Day at the Beach

The early morning sun offers the promise of warmth and expectation.

An indolent day at the beach is exactly what is needed!

Arms laden with a beach bag full of vittles, sunscreen and a towel; I discover the perfect spot to settle in for the day.

Cliffs behind me, ocean before me, sun above me, sand below.

Perfection. Shelter. Peace.

My little space is set up; all is in order and ready for me to be one with the breeze and old-Earth smell of brine and life and decay.

Shoes off, sunscreen on; now to the water.

Contradictions.

That is what I see in the ocean; yet also safety, born out of the ancient rhythms of the earth. Forever marching on, steady and unyielding.

The tide’s constancy is relentless, untamable, fierce; all without apology, the ocean does what it is meant to do.

The water laps and rushes and chases my feet; startling and elemental in it’s coldness. Invigorating and inspiring.

The birds, crabs and tiny sea creatures count on the unchanging ways of the ocean, because it is life to them. The ocean gives and these creatures take.

But I think the ocean is also a taker. It takes the worries, stress, fears and uncertainties in life; it takes words spoken and wept and screamed by those who walk the beach looking for answers, solace, peace. We push those things out of our hearts and the ocean pulls them into itself.

A lovely dance.

Perhaps this is what God does for us. He takes all of the fear, rage, worry and tears that we spew out, into Himself and pulls them away from us as we release it all to Him. He is fierce, constant, untamable, mysterious and present. He gives life, He is love; we rely on Him.

Back at my sanctuary, the sand under my legs and back is so warm, relaxing and inviting. It is solid and permanent; warmth leeches into my chilled bones; lulled to a drowsy peacefulness.

With closed eyes and warm sun baking down in pleasant coziness, I notice my other senses stirred; susurrating waves whisper and breathe, birds call overhead; somewhere a dog barks.

That scent of salt floats on the ever present breeze along with other notes of a BBQ and the cloying scent of flowers.

Drowsy and dreamy, my mind wanders in that half dreaming state of blissful rest.

The sun has shifted in the sky; there is a slight chill to the air. How long have I been lying here?

Hunger gnaws, so out come the snacks.

Seagulls make an appearance; they scold and demand that I share; watching closely every move I make. I share.

Before packing up to head back to reality, it’s time for a walk.

There are footprints going before me in the sea-soaked sand and I wonder whose they are and what secrets they’ve spoken to the sea today.

Interesting how before long, all traces of my footprints will be washed away; as if I had never walked here; as if the past is washed away and cleaned up and brand new sand is offered up for a new direction, new footprints, new promises.

Jesus cleans up our lives like this; the old washed away, the new offered up; clean, lovely and ready for a new journey.

Sun dipping down, air quite cool, water coming higher; my signal to call it a day.

Heading to the car I feel rested, new and cleansed; a little wild and wooly from the rawness of the ocean and its wild and chaotic, yet perfectly ordered dance.

 

Come Away

I’m up early.

A restless, unsettled day, led to a similar night of sleep.

Rest is elusive, thoughts scattered.

Warm, earthy, steamy coffee warms my hands;  my eyes glaze over; mind swirling.

Through the open kitchen window, the morning air carries the faint scent of jasmine and cool earth.

The house is warm, but the fragrant air is inviting and full of promise; electric.

It beckons.

A friendly breeze, a puff of soft air, calls to me from the musical notes of the wind chimes,

“Come out.”

I go out.

My favorite bench is canopied by the looming butterfly bush; it’s purple, fragrant blooms toss and wave; encouraging me to come.

I do.

The cold marble of my bench, as I sit, is in stark contrast to the warmth of my hands around the child-painted coffee cup I carry with me. “I love Mommy” it proudly shouts, from its brightly painted surface. That brings a smile.

Also some tears.

I don’t feel so loveable of late.  Irritable. Tired. Frustrated, not loveable. Chaotic, possibly.

Looking at the flowers in the planter tubs next to my bench, I see chaos; at first.

Upon closer inspection, I notice that the random way in which I planted these lovelies, is actually quite beautiful.  Patterns emerge amidst the seemingly random design.

There is order here in the planter, despite the chaos and it is so lovely! Yes! Yes, it is.

Do goodness and beauty and happiness have to be meticulously ordered, spaced and arranged to be ok and acceptable?  Do I have to understand it?

