Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Sunday, July 31, 2011

For This Lord's Day, And Every Day

My God, my King, Thy various praise

Shall fill the remnant of my days;

Thy grace employ my humble tongue

Till death and glory raise the song.


But who can speak Thy wondrous deeds?

Thy greatness all our thoughts exceeds.

Vast and unsearchable Thy ways,

Vast and immortal be Thy praise!

~Isaac Watts on Psalm 145

Friday, July 22, 2011

Red Currants, Old Linens and Babies

It's facinating how at times tasks, events and memories spin together forming connecting threads, past to present.

The red currants are full and ripe, picking is in process. With that always comes memories of momma.

I grew up in my own Eden, where the fruit of all trees and plants were allowed. Except one. There was one small red currant shrub. It was down the path to the wooden platform where the merry-go-round clothes line stood. That shrub was momma's prize. It's fruit was forbidden to all passers-by especially children. It was treasured and guarded with a fierceness of that which guards the Crown Jewels. In later years, on another farm, was another red currant. It too was guarded with the same sure intensity but this time from the maurading grand children.

So now, I'm picking my own red currants and wishing momma the crop hanging so bountifully that guarding is not required. In fact, gleanings will be left for the birds but also for the great-grand lad who loves to pick and eat the gleaming fruit.

Now about linens. In the present chosen task of simplifying, down-sizing our life, one has been gathering, sorting, selecting the best and favorites of my long-held stash. Old laces and linens "are my one weakness." On some of these fabric treasures stains of differnant sorts could be seen. So what's to do? Thoughts, at once go back to my Grandma. I see her standing over the hot, boiling kettle on the green wood stove. She is stirring and perspiring in order to ultimately have gleaming white linens of which a woman can be proud. And that was only step one.

From that process came the washing carefully, no bleaching please, only gentle castile soap allowed. After rinsing and wringing, the linens were carefully spread on the grass. Sun and chlorophyl combining to work the final magic.

Oxyclean and soft soap allowed me to skip Grandma's process - all except the spreading on the grass for the day. And yes, Dear Reader, all spots were gone, all glistened white enough to make Grandma proud.

Then there is the item regarding babies. This a particularly joyful note.

This week, our clan has been blessed with the safe arrival of yet another wee lass. Her coming makes four great-grands for us. All tied up in the splendid emotions of this is the fact that she, with nary a thought on her part, awarded grandmother status to my youngest, my baby. That alone is cause to ponder and in fact has indeed been pondered much these last few days.

With her coming, my thoughts went to my own dear daddy. How delighted he would be to see my great-grands, my grands too. How he treasured my own little ones. The remembered memory is him with my four Littles gathered on his lap, surrounded by his big arms. He was a generous sized grandpa and my little ones were all lanky and long-legged in the early years of his living next door. He could hold all four at once. On those occasions, after all were settled there were stories told. Daddy was not only the lover of these children, but the consumate story teller.

These vingnettes have all been part of this week's life and thought. Varied and seemingly disconnected they concern not only connecting memories but the three pillars that structured my childhood.

What's that? Three pillars are not enough to establish structure. No, not only three. There was a Fourth, unseen, acknowleded, followed. And so He remains, the essential Pillar of our growing family to this day. He brings all together, He connects the threads of our varied lives and weaves the fabric of our Life's tapestry.

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place

and our refuge in all generations.

...even from everlasting to everlasting

You are God."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wilderness Thoughts

A wilderness defined is a solitary region, untilled rough country adapted only as pasture. So this is where we have been in all its imagery.

We are now, thanks be to our faithful God, on the far side of the wilderness. Yes, there has been a coming out. There are no naive thoughts about this being our last wilderness visit. Wilderness experiences are a part of pilgrimage. But with each visit new insights are gained, new strength given, new growth realized.

What was evidenced this time was the awareness of the constant presences of my Lord, the continual feeling of being wrapped securely in a downy soft prayer coverlet and the peace that it brought.

The early days were, for want of better words, frightening, horrific, awful. The Man Himself always experiences a form dementia after anesthesia. This time was beyond past experiences. There were exceedingly long days and longer nights where I stormed into the Father's Throne Room in very unseemly fashion, continually. Then, when I came to the place of saying 'if this is my portion the rest of my days, I will accept and trust You.' Following that came many hours of uninterrupted sleep. In the morning following, clarity of mind and a settled peace was given to Himself that was astounding.

The days since have been a sweet challenge, trying to find the right foods to delight and fatten one who in the best of times is no foodie, to somehow strengthen a very weak body. We are gaining on it. There has been - slowly by slowly - a return of strength and ounce by ounce a weight gain.

While still not yet behind the pulpit, week day mornings have been put in at the office for a week now. And yesterday, a visit to the Holey Land with his golfing chum. The report was that both played badly, but 9 holes were finished.

So what specific wilderness thoughts?

During the early days especially, the hymn that came and continued to stay was "The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want", the Scottish Psalter version. Truly the 23rd Psalm is everyone's earliest favorite. For it to return, after all these years in such tender force was precious. The promises of protection, provision, of a "future and a hope" truly carried me and companioned me through the rough country of that solitary region. So for now:

"Who is this who comes up from the wilderness

leaning upon her beloved?...

This is my beloved and this is my friend...

His banner over me is love...."

Always is has been, always it shall be.

Praise Him.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"The son said that his Father's desire was to deck His priests with health and joy and vigor. A wilderness experience did not seem to be His choice for them, and yet for many the wilderness was appointed...

Then the Comforter brought to his mind words about his Lord's sojourn in the wilderness...and he saw that no child of the Father was asked to walk where the footsteps of his Lord were not clear on the road.

He saw also that there always was a coming out of the wilderness....

No dwelling place was ever built in any wilderness for any child of God."

These words left as waymarkers by Amy Charmichael so long ago, have been quietly, repeatedly ringing in my ears these last weeks. A "coming out of the wilderness" - what bliss.

We are now on the sunny side of the recent wilderness for which we thank our God.
Of the many things learned in these weeks, most clear is that all wilderness experiences are to test our mettle [an allusion to the temper of the metal of a sword blade..quality of honor, fortitude, ardor..see courage:) Eng. dict.- smile face, mine]

Well, our mettle/metal has been tested, and while often we have been found wanting, the Faithfulness of our God?, never. Then too, the continual prayers of the saints on our behalf have graced our days in ways beyond telling. We are humbled. We are most grateful.

Just as we continue on the other side of our wilderness, others of our family are facing wilderness times ahead. Fortunately for all, the promises of God are not depleted by the usage.
He will continue to show Himself mighty on behalf of His children who call on Him, who trust in and rest on Him.

Praise His name.