of all that is, our whole individual being changes to with an eternal hope.  Even God (in my personal belief and theology) is in relationship as Creator, Son and Holy Spirit.   We have the welcome to invite God to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit eternally.

As winter nears and daylight hours limit their offering of  warmth we can rest in the hope of spring even though we will “spring ahead” and lose the hour we enjoyed yesterday.   This cycle of seasons in nature and in our lives is held in the Creators hands.  Our part is to live fully into whatever season we are in, trusting God with our lives in loving  relationship with Him and one another.

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another”. Romans 12:10

Blessings of  Peace, Joy and Love in Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Back

This year seems different.  Not the childhood anticipation of Santa and gifts or the preparations of church and decorations in the hanging of the greens.  This year as many of  us  look back to the preparation of Jesus birth it all feels much more profound.  Remember  Mary’s devotion and acceptance of God’s choosing her as the Holy Mother vessel for a Savior.  Remember ancient telling of a coming King who will rule with love and justice.  Remember wise men who read the stars to know something big is happening.  Remember the working class poor in the fields with sheep who get the first birth announcement.  Remember angels who say over and over, “Fear Not”.  Remember a baby, born in a cattle feeding trough, homeless yet worshiped.  Yes there is deeper meaning for me this year.

Looking back this hindsight view that we take every year, our traditions of celebration have become the focus of the season.  Many have lamented the commercialized event of Christmas yet still the traditions are strong and who does not love to watch a child’s gleaming face on Christmas morning unwrapping gifts they requested from Santa.  What an amazing miracle is uncovered as the empty milk and cookie crumbs next to the tree seem to prove the existence of this giver of gifts.  My heart fills with love and joy as I look back on my own children’s Christmases in our home when they were young.   And now my grandchildren carry the traditions forward.  To me it all feels different.

Jesus was most likely born in March some historians say.  Yes he has been proven to exist.  It seems in our past 2000 plus years of history we have humanly tried to drink the milk and eat the cookies to prove to others that Jesus was and is the promised coming King.  Our winter solstice Christmas celebration and hymns to the tunes of old pub songs lure the unfaithful to belief…or not.  Because it’s just fun to celebrate and exchange gifts and for a few weeks be a bit kinder and happier than usual. To me it all is different.

This year, my heart longs, seriously and deeply longs to live in the presence of this amazing Divine Love.  I am growing to know but will never fully understand the mystery and miracles of  Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection.  As I seek to be a student, disciple of this master teacher and experience glimpses of the amazing love and forgiveness he offers it changes how I live and to whom I live for.  Because we all do get to live in the light of this love, the love of a parent who would sacrifice anything for their children.  The love of a mother who gives birth in a homeless shelter with dirty smelly occupants who knows her child is Divine is the image of God’s love for us.  The love of this same child who would grow to teach us and to pray for us.  The love demonstrated 30 some years later in a giving up of himself for us.

We don’t really go there on Christmas that’s saved for Good Friday when we remember this sacrificial act of love.  I have learned that Jesus died for our sins and what I now know is that he also was crucified because of our sins and to show us just how far God will go to love us.  We in our human and ego driven ways get stuck in our rules, our traditions and what we think we know.  God came down, Emmanuel, God with us to show us a more magnificent love,  joy in poverty, escape as a refugee, healing compassion, and complete self-sacrifice to connect us forever with God in love.  The cookies and milk are eaten now in the Bread and Cup of life and we are all invited to the table of Grace.  We may experience this indwelling hope of love and peace no matter our situation in life.  God with us in our pain of loss, suffering, sickness or poverty seeks to fill us with Love. This Christmas is different.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”  Isaiah 9:6

No matter how you celebrate this season may you experience the joy, hope, love and peace that is the promise of Christmas.

 

Monday Meditation – Challenge

The woods declare the Glory of God.  This was the thought that came to me as I took a walk this weekend.  It has been my experience that everything is a lesson but I find that nature is an exceptional teacher.  Each stroll or view provides new insights into who I am and where I fit in the creation.  Each meditation on the beauty in the stillness speaks volumes better than the A – Z in my old Britannica Encyclopedia.

Take a walk with me in these woods, silent except for bird and cricket song.  The scent of pine occasionally breezes by.  The soft floor of old leaves, moss and acorns provides a silencing of footfall and a gentle ground to stand.  Some trees are so tall, high above our heads as they reach for the sunlight.  Others, small and thin sit in their shadows with anticipation of growth.  Some of the larger trees bear scars of natures effects, broken branches, leaning and bent in unusual growth.  The sun which covers the tallest of tree tops filters down to gently touch the ground in a mosaic of light and dark.  The smallest trees and bushes receiving only a small ray of the warmth.  It is peaceful, it is beautiful, it is in some places rough and dark.

What did you notice or feel?  I became aware of challenges.  I wondered did the slow growth and protection of the small struggling trees create a stronger taller tree in the end?  I think, they can’t uproot themselves to move into the sunlight so they must grow upward.  I see children, ours, who struggle in shadows, I see elders, bent and scarred yet still tall and strong with the experiences of growth brought about by things they could not control.  And in their lofty stance protecting the little ones.   In the sunlight I felt the Creator of it all dappling down and calling each one to grow.  It was then I thought, the Woods declare the Glory of God.