This revelation makes me smile and breathe deeply. Inhale life.

The rising sun glitters its reflection at me on the feathery water of the stone bird bath. Winking and spunky, I want to laugh with it, at the possibilities of the new day.

I feel my back and shoulders relax; everything isn’t wiry and tense, ready for flight. Calm. Peace.  Is that joy?

Again the breeze; it caresses the back of my neck with cool, kind fingers; barely a whisper against my ear.

What was that?  I close my eyes, try to still my mind and just be.

I hear it now. You are speaking, but no words are spoken.

The peaceful scent of jasmine and butterfly bush blooms tell me all is well.

The stable, steady, ancient scent of dirt reminds me that new life is all around; rebirth is waiting daily for me to acknowledge it.

The breeze whispers that I’m never alone.  You will never leave me. I remember; I know.

I see in the riotous, chaotic colors and placement of the flowers, that You have patterned and woven my life together in a tapestry that may appear to be a random intersection of lines and curves; hills and dales; yet is actually something far more beautiful and ordered and perfected than I can imagine.

You see the entire picture of me and You call it lovely; You call me lovely. I am enough because of You.

You have dried my tears; they are captured in the bottle that holds all of them. In place of frustration, I notice acceptance has taken root. Not a resigned, sighing acceptance, but an acceptance of the unique journey I am on with all of the ups and downs that I know will come.

My place in Your arms as chosen, loved, accepted and redeemed is reconfirmed on my little marble bench. I am enough. I just needed to come away with You for a spell. You remind me I’m Yours and all will be well.

Just a morning

Sunlight filters in through the blinds; the breeze is cool and refreshing through the slightly open bedroom window.

Shifting from dreamy sleep to wakefulness; content and peace filled. Thank you Lord for waking me up – I’m coming!

Cozy cat stirs and stretches; stomping on body parts still under the covers. Time to get up. He knows the routine well.

Scent of brewing coffee brings homey memories to mind; rich and earthy, there is safety in predictability.

Dogs wait politely, then bound outdoors enjoying freedom after a long, snug night. Noses to the ground on high alert; sniffing out the offending evening invaders; dew drops spot their muzzles; glinting as the sun peeks through tree tops.

Sounds of the morning!

Wind chimes sing softly and gently as the breeze tosses itself about; birds up since dawn cling to the feeders, calling and scolding and jostling for position. Bright reds and yellows, muted greys and black.

The gentle light of early morning gives way to something  stronger; fortifying, brighter, life giving.

Coffee and the Bible sit on the pine table; steam swirls and pages flutter; beckoning and calling.

My heart stirs. There are mysteries to unravel here; richness to take in and understanding waiting to be sought and known. Revelation, peace and contentment are what I seek; warmth, depth and life.

Who knows what will come as the day unfolds? Joy? Laughter? Tears? Fear? For now, I sit at my Daddy’s feet, listening to Him speak with all my senses; sipping the warm richness of my coffee. It’s just a morning; but it is my joy.

 

 

Mountain Path

Meandering off into the distance, the mountain path looks inviting.

Relaxed and lazy; where does it lead? Who has walked here before?

How many stories this lonely path must hold; what are its mysteries?

Warm sun complements the cool mountain breeze; perfect weather to explore!

Curiosity piqued; I set out with rocks and leaves crunching underfoot.

The silence is alive with nature doing its thing.

Birds call out with their beautifully intricate songs; joyful and bright, full of energy.

Wildflowers dip and nod in the breeze; dancing to their own tune along the low, gentle hills.

Vibrant colors are splashed about in hues of blue, yellow, deep red-orange; a divine paintbrush at work.

Busy insects hover and flit; carrying out the business of nature.

Mountain silence is full of life, purpose and order; energizing, yet calming.

Walking along, I hear forest creatures rustling in bushes; peeking and darting to and fro.

Small animals busy, yet wary; alert, yet free in their mountain homes.

I wonder how many eyes are watching my progress along the path.

The air smells of warm earth and the faint perfume of wildflowers and sunshine.

Ascending at an easy pace, the flat land dotted with trees; the forest grows thicker.

A subtle change of light with deepening shades of green; a peaceful energy.

