Sunday, December 31, 2017

After Christmas spiritual journey, lessons gleaned......
Impressions: Light and shadow
the effort to get to a place
indescribable beauty along the way,
the value of silence,
revelations along the trek or hike
Over the course of the five days, chapter one of the gospel of John as well as a couple of other scriptures have been in my heart. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit I have attempted to put my impressions together.
Light and shadow is a part of every hike with the sun shining around mountains and through trees. The sunlight is a warmer place in winter but the shadows are always a part of the hike. Every journey or trek requires effort to get to a destination. A person simply cannot wish themselves there. No, it is a one step at a time, one decision at a time for one who journeys in the back country. Yet along the way there is indescribable beauty that refreshes the soul and gives strength and desire as well as determination to continue to the destination. However, in particular for me the value of this journey both physically and spiritually lies in the silence.
In the silence I am more keenly aware of His Love, the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the peace in the midst of both light and shadow, both effort and refreshing beauty. Out of the silence this awareness must accompany me back into my daily life.
Through the contemplation of John chapter one something that is probably obvious to everyone else spoke itself, if you will into my being. Jesus speaks our human language not just because He is all-knowing but because He came and lived among us, Emanuel. He knows the language of our human tongues, the language of our minds, and the language of our hearts because He came and lived among us, Emanuel. I am sure He knew all of that as He formed us in creation. But because He came and lived among us we can know that He walked our paths and experienced our light and shadows, our efforts and refreshing beauty. It comforts me to know that He speaks my particular language and knows my trek to my final destination because He is truly Emanuel, God with us, God with me.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning. vs 1....The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth. vs 14" John 1:1 and 14
The reflections of a fellow pilgrim.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lent.....Throughout this period I have been studying our Bible Study lessons and truly contemplating what it must have been like for Jesus being God incarnate, God with us, fully man and fully God. Now this concept alone is beyond comprehension in my mere human mind. It is a quote from this week's study that sums it up; "it takes ears of faith and eyes of faith." And thus I pray, Lord give me ears that hear in faith and eyes that see in faith.
As I contemplated the account of Jesus raising Lazareth from the dead which according to John would directly lead to the cross, I asked again those questions: Jesus, as you were '"deeply moved" as John says, you saw all didn't you? You saw the grief of your friends didn't you? You saw the final hours before the cross didn't you? Did you see those of us who would lack faith or misunderstand things you so lovingly gave us? Yet you loved us anyway didn't you? You loved us enough to keep walking walking walking walking........toward Calvary. You were fully human and knew the cost, yet fully God and knew the cost! I weep and am compelled to pray, forgive me Lord.
Yet this passage also gives us the glorious promise; "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Yes, as the song says, Sunday's coming but first you walked, from the day you were born, toward Calvary. The mother in me weeps for your precious drops of life-giving flow. The human in me weeps for your labored breaths. The heart in me takes comfort that, yes indeed, Sunday's coming and one day it will come for all!
Yes, sweet Jesus, give me ears of faith and eyes of faith as I daily walk this kingdom path on earth!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

It is the beginning of Lent, the 40 days before Easter.......Starbuck, my faithful yellow lab and roaming companion were taking our morning hike. It was an exquisite Colorado mountain day where the sky was such a blue that it was difficult to find words to adequately describe it. The fresh snow was bright white and Mt. Daly was overwelmingly beautiful! I could not breathe in enough of the fresh crisp air.
We kept the upward tread and I began to comtemplate and reflect as we are called to do especially during this season of Lent. Rather than reflect inward, I reflected on Jesus. The steps taken upward require a little effort especially at our altitude. This led me to ask questions: "Jesus, from the day you were born, you began the walk toward Calvary, didn't you? Did you know even as a little boy, what you chose to do in obedience to the Father's plan? As you grew older, did you see people crucified by the Romans and did the man within you cringe at the thought?
