Drench My Soul With Life

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Give me revelation about the meaning of your ways,
So I can enjoy the reward of following them fully!
Give me an understanding heart so that I can
Passionately know and obey your truth.
Guide me into the paths that please you,
For I take delight in all you say…

Drench my soul with life as I walk in your paths.

(Psalm 119:33-35, 37b TPT)

Moments

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Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.

-John Milton

I love friendly chatter and happy clappy expressions of joy, but there is something about moments of reverence that are deeply profound. Reverence is like a little boat floating in time and space that requires us merely to stay, be still, and know.

 

Survivors and Guardians

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There is something about loss that creates greater value for that which survives.

When I went out for a drive with my camera yesterday I decided not to check out the areas devastated by forest fires last month. I decided to look for those precious places that survived.  One of those places is little Mineral Lake. According to the map the fire came very close, just beyond the hill there at the end of the lake, but the amazing fire fighters kept it at bay.

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There are signs along the rough road of the cost of preserving little known spots like this. A huge slash cuts through the forest and directions to staging areas still hang on trees.

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I remember meeting a group of fire fighters in the hospital emergency room. I was there because of annoying allergic reaction. They were there because one of their own looked like she had broken ribs from an altercation with heavy equipment. Soot streaked their faces, ash and mud crusted their clothes and they smelled like a cloud of smoke came into the building with them. But I loved them, the fighters, the preservers, the guardians.

I decided that one of the best ways to honour them would be to appreciate what they were fighting for. With a grateful heart I present photos I took yesterday at a little gem of a lake up a dirt road few people know about.

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Thank you.

 

All of Life Is a Pure Gift

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Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

~Henri Nouwen

When Through the Woods…

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Frost sparkles on my neighbour’s roof this morning. Usually I sigh and complain about the first frosts that signal the end of summer. But this year I say thank you.

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It rained yesterday, a cold rain that makes you wish you had put on another layer before walking to the mailbox. But for this I am also thankful.

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This morning the skies are clear except for a thin line of dark smoke drifting north from the forest around the lake. I can see the snow on the mountains.

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The wildfires that prompted so many people in this province to flee their homes are starting to die down. The cooler temperatures and rain bring relief. They are moving back.

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I love this place, these woods, these mountains, these valleys. I know that fire is one way the forests are renewed, but I mourn for their loss. I mourn for the lost summer days spent inside hiding from the smoke.

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Somehow my appreciation for the areas that survived increases though. In the way antiques and ancient artifacts gain value merely by surviving,  the old growth forests become all the more precious to us.

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Today I am thankful, thankful for green things, for quiet forests with their deep mysteries, thankful for beauty which survived and beauty that will be restored.

forest green 3 DSC_0137 Thank you, Lord.

To the Ponds

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He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.
(Psalm 23:2 Amplified)

I once considered joining a volunteer online group. They seemed to eager to accept me, then told me that attendance in person was required at monthly meetings at various locations. The closest meeting was in Vancouver. I said I couldn’t afford to fly and driving, especially in the winter, was not practical. The leader of the group responded that she looked at a map and Vancouver was not that far from where I live in the Kootenays in south east British Columbia. It shouldn’t take more than 3 hours.

Well, maybe — if you had a straight road with no speed limit like the Autobahn. It’s actually a ten hour drive in perfect weather with no construction, and more like a two day drive for me, considering the way I stop for photos and restrooms. I tried to explain mountain topology to her. We have really big hills and really deep valleys and a lot of going-around-the-mountain curves, but she had already decided I was exaggerating the amount of time it took and that I would not be a good candidate.

Whew. That rejection was a relief. I agreed that I was not a good fit and wished her well.

I thought of that incident when I drove that route recently. Ice and snow were not problems this time, but wildfire smoke was. I was tired and my eyes and throat burned. As we dropped into the valley where Castlegar is situated at the convergence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers, I decided I needed a break and some place to walk around. This town needed exploring beyond the usual pit stop gas stations and fast food restaurants just off the highway. I headed in a direction down a street that was new to me. When I saw a sign that said “To the Ponds” I followed it.

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Wow! I never knew this place existed. I’ve been driving past it for years! In a park on the edge of the wide fast flowing river the land has been sculpted into three current-less pools surrounded by sandy beaches, green lawns, and flower beds. I wandered around and read a sign that told the story of the town and the large number of people who drowned trying to cross the river at this point as they rushed to the Wildhorse Creek goldrush very close to where I live. If I remember correctly (and I admit my memory for numbers is poor) 86 people died in that season.

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Now here, beside the place where so many had died in the rapids, was a place of rest. Here in this deep valley where I would soon be on that steep road climbing out the other side, three pools of still water beckoned me to come aside and be refreshed.

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I memorized the twenty-third Psalm for a choral speech arts competition when I was in elementary school, when the Bible could still be taught as literature important to our understanding of cultural references. I remember Miss Brown directing our classroom group, mouthing the words and alternately speeding up and stretching out the words with hand gestures.

He leadeth me beside the stiiill waaaters…

I thought about Miss Brown and the rich heritage she gave us. I was thankful, all these years later as I rested beside the still waters in the valley that had seen so much death. I thought about my life and the faith journey that is taking me through another scary valley involving doctor’s appointments and scans and procedures and trying different medications that only seem make life more complicated.

In the midst of the rush to get home I felt the Lord showing me that he has prepared a place of refreshment right here in the middle of my valley. Yes, the rapids still roar, but the water diverted from that river fills the first pool and it’s overflow fills the second, and the third. In the middle of stressful days I can come to Him, my shepherd, my pastor, and let him lead me to a place of peace he has prepared in advance. I can stop rushing and striving and be still in my soul.

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Psalm 23 is a warring psalm that teaches us that rest and trust is a mighty weapon against the enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. There is gold on the other side of this valley.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me.