Dappled sunlight filters through tree tops; birds soar from branch to branch still calling.

The path feels springy underfoot with a bed of needles and leaves covering the hard dirt.

Cooler air carries scents of pine and a not unpleasant older smell; moldy, ancient, circle of life.

Patches of wildflowers stubbornly crowd into pockets of sun that reach the forest floor.

Shots of bright beauty in the more subdued light; tenacious and bold!

In the distance, a loud crash through the underbrush; a deer, squirrels, a dead branch fallen?

Deeper in the woods, wind in the tree tops sounds like the susurrating sigh of the sea; branches waving and swaying; stirring the calm air in a dance as old as time.

Walking deeper in, the trees are very close; sunlight is tightly filtered and shadows play over the towering trunks as the path soldiers on.

Remote peace settles over the path, interrupted only by chattering squirrels and the noisy jay, demanding attention.

The air is quite cool. It smells crisp and deep, so clean and pure. Deep breaths to capture that scent memory forever.

Sun is dipping lower; a little farther, then time to turn back. Shadows deepen; day is ending.  The scents, sights, sounds are etched into memory. Captured.

Never making it to the very end of this mountain path, the mystery of it calls out to me. Keep going! Solve the mystery…

Maybe it was never meant to be fully known.

Divine Exchange

Maybe this time, I tell myself.  I can do it.  I’m strong, I can handle this.  I strain to see.  I try to remember how it looks, but it’s been a long time.  A primal knowledge in my soul tells me that I need to see it, must find it again, but things are obscured through the webs; my vision seems cloudy and I can’t clearly make out the shapes in the strangely filtered light.  Frustration wells up inside as the heaviness settles back in to take the place I’ve given it. When did that happen?  Did I give it permission?  I used to hear, but the sounds I’m searching for are muffled now in my ears; very faint and far off; disturbed by an odd rattling, scraping sound. Frustration, blindness and confusion; is this where I’ve settled?  “Maybe if I get up and move around I can get a better view; this odd lighting is the problem, “I decide.  With that decision made, I make my move to stand and am confronted with the source of the rattling, scraping sounds; thick, heavy, rusted chains.  My chains.  Mine.  I can’t get up and move around for a better view, because I am bound to this place of filtered light, muffled sounds and intolerable frustration.  Why? When? How?  Panicked, I struggle and fight, then in exhaustion I slump down in defeat.  Tears begin to fall from my eyes and spatter down on the ground all around me.  Am I bound here forever? Is there no escape, no way out?  Dark images flicker across my line of vision; stealthy movements threaten and mock.  Is that faint laughter I hear?  I didn’t start out here, bound like this, in chains like a condemned prisoner.  Who put me here? What did I do?  “Please,” I call out, “someone, will you help me?” I don’t belong here.  I want out.  “Someone, rescue me!”

I hear faint movement coming from all around me.  The dark shapes are shrouded by the obscure, filtered light, but I sense them coming closer, bold and violent; mocking in their approach.  “Help yourself,” one hisses in my ear, arrogance and fear scenting its breath, mocking laughter flowing from its tongue.  As hopelessness starts to fall, I look more closely at my surroundings. I am elevated on a mass of circular stones with faded words written on each one.  They are carefully arranged and set just so, in a small clearing.  Like an altar.  All beauty has been methodically wiped away, revealing only dust, barrenness and grotesquely twisted roots, thrusting up out of the ground.  The harsh loneliness of this place is terrifying.  Wait…I can see more clearly now; this used to be shadow-like and obscure, but now I sense the light shifting; brighter, clearer, full.  I don’t like what I see.  Webs from something horrid and smothering have been woven around, above and below my prison, trapping me; altering my view; skewing my perspective.  “Lies,” a Voice gently says, “lies that have kept you snugly ensconced on your altar of self.”  Altar of self.  Yes, that is exactly what this is.  As recognition of my pridefully built, self imposed prison floods my awareness; I realize that I cannot get out on my own.  I have locked myself in.  Trapped.  The mocking laughter swells and I feel the heaviness trying to descend again, the weight of my chains pulling cruelly at my limbs.  I am at the end of my self.  ”ENOUGH!” I shout.  “Please, Jesus, You have the keys…set me free!”

