My progress is arrested by the sight of forsythia bursting forth in jubilant celebration. Now I am on the brink, preparing to enter the dark earthiness of holy time. The impossible yellow of the wild blossoms calls a song to my lips even as I wait for the paradox ahead.
Let me hear of your loving kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you; show me the road that I must walk, for I lift up my soul to you. Psalm 143:8
“I hope our paths cross soon,” I write to a colleague. And as I hit send, shooting the note across cyber-space, I realize how much I would enjoy such a meeting. We haven’t seen each other in a very long time. And then I think about our paths.
We travel different roads, live and work in different places. We seldom see each other. Yet I know her to be a person of faith and joy and love. I see her strive to bring the light of Christ to others. I am aware of her deep understanding of how we are being formed on a daily basis into the people that God calls us to be. Our journeys are simultaneously parallel and intersecting. Sometimes our paths come close to one another and then veer off again without really meeting. Yet, even from afar, her faithfulness encourages me. Even when we are not aware of one another, we walk the same pilgrimage.
This morning as I pray once more that God will open my heart to the presence of the holy, I am suddenly aware of so many others also opening their hearts to God today, lifting their faces and voices in praise or in supplication or in lament. I am one of many.
I am one of many on this journey of faith. I am one of many lifting my soul to God. I am one of many seeking the road that I must walk. I can’t wait to see which of my traveling companions I will meet along the way today.
But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me. Psalm 131:3
The pictures come to me via FaceBook and texts. A mother with a new son, a grandmother rejoicing in the birth of a granddaughter, a doula holding a newborn she has helped into the world. These infants are already cherished by people I know, so I feel connected. But it is more than that. Looking on the faces of these brand new human beings, I immediately recognize new life worthy to be treasured and beloved.
Every human being is created in the image of God. It is easy to see that in the face of a newborn. But what about all the strangers I encounter every day? What about the people who give me a hard time? What would it be like to remember that each person has value and worth? To begin with the premise that on any given day, everyone is doing the best that she or he or they can?
On any given day, anyone of us can be as vulnerable as a newborn. Surely, I am not the only one who yearns to be nestled in the arms of a loving God. Surely, I have experienced enough of love to be generous and kind to anyone I encounter.
My lips shall pour forth your praise, when you teach me your statutes. My tongue shall sing of your promise, for all your commandments are righteous. Psalm 119:171-172
In my dream, I run up to the brink of a cliff with great expectation. As I come to where I can see over the edge, a stunning vista opens up before me. A clear path welcomes me to descend into a valley lush with spring green.
The anticipation of exploring new beauty lingers as I wake, even as my mind begins to turn to today’s to-do list. With conscious effort, I push aside the temptation to immerse myself immediately in tasks just to get a jump on the work. Instead I recall the flowering trees I noticed yesterday, their blossoms just beginning to respond with enthusiasm to the warming weather.
Joy can be like a tiny bud just beginning to poke out of the dirt. It needs warmth and light and space to become full. I realize I need to pay attention to my joy and nurture it. I may need to protect it from coldness of heart and angry stomping and suffocating to-do lists.
Burgeoning joy is as much a gift from God as a blossoming magnolia. When I am attentive to God’s abundance, I discover there is always more. The path of God’s word welcomes me into the extravagant promise of love and life.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:2
The clear tone rings out in the quiet of early dawn. I pay attention as it is repeated, trying to recognize this particular bird call. I’m guessing it is a robin. At first my morning soloist repeats one tune over and over, rich and confident. But then he changes it up with enthusiastic rapid bursts and finally something that sounds like laughter. I wonder what has amused my friend.
An alarm clock sounds in my house, as the rest of my family beings to stir and prepare for the day ahead. What songs will be on our lips as we enter this new day?
There are so many ways to greet the new day. So many ways to set one’s foot upon the path. This is God’s day. The robin knows to greet it with song and laughter, to delight in creation and abundance. My morning companion invites me to join him in this hymn of joy.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord. Psalm 31:24
I head out for an afternoon walk, and it seems as if everyone is taking advantage of the warm spring day. The small city park along which I walk is teeming with life. People of all ages are biking, walking dogs, fishing along the canal, playing basketball. A child covers his face and counts to 20 as his friends scatter for hide-and-seek. A brother helps his young sister remove a fish from a hook. A group of young adults lays sprawled on a bit of lawn.
The community has come alive as if with a single purpose… to revel in delight. We all smile at each other as we acknowledge that the beauty of the day has opened our hearts and filled them with joy. I think that this life has been here all along, but hidden indoors during the winter months. Now, we are no longer waiting for spring. We are throwing ourselves into it with abandon.
I notice a single bud along a bare branch, its swollen potential brave against landscape still dominated by barren trees and shrubs. This hidden life too is coming forth, making itself known along with other nascent growth that in a few more weeks will burst forth with green transforming this landscape.
Along the wooded path, in the midst of the city, in wintry hearts, God is calling forth new life.
Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent The Lord looks down from heaven, and beholds all the people in the world. He fashions all the hearts of them and understand all their works. Psalm 33:13, 15
I wake with a sense of contentment, for which I immediately give thanks. Even as I step out into the day, I feel myself blanketed in God’s loving care.
In my heart, I know that I am never without God’s love and mercy. God’s care for me is absolute—and does not depend on how I feel about it. Some days I know this with confidence. Some days I simply have to trust. All days, I am in God’s hands.
And not just me. All the people of the world are encompassed by God’s love. I wonder what it would be like to imagine God at work in everyone I encounter this day. I wonder.