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Friday, 23 November 2012

Black Friday

Black Friday, so called because it is the shopping day of the year here in the USA which sends shops' accounts back into the black. Or that is the theory anyway.

People have died in the stampedes to bag bargains on this day. This is not hyperbole but fact.

However, this morning Robbie and I braved it and ventured down to a beach city we know, where he bagged a bargain Christmas. Scratch one off my list. We saw no shoppers frenzy, no parking lot rage (several years ago my sister and I witnessed a fist fight over a parking place!)

And we are about to venture out again, to see what else we can find.

May all your black Fridays be full of light and sunshine. And gratitude. Black friday

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Of pumpkins, pecans and gratitude

The day before Thanksgiving here in the States and the fragrance of pecan pie mingles with that of pumpkin pie. Family on this side of the pond is beginning to gather under cloudless skies, the sound of laughter ringing through what are normally quiet halls. Mom is making the most of us all being together.
Robbie rolled in just after 3 am, having driven for about 11 hours the length of the state to get here. His Norwegian passenger, a fellow student, had some problems finding the house of her friends in Pasadena, which necessitated an hour's delay until a hotel was duly found for her. His patience held up and so did his homing instincts (and sat nav).
we have the Thanksgiving branch as centrepiece on the table, empty leaves ready for those with grateful hearts for the many blessings of this past year to express gratitude. Of course I have already done this 10 days ago in Scotland, but I have not run out of blessings for which I thank and praise God every day.
May your day be punctuated by outpourings of gratitude as you notice a sunset or a tree bedecked in autumnal finery, whether or not pies are on the menu.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Exquisite Weeds

The sun stares from a clear blue sky, a cold stare I have to say. It was below freezing as Dusty and I made our way along the lane. Thankfully my eyes were open, because the sun, still low-hanging, shone through the ice-etched grasses along the road, where they glistened like Swarovski crystals.

Passing into the tree-lined lane, we were back into a sodden, muddy track, and the grasses drooped towards the earth, laden with last night’s rain. But again, turning the corner into the open field beyond, the temps had plunged below zero and frozen those drops onto every weed in the swampy field.

Mhairi once gave us a copy of a poem – reflecting that life is the poorer if you don’t take the time to stop and stare. This morning, despite the fact that I fly away early tomorrow and have a million things to do today, I stopped and stared. And gave the glory to God.

How can anyone think that this just happens? I know there are laws of physics and so on – but the creative, beautiful mind behind it all is breath-taking.

By the time we were heading home, the sun was higher in the sky and its lukewarm rays had already melted the ice crystals on the weeds. They now just looked like droopy grasses again, and nobody passing this way now would realize that just a quarter of an hour previously, they were part of a winter landscape of exquisite beauty. 

I wonder what weeds I will see today which, if I looked more keenly and at just the right moment, would be stunningly beautiful? I wonder if you will meet any such weeds today? I pray that if you do, you catch them in the sun’s rays, before the world’s ways have melted the crystals.
Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Racing against the Clock

My wise old dad used to counsel me to take time to smell the roses. Of course they’re not in bloom in Scotland in November (!), but metaphorically speaking I need to slow the rhythm of life to a less frenzied beat.

How often it seems that things converge and concertina into a short space of time. I’m in that squeeze box at the moment, working off an incomplete To Do list and just hoping not to forget one of those Essential Jobs. Like packing my passport and insurance documents.

Looking forward to a change of pace. Lingering over a cup of coffee (and a doughtnut?!) with Mom. Sitting in a chair and reading a book perhaps, rather than reading the odd few pages sleepily in bed. Enjoying some sunshine and warmer temps.

We shouldn’t live life under so much stress that we feel we need an eject button to get away every so often. I shouldn’t. But there’s so much that needs doing, and so much that I want to do. 

Grateful that we’ll have all eternity to finish some of the projects closest to our hearts. But for now, I’m praying for the wisdom to recognise what has my name on it, and what I can pass on or just let drop. 

Know what I mean?

