(Maybe next week???)
No, I suggest, I urge, now.
Today. And maybe again tomorrow.
Pause. Because you need The Presence.
I need the exercise,
I need the woods,
I need to think,
I need to pause,
This is a good prayer for such a day, for such a season:
O God, You are my God.
I seek you earnestly.
My soul thirsts for you… longs for you…
As in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
(Or at least no snow so far this winter.)
leafless trees pause in the life cycle for rest, to go deep, to wait for spring.
Bird song is muted; no murmur of a breeze can be heard.
Not one squirrel announces my presence; we’ve had a sudden cold snap and they are hunkered down in their messy looking dreys.
It’s a still place.
But it is not empty.
I am halfway to wherever when I finally tune in to the whispers of life surrounding me.
I hear a great horned owl calling, low and steady, pause, repeat. The call is repeated in a higher pitch far up the mountain. Mating season comes early for these predators.
when I encroach on their space.
The raucous alarm cry of the pileated woodpecker raises my curiosity and I stand, pause long, until I spot him, high in the canopy. (Sorry, no clear picture!) I wait him out, and he forgets me, or decides I’m not a threat, and resumes his busy-ness- he is dangling, twisting, snatching red berries from a bittersweet vine twined sixty feet above the forest floor. Looks like a happenin’ Christmas party for one.
I see other signs of forest activity. Someone has cleared a fallen tree from the path and neatly stacked the wood. Something has torn apart a log in search of a snack; I notice a recently excavated hole about the size of a chipmunk…it’s nap time.
But I choose otherwise. This time I will not rush home. This is a different kind of power walk…
a stream of water gushing from a hidden source deep in the heart of the mountain.
It is my favorite resting place on a hot summer afternoon. Beyond this spot, the path disintegrates into a tangle of thorny canes and tick cover and snake rocks, but right here, a reservoir overflows with pure clearness that quenches more than my thirst today.
It’s been just cold enough, and the ice beauty catches me off guard. Oh, dear God, You did this. For me?
I doubt anyone else has seen it, just this way, this day. My eyes, my soul can barely take it in.
And then, ohhh...these exquisite ferns.
I’m out of words and on my knees,
to see this breathtaking beauty,
to capture photos so I will remember,
to say "thank you."
Psalm 63:2-4 continues:
So I have looked upon You, I have seen You – to gaze at, to perceive, to contemplate with pleasure. This is a more poetic word than the usual “seen.” It refers to a prophetic vision and insight, to seeing God.
In the sanctuary – a sacred place. “God’s presence is what makes any place, anything, or anyone holy.” (Note from NASB Key Word Study Bible, OT entry 6944) Moses heard God’s voice at the burning bush, “...the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” It was his unexpected encounter with the living God in an ordinary place that became holy. Yes. I get that. I'm standing stock still on holy frozen ground.
I don’t take my shoes off…brrr... but my soul kneels and my heart is raised in praise to this One who would pause to create this place of pause to meet my need,
to meet me.
My lips will praise you – to address in a loud tone! (I’m doing it, yes I am, because my heart is overflowing, and I just want to thank Someone.)
Because Your steadfast love – your lovingkindness, your unfailing love
Is better than life itself.
I will bless /honor/praise You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
Jesus, You whom we
during this frantic, festive season,
I will pause to praise You as long as I live,
or at least, let me be singing when the evening comes.