Every day is a blessing

“Every day is a blessing.”

The woman at the cash register took me completely off guard with this comment as I gathered up my purchases and made my way to the door. It was not a platitude that she was offering me by tossing out this phrase. Instead, there was more to it. There was sincerity and deep sense of compassion evident by her direct stare into my eyes accompanied with a soft understanding smile that declared undeniable truth.

It took just an instant, but within that time of turning around and looking at her I realized that she had just offered me and incredible gift that seemed to take a lifetime to unwrap. Awe overtook me at that moment; awe mixed with a certain sense of reality twinkled with faith, hope, peace and love. A strange emotional mix but each singularly present and intertwined to make the moment epiphanal. I felt joy and relief. I felt grace and truth but as I turned around to face the world I felt sorrow. For you see, in turning around I faced another hard real truth; every day is a blessing but why do we have such a hard time accepting it?

I could not answer the question as I climbed into my car.  I thought there is such suffering, how can anyone see a blessing when they suffer? There is anger and violence. People are rude and unforgiving. Children are abused, people are scared, the world is alit with such pain that to even be bold enough to proclaim a blessing takes real moxie. But yet, moxie was not what was offered to me by the attendant, it was truth.

It was then…

Later that night I was driving home after a rather rough meeting. It was one of those where people were proclaiming dissatisfaction and grumbling about sharing resources. “Why should we share it with those people?” was a comment made. Those people being gen-Xer’s and Millennial’s that have gravitated towards a drug induced lifestyle. My heart was silently breaking as I heard the people at the meeting did not want to share grace and offer a possible safe haven for people living on the edge.

Driving home in the dark I felt tired and disappointment by hearing such a different reality of people not wanting to help.  Offering a blessing was the hope for those people but it seemed as if that was not going to happen at this time.  The world felt heavy to me. My head, shoulders, arms and legs felt suppressed and while this was happening the car was going slower and slower. Not because of mechanical reasons but because I was filled with disappointment.

The road I traveled became hillier as I plodded along not really concerned about my speed or anything else. It was at the apex of the road when things changed and I was brought back into the very moment. It was a no-passing zone but it did not seem to matter to the guy on the other side of the road at that moment. He was going to pass another and not be concerned about oncoming traffic. I was pretty sure he did not even know I was even coming towards him. At that moment it dawned on me, if I was going any faster I would be no more for this world. With moments to spare the other car maneuvered back into the other lane and it was then that I realized I was blessed this day.

A gas station attendant, a long hard meeting, a deep and heavy heart, certainly not a combination that makes for a typical blessing but there in the midst of it the night it came anyway.

Every day is a blessing it just sometimes takes a minute after for us to realize it.

G

November Aire

The sounds of November are exquisite.  There is a soft symphony playing with each crackle of the fireplace, with each intake of air drafting through the doors whistling and humming as the smoke travels up the chimney.  But these are not the only sounds that gently lull me into a safe, heavy sense of autumn hibernation.  There is the rustle of leaves: maple, oak, elms, hackberries, even corn husks that have trespassed into the yard to find winter solitude under the bridal-veil bushes.  Such simple music, more ancient than any famous composer has ever written.  It is magic to me.  It is a perfect lullaby. 
 
The light of November is transitional.  No longer is it as direct and strong.  It lacks the once powerful rays that stung us in July.  The light of November some might say is grey and blah, but it deserves a more introspective look.  This is light that grows short and it stays briefer every day. Now, the sun tucks itself back in under the horizon earlier and earlier so that darkness seems to have conquered the earth.  But little do we think about the necessary nature of this transition, for it is the change of light that brings the season, the leaves, the coolness, the thoughts and anticipation of light returning to the world.
 
The scent of November is comforting.  It is this season when the earth is once again opened up for a brief time before the winter snow blankets the rich fertile ground.  Now is the time we see fields once heavy with the fruits of the season now harvested and ready for a much needed rest.  However, the hearty scent of rich ground sneaks into our homes and underlines the wafting scent of wood smoke and warm aroma of harvest baked goods.  The scents of pumpkin, cinnamon, apple each introduce themselves to say hello and be greeted by an insatiable appetite.  A whiff of the air makes you feel safe and secure; no worries about will there be enough, for as matter of fact there is enough to share three times over. 
 