And now I’d better get that suitcase open ...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Shades of Grey

At heart, I am a hot-weather person. I love the freedom of only needing to wear one layer of clothing, possibly with bare feet, and knowing that you’ll be comfortable that way all day. 

Scotland is not a good fit for me in this regard. Here, I am already in my winter three-layer garb, which apart from hiding any unwelcome bulges has no other redeeming value. It is time-consuming to get dressed in the morning and undressed at night. Going out to walk the dog requires another two layers (fleece and wind-proof), knit hat, gloves, warm boots. I know, it sounds like the Arctic but I just prefer to be totally warm rather than slightly shivery at the start of a walk.

Having said that, the longer I live here (which is now over half of my life!) the more I appreciate the beauty of the place. I guess I may have commented on this before. Certainly my children quote me at times for voicing the thought that grey skies can be beautiful.

I hasten to clarify, not the solid weepy curtain of foggy cloud that crouches on the hill tops some days, but the variegated shades and textures and shapes I see in the skies most days. The light has a different quality here, and the way it plays on the clouds and brings out the various shades is endlessly changing and lovely. Throw in a rainbow every so often and it’s breath-taking in its own way.

A song just popped into my head – a song from the 60s. ‘Everything is beautiful, in its own way...’ How true that is. 

God, give me the eyes to see past my preconceived ideas to the beauty of landscape, of cityscape, of individuals. Thank you that yours is a perfect creation, marred for a time but redeemed by you and destined one day to reflect all the beauty that is you. Thank you for giving me an appreciative heart. May I grow to appreciate the world around me more every day. Amen.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Stock still

We were in the field together yesterday, Dusty and me. Cylindrical bales of straw are strewn round the field higgledy-piggledy, and the stiff stalks still crunch underfoot as you walk across the uneven ground. Dusty doesn’t really like it much, and manages to find the alleys of grass where no seed was planted. 

I managed to coax her to the bottom of this fairly large field, but then she stopped, stock still, as she seems to do more often these days. She’s 11 now and although she still has great stamina on any walk we’ve had to drive to, and can chase down a football nearly as fast as she used to, she’s a little more ornery and if she finds a walk ho-hum, she just stops and stares at me with a look of ennui.

She was just a couple of feet away from me and as I looked at her standing there rigid as a bronze statue, I realized that actually, her little black nose was sniffing the air, turning this way and that as she caught different scents on the breeze. She looked across the barbed wire longingly – some smell was enticing her. 

I’d thought she was rigid and unmoving, but her nose was active and no doubt her mind was too.
It made me think of God. How many times do I feel exasperated that he just doesn’t seem to be doing anything, to sort out an injustice, perhaps, or deal with a painful situation, or bring healing. It feels sometimes as if he’s just not moving.

But I’ve no idea what’s going on. ‘My ways are not your ways,’ God says.

Neither are Dusty’s.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

It's the Light

Sitting in my prayer alcove this morning, the view took my breath away. In fact now, hours later as the sun is beginning to set, it is taking my breath away again.

But this morning, I grabbed the ipad and headed out to photograph it. The orange needles of the larch tree, those not yet on the ground, stretched skywards and drooped earthwards, the sunshine reflecting off of them. Behind, from a clear blue sky, a sliver of a moon was fast fading towards the horizon. 

The picture was disappointing. You can see for yourself. Nothing can capture that glory when you see a natural beauty in person. A picture may be good, but it isn’t as accurate as you would like. There’s something about the light that just doesn’t get captured by the camera exactly as it appears when you see it with your own eyes.

I suppose that is the problem with trying to share the beauty and majesty of Jesus with someone who has never met him. Someone who thinks of him as a historical figure, a good teacher who said a lot of challenging things which, if followed, would radically change the world. 

Of course he was both of those, but so much more. The Son of God. Still alive and longing for every person to meet and fall in love with him. Words don’t do him justice. Maybe sometimes others may glimpse Him through us, but again, it is but a pale reflection. It’s only in that first-hand encounter, that meeting spirit to Spirit, that one appreciates the glory.

All we can do is to continue to bring people to Him, somehow. Once seen, Jesus is irresistible.
It is the light. And the love. And the life.