Outside My Window

The coolness of the riverbank,
And the whispering of the reeds
Daybreak is not so very far away
Enchanted and spellbound,
In the silence they lingered
And rowed the boat as the light grew steadily strong
And the birds were silent
As they listened to the heavenly music
And the river played the song
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn…
                                        -Van Morrison-Piper at the Gates of Dawn

This morning I was up at 4:30. Alone in the early morning hours, I’ve learned to appreciate the stillness before the busyness of the day begins. It’s my time to read, think, write, and pray.

Sitting at my desk thus, I heard an owl calling. I quickly turned off the inside lights and opened my window to better see and hear what was going on outside. I sat in anticipatory calm, the coolness of the pre-dawn breeze a gentle balm to my heart and mind.

A second owl began to answer the first and so began a most welcome opportunity to apprehend the beauty and gift of God’s greatness in creation. As my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness outside, I was thrilled to catch a glimpse of an owl in flight, skimming high in the treetops and silhouetted against the imminent break of day.

What a gentle mystery is the owl’s call! It is a mingling of enchantment and nostalgia, the solemn longing for something just out of reach. Other birds’ songs are quite eloquent to be sure, yet straightforward in their expression. But the owl, reluctant to reveal too much, reserves a secret reservoir of insight and sagacity for patient souls intent on deciphering what it is he is trying to say.

Twenty minutes or so passed. One owl would call, the other would answer. Captivated by the present and afraid I would miss the miracle if I were to surrender the moment too soon, I waited, listening and spellbound.

As the sky blushed pink with morning, the owl lifted effortlessly from its resting place and glided eastward just as the mockingbird sang its exuberant welcome to the dawning of a new day.

 

Blood Moon Manna

About a week or so ago, as my daughter-in-love and I were leaving with the kids for a trip to the beach, I accidentally backed into her car. Not just any car, their new (to them) car. A beautiful car with nary a scratch nor dent. A car that my son and daughter-in-love were so happy to have purchased. A car that fit and served their family’s needs perfectly.

To say that I reacted poorly would certainly be an understatement. I was mad at myself for being so careless. I felt sad that I had damaged their car. Oh, that sickening CRUNCH! When the reality of what you’ve done is solidified.

My struggles with sin and failure over the previous few days welled up and spilled out, a mixture of anger, frustration, helplessness, and tears.

Of course, my son and daughter-in-love responded graciously. My husband (as always) reacted calmly. But I was not about to let myself get off so easily. I beat myself up pretty good over it.

About 5:30 the following morning, I received a short text from my son: “Blood Moon now if you’re up.” In this case, it was a super blue blood moon, a total lunar eclipse. Yes, I was up and soon positioned myself outside on the balcony to watch.

The morning air was not uncomfortably cold. It was still dark, but I could hear the world around me beginning to stir. I thought about the people starting their work day. How many of them would completely miss the astronomical wonder unfolding above them?

I thought about the kindness of my son’s reminder. I thanked the Lord for him and my daughter-in-love, for my husband, my other two children, all my grandchildren, and for the undeserved Grace and privilege of being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I remembered what I had been reading earlier that morning about how the children of Israel complained to Moses, “…you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” I thought about God’s gracious and miraculous provision for them, Manna. I thought of my own grumbling heart and how the LORD had always  provided for me in spite of it.

I tried to imagine our solar system, the planets, sun, moon and stars all following their appointed course. My imagination wondered at the immensity of the universe and marveled at the power and wisdom of the One who created it.

I thought about the grandiosity of the Great Artist’s rendering unfurled above me, His canvas the dark morning sky, His subject the moon, His brush dipped into the richest of purples and reds to paint a celestial masterpiece no mortal could ever hope to duplicate.

…all things were created through Him and by Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
(Col 1:16,17)

I felt small sitting on my little balcony, my life a tiny speck in the grand order of things. I realized I had come outside hungry of heart, but how long can a soul go unfed in the glorious presence of such a God as this?

When I look at Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Ps 8:3,4)

And so it came to be that my soul was put at ease. I rested then, my hunger satisfied and my heart warmed by peace that passes understanding.

This, my bread from Heaven. Blood Moon Manna.

Poem for a Crow

POEM FOR A CROW
By Terrie van Baarsel

Beyond my lace curtain
A crow in the birdbath
He is not exactly what I had in mind
And the sky is just crazy with crows
(Where are the sparrows, the finches, the doves?)
He struts
Arrogant in black
Unabashed
Until I open the door
And then
A reluctant flyer, he.

The crow brings bird carcasses
And bean burritos
Yes, bean burritos!
And leaves them to soaking
Until they are fat with water
Plump offerings and ample
For his eager mate in waiting
Oh, how charming
(Is it quite illegal to shoot a crow?)
Quite.

Better yet so
Shall I then appreciate him?
Loan him a name and
In his honor compose
A poem of crow appreciation?

All hail!
I crown thee Copernicus
King of all Crows
Sleek of feather
Beady of eye, art thou
An ode to thy prowess
Thy intelligence
Thy form
O, rarest of scavengers!

Dearest Copernicus
Purest of pilferers, pillagers, plunderers, thieves!
No call to repentance for thee, dear bird
Alas, thou canst not repent
And of a fact, need not
For thou dost only what thou hast been created to do.

But why, oh why, must it be in my bird bath?