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

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.

Feel the Now

photo by Nate Gibson

“On the planet the winds are blowing: the polar easterlies, the westerlies, the northeast and southeast trades…Lick a finger, feel the now.”
Annie Dillard

We fell asleep last night content in the knowledge that the weather forecast on three different websites confirmed no rain.  This is particularly important when there are about 750 bales worth of cut hay lying in our fields curing, getting ready for raking and baling the next day.  Rain is the farmer’s best friend most of the time, but definitely not when there is cut hay on the ground.  Wet hay becomes moldy hay, or worse–combustible–if not allowed to thoroughly dry, and it gradually loses nutrient value the longer it dries.

As opposed to drought conditions in much of the nation, in the northwest a stretch of at least four days of warmer weather had been long awaited.  It was a relief to get the hay finally cut, several weeks later than typical with a promise of at least three more clear days to ted, rake, bale and get it in the barn without being rained on.  The air felt sticky and still when we went to bed.  I woke about two hours later to a cool breeze coming through the open window–it felt a little too cool.  I could hear rumbling in the distance–too low pitched for airplane or truck sounds.  Somewhere nearby it was thundering.  Thunder meant heavy moisture-filled clouds.  Heavy clouds meant showers.  Showers meant wet hay.  Wet hay meant…well, you get my drift.

The rumbling moved closer and closer, with accompanying flashes of lightning,  finally cracking right above us.  The wind picked up.  I got out of bed to go outside to feel the direction of the wind and see if the rain– licking a finger and holding it up.  The wind was southerly but not consistent–the air was changing so quickly that all I could do was acknowledge and anticipate the change, knowing a storm was coming and there was no stopping it.   It was the inevitability of feeling the “now” of which Dillard writes.

The breeze was moisture-laden: wet without raindrops.  Then they began to fall,  gentle at first but finally earnest showering–not a downpour.  It lasted less than an hour, just long enough to dampen but not soak.  The hay would not be a complete ruin.  It could be salvaged.  The storm had passed, leaving little damage in its wake, just plenty of noisy drama and jangled nerves.

The experience of a thunder storm overhead is unlike any other.  It commands our attention, wakes us from sound sleep, turns night into day in a flash, drowns humid heat in a downpour.   As some pray for the relief of such a storm, others fear its effects, whether igniting forest fires from lightning strikes, frightening animals or molding cut hay.

I’m content to just be a witness, in wonder at the storm’s strength and command.   All I can do is lick a finger and hold it up in awe, knowing I’m here and it’s now.

photo by James Clark Photography of lightening strike over Mt. Rainier 7/8/12