Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Joining with all nature in manifold witness

One of my favorite hymns is "Great is Thy Faithfulness." 

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not
as Thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.

Chorus - Great is thy faithfulness
Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed, thy hand hast provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Summer and winter and spring time and harvest
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside

[Here's a longer, more gospel styled version of this great hymn -
that is actually a medley of several songs of praise and gratefulness.
And he is accompanied by a few thousand people who could and would surely
provide many examples of the faithfulness of God.
Here is another version if you want to listen to a shorter version than the other two.]

Sure, old fashioned words and phrases and titles of God appear in its lyrics 
- words like thee and thy and thou in it - 
but the meaning of those words and phrases, the acknowledgement of the goodness of God, 
the faithfulness of God, and the reminder to pay attention, to take note, 
and to join with all nature in manifold witness to God's great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Our silly little dog is a great example of faith and faithfulness.
She's twelve years old - and she's showing signs of her age.
Limping. Ear infections. Hearing impairment. Bladder challenges.
But she is unrelenting in her love for us -
actually, for my husband;
the rest of us, she tolerates when he's not around.
On her short strolls, as she sleeps peacefully through much of every day,
she demonstrates the utmost faith in our faithfulness and our provision.
She never worries about where her next meal will come from.
She never worries about the mortgage or the bills,
kanswer or heart disease.
She eats, sleeps, walks, and lives in this present moment
every single moment.
May my faith someday be as vast and as deep as hers.
(There she is, on the other side of our driveway, next to our neighbor's house -
can you even see her?)

At the foot of our driveway lives a magnolia tree.
Recently I have taken notice of its magnificent magnolia blossoms.
Their fragrance unforgettable.
I've never picked any of the magnolia blooms.
They are too big, too fragile, too perfect for me to tear from their perch.
I stare at them. I sniff at them. I practically bow down to them.
And, of course, I thank God for them.

As I made my way home from someplace the other day, 
I came upon this terrific turtle crossing the road.
Certain that I didn't want any cars to run over it,
uncertain about how I would keep that from happening,
I managed to flag this woman around my new turtle friend.
She pulled over, got out of her car, and bravely picked it up,
moving it to a safe and shady spot off the road.

I wish I could have spoken to it - 
Where are you going, little one?
What adventure was calling you across this road?
The woman who picked you up was convinced
that you would meet greater challenges on the road ahead.
I'm sorry she didn't put you on the side of the road that you were heading for.
What do we know about turtle thinking?
Absolutely nothing.
Thank you for being a sign and symbol of the provision and protection
of the earth and of nature itself for its own.
Clearly you lived well before meeting up with us - the ignorant do-gooders.
I hope we didn't divert you too seriously from your appointed rounds. 
I hope you are safe and happy and well wherever you are today.

As I look back on the past few weeks and months and years, 
I am reminded over and over of the great faithfulness of God.
Recovering from kanswer
- it has already been four years since my surgery.
This November will be five years since my diagnosis - FIVE YEARS!!!
My daughter is a college graduate.
My son is a successful college student.
My niece has released her first album and is making waves and headlines with it.
New babies will be born. New families will be formed.

Beyond the borders and boundaries of those I know, love, and hold dear,
there is the manifold witness of so many folks whose lives and work,
whose passions and activism are manifold witness to
the justice, the righteousness, the wholeness, the healing that 
God wants for all people,
not just the folks who look and live like them,
not just the folks who were born here and live "legally,"
not just the folks who agree with them politically.
There is work to be done towards reconciliation and peace
for all people everywhere, starting right here in our broken and beautiful city.
And they are doing the work.
What a witness to faithfulness, hope, and the future.

Remaining alert, being attentive, staying 'woke
in a world, in a nation that so desperately wants
the most active and passionate and determined among us
to go back to sleep,
to slip into a consumerism-induced coma,
this kind of commitment takes a toll.
Wears us out, breaks us down, trips us up.

We need strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
We gain that, we regain that in community,
on the yoga mat,
listening to music,
dancing when nobody is looking,
filling journal pages,
reading poetry,
talking to, laughing with, and creating art with soul sisters,
eating good food,
slipping between clean sheets with dreams already swirling,
playing with puppies,
holding newborns,
planning getaways and "do nothing days,"
flipping through Bella Grace magazine,
sharing dreams about what church could look like if we dared to
abandon some of the old ways of doing things,
drinking tea, coffee, Fresca, and watermelon mojitos,
falling to our knees in prayer,
giving thanks for the many blessings that we have already received,
and taking note of the ten thousand beside.

Great is God's faithfulness.
Morning by morning.
Day by day.
Hour by hour.
Even in the darkest hours.
Perhaps most especially then.
Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

Redline Run said...

If you have got a day to spare, want to explore the roads of New Zealand, then treat yourself to Redline Run Car Rally adventure. All you need is a car and a road map, then off you go around the roads. Celebrate and party with people.