November, it is a simple as anything else for it is in this season when we can stop and say thank you for the warmth, the love, the provisions of life, the place to call home.  It is the beginning of a natural slow down of days, although we too often rush about concerned about less important activities.  November, there is something deserving of our appreciation if we just take a minute to see it.

Ancient Guide

Ancient Guide

 
I was not able to take in the magnitude of what stood before me.  After a long journey across the English Channel from Calais to Dover, I was overloaded as I viewed the pastoral countryside; thrilled and excited to finally be in England.  So, when suddenly before me stood Canterbury Cathedral, I simply followed the line of tourist not giving much thought to my location. 
 
Step, step, step, I walked up to the ancient structure from the south west transept. 
Step, step, step, I walked over the spot where so many people before me stood in awe as their thoughts transcended the divine. 
 
Step, step, step, I walked through the wrought iron gates and entered the sacred. 
It was at this point it dawned on me that I was where I needed to be at that moment in time. 
Strange thought, isn’t it?  To be far away from home, in a foreign land, and find I was right where I needed to be. 
 
The air was cool and dim, perfect transition on a warm summer day.  The nave was quiet and peaceful, scattered with a few other pilgrims, and some of the church members (yes, real church members doing work in this ancient place.)  There was some music playing as the church prepared for a special worship service honoring the Queen’s Birthday.  I could not completely enter the nave since it was being prepared; instead, I was drawn down to the crypt beneath the church where another sacred space awaited. 
 
I headed for the stairs with respect and veneration as I gingerly crossed over the tombs in the floor of those long passed.  Eventually I came to the stairs descending into the cavernous vault.  There were very few electrical lights; instead, the vault was lit by candles.  Dozens and dozens of flames aglow provided warmth and light in the damp, cool room.  Awe swept over me.  Reverence grasped my thoughts and my spirit.  The long journey I had been on came to this point.  I did not understanding that I was supposed to be here in this place but now I knew it.
 
Safe and secure I felt the passing of ages in this room, as millions of faithful Christians have entered and lifted up their prayers to the Almighty.  Moved by an unseen force, I walked towards the wrought iron candle holder in the center.  Here I took a previous burnt match stick and stuck it into the flame of a candle.  I let it burn for a moment watching as the flame grew and took hold.  This flame in my hand, who knows how long it had been burning, was now being transferred to another candle and with it another prayer to God. 
I needed to do this it is why I was here in this holy place, to light this one candle. 
 
Perhaps this is a strange story to some; however, there set apart from the distractive world I was in tune with what I believe was the Spirit of God calling me.  It was a call to stop and pray; to think about God; to give thanks and worship; to praise the Almighty for all those I love in my life.  You too are being called by God.  The Spirit works in all of us even when we are overwhelmed with life.  Be one who allows God’s Holy Spirit to guide you, and sometimes you will be surprised where the Spirit leads.
PAX   

stony field

Stony Field

 
There was an old man who for many, many years entered his field in the spring to prepare it for sowing.  Every year he would examine the field to see how the winter had left it and inevitably there were a multitude of stones that first would have to be removed.  In fall after the harvest he would note how the field was clean and ready for the spring, but it was as if with the first snow, stone seeds were planted in the field and with the spring thaw they would pop up ready for harvesting. 
 
Each year the man would begin his spring gleaning by removing all the stones.  As the years passed, the pile of stones he collected grew first as a small pile beside his barn to now a large, looming mountain.  He often marveled at the fact that he had moved so many rocks in his life.  From small pebbles to large boulders the man spent a great deal of time just moving rocks.
 
One spring day the old man looked out on his field to see that it had been a very prosperous year for stones.  There were more stones than ever before at least his back thought.  “Another year of harvesting stones.  I do not know if I have it in me anymore,” the old man thought to himself.  His knees ached, his back hunched, even his fingers were sore, his body was saying no more.  Turning to the sky, the old man said, “Why God, did you gift me with such a prosperous field of rocks?”  But there was no answer.  Did he even expect one? 
The man retrieved his wheelbarrow, spade, and went to work collecting the stones.  At mid-day the man could no longer bend over to pick up another stone.  He stood there looking at his field and he knew that he could no longer do this work.  “What shall I do?   This is my lively hood.  If I do not continue I will not put food on the table and I will starve.”  These thoughts weighed heavily on his head.  There alone in the field, beneath the very heavens the man stood and cried. 
 
