Saturday, November 21, 2015

When I Sang With The Trees

For a Saturday in late November, the weather was extraordinary. And we took advantage of every minute.

We're doing some work on the house, so Tony and a friend spent eight hours sawing and digging and hacking and cutting and pouring and other assorted things that required sweat and dedication. My
husband is happiest when he is fixing something, so today was a very happy day.

We took a big pile of stuff to the recycling center and made two trips to the Goodwill store - donations only. We got a Christmas tree, which stands unadorned but upright in the living room, in which all the furniture was rearranged. Again.

(In my opinion, failing to rearrange furniture at least three times a year is a missed opportunity for a renewed mind.)

There was a massive pile of wood to burn, so the boys and I took turns minding an intense fire. At one point, when everyone was gone, I stood alone, pitchfork in hand, tossing in twisted pieces of lumber and watching the flames dance. I found myself transfixed by the way the smoke rolled and twisted, only to be engulfed and pushed back by flames.

I thought about God.

Last night we watched a documentary I'd heard referenced in a podcast about God. It was the kind of thing I'd generally dismiss pretty easily - unfortunately, I find myself rather cynical these days about media portrayals of folks seeking (and finding) enlightenment and truth, Christian or otherwise. Seems to me the lure of a dollar causes many spiritual experiences - followed by necessary books and movies and talk shows - but, again, that's the cynic in me. Or a discerning spirit. Or a bit of both.

But something about the podcast discussion made me take note, and when I had a little time last night, I pulled up the film on Netflix.

It was an interesting journey, one that told of 'spiritual eyes' and an emotional, mental and physical awakening that appeared to be legitimate....but it was really out there. The guy suddenly began to experience the spiritual realm in very tangible ways, and it totally rocked his world. He didn't want it. He fought it. His loved ones walked with him but he struggled, frustrated, to explain it.

In the end, he found a way to embrace what was happening to him, and he seemed to be at peace and full of joy.

The cynic in me is still unconvinced, but the film made me think. I know many of my friends would take offense at the direction the film eventually heads, which - while dovetailing nicely with some traditional Christian beliefs - diverges sharply in its understanding of God and the legitimacy of all spiritual paths.

But here's the thing; the residual effects of the film and its presentation of the intense and focused pursuit of truth and trust bubbled up in me this afternoon. Tending the fire on a beautiful autumn afternoon, I looked up and found myself drawn to praise the Creator in a way I'd never experienced before. I prayed and I sang and felt like I was dancing with the trees and the sky, and isn't that the weirdest sentence I've ever written?

I think it is.

But it's the truth; I felt deeply connected, and physically engaged, and drawn into the heart of God.

That sky - no filter, just blue...
I offered praise and thanks and glory, and I asked for help and comfort and understanding. I had a
very real sense that the evil that is terrorizing the world in these days is known by God, and seen as vile and abhorrent. And I felt the assurance that this evil would not prevail.

In a week underscored by deep anxiety and no small amount of fear at what the world and our country will face in days to come, this encounter was encouraging and deeply moving.

I embraced it, and I found myself full of peace and joy, and comforted by Presence.

It was weird, and different, but welcome. Left me scratching my head, but deeply convinced.

And then I looked up at the sky again, and a jet plane was striving for the heavens, its white vapor trail dissecting the sky. Straining up, up, higher and higher.

What a thing that was, for that moment.

I am convinced. And I realize that our persuasions are often what we make of them, but when they lead to what is good and right and true, I find it well with my soul. If I encounter God in the trees of the field and that encounter lines up with what I know to be true of the character of God as seen in his interaction with people over centuries and the truth I understand in scripture, I welcome all that I can learn from it. Even if it is slightly weird.

God is real, and God is for His people.

And that is a good thing for all of us.


1 comment:

annie said...

I like this very much, Beth. One weekend recently, I watched a leaf floating across our birdbath, and I felt like I was watching the breath of the universe blow that leaf, even when everything around me felt perfectly still.

Last night I watched a documentary about Carthusian monks in the French Alps that you might enjoy. It's called "Into Great Silence." Check it out!