As I asked these questions, I became tearful. We continued our trek up to our goal. Upon reaching the stopping point just outside a friend's house, there was a tractor/ bobcat with a front-end loader. I sat on the front-end loader and looked out at Purple Mountain with the sun in my face. I thought about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. All around was silence -- that silence that can only exist in nature. Starbuck found a resting place. My reflection wandered to the end of the tempting of Jesus when the Word said that angels came and ministered to Him. Questions: Did you feel as the angels fed you and tended you what you gave up as the God part came to earth fully man/fully God? You knew didn't you that you were on your final journey that would lead to Calvary? Just three years? How could it be?
As I continued to sit in the silence, I felt embraced by your love and my heart ached a little, maybe a lot. Oh what a price! Oh what love!
Father, forgive me for I know not what I do.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The spiritual rejoicing of a Marble pastor and his wife......Our church is a small historical church that is one of the first things you see as you enter the isolated mountain town of Marble. There is a picture of it on my cover photo. The church holds comfortably 80 people;so as Jon says we will never be a mega church. However small churches hold an invaluable role in a community where community can be experienced on a spiritual level.
Sunday was a spiritual high light of our 5 plus years here. We have in Marble legendary mountain men. I call them mountain men because they have lived in the back country in the simplist of situations and have carved out a life in its harsh conditions. They also look the part with their long beards and mountain practical "wears."
We have worked to develop a meaningful relationship with them because they are part of our community and because they have so many interesting stories to tell. We have received invitations to their parties and have attended them to enjoy much laghter and amazement. At one such party, a particularly legendary Marble mountain man told us as he placed an arm around Jon's shoulder, "as soon as I saw you, Jon and Peggoty coming, I knew there was hope for the rest of us. This moved me deeply.
SUNDAY, this legendary mountain man and a couple of his friends came to church for the first time. My heart was filled beyond capacity. I could tell as Jon welcomed them that he was fighting back tears. I cannot express the spirtual fulness this gave the both of us! Paul, you and your friends touched our souls in a way that can never be measured! As you would say, "we love you, brother!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Candles, lights and bits of sweet sadness......For me Christmas comes in many shades of emotions, all of which are neither good nor bad but simply what is part of where I've been and where I am. As I have aged I have experienced more of life in all of its expressions; from loss to great joy and all that lies in between.
Every morning during this Christmas or Advent season I have had "coffee with God" by the gas stove with the light of the Christmas tree and soft quiet carols playing. I have prayed and I have been quiet. In the quiet my heart fills with many things. One of those things have been memories that hold bits of sadness and bits of joy. The sadness comes as I remember and for lack of better words, am visited by those who are no longer on this earth.
Daddy comes.....he was never big on Christmas but he was there to make sure we had coined ham ( I still am not sure what a coined ham is or even if I have spelled it correctly but it was good) or pre-tasting the food or just sitting at his place at the table.
My grandparents and special great aunts come. They loved so to laugh and loved to eat and loved to tease and joke around but most of all they loved to be together for Christmas.
Megan, my niece comes most often. She is the one that brings such a sweet sweet sadness. She was only 24 when she passed from this world. The last Christmas I had with her Jon and I surprised her with the pink sweater that she wanted. I had seen her look at it in Wilmington when we visited her. She looked across at me with acknowledgement and a smile that she knew that I had seen her with that sweater. The sweetness with the visits of memory is that I was privileged to know and love Megan. But the deep soul sadness is that I no longer can buy her a present. Tears come. Jesus comes. And I know within, that both Jesus and I share those same moments of love and memories that I have of her. The difference is that He knows her still and holds all that she was and is. I could never have that knowledge. The difference is that He has always loved her and does still and as much as I loved her, I could never love her like He does.
Friend, do not think that I write of a sadness that is despairing! No, I write of sweet sadness. It is born of love and joy that I have had the wonderful opportunity to know and love all of those who have left my life for but a moment. I would never ever trade a single tear for the not-knowing of all these who have come to me in silence along with the presence of the Holy Spirit. I rejoice that I have been so blessed to know so many, to love so many, to miss so many!