“What is the matter?” said a voice.  The man in shock to hear someone looked up.  His tear filled eyes had difficulty focusing on the person who was there in the middle of the field with him. 
 
“You are greatly upset and crying in the middle of a field.  Why?”  said the person.
 
Still bewildered, the old man responded, “I can no longer harvest my field of stones.  And if I cannot remove the stones I cannot plant my corps, and I will not be able to survive.” 
 
The person responded, “Yes, I see you have many stones.  Even the pile next to your barn is huge.  But do you really think that God will not provide for you?” 
 
“Yes, I know God will provide for my soul, but I still must work to see that I can live.”
 
“You have worked for many years.  You have had faith that the seeds you planted would grow.  You have believed that there would be a good harvest at the end of each year.  You even had hope that there would not be stones the spring.  Why don’t you trust that God will provide for all your needs?”
 
The old man pondered this question.  He’s faith was confident but he never thought about God caring for him in any other way that involved trust.  This was a little too much for the old man to accept.  He had always worked hard in his stony field and now he was being asked by some stranger to trust that God would care for him.  As ludicrous as this seemed there was something nagging the old man in his soul; a feeling that the stranger was right.   
 
“Let go and let God,” he thought to himself.  Why did this ring true in his heart.  Let go and let God, it seemed preposterously simple.  “Trust God.  I need to trust God,” the old man said aloud.  A weight fell off the man’s shoulders a burden that had been weighing him down for years.  It made sense to him now, all these years he had faith and confidence that the field would provide but what he really needy was to believe that God would care for him even more than the field. 
 
The man beamed with radiance and joy in his heart.  He did a little jig in the middle of the field.  The joy and laughter of life and nature seemed to celebrate with him.  The old man stopped to thank the stranger but the stranger was nowhere to be seen.  The old man in shock looked around the entire field.  It was not possible for the person to have simply walked away that fast. 
 

The old man looked down where the stranger had stood and he noticed something rather peculiar.  It was something gleaming and shiny.  “What is that?” he said aloud.  Reaching over one more time he bent down and picked up the rock.  God had provided.

From the Window

The world can change overnight.  While we sleep in our beds simple actions outside of our control can manipulate everything we know about life.  This is a rather simple reality to uderstand; however, it can cause us to think that we have little control over situtations.

For example, the other night I went to sleep knowing that outside by bedroom window the land was brown, wet, and muddy.  It was a rather dyspeptic sight to see.  But then over the course of a couple hours in the dark heart of the night, the world spun, fronts moved clouds arrived and preciptation occured and in the morning the world was covered in white.  Yes, it snowed during the night and with each falling snow flake it transformed the world. 

The world changed and I had nothing to do with it. 

But then there are the moments in our lives when we do take active steps to change not only the world but ourselves.  A change in clothing style.  A new hair cut.  A different diet. These are simple, controllable decisions we make in our lives.  Control is nice.  It is comforting.  But what insight can control offer if we are not willing to look beyond the curtain of our mind and see what more we can experience. 

Considering change is not easy for me.  I love to try new ideas.  I love to think of new ways of doing things, but I also (and I say this emphatically) like continuity.  This tug of war between change and staying the same leaves me wondering is it better to go for one or the other?  Does balancing the two make sense?  Or does balancing leave one with the feeling of needing a little more either which way?

The snow has since melted and once again I did not have control over it.  I never will.  However, I do think I will work towards emboding a new way of seeing the world, while at the same time appreciating who and what I am today.  I guess balance is the way to go.  Only time and experience will prove otherwise.

A minute after

 
It never seems to fail but I always catch the clock a minute after the hour. I do not know if other have this same experience but I find it uncanny how often this occurs. I have tried to figure this phenomenon out throughout my life. Is it a message? Is there a sign involved? Is God saying something to me? Beyond the metaphysical I have looked at it simply as coincidence; however, it is one that seems to stalk me. I even go as far as to intentionally not look at the clock when I know that single minute is coming but that darned moment in time never seems to elude me. The :01 is there staring me in the face daring me to accept the fate it plays in my life. It is the fate of being prevalent, being noted, being a dash in time that causes me to stop and wonder. When you think about it how often do we get such a beacon in life that causes us to stop and wonder? Perhaps a minute after will causes us all to stop and wonder?