The Branches


IMG_7225Quietly as I can, I turn off all the lights in the kitchen, leaving only the candle’s flame to light the way, giddy and erratic.  I turn the chair around, slowly and methodically, to face out the window.  I breathe in the state of the world – the sleeping boys, the snoring dog, the rising world.

For a moment, the only important thing to do is to see the branches.

Taller than the window allows me to see, the trees hold last night’s snow.  The heaviness cannot defy their slender frames.  Subtle at first, the branches move.  The stiller I become, the more I realize that they are in constant movement.  I recognize the persistent winds that blow across the top of our house on a still morning.

How still do you have to become to notice the branches move?
How dark does it have to become to witness its shape in the morning light?

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Playing in the Enchanted Mystery


img_1241Watching our kids outside my front window in the freshly fallen snow, I can’t help but wonder at all I cannot understand…

…the power that God’s creation has to bring slow time to a rushed world

…a child’s ability to be joyfully present in a single moment that is protected from yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s worries.

…the daily practice of forgiveness and grace that sustains our days

A professor in Duke’s Doctor of Ministry program made the case in class this week that the world is, indeed, enchanted.  God’s presence is infused in every nook and cranny.  When we participate with this reality, we are dancing with God’s glory.  He argued that church’s task is to bring the enchanted world to the people whose domesticated god has left them bored, disconnected, and lost.

It is a reality that we cannot comprehend, cannot adequately describe, and cannot control.  It is a mystery which we blindly plumb.  We do so with the assurance that we will never fully understand it and yet we will uncover crumbs that can satisfy the restless soul.

As the snow blankets the ground and little wrapped bundles of presence shriek and squeal as they slide down the driveway, I wonder at the enchanted mystery in which they are playing.  I stand amazed at how theology takes flesh right before my eyes in red cheeks and snow-covered gloves.

Perhaps he is right.

Praise be to the Creator of this enchanted mystery who still enchants the weary heart.

“Every day I see or I hear something that more or less kills me with delight, and leaves me like a needle in the haystack dog light.

It was what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation.  

Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untamable light of the world, the ocean’s shrine, the prayers that are made out of grass?”

– Mary Oliver, “Mindful”