Our Chance to Choose

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.
The world is crowded with Him.
He walks everywhere incognito.
And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate.
The real labor is to remember to attend.

In fact to come awake.
Still more to remain awake.
~C.S. Lewis from “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer”

God is going to invade, all right:
but what is the good of saying you are on his side then,
when you see the whole natural universe
melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in;
something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?

For this time it will be God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike
either irresistible love
or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.

There is no use saying you choose to lie down
when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing:
it will be the time when we discover
which side we really have chosen,
whether we realized it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
~C.S. Lewis from
Mere Christianity

The older I get, the more I recognize the need to be alert and awake to the presence of God in the crowded world around me. It doesn’t come naturally. We humans have an attention deficit, choosing to focus inwardly on self and ignoring the rest. If it isn’t for me, or like me, or about me, it somehow is not worthy of my consideration.

We wear blinders, asleep, unaware we must choose an incognito God;
we think His invisible immensity must be obvious, like a lightning flash.

And so – He has come and walked among us in plain sight.
No longer incognito.
The time to choose has come.

photo of lightning over Anacortes, Washington from Komonews.com

Like Thunder Follows Lightening

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Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth.
Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo.
Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightening.
~Karl Barth

 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing separates our thankfulness
from the gifts we’ve been granted.
We have been given life, certainly.
But that is not all,
though more than plenty.

Beyond imagining,
we are given forgiveness.
Offered a new life,
undeserved.
An opportunity to
make things right again
by His forgiving
the unforgivable.

It is possible to be grateful every day
without knowing grace.
Many voices raised today
speak of thankfulness.

But to know the gift of grace–
experience its resounding clarifying brightness,
its gentle, compassionate merciful touch
every day, every hour, every moment
every breath,

we must respond, thundering
our gratitude at the lightening spark of God,
echoing unending thanks
in our every breath.

 

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Awash with Angels

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Today, in Bellingham, even the sidewalks gleam.
Small change glints from the creases
in the lady’s mantle and the hostas after
the rain that falls, like grace, unmerited.
My pockets are full, spilling over.
~Luci Shaw from “Small Change”

There were thunder storms and torrential rains to the north of us, to the east and to the south, but we had only a gentle constant showering during the night — a calm center.  This morning such undeserved grace is gleaming as if a spill over of twilight’s gloaming.

Today we are awash, cleansed,  with bright wings.

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And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
~ Gerard Manly Hopkins from “God’s Grandeur”


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Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
~Richard Wilbur

Breathe Normally

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Thunderhead from above over western Washington


There’ll be turbulence. You’ll drop
your book to hold your
water bottle steady. Your
mind, mind has mountains, cliffs of fall
may who ne’er hung there let him
watch the movie. The plane’s
supposed to shudder, shoulder on
like this. It’s built to do that. You’re
designed to tremble too. Else break
Higher you climb, trouble in mind
lungs labor, heights hurl vistas
Oxygen hangs ready
overhead. In the event put on
the child’s mask first. Breathe normally
~Adrienne Rich -from Tonight No Poetry Will Serve, 2011 National Book Award Finalist

We just got off a very turbulent flight from Chicago to Seattle due to thunderstorms much of the way, particularly in the northwest. The brief times when there wasn’t shuddering and bouncing and metal trembling were gifts. I could breathe normally for awhile, not gripping the chair arm, gritting my teeth and silently praying.

I’ve become less and less brave about flying. I know all the statistics about safety but they don’t reassure me in the clinch when hanging at 35,000 feet as if on a thin bungee cord.

Now safely on the ground, I wonder about the next flight, and the next. Like the stomach sinking drops that life can inflict unexpectedly, I know there is nothing to be done but endure what is uncertain. I can’t pedal fast enough to keep a plane in the air so I depend on others who build and maintain and fly planes to do that for me. I can’t prevent bad things from happening in life, but I can depend on the truth that goodness will prevail. I must trust solely in grace given as a gift and never earned.

I must put my oxygen mask on first and breathe normally. Then and only then can I help save others.

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Mt. Baker from above. Usually we admire it from the ground from our Whatcom County back yard

 

Wafting Him Out of It

photo of dappled-with-damson west courtesy R.V. Schoder Loyola University Archives

I kiss my hand
To the stars, lovely-asunder
Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
Glow, glory in thunder;
Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west;
Since, though he is under the world’s splendor and wonder,
His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins

I greet Him when I meet Him
as the color of the evening sky
spills as tipped paint
far fleeting across the horizon,
cleaned up and gone before grasped,
I kiss my hand
to the drama played out before sun set.

I greet Him when I meet Him
as starlight speckles
the overhead ceiling,
each touching infinity
where it begins
and never ends.

I greet Him when I meet Him
in glowing cloud mountains
sparking lightning
and clapping thunder,
applause for His
resplendent magnificence.

I greet Him when
He is hidden
mysterious
unknown
and unknowable,
waiting for the blessing
of understanding
wafting from Him
in color, in speckle,
in glow, in spark,
in appreciative applause
for His splendor
wrapped in wonder.

photo by Josh Scholten of the damson-without-dappled west
thunderheads in South Dakota

photo by Josh Scholten

Mountains of the Sky

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It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears. ~Helen Keller

They don’t make clouds like this in the northwest. These are thunderheads over Sioux Falls, South Dakota tonight, complete with constant lightning flashes sparking the center of the shimmering liquid mountains in the sky.

God behind, before, overhead. I am not ashamed to admit awesome fear of His mighty power.

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Amazing Blaze

photo of lightning over Anacortes, Washington 7/13/12 from Komonews.com

Now and then there comes a crash of thunder in a storm, and we look up with amazement when he sets the heavens on a blaze with his lightning.
~C.H. Spurgeon

Subtlety is usually sufficient;
safe sky gravitates to gray.
A little shower here, brief sun break there,
scented soft sea breezes
inspiring few complaints
but rarely awe.

Tonight a sudden bright arcing light
splinters out of nowhere,
abruptly demands all attention.
It stops time and severs space,
leaving spots before eyes.
fresh air in nostrils.

Nothing can remain the same
once illuminated ablaze.

Ignited retinas-count the seconds-
then assaulted tympanic membranes.
Crash following flash;
left smoldering and shaken,
earth diminished by grander
grandeur.

It is soon over,
fully doused
in cleansing deluge,
baptized by the relenting
downpour of heaven’s
shattering mercy.