“Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it…” Psalm 98, 1:7
Each of the seasons captivates me with its unique variety of nature’s grandeur. Spring arrives with hints of renewed life-in-the-making. Summer brings hope-fulfilled in lush green carpets of grass and blossoms of every color. Though fall’s sometimes gloomy days replace summer’s vibrancy too quickly, its own colors renew my fascination with the outdoors. Still, in spite of all of this beauty, I find myself most taken by the coldest season of the year. Recent blustering winds more than hinted at winter’s impending arrival. They tricked and treated us on Halloween Day with an onslaught of snow and cold. Though I find nothing more beautiful than an ice-clad tree or an undisturbed expanse of hardened snow, I felt for the children who braved winter conditions to collect their annual ration of Halloween candy.
In spite of that frosty Halloween of five days ago, a yard-full of leaves beckoned me outdoors. When I joined them on our lawn, I heard them crackling as they flew. I wondered if they were laughing at my my incorrect assessment that the snow had brought this year’s raking to a close. Perhaps those leaves chuckled because mounds of snow will soon require my attention as they did on Halloween.
Still, I welcome winter. During winter, numerous living things lie dormant beneath the surface. To me, they symbolize the potential to be found each one of us. Amazing gifts too often lurk beneath the surface. Discovering these new or forgotten gifts in those I’ve been given to love reminds me of the hidden treasures I find after my annual encounters with winter. Though they may be hidden for a while, the gifts of this life are everywhere and in everyone I meet along the way.
Creator God, thank you for the beauty of this world and of our human family.
God’s holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth. Psalm 48:3ab
Z is for Zenith. Zenith… the high point, the point directly overhead, the peak, the pinnacle, the summit. As the psalmist wrote, the fairest of heights. When good things happen to us we say that our spirits are high or that we’re uplifted. Though I don’t think there is actually a direction toward heaven, I turn my eyes upward to pray. I reference my loved ones “up there” and I visualize God and the heavenly cohort looking down from above upon me.
God’s “above-ness” doesn’t imply in any way that God is unwilling to dirty those Divine Hands with our troubles. God’s assigned position “above” never stops me from pulling God down into the worst of messes. More importantly, this position “above” never stops God from responding. No, our God loves us from the fairest of heights and from the deepest of trenches.
Today, I thank you for making your way through this alphabet of reflections with me. Though I fretted a bit about actually taking us from A to Z, the inspiration came. The good people around me, the wonders of creation and the scriptures never ceased to inspire. The same is true of God: The joy of all the earth and the source of joy for me!
Loving God, your presence throughout this ABC side-trip has been most tangible. Thank you for using me to spread your love. Use us all to light the way to your holy mountain.
“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
From Psalm 102
A friend who has invested many years into his career recently shared that he hopes to move on to something which will bring him joy. He wrestles with this notion because it seems selfish to him to want to do something that makes him happy. The new direction he seeks will actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way. Still, my friend struggles.
I find that I relate far too well to my friend’s dilemma. I share the notion that what we do in this life is meant only to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’ve lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in my choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place.
I am going to encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things that bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I speak to my friend, I am going to listen carefully to what I say. You see, it is time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.
Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we can speak them for ourselves. Help us to love ourselves as you love us. Give us the courage to hear our deepest cries for joy and to follow them as only we can.