Renewal

A sigh a stirring
Cool touch at day’s end
Moist whisper speaks
From night skies and
Hints of rain to come

Its indrawn breath
Stills the voices
Of insects and frogs
As the first taste of
Nature’s drink descends

From my open window
I breathe deeply
Releasing the day’s work
Welcoming the growing
Soft patter of quiet drops

Refreshing quenching
Soaking into thirsty soil
As downspouts begin
To gurgle and wash away
Accumulated debris

Drops rustle leaf and limb
As they dip and sway
Now flowing eagerly
Drawn into seeking roots
And renewing souls

Celebrate

Christmas tree_lights_Monicore_Pixabay

That’s wonderful! Yay! Great! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! You did it!

We enjoy celebrating those noteworthy moments in life. Whether it be the result of long hard work, another year of life, a special anniversary, or a new life born… times of celebration express joy and excitement.

I remember the celebration of my mother’s 80th birthday. Friends and family worked to make this a special surprise. The church secretary asked my mom to stop by to pick up something and the plot was sprung! What joy shone on my mother’s face as gathered family and friends all wished her a happy birthday and expressed our love for her, to one who was so giving and compassionate. I treasure that memory.

I celebrate too, the quiet satisfaction of accomplishment… perhaps a completed task for work, a finished piece of writing, simple tasks around the house, or doing something for family or friends. These daily celebrations are as important as the larger occasions and are a source of contentment and affirmation of life.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the quiet of the night was awakened to joy-filled words of celebration! “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” the host of angels proclaimed, “and on earth peace…” When the shepherds found this newborn Son of God, they celebrated by spreading the news to all who would hear. * Can you imagine the amazement and excitement in the little town that night?

There were other celebrations in the coming days as well, the praise of Simeon when he recognized Christ and the thanks of Anna who shared the news of his birth to all of those who had been waiting for that day. *

When the wise men arrived at the home of the child Jesus, they celebrated through worship and through the giving of gifts. They too had been searching for the child who had been born to the world. *

Something which is especially meaningful to me is Mary’s quiet and strong celebration, simply stated in Luke 2:19. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Her thoughts must have gone back to the earlier encounter with her cousin Elizabeth as they celebrated together. * After months of carrying this child, now came further affirmation. Imagine her awe and joy, and perhaps also the fear or questions about what this motherhood would bring in days and years to come. All the pain, discomfort, whispers, and exhaustion must have faded as she looked upon her son and saw the face of God.

As we travel through life, may we treasure those moments of celebrations. May we ponder deeply and long the greatest gift of all, Emmanuel, God with us!

* Luke 2:13-30 (Shepherd and Angels); Luke 2:25-28 (Simeon); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna);
Matthew 2:10-11 (Wise Men); Luke 1:39-56 (Elizabeth and Mary)

STILL

beach quiet waves-by addesia_Pixabay

“Hold still a minute, please!”

How often have we said or heard that phrase?! Whether to a wiggly child getting assistance with a coat before rushing out to play or putting finishing touches on any procedure, “holding still” is sometimes a challenge. This can be especially difficult if pain or discomfort is anticipated, such as getting a splinter out. We will ourselves, with gritted teeth and wavering resolve, not to pull back!

Our “go” and “do” society often encourages or rewards us for all those good or expected items. How do we choose when we have so many options? Group or individual activities, self-improvement, school activities and sports, community volunteers, arts and music, support groups, church and family… The possibilities are many!  Of course, there are seasons of life when things are full. Making a living and raising children, study or training for an occupation, and caring for loved ones are all important. There is satisfaction in work and events accomplished. These are positive things, right?

Besides, when we stay busy then we don’t have to think about things …things like life and faith. Who has time or energy to think?! The passing of time, especially things that make us uncomfortable or unhappy can be easily shoved aside. Even positive things can slip away before we know it. We somehow don’t get around to seeing that neighbor, friend, or family member. Things are set on autopilot, keeping up with our “to do’s.”

The problem for me with packed days of “go and do” is that I often find myself restless or stressed. By not allowing myself to pause, worry can become a norm. It’s difficult to fully relax and enjoy life. Taking time for those precious moments of stillness will renew and refresh us.

