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Friday, 30 September 2011

Friday's Feast

It’s a glorious summer day here, unbelievably on the last day of September. In a t-shirt, all the doors open and a million flies filling up the house. 

The dog is flaked on the couch – it’s not her kind of weather. But it is mine, and like it or not, she’ll be heading out with me on our afternoon jaunt in a minute.

Spent the morning in the kitchen, doing some prep for the weekend’s social calendar. A dinner party tonight, a tea party tomorrow, and B&B guests over the weekend as well. So a bit more of the dusting is required, a few flowers to be brought in, more cooking to be undertaken. 

What a blessing it is to have a house, and a kitchen, and the money to buy enough food to share with others. What a blessing to prepare food for others, and to anticipate good, stimulating conversation over a glass or two of wine.

I’m thinking of others round the world, suffering for their faith, suffering for reaching out to the injured and helping them, suffering for lack of food. And I am thankful.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Which way?

A shiny tractor and plough parked across the path, blocking one of our normal morning routes. The cows had been moved early this morning, and cows, evidently, have no sense of direction. They follow their noses and their noses don’t always lead them in the right path.

We continued on and, as with previous mornings recently, encountered a rabbit who hunkered down, frozen to the spot. A few times recently, Dusty and a bunny have been nose to nose, though usually the rabbit eventually has hopped away in a desultory sort of fashion. Not at all normal.

I’ve looked for the signs of mixmatosis, a terrible disease that we’ve seen decimate the rabbit population here before, which causes blinding and eventually starvation. Didn’t see anything myself, but this morning’s encounter was with a rabbit who was most likely blind. Poor thing. I found myself praying for it!

I wonder how often I am stubbornly trying to go down the wrong way, like the cows, and need a physical barrier to alter my direction. I pray that God will have mercy on me and put that barrier in place today, if I am so inclined.

I also wonder how often I am just plain blind to what’s going on around me. I get frozen to the spot because I can’t see where the dangers are, and so keeping still seems the best option.

Often it is not. If I weren’t there to command Dusty away, she’d have had rabbit for breakfast.

God help me to find the right path this morning, I pray.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sun in my Face

The weather forecast is for a last blast of heat before the sun slips south. I don’t generally believe the forecast, so headed out on the morning trek suitably attired – eg, t-shirt, warm sweater and windbreaker. 

I stood in the field of weeds, shedding my layers, one by one – well, the top two anyway. And then I just settled, face to the sun, enjoying the massage on my sore sinuses, still trying to recover from a nasty cold. And I thought, sometimes praying is just standing still, breathing, basking in the Son. 

I’ve learned at least one lesson over these 35 years in Scotland. Carpe diem. When the children were small, in the summer holidays, as soon as a day like today unfolded, I dropped all unnecessary plans for the day, packed a picnic lunch, bundled the crew into the car (those were the days before everyone needed his own car seat and belt), dog in the boot, and we’d head for the river – either the Dee, or the Feugh, or maybe Rob Roy’s cavern. I am grateful that I was able to be a stay-at-home mum so that I had the freedom to do that with my kids.

I still seize the day, when gifted one like this morning, but my aims are more mundane and work-related now. I’ll try and replant some of the hundreds of tulip and daffodil bulbs we blithely dug up in early summer as we set out seedlings. 

But I will also stand in the sun and be still. Because in the trees, I can hear the caw of crows that reminds me autumn is waiting in the wings, with its winds and sharp edges.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Natural Classroom

 When I awoke, a pall of grey cloud had settled above the land around Barehillock, seeping drizzle onto field and grass. I lingered rather longer than usual over breakfast, and by the time I emerged to walk Dusty there was a rift in the grey. A glow of soft white light was revealed, beyond the clouds. It continued to emerge as we walked.

We walked down the avenue of trees, Dusty poking her nose into every bush and bramble. I paused to wait for her, turning towards the thick stand of pine trees. I could glimpse light through the far side of the woods, where two or three trees grew at weird angles. Another few steps, and when I repeated the turn, there was no sign of light through the trees, just deep darkness.

It all depended on my perspective, whether or not I could glimpse light on the other side of the trees. I was free to choose where to stand when I looked at them. 

Sometimes problems crowd in like that thick stand of trees, and whether or not I am overwhelmed by the problems may well depend on where I position myself when I look at them. If I can’t see any light, maybe I need to move my own position a little, and look again.

Other times, problems sit on me like that pall of grey cloud. I have no power to alter anything, because wherever I stand, the pall remains solid. Then, I need to wait and trust, knowing that the source of light above the cloud is still there, and when the time is right, the cloud will lift, or break up, or blow away, and hope will be renewed.

Amazing, the lessons in nature.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Field of Weeds

A glorious morning here – blue sky, the sunlight exquisitely vibrant as it traces out the patterns of foliage in the field. Dusty was enjoying a good nose round the rabbit holes as I stood contemplating this beautiful picture when I suddenly realized I was admiring a field of weeds.

That led me to ponder, who are the weeds whom I regard as ugly blights on the landscape of my life? Is there really no redeeming glory in them which I can discern if I pause long enough to look? When people are difficult, I prefer to look the other way, to take another path, to avoid an encounter, rather than looking closer. I heard someone say the other day that it’s easy to find the dirt in people – it’s everywhere – but our job is to discover the gold.

A big challenge. There aren’t a lot of weeds in my life, but the ones I am thinking of are like nettles or thistles – prickly and sharp, and they leave a sting. But both nettles and thistles have pretty flowers, and nettles yield a nourishing soup. Is there a lesson in that for me?

Jesus told a story about a farmer sowing seed. In one instance, the seed took root quickly in a fertile field, but then the weeds sprang up and choked the plant. I guess it’s important to beware of being choked by weeds of doubt and criticism, without dismissing the weeds as worthless.

Jesus died for the weeds in my life, as well as the roses. When he looks at a field of weeds, he sniffs the fragrance that is possible, if only someone would take the time to seek it out. 

I’d like to see the weeds through Jesus’ eyes, to see the gold, but mostly I just feel the thorns. I need divine help here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Neon Rainbow

It was one of those blustery, showery days. Brilliant blue sky one minute; lowering black clouds the next. Walking back from watering my neighbour’s greenhouse plants while she is on holiday, I saw the foundational arc of a rainbow planting itself in one of the golden, harvested fields near our home. As I watched in amazement, the rainbow completed the arc and then grew in intensity until the colours were truly neon. And above it stretched a second rainbow, paler and less vibrant, but complete as well. I just stood transfixed while I watched this show in the sky, a gift from God, and gave him the glory.
I know there are weather-related reasons for rainbows, but God made the weather, too, and when I see such a glorious sight as that rainbow, my heart beats faster with joy and gratitude to God for this world in which we live. I remember that the rainbow is the sign of God’s promise that never again will he wipe out the world in a cataclysmic flood.
I am grateful that I live in a rural location, where I am more aware of the wonders of nature. In the book of Romans, Paul argues that those who don’t know about God can see him in his handiwork, but I wonder about those poor children living on garbage dumps in Brazil or Mozambique or inner city squalor in Los Angeles or London. Where do they look to see God’s glory?
 Hopefully, in the faces of Christians there to help them.