"For behold I bring you news of great joy which shall be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." the angel of the Lord. So God bless you my friend, If you too know a little sweet sadness. It is His coming that allows us to love deeply and to know the great joy as well as the sweet sadness that accompanies such love.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas........I have always said that for me Christmas comes in moments throughout the Advent or Christmas season if you just keep your heart open to hear, to see, to listen. Such a moment took hold of me, if you will, in exquisite awareness just last evening.
Jon, Joshua, and I were invited to a movie and to dinner with dear friends and fellow sojourners for Christ. After the movie we took the snowy wintery drive up to their house with lighted trees along the way flocked by God's own doing. We were greeted in their beautiful home with decorations, music, the smell of food and the sounds of friends gathered.
Then we came together at the table to share the evening meal. Jon was asked to lead the blessing and we all held hands around the table. But there was a wonderful miracle among us already! Our host was and is by the hand of God a survivor of leukemia and the accompaning stem cell transplant received from a 20 some year old who cared enough to be a donor. He has celebrated his one year survivor and keeper of his new stem cells. As Jon prayed about welcoming the Christ Child and about continued well being as well as blessing the food and those less fortunate, I was filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit speaking "Christmas" into my soul. In that moment it was Christmas. We stood before our Lord around a table ever mindful that life is a gift; life in Him is the greatest of all gifts.
It was a quiet moment. It was a full moment. It was a moment of Emanuel, God with us! Such moments once a part of us is always a part of us enriching our hearts and turning us toward Him. So as the old hymn prays forth, "O come, O come Emanuel," I pray let it be so in my life! And may all of us have many "Christmas" moments during this holy season.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Diversion......So Starbuck and I were on our way to enjoy a bit of peace at Lizard Lake. We began our hike at the hot laborious haul up Daniel's Hill. We only include that climb for the added exercise. I was so looking forward to sitting by Lizard Lake and just enjoying the quiet. Weelll, to my surprise, (Starbuck really didn't care), there was a backhoe up on the 4-wheel drive only road doing work just before the lake! Believe me when I say, it is a rare event to see work done on this treacherous Lead King Loop!
My first reaction was irritation. It was man-made noise after all. I go into the back country to avoid such. Starbuck and I had just paused by the river and I thought, why don't we go down there and have our snack and a sort of peace; you could still hear the backhoe. So we made our way down to a spot in which I had never been, found a large rock shaped like a seat of sorts that hung a little over the river, I secured Starbuck by me and sat down with my snack.....diversion.
The river was clear and running, making that soothing noise that rivers have made through the ages; their own music of the soul. It made the noise of the backhoe recede into the background. From my perch on the rock while eating my yogurt, I was watching this aspen tree with the few gold leaves remaining. They actually reflected the light of the sun making them glow. The breeze had each leaf quaking, shaking in a little dance individually of its own. A few would let go of their tenuous hold to the tree and drift to earth in their final stage of life, death, in a graceful and lovely ballet!......diversion.
I was still on the water. It was just God, Starbuck, and me, backhoe long forgotten. I reflected on aging and how that it is sometimes a very difficult process. I said a prayer within my heart that I, like the aspens, could reflect the light of God as they do the light of the sun. I said a prayer within my heart that even if dying became a difficult process that it would in someway be the final ballet for me.....diversion.
Alas, Starbuck and I rose to make our way up and out from the river. I continued to reflect on what I saw and prayed, moved deeply by the Holy Spirit. I thought of all those whose lives that were not, nor ever had been, easy. I thought of all those living in the wretched conditions of war and disaster. And I asked the question within my soul, can the end of life be beautiful like the aspens for all? Can dying be a ballet for all? I heard an answer in my soul, "For Me, child, it is." I began to weep.......diversion.
We are so bound to earth as humanity that we forget that the eternal plan is in the ballet of death where we then meet our maker. In the meantime, perhaps it is simply our call to reflect the light of the Son and dance in the breeze of the Holy Spirit as best we can, in whatever our circumstance.
So friend, you may set out on one trail, but never forget, there are wonderful sights and lessons in the Diversions! May we have "eyes to see and ears to hear."