The writer of the book of Psalms knew this great gift and need for stillness, having struggled with it himself. God reminded him to “be still and know that I am God…” * The psalmist paints a picture of life as a surging sea; sometimes the waves mount up, but God quiets them with a word. *  This is echoed in Jesus’ words in the book of Mark, “Quiet. Be still” he rebuked the winds and waves. * Good reminders for us today!

My prayer for us, is that we will be intentional about our moments of stillness, however brief, and that we will treasure them. I pray for pauses to give thanks and to recognize God who brings healing and strength, and that you may heed His caring words, “Quiet. Be still.”

* Psalm 46:10a; Psalm 89:9; Psalm 107:29; Mark 4:39

Reflections on Fish

fish_underwater-1216244_1920_pixabay Simon H

Places to go and things to explore
• Stay out of the breakers to avoid trouble
• Joy carries us through dark fear and bright hope
• The immensity of one’s world is full of wonders
• Moving through life with others is a dance
• Life’s rhythm flows with energy
• Those gathered around us can bring protection and security
• Quiet presence when needed… is a gift
• When we are swimming freely… we are in our element
• Peace is found in quiet nooks

From “Reflections from the Everyday”

Rest Stop

bicyclist resting_pexels-photo-2270328

Blink, flash… rumble-rumble. I paused to watch the display in the night sky. Cool air, smelling of rain, drove away the last of the day’s heat. Watching from a distance provided a larger perspective and I considered the power of the storm and the wideness of the heavens. As the storm drew further away, I drew a deep breath and the rain-washed quiet began to draw from mind and body the day’s lingering roar. It was good to stop and rest.

When I find myself caught up in the rush and stress of life, taking time to pause helps both mentally and physically. Can’t you just imagine that “ahh” as you sink into a favorite chair, slide into bed, or arrive home after a long and busy day?! Wherever our “comfort spot” may be, it is a place to rest our soul and calm our spirit for a time.

When the crowd was pressing around Jesus, he too needed a time of rest. For those who wanted to follow him, Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” * Like us in our daily lives, He too had to seek those special times and places alone and in prayer with his Father, God… places of rest and places where daily needs could be met. The book of Mark tells us that the apostles, the followers or disciples of Jesus, had the same challenge and had to be intentional about taking time to rest. After they had shared with Jesus all that they had been doing and teaching, he reminded them of the importance of ‘stepping out of the stream’ for a while. “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” Jesus said, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So, they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” *

I think sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to step aside and rest. We are driven by so many things… I pray for you “rest stops” along life’s way. Times of comfort with friends and family. Quiet reflection with God who loves you. A welcome place to pause, stretch your legs, and relax before continuing on.

*Matthew 8:20 & Luke 9:58; Mark 6:31-32

To Listen

rabbit hare listening_photo Unsplash Vincent van Zalinge

Rushing here and there
We run about so frazzled
The pressures on
We’ve work to do!
To serve, to plant, to gather
…What’s that you say?
I’m busy now
No time to stop
To listen

To listen
For our quiet breath
And hear God’s reassurance
His guiding voice
To still the clash
Through friends His Word and prayer
A welcome calm mid frantic pace
If only we stop
To listen

Fret

dark cloud columns sun_pexels-photo-122306

Oh Lord, when I worry
And my world is spinning ‘round
Please cease the racing spirals
That try to make me fall

I know You say to trust You
That in troubles I’m not alone
But like great gobbling monsters
They rise to tear me down

So, Lord, when I worry
When I fret that all’s not well
Please touch me with your presence
And strike those monsters down

Remind me just to trust You
Discover calm amidst those storms
For in Your quiet presence
There’s strength to carry on

In the Quiet of Your Presence

Grand Tetons_Sep 2017_by Kathy Owen

Photo by Kathy Owen
Grand Tetons

In the quiet of your presence
Come sit with me
My companion
During loss and distress
Pain anger despair

In the quiet of your presence
The touch of your hand
A welcoming shoulder
For tears grief
For memories laughter

In the quiet of your presence
Great storms tumult
And pounding waves
In fear anguish
Drawn to your haven

In the quiet of your presence
Oh whys and what nows
No and no and no
Reef of danger or
Rock of safety

In the quiet of your presence
Blessed stillness
Washed
By shared tears
Battered and worn

In the quiet of your presence
Oh God!
Hold me
For I am bereft
Cold lost alone

Resting
In the quiet of your presence