Monday, July 25, 2011

The God of Peripheral Vision

Have you ever heard the phrase: “God doesn’t close one door, but He opens another”?

I have to be honest, here – I try to avoid using those words in any sentence that comes out of my mouth. It seems to suggest that God is a great puppeteer who goes around steering my robotic form here and there – shoving me through a threshold or pushing me back out over the doorjamb --- opening and closing doors that always seem to have a slamming sound at the end --- all the while expecting me to sit passively by and merely wonder: “Is the answer through Door Number One or Door Number Three????”  “Doesn’t matter”, says the Cosmic Angelic Co-host: “God Knows Best”.

Well, I do think there is something to be said for God knowing what is best for us overall and I would also add a personal disclaimer that sometimes God has been present in amazingly personal ways. But closing and opening doors just doesn’t speak convincingly to me about my interactions with my Creator and the freedom I have been given to make choices in the life I live.

Perhaps it is not so much that God closes one door and opens a new one, but that I am looking in the wrong place.

I find it amusing to think of myself staring at a blank wall just waiting for “The Door” to mysteriously appear that God will magically open; when, actually, I am really waiting for a door to open that will look like – feel like – taste like – smell like – and sound like the door I wanted in the first place.

What if the door that God opens is the one on my peripheral vision – that area of sight that is not  front and center?

Perhaps the God-Shaped Door is the one that I might see if I were to stop staring straight ahead.

Maybe it is not so much that God closes one door and opens another but rather that God has a door open and is waiting for me to notice.

Photo credits:
#1 "Doors" by MrKilzo
#2  "The Doors" by tavarin d3awrdt
#3  "Opening Doors" by Penelope T
#4  "Old Doors 7" by bakenekogirl
#5 "Vintage III" by oriontrail

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Here I am...take me."

  Winters in Vermont take some getting used to. It took me about four years before I got over expecting crocus and daffodils in March and accepted the fact that the brief and beautiful summer closes down shortly after trees begin their seasonal dance of color sometimes as early as August.  Winter was the hardest, however, because it took a keen eye to see the subtle shifts in nature during this most daring and dramatic of seasons. But the stark space of Winter allows you to see things that are disguised during the cover-up season of Springsummerfall.

This year, the very tippy-top twigs of naked trees captured my attention as they stood out against the sky seemingly flinging themselves heavenward singing: “Here I am --- take me” --- offering with full confidence that their destiny was to become One with the Universe.  Perhaps these newbie twiglets from last year’s birthing do not realize that they stand on the backs of the branches before them who once upon a time also reached to the sky vibrating: “Here I am --- take me.” 

Such is the cycle of life. New growth reaches out boldly with energy, hopefulness and innocence not fully realizing that it is only their connection to the whole that gives them their being. The essence of their slim twigginess only exists because it is affixed to another “branchlet” and that small stem --- not much older in terms of seasons --- finds itself secured to a branch --- and that branch to a limb and then to a bough and then to a trunk whose roots forage deeply and silently with outstretched foundation to anchor the whole, feed the many and water the sky.

The mighty trunk that was once a tiny twig itself crying “Here I am --- take me” has become what it was meant to be.  Could it have guessed at its destiny when first it took shape and form?

So, little twiglet…so bravely and naively clambering to the sky – what lesson do you have for us? Do the cries of: “Here I am, God --- use me” really fall on deaf ears?  Does that which you see as a precious gift seem to be not particularly treasured in God’s sight? Can it be, tiny beacon of longing, that there is another aspect of your calling that beckons and bids you pay attention? Something that does not fall within your comfort zone so readily? Something more in tune with your “being” rather than your “doing”.

Perhaps that which is yearning to make itself known to you in fresh ways will be your connection to that which roots you --- leading you through the next season of your growth and sustaining you to  become that for which you were created.

Photo credits:
"Trees in Snow" by ~pnewbery 2008-2011
"Trees Trees Trees" by f_l_A_r_k
"Winter Trees" by Rabid Turtle
"Winter Essence" by oriontrail
"Winter's Mist" by Ratafluke

Monday, July 4, 2011

...Even weeds...

I have been weeding a friend's garden this summer - my gift to her as her health declines due to metatastic breast cancer.

Another friend of hers had volunteered to put the flower garden in order earlier in the spring: thinning things out --- moving some plants around --- weeding ---- mulching. I would just come by once a week to tend the garden and pull the weeds that inevitably invite themselves in to stay. Good plan.