The mocking laughter is silenced by my words.  The atmosphere shifts and grows completely still, except for a deep vibration I feel surging up from the altar on which I stand, as it cracks in two. I look down and see a clear stream of water gushing out from that crack.  You stoop down and scoop the water in Your hands and offer it to me.   I see the silvery scars on Your hands and a song I can’t name, but deeply understand, floods my soul.  Thirst quenching.  A divine exchange is taking place here and my cracked altar becomes the catalyst.

The sounds and scents I have longed for begin to reach me.  Sweet laughter, gentle voices, Spirit breath, heavenly song.  Delicate and powerful, they flow all around me, bathing me in sounds and scents so sweet and pure that my breath comes in gasps; expelling the dust and debris that accumulated in my spirit as I worshipped at the altar of self.  I again breathe You in deeply, richly, slowly.  Freedom bathes me, ministering to the wounds inflicted by the stones named Fear, Pain, Loneliness, Pride, Rebellion, Abuse that I used to build my altar.  I feel lighter, clean, loved.  Heavy, rusted chains break apart and fall away from me.  I dance before you with abandon, unashamed, cleansed; my weakened muscles growing stronger and more nimble.  The heaviness is gone and a gentle, but vibrant spirit of praise now clothes me.   “Climb down, child, get down off of your broken altar.  Take the stones with you; they have a purpose to fulfill here.  There is something you need to see again.”  I fill my white robe of praise with all of those stones. Somehow they all fit.  I follow You out of the clearing where that altar once stood. As I go, new life is sprouting up. The gnarled roots of bitterness and rage, rejection and vengeance are sprouting into lovely trees of forgiveness, peace, Sonship and humility.  “Stop here, beloved.  Now You must use these stones to build your steps leading up to My Cross.”  I look up at the Cross and it speaks to me of ultimate sacrifice, profound mercy, joy indescribable, unmatched beauty and plentiful grace, even grace for one who built her own altar of self-protection. Tears of gratitude and love wash over my face and spill down onto my hands as I build those steps. It is hard work.  My building stops at times, as I find a tenacious tendril of frustration or pride trying to creep in over and around my stones, but I rip it out with Your strength in my hands.  As I lift my stones into place, I notice that where my tears have fallen shoots of brilliant green are pushing their way out of the rich soil.  As the sprouts emerge, You bend down and I see You writing something in the dark ground and I hear You speaking tenderly to the new sprouts. Your voice is the nourishment they need as they continue to grow. You rejoice over the harvest that only You can see.

My steps are built. They are placed firmly and deeply into the ground at the foot of Your Cross. Engraved by Your hand on that first step are the words Nisi Dominus Frustra.  “Come up, Daughter.  Come up higher to the very foot and find rest. Up here is what you have been searching for in vain.”  I ascend those steps in anticipation. As I come closer, I stop for a moment and look back down, surveying where I started.  My tears watered what You divinely planted and I see beauty stretching out below me and Your Cross is beauty before me.  I feel a shout that I absolutely cannot for the life of me contain, rising up in my throat, so I shout! It is a shout of pure joy, a song from my spirit to Yours.  A harvest will be reaped from my pain that I never thought I had a right to know. It is a beautiful inheritance.  It is You.

The Cabin

SPRING

Bright morning with clean, clear air; the smell of new growth is rejuvenating.

Light and promising, the still early sharpness of new Spring dances on the light breeze.

A cup of English Breakfast tea with bacon on toast sits with me on the high deck overlooking the meadow that soon blends into the forest.

I smile and greet the flowers dotting the meadow below me with their heavy, waving heads; their pale colors teasing at the intensity to come.

Welcome Spring!

Green-yellow shoots of new grass force their way up through the gentle earth, stretching and coming alive under the light yellow sun.

The morning is already noisy; full of life; energetic.

The happy creek is splashing and rushing in full force; water from melted snow forcing its way down the mountain; tender reeds and cattails making a brave show of guarding the greening banks.

Birds have been up since dawn, delighting in the awakening bugs, fallen seeds and promises of good things to come.

It is time to hike; time to get out there and discover the hidden gems, which are just awakening and coming to life after a long winter of silent sleep.

The ground is still soft and springy, pliant under my slightly muddy boots.

Brisk walking, blood is pumping; alert for woodland creatures also enjoying the new birth and tender delicacies all around.

