A Psalm for Spring

IMG_8807.JPGBlessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, IMG_8502-1.jpgnor stands in the way of sinners,IMG_8506.JPGnor sits in the seat of scoffers;IMG_8650.JPGbut his delight is in the law of the Lord,and on his law he meditates day and night.IMG_8554.JPGHe is like a tree planted by streams of waterIMG_8520
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.IMG_8830In all that he does, he prospers.IMG_8497-1
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.IMG_8352Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
IMG_8236.JPGfor the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

(Psalm 1)

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Before You Call

IMG_8864.JPGIMG_8858It was the fifth place I’d stopped.

The mosquitoes were getting a bit old.

I was soaked to the skin from refusing to sacrifice valuable time to take cover during the morning’s intermittent rain showers.

My legs were tired from tromping down forest trails and clambering through underbrush.

Water squelched inside my soggy shoes as I squatted wearily down near the head of this fifth trail, peering off across the forest floor, and said out loud, “Lord, I know you don’t have to give me a mushroom, but”—and exactly at that moment, before I could even get my request for help in finding “just one, please?” out of my mouth, my eyes rested on this honeycombed finger-like shape:IMG_8885.JPGA scoffer might call it a coincidence, but I know it wasn’t.  I labor under no delusion that just because I tell God something I want, He’ll snap His fingers and make it appear—but I also know that He can, and sometimes will.  I also know that I have never chosen to acknowledge God’s power and control, while admitting my inadequacy, without finding Him sufficient to provide the very best.  Sometimes His answer to our problems is different than the solution we visualized in our mind.  Sometimes, it’s exactly what we were hoping for—and more.IMG_8886-1.jpgI don’t know if anyone else within five lonely forest miles heard me yelling my excitement and thanks, but I know He did—and I hope it made Him smile.

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.” (Matthew 7:7)

See photos from another successful morel hunt here, and from an unsuccessful one here!

Stand Still and See

IMG_8295.JPGIf you walk out into the middle of the woods and stand very still for a while, a very delightful thing will happen.

The forest will slowly come alive around you. You may have thought it was alive before that, but the truth is, you haven’t actually experienced the half of it.

First, you will become more distinctly aware of the sounds of the more extroverted creatures of the woods.  A woodpecker beating sharp staccato, the twittering of newly-returned robins, the distant honking of geese.

But keep waiting, because there is more to come.

After a few minutes, a grouse will drum on a nearby log.  A stick will crack in the woods, then another, as the cautious deer who froze at the sound of your footsteps decides it’s safe to move on.  And then will begin the rustling in the leaves, and you will realize that it is not the breeze at play, but squirrels and mice and tiny birds.

As your ears become more attuned, your eyes will also become more aware of details.

You’ll realize that there’s delicate frost from a chilly spring morning lacing the strawberry leaf by your feet that you very nearly trampled.IMG_8293 You’ll note a tiny clump of British soldier lichen clinging to the edge of a mossy stump that would have only registered “green” in hurried passing.IMG_8300-1.jpgYou’ll tip your head up and see the beginning of the swelling red of the maple buds overhead, fanned against the sky.IMG_8283.JPGYou’ll notice the delicate lacy veins of last year’s leaves, splendidly illuminated in the morning sunlight, and also the way a certain flap of simple birch bark is catching the sun just right to make it glow.IMG_8290IMG_8286.JPGYour eyes will follow the slant of a fallen log down to a hole and, well, look!  The very culprit of the rustling himself appears.IMG_8311There is no shortcut to the gifts that come from being still, but they are always incredibly, beautifully worth it.  And, incidentally?  The same is said for the soul and the best gift one could ever ask for.

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” (Exodus 14:13)

No doing.  No striving.  Just simple, trusting, expectant stillness.

Leafing

IMG_8464-1.jpgIn the golden light just before sunset, the baby leaves and buds are like haloed clouds resting across the branch tops. IMG_8466-1.jpgA little closer, and they are like green and gold lace and perfectly strung strings of peridot amidst the twigs and stalwart browns of the forest.IMG_8473.JPGUp close, there is a tiny world of intricate unfolding beauty to discover.

Meanwhile, I can hear nothing but spring peepers and the occasional haunting call of newly-returned loons on a nearby lake.  After an intensely busy week, the wonder of it all quiets my soul, drawing me into worship, gently smoothing away the tensions and distractions.

The truth is, sometimes we just need a few minutes to be still and meditate on His wonderful works to fully restore our souls.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” (Psalm 145:5)

Harbinger

img_8262-e1525044489798.jpgI thought it was high time a robin put in an appearance, both in my yard and on this blog, but they took their sweet time this year.  I was hearing all sorts of sightings reported by friends and family, and I was seriously beginning to wonder if these little harbingers* of springtime were even going to show me their faces this year.  And if they didn’t, would it even really be spring?  I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that robins are about as quintessential to the advent of spring as pussy willows.

But, one bright morning this week, I heard a new yet familiar bird call through the window, and spotted a pair of handsomely erect rust-breasted worm-hunters running and hopping across the yard.  I melted a dark spot in the frosty grass sitting perfectly still until one (skeptically) got close enough for this shot.  So, just in case you needed reassurance, I thought I’d pass the news on to you that all is well, after all.  Spring really is here.

*Harbinger: “A person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another.”

How beautiful…are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7)

A Simple Recipe for Spring

IMG_8148.JPGStep 1: Bathe everything in a very generous amount of warm sunshine.IMG_8060-01Step 2: Wait for an awful lot of all this to melt.  Allow it to soak in thoroughly.IMG_8136.JPGStep 3: Enjoy the results, springing up from the sun-soaked, well-watered, nitrogen-infused happy earth.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
            And do not return there without watering the earth
            And making it bear and sprout,
            And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
            It will not return to Me empty,
            Without accomplishing what I desire,
            And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

(Isaiah 55:10-11)

The Sound of Returning

IMG_8040.JPGEvery time I drive over the bridge there are more of them there than the last time.

The returning has begun.

In the car, though, you miss the sound of it.  On a blog, you do, too.  There’s just nothing that replaces the physical act of standing on the bridge, leaning into a square wooden beam, and immersing yourself in a few minutes of that wondrous cacophony of honking, quacking and trumpeting.  It’s the music of spring migration, and it’s enough to infuse any year-round resident who has weathered yet one more season of long nights and sub-zero temps with hope.

I heard them chattering in the church foyer last week, too, as the winter birds gathered round, tired faces relaxing into welcoming smiles for these forerunners of the much-anticipated annual migration.  The sound of the returning was never so obvious, however, or so beautiful, than it was in the swelling fullness of the opening hymn.

Welcome back, snowbirds.  It’s good to hear all your happy voices again.

“Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration.” (Jeremiah 8:7)

“For, lo, the winter is past…the time of the singing of birds is come.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12)