Well, the earlier shape up didn’t happen so by the time I got there in early June, the garden was having a riotous good time in taking over all the available space and crowding out anything timid enough to beg for some room to grow. With some coaching about what was needed, the best I could do was to rip out the invasive stuff; patiently track down the weed stems to their source and pull out the roots; trim other things back in order to find and liberate the perennials that needed some space and light in order to simply survive.
In the midst of my second day of weeding, I was grumbling to myself about weeds and invasive plants and why do they have to be like that anyway. There were so many everywhere! I had no hope of being able to remove them all...but then, God’s Whisper in my ear said something about Abundance.

There was a purpose for all those plants I was enthusiastically tossing over my shoulder into a brush pile assuming they were "junk". Just because I don’t want something to grow in a particular place doesn’t mean that there was no purpose for it. It is just rooting itself where "I" don't want it to grow -- my problem, not God's! 

How many times do I overlook that Abundant Nature and only focus narrowly on the little piece of my world right in front of me instead of looking at the wholeness of God's gracious vision?

God’s Abundance is just that --- lavishover-the-top, unrestrained, extravagant, bountiful, prolific

--- weeds and all.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Wind That Blows Actually Holds Me Fast

We live in a very windy area here in Vermont. It is lovely farmland but since our land used to be pasture and cornfield, there are not many native trees immediately around our house -- so we have embarked on an annual effort to do just that - return to nature some of the "hardware" that seems to have been removed when humans came to town. Hopefully over time we will have some windbreak as well as cover for more birds to roost...but I do get concerned about our young striplings when the wind blows like a hurricane force gale.

Our first year here, we planted a young maple that we bought at a nursery. We didn't realize that the trunk had a bit of a bend in it when we picked it out, but we staked it up as instructed to give it some support as the roots took hold over the first year. It did look a bit "indpendently minded" in the standing-up-straight department, however, even though we were assured by the nursery that all would be well in time.

After the first three years, it was still crooked and we gave up with any additional attempts to help Mother Nature straighten up our firstborn with the various experiments we utilized to help it stand a bit less crooked. 

We asked a local nurseryman (who specializes in native plantings) about our little quandry and his advice was: "Don't stake the tree any longer." He went on to explain that in a prevailing wind like the one that whoops across this landscape, the tree will actually develop a stronger root system on the side of the tree where the wind is always blowing. It is those roots that will anchor the tree and keep it rooted in the wind because they will grow deeper, stronger and make the tree more resilient. If we stake up the tree, the roots won't strengthen on that side and it will actually be weaker in the face of the wind.

Well, this certainly reminded me of the advice that inevitably comes when adversity strikes -- "This will make you a stronger person." I have to admit that I don't always like to hear that advice as true as it is. I don't want to experience adversity in order to become a stronger person -- can't I become a stronger person some other way that is less painful and seemingly unproductive?

I don't really have an answer to that rhetorical question, but I do know that when the Wind has blown in my life - as it inevitably does for anyone - my "roots" have been made stronger as well. Can it be that the Wind that blows actually holds me fast?

The Wind is an interesting metaphor for God. You can't see where it comes from nor where it goes. You can't hold it and you certainly can't control it. It blows where it will and you only know it is there by seeing the action it stirs whether that be a free-wheeling kite doing somersaults in the sky or a vulture spiraling on outstretched wings simply enjoying flight or an unexplained force compelling you in some new direction that you had never considered before.

So, it's kind of comforting to think that the power of the Wind is not only meant for turning wind turbines, but actually can become the means by which my roots are strengthened enabling me to remain fixed in something greater than myself. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome to Song of the Willow

Hello there -- Thanks for checking out my very first blog post!!! I have to admit, I am REALLY a novice at this. So, I am very proud of myself that I somehow managed to get this far!

The title of my Blog "Song of the Willow" relates to some writing I am doing right now while on a sabbatical leave. As things move along in that department, I will probably post some of those thoughts -- not to bore you -- but to explore the hidden habitat in our soul journeys that sometimes look like we are grounded (as in "You're Grounded!! and going nowhere fast!!") -- sometimes look like we are rooted (as in the rootedness of a willow) - and sometimes look like we are simply "stuck in the mud" (as in "stuck in the mud").

And for those naturalist purists out there, I want to assure you that I do know that the picture above is not a willow. It looks more like a pine but I am on the hunt to find just the right picture and wanted to play with the "insert image" feature. And I'm pleased to say it worked -- except it is not a willow...that I know.

So, stay tuned. I will return with more Songs from the Willow