The shining lake seems happy; full to the brim with birds and creatures and bugs galore, busily gorging on Spring’s buffet; the light breeze ruffling the water; this lifts the soul.

Pleasant afternoon turns to cool evening; sun going down.

Sunset on the deck during the evening meal of pasta and salad with lemony iced tea; lovely.

Forest quieting; night falling.

SUMMER

Rising early to savor the cool of the morning; the sun is peeking over the tree tops.

Ginger Peach tea with granola, fresh fruit and yogurt accompany me to the deck.

Hello Summer!

It’s a lazy morning; creatures are up and stirring, but the pace is less frenetic.

The babble of the creek has taken on a more languid pace and I can just make out some footprints along its bank. Raccoon? Skunk?

Birds call and swoop; coaxing young ones to take flight; bugs and other delicacies brought to the wide, young mouths waiting inside downy nests.

Meadow flowers and grasses are tall now; twisting and dipping in the warming, lazy breeze.

The pace is certainly slower.

It’s time to layer up for the hike. Pleasant now, but the afternoon promises to be warm and close.

Canteens of water, beach towel, swim suit. To the lake!

Cool mountain water zings the skin and wakes up the senses after that first daring plunge!

Warm, drowsy, pine scented air creates the perfect backdrop for napping on the old beach towel.

Memories of camping and outdoor adventures flit though the mind as I gently doze.

Sleepy and comfy.

Watching and listening to scurrying, rustling sounds in the reeds by the lake; family of ducks skimming the lake for water bugs, tiny frogs and dangling berry bushes.

Duck family leaves behind ripples that spiral outward toward the shore.

Heading back to fire up the grill; lovely night to bar b que and drink chilled white wine as the sun goes down, leaving a fiery trail on the horizon.

Sun has set; here come the marshmallows, grahams and chocolate bars.

The evening is still and pleasant; perfect for S’mores and stories.

Forest quieting; night falling.

AUTUMN

A chill in the morning air; sleepy sun pushes over the horizon; animals stirring.

Hot coffee with cream; warm oatmeal with brown sugar, golden butter and walnuts heads out to the deck with me.

Cheers, Autumn!

The chair is cool to the touch.

Warm hoodie and long yoga pants are just right for this crisp morning.

Warm, but less intense sun light filters down through the beginning to be bare branches, leaving a warm impression. Lovely.

The air has that certain and distinctive Fall scent to it of browning leaves, dusty earth, crisp air that isn’t quite ready to mellow into deep winter. The comforting scent of pine.

The creek water pushes on, but with a slower gurgle; a gentle flow. Animal tracks at the edges; areas that are flattened down from what remains of a creature bed.

There are resilient, strong, stubborn grasses and flowers that are not yet ready to relax; that persist and bring color to a waning meadow and forest.

Time to hike.

Hiking in Autumn demands layers.

The warmer meadow where the sun still reaches and pours warmth onto backs and shoulders; then deeper into the woods with that unmistakable chill of the forest; fresh and chill it demands a bit faster pace to keep comfortable.

That lovely, primal scent of pine.

Boots kick up a bit of dust; that leftover pliant earth from Spring.

The lake is restful; last vestiges of birds calling and making their Southward plans.

A bit too chilly for a dip in the calm water.

A calm and peaceful place to sit among fallen leaves and turning grasses and read, until the Autumn sun begins its descent.

Chipmunks and fluffy grey squirrels are chattering; roaming the branches and fallen leaves for those precious seeds and nuts that will be hidden away.

Scurrying and intent on seeking and finding provision.

Winter is coming.

The lit grill gives off welcome warmth; as aromas of grilling vegetables and juicy steaks fill the air around the cozy cabin. Potatoes are baking in the oven.

Red wine with dinner on the deck; sunlight fading; S’mores make their last appearance of the season.

A warm fire might be nice tonight.

Forest quieting; night falling.

WINTER

Blankets feel so warm in the cold morning; is it time to get up?

All is quiet outside the cabin. The watery sun seems to be struggling, too.

Rise and grab long, warm, heavy sweatpants and sweatshirt plus thick fuzzy socks.

First, hot coffee with cream; the mug sends warmth to already chilled hands.

Stoking up the fire again; warmth begins to infuse