Sunday, September 30, 2012

Glorious Mountains and Valleys

Sunset over the Cathedral Group in the Tetons

Every week needs a day of rest, a time of sabbath. Yet in our quest for productivity or simply in our busyness, we shortchange ourselves and deplete our resources. Our tanks can be empty, and we may not even know it. Running on fumes will not long sustain us. Our bodies and souls break down, tipping us off to the need for rest.

We find rest in many places, physically and spiritually. The beauty of nature holds hidden the ability to astound us when we look with open eyes. Such beauty opens our souls and lets in a vision larger than ourselves and our troubling circumstances. We need frequent reminders to look up and out; the call to take our eyes off ourselves rings out daily. The scenes above serve a feast for the eyes and spirit!

Prayer at Evening Time
You, O Lord, offer renewable renewable resources! You quench soul thirst. You meet our deepest needs, even when we are unable to articulate them to ourselves. So we come to you on this Sunday evening...a rainy September the close of the month that marks a transition into fall..and  we draw near to you. Restore, in your mercy, those who come in weariness. Grant us peace, to those who carry the heavy load of grief. Prompt with your immense love the reminder that we are loved with an everlasting love.

Everlasting God, you are our starting point and our ending place.
We praise you and honor you.

Your are our Rock...
Our hiding place.

You are Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.

You offer the cleft of the rock as our protector when we need a shield from all that assails us in this life.

You are our solid ground. You offer firm footing when we seem unable to navigate on our own strength for seasons of life.

Then when we thirst and grow weary--for we always grow weary alone--you provide springs of living water...pools of refreshment along the way... sometimes from the most unlikely sources: from a patch of dry ground, from the kindness of strangers, in a loving word spoken in due season...and through the mystery and power of your Holy Spirit.

You are our Healer. We acknowledge our need of you and  bring our cares to you, for you are our Resting Place.

We remember the prayers for others we offer today--not because you need to hear them from us--but because we want to model as a way of living taking all our cares to you, for you care for us. In our doing so, we pray you will set us free from the destructive cycle of worry. 

All glory and honor to you,


Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2

You are my hiding place; Psalm 32:7

I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand   Exodus 33:22

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  I Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; Psalm 55:22

He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. Psalm 18:33

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Photo note:
A friend sent these photos from a drive through the valley, capturing the vista of sunset in the Tetons and the approach to the lovely little Chapel of the Transfiguration, built in 1925, at Menors' Ferry, just north of Jackson Hole. Photo at bottom is Jenny Lake in the shadow of the range.  What a magnificent sight! Thank you, Chuck.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Seasons of Life for Quiet Works of the Soul

Lookout Mountain winding upwards, September 2012

Winding road to Lookout Mountain after heavy rains, Winter 2011

"A crop is made by all the seasons and the only way to have it all — is not at the same time… but letting one season bring its yield into the next."
Anne Voskamp

The photo above I made Sunday is a stark contrast to the one made one winter after a heavy rain. Same bend in the road, same time of day, but different scene. September marks a transition from summer growth and lush landscapes to autumn's glorious display before winter's starkness. The trickling stream hardly resembled the tumultuous waterfall I had visited earlier.

Sometimes life comes at us with the rushing force of water washing over us as we struggle to come up for air. Other seasons, we thirst, languishing in an inability to move forward at all.

We seek direction.

We need propulsion to move to the next step for we do not even know what that means--the next step.

To grow, to flourish in all the seasons of life means adapting to the rhythm that is inherent in this life. There are periods of rapid growth with spurts and growing pains, and there are times of dormancy.

Times of industry and times of inactivity. Each is necessary for the healthy cycle of life.

It is tempting in our culture to value the industry phases for their productivity and to disdain what appears to be unproductive time. We sell ourselves short when we fail to embrace the opportunities that come to us in times of waiting. The setting of buds for the coming spring happens without any outward sign that work is taking place. We, too, can prepare for the next season by anticipating what is needed and making time to seek direction.

Contemplation and prayer are quiet works of the soul. They are essential to our spiritually healthy lives.  We may crowd them out in times of stress and frenzied activity, for they do not demand their own way; yet, we deprive ourselves of food for our anxious hearts and hurried souls if we neglect them. Times of waiting and discerning the next step--times that may appear to be dormant or inactive for us--can yield a bountiful harvest of grace-filled moments when we choose to invest time and energy in prayerful pursuits.

What looks idle or dormant in one season of life may in fact be a time of surging growth as the heart and soul prepare to thrive in the next step.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah 55:1

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"  Ecclesiastes 3:1