Vaults

Bull mtn IMG_7180

He gives snow like wool;

he scatters frost like ashes.

He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;

who can stand before his cold?

He sends out his word, and melts them;

he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.

(Psalm 147:16-18)

Kent, http://rescuejesusnow.wordpress.com/ commented that he was tired of snow until he saw a photo I took of some peaks in the Steeples Range near near us last week. https://charispsallo.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/indeed-everything/ Thank you, Kent. I am so glad you liked it, but you know, I get tired of snow too.

So far Canadians have been doing exceptionally well at the Winter Olympics. Yes! Do we do winter sports, or what?!

Well, some of us do. After the last two broken bones earned in the treacherous Parking Lot Crossing event, the novelty of winter sports sort of wore off for me. The valley we live in has less snow than the surrounding mountain tops, of course, but a check of snow conditions on the nearby ski hill turned up the fact that we have received more than twelve feet of snow so far. And we haven’t had a cancellation or snow day yet.

Unlike London or Atlanta, which come to a complete standstill when two inches of the white stuff sends their residents into lock-down mode, or like Simon Fraser University campus in Burnaby which broadcasts evacuation alerts seemingly before having time to clarify if the white flecks are snowflakes or dandruff, we are equipped. We have plows. Big plows. We have trucks capable of redistributing the sands of an entire get-away beach onto the highways in a day. (Well, we call them highways. One pundit wrote that interior British Columbia doesn’t have highways; it has corners with short connectors between them. The lower mainland just has a lot of wet parking lots.)

I admit that I groaned when I looked outside this morning. More snow -with predictions of a whole week of this. I should have gone for groceries when I had the chance. Now I’ll have another coffee and hope the plow comes down our street  (aka the neighbourhood luge run) before I go out. (If you want to drop by and share some with me I recommend leaning hard to the right after the electric box and before the pine tree. Mind the hidden fire hydrant.)

Wildhorse Creek snow ice IMG_7217

The same day I took photos of the Steeples Range I passed by a creek that runs near the base called Wildhorse Creek. There are still gold-mining operations in the area that started a rush over a hundred years ago. The real gold now is the water itself.

When the snow melts on these mountains it will flow into the creek which joins the Kootenay River. That river eventually flows into waterways which gather the melting snow water from many such mountains and sends it gushing across the border into the States, as the Columbia River, to water fields and provide power, recreation and transportation for millions.

I started thinking about abundance and the provision God gives us and I think it is meant to work in a similar way. Hanging on to all that water would eventually end up in the destruction of our own environment. The valleys would drown. We enjoy it, but most of it is meant to bless our neighbours who desperately need it right now. Hanging on to all God has given us, thinking we are somehow entitled or fearing that someday the provision will stop, is to no one’s benefit, least of all our own.

God has riches stored up for all of us, but trying to possess his abundant gifts without passing them on creates an environment where greed stifles love and is destructive to our own souls.

Freely receive, freely give. There’s more where that came from.

Steeple top Feb IMG_7184

Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,

seen the vault where hail is stockpiled?

(Job 38:22)

Bluer than Blue

Kootenay Lake

Bluer than Blue

The artist leading the workshop in the desert city looked at my paintings and asked, perhaps facetiously, “You use a lot of blue. Are you depressed?”

I looked around at the other participants’ work, mostly done in earth tones –beiges, browns, greys –with occasional splashes of red and yellow. Desert colours.

“No,” I said, “Not anymore. I just come from a place that is mostly blue.”

When I arrived home a few months later, deep lavender blue skies, shifting azure-blue lakes, paler and paler layers of blue mountains and sparkling blue snow shadows seemed even bluer than the paintings.

Bluer than blue.

I come from a place that is mostly blue.

To some blue communicates serenity. To some blue communicates depression. I come from a place that was mostly depression.

A while ago I was told in a dream, “Look to the area of your greatest failure, for therein lies your greatest success.”

There was that night.

That night when I bowed on a stage before an audience jumping up to shout “Brava” and throw flowers. Most of them didn’t know I was balancing on one leg the whole time because I had broken the other one only a few days before.

Then there was that night.

That night, in a locked ward where a silhouetted person behind a flashlight peered in my room every fifteen minutes to make sure I was still alive.

That night on the stage, the night of  “my greatest success,” was actually my greatest failure. That was the night when I identified myself as a strong-willed, disciplined, overcomer. That’s when I was foolish enough to think that if I just worked hard enough I could earn love, respect, and adulation.

The night on the ward, the night of  “my greatest failure,” was actually the night of my greatest success. That was the night when I admitted it took more courage to live than to die. I was fresh out of courage. That was the night when my tank hit empty, when I had no will power, no discipline, no hope. That was the night when grace pulled me deep down into those depths of blue and began to show me that freedom means nothing left to lose. That was the night when Jesus Christ took me by the hand and lifted me up toward the dim speck of light. Drowning in emptiness and being lifted up to hope as a kind of baptism, if you like.

It took a while to get on my feet. I had a lot of forgiving to do. Forgiving myself was the hardest test of wrestling pride, self-sufficiency, and the albatross of potential to the ground. I still have to remember to punch it in the beak regularly.

Blue means freedom and serenity now. I understand better what Paul meant when he wrote:

Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead.

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.

(Philippians 3)

Only Someone who knows the plans He has for us has the courage it takes to show us how to die so that we might live.

Knowing what to leave out

Photo: Tam O’ Shanter Creek

So much of art, music, and poetry

is learning to leave spaces,

observe rests,

and reserve words.

So much of maturity

is learning to leave spaces,

observe rests,

and reserve words.

So much of faith is learning

abundance is

not needing to eat the whole feast

today.

In the Kingdom of God

there is time

to savour his goodness.

His loving kindness endures forever.

Height and depth

Photo: On the Banff Jasper Parkway

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Quench

Photo: rose petals on lake

Ho! every one that is thirsty in spirit,

Ho! every one that is weary and sad;

Come to the fountain, there’s fullness in Jesus,

All that you’re longing for: come and be glad!

 

“I will pour water on him that is thirsty,

I will pour floods upon the dry ground;

Open your hearts for the gifts I am bringing;

While ye are seeking Me, I will be found.”

 

Child of the world, are you tired of your bondage?

Weary of earth joys, so false, so untrue?

Thirsting for God and His fullness of blessing?

List to the promise, a message for you!

 

Child of the kingdom, be filled with the Spirit!

Nothing but “fullness” thy longing can meet;

’Tis the enduement for life and for service;

Yours is the promise, so certain, so sweet.