May today provide an awareness of God in nature and an insight into challenges.

 

Monday Meditation ~ Bridges

After a busy summer of courses and camp, vacation and travel I finally returned home this weekend.  The road tugged me homeward through the changing landscape of suburbia through city to rolling hills and lakes.  To get there requires many  bridges, two very large and many smaller over various bodies of water.  I became excited when the car radio reported that the new northbound span of the Tappen Zee bridge had just opened.  I have watched it’s construction rise up from the water with each trip I took to Long Island.   I would be one of the first to drive it’s span over the wide Hudson River. It was beautiful and impressive in structure and form.  Very different from the rusty steel cantilever bridge it will replace.   This much larger steel cable bridge with shining towers supporting the road was higher and longer and much smoother.   The old bridge had served its purpose for a time but like most things created and made by man it was not safe to travel for much longer.

Bridges cross over otherwise difficult to traverse terrain to get us where we are going.  They vary in form and function but serve this similar purpose.  They are not only made of wood, steel and concrete and stone.  Sometimes they are made of flesh and bone, ideas or words.  Any time there are difficult crossings in life it is our nature to seek help, a bridge to get from one side of trouble to the safer shore of healing, love, freedom, rest.   But sometimes there just isn’t a man made crossing.    Moses faced such a time leading his people across the Red Sea.  No bridge in sight, raging waters between them and those who would enslave and kill, he trusted in God and the waters parted.  No bridge needed but the way made passable by divine intervention.

I have been blessed by many human bridges who offered help and I hope that I too may serve others in the same way.   But when there is no bridge in sight, human help fails and the way through seems too difficult  to manage I turn to the One Divine Creator who is eternally trustworthy, to lift me above the chaos and fear so that I may journey home in safety.

May your travels be lifted by bridges of hope.

Sue

Picture credit PEXELS

Monday Meditation ~ Waiting in Faith

My yoga practice is much like my faith practice.  There are days that I can flow through with grace and ease.  The path seems lit with promise and I know the way.   Movement through breath and asana (poses) is a lovely dance that stirs up joy.  Then there are days that are hazy,  what seemed clear yesterday is distant across the far horizon of a day.  I stand at the edge and choose to wait and see.

I step to my mat, thankful to God for the day and my breath.  Practice becomes waiting.  No flowing here with ease but holding on to each movement as the breath moves me deeper.  As each movement of body, stretch with breath, release begins.  The haze begins to clear and as muscle and bone remember how far they can stretch so too my heart and mind recall that the promise of yesterday is still the promise of today and tomorrow.  Looking at the horizon while grounded on this far shore becomes an act of faith.  What will happen there is unknown to me but known by the One who is my guide, who goes behind and before me.

Here I wait, not frozen but flowing I dip my toes into the day and wade into the promises of Love.  May your day be blessed as you wait.

Monday Meditation- Signs and Signals

Living in the present moment with awareness of others, surroundings and self creates direction for this journey of life.  Not always with certainty but there are practices that provide help to be present and centered.  Prayer, meditation, Gestalt work and Yoga have been guides to quiet my mind and heart to focus on the here and now and decide which steps to take on the path.  But sometimes I need more.  I need a physical symbol,  a wake up call to know I have wandered off the path.

The most obvious are signals of neglect.  When life becomes too busy and I stray off my course my plants begin to wither.  I have a schedule of watering my houseplants, they are important to me and the health and aesthetics  of my home but it seems they are the first to suffer from my negligence.

Others are less obvious and only creep into my awareness when missing.  When I am attuned to my spiritual life with God, when I am focused on prayer and meditation, attending worship and studying scripture I generally wake up with a song of praise in my mind and on my tongue.  On these days other signs and signals are glaringly obvious.  Awakening to God’s presence of love opens my heart, mind and eyes to so much more of life.

Years ago I came to the conclusion that if I believe in a creator God who made the heavens and the earth, and if I believe that God is a love so great that my guilt and shame were erased through that love in Jesus, then I needed to spend more time getting to know Him.  On a Monday, because that is when you start new things, I read from the Bible and meditated on the reading.  I thanked God for this leading and guiding and then went for a walk.  I discovered that my conversation with God, listening to the creation sounds of birds and leaves applauding in the wind, continued with the taking in of so much beauty. Love seemed to wrap around me, joy filled my heart and peace settled into my whole being.  It had not rained in several days,  there was not a cloud in the sky and a soft breeze blew.  I turned the corner and right above me was the largest rainbow I had ever seen, it seemed I could touch it if I wanted to. I felt light and I heard a whisper “thank you” .  It wasn’t my word, the Divine Love touched me in that moment as I decided to love back.  To love the creator is to love the creation, the earth, all people, myself.

Much has happened since that time and I continue to learn and grow, I forget and stumble, my plants can suffer and I can wake up without that song in my heart, but I know God loves, not only me but all of creation.  God speaks to us, in dreams, in nature, in music, and all we need do is open our hearts, our eyes and our ears.

I wish you awareness to see signs of love.