Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Glory of Twilight

"May He also be to you a Restorer of Life
and a Sustainer of your old age ... "
~ Ruth 4:15

Nearly four years ago we decided to leave off the adventures of our ten-year Arizona sojourn in order to return to the home of our origins, Washington State.  There were many reasons for that decision; and with hindsight a myriad more.  One such, a blessing that we hadn't anticipated with our return, is the glory of twilight. 

It's a very real thing, twilight = that part of the day when the sun dips below the horizon and a refracted, soft glowing light from the sky baths the day in scattered sun rays.  It's as if the day itself longs to linger, if not to compete with the glories of the sunrise to come. What's more, photographers have designated it the Blue Hour; and have long known it's the best time of day for capturing, literally, picture-perfect scenes.   

Depending on latitude, some places experience twilight in a more splendid way than others; and Washington State is one such locale. With Daylight Savings Time, April's official time for sunset is 8:14 PM.  Come August it'll be 8:40 PM.  The sun may have set at those times, but darkness is held at bay until twilight's stubborn, refracted rays are ready to retire  ~ sometimes as long as 90 minutes or more. It's a scientific condition, but to my way of thinking it's also a place; a serene destination.  

I like twilight.  I used to think that dawn was my favorite part of the day, and in some ways it is still.  But twilight's metaphorical beauty is apropos.  I now live, literally, in the approaching twilight in my own life.  

Wordographers (like Merriam), say that it can also be defined as decline, or ambiguity, or obscurity.  To some extent I might agree. It is true that my life is far less connected to that which the world applauds or that youth warrants.  Many things have gone missing. But ... it's hardly the whole story.  An equal number of things have been gained, and could only be gained with the onset of twilight.

Refracted light is still light ~ and the very best time to consider what is picture-perfect in one's life.

Although Moses was one hundred and 
twenty years old when he died, 
his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. 
~ Deuteronomy 34:7

I remember the days of old; 
I meditate on all Your doings; 
I muse on the work of Your hands.  
~ Psalm 143:5

For more about the causes of twilight click here:  The Blue Hour

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Zig and the Zag of It

"We climbed the height by the zigzag path 
and wondered why ~ until we understood it 
was made zigzag to break the force of the hill.  
A road straight up would prove too steep 
for the traveler's feet to tread; 
the thought was kind in its wise design of a 
zigzag path instead.  It is often so in our daily life; 
we fail to understand that the twisting way 
our feet must tread by love alone was planned.  
Then murmur not at the winding way:  
It is our Father's will to lead us home 
by the zigzag path, to break the force of the hill. "
~ Anonymous

The Lord God is my strength, 
and He has made my feet like the hinds' feet, 
and makes me walk on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:19, Psalm 18:33

(I cannot help but observe in the above text that I am equipped to walk on "my" high places, and not yours or someone else's.)

The hind is a female red deer whose home is in the mountains.  The rear feet of the hind step in precisely the same spot where the front feet have been.  Every motion of the hind is followed through with single-focused consistency, making it the most sure-footed of all mountain animals.  

How I wish I'd had those hinds' feet when my husband and I attempted on three separate occasions to make our way up a steep slope to a high mountain lake known as Wagon Wheel.  On each of those attempts I made it a little further each time, but never was I able to make it the whole way.  The slope and the zigzags proved to be too much for my mortal feet and legs.   Funny thing is, the descent was every bit as painful as the ascent.      

Today I am thankful that God, in His mercy and wisdom, breaks the force of each and every spiritual slope with zigzags.  Every step counts, even though I may be tempted to pull up a rock & protest sit awhile ... even a long, long while.

Is there anything in the natural world that God cannot or does not use to instruct?  

"Springs in the Valley", Mrs. Charles B. (Lettie) Cowman
"Hinds Feet for High Places", Hannah Hurnard
Secret of the Hind, Hannah's Cupboard 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Abating a Bent for Bait

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.  
... whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,
~ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ~ 
think about such things.
Philippians 4:5, 8

It still baffles me how I became the owner of a Smart Phone, though probably not for reasons anyone would readily identify.  I've had ~ plain & simple ~ an adverse, visceral reaction to an inanimate object being labeled a smart anything, as if there were such a thing as a Dumb Phone.  But I now have one; call it whatever you like.

I'm also a Facebooked-Blogging-Twitterer that's Linked-In. Impressed?  That fact ought to garner me, a granny of notable sass, the respect of a lot 20 somethings, though I've yet to detect their notice.  Sass might not be enough.

The thing about all this social media that's most disturbing to me is one particular facet of temptation that comes along with it:  A self-righteous propensity that longs to set someone, or the record straight.  It's bait not easily ignored: a tasty morsel for my maw.

As a self-styled, strategic, self-aggrandized intellectual, I often know better than someone else (not you, of course) what to believe in terms of political spin, biblical doctrine or practice, child-rearing, etc. ~ EXCEPT, that is, when I don't (know, that is).

In the face of dissent, I'd like to think I've grown more gracious, less pompous; more like Jesus.  Maybe not.  

Learning to recognize what is & isn't bait would help.

Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid 
arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome 
but must be kind to everyone, 
able to teach, not resentful.  
Opponents must be gently instructed, 
in the hope that God will grant them repentance 
leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 
and that they will come to their senses 
and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken 
them captive to do his will. 
2 Timothy 2:23-26

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lessons from the Land

In a few short weeks, hubby and I will pack up once again and make our way into yet another chapter of life; this time in Okanogan Country.  In all actuality, it's not a place or a city or a county so much as it's a lifestyle.  Time has not much altered the pioneer spirit that lives in the land itself, if not in the people who call it home: cowboys & ranchers & orchardists.  The Colville Indians remain the fulcrum.     

Okanogan Country encompasses miles and miles of mountains & lakes & streams, as well as agricultural and ranch lands.  The domain is situated in the northeast corner of Washington State (the county itself covers 5,281 square miles, making it the 3rd largest county in the U.S.), & runs all the way into the mid-southern habitat of Canada's British Columbia.  Scrub Pine and Sagebrush decorate most landscapes, as do grazing cattle and old, decrepit barns.  The Colombia River puts in an appearance; and, in a much larger way, so too the rivers Okanogan & Methow.

Earlier this week we left our coastal home near Seattle to make the 4 1/2 hour journey to the Okanogan Valley.  This time of year there's absolutely no doubt as to where that realm begins and ends. It's demarcated by a wide array of fruit orchards in full bloom - an assortment of apples, pears, apricots & cherries.  Few are more lush or beautiful than the pear orchard that borders our home on three sides.  We don't own the orchard, but are the blessed neighbors who get to enjoy it without worrying about its care.

A novel thought struck me as we drove to our new property on Monday:  These pear trees remember from year-to-year to set leaves & blooms, and to begin growing in just the right conditions, & at just the right time.   

I mulled over that thought many times during the days of our visit, grateful that God engraved certain things into the creation He crafted.  No one ever need wonder if the pear trees will produce pears, or become disgruntled & decide to produce cherries, or asparagus instead.  They are content to obey their original orders ~ season after season since He first instructed them.  

I have the distinct impression I'm going to learn a good deal from those trees.

Footnote:  It was here in the heart of Okanogan Country, and in the city of Okanogan that my grandparents chose to homestead and raise their family.  It is, no doubt, why my heart feels so at home on this soil even though I never knew these two. However, before my days end, I hope to remedy that.

James Elmer & Annie Claire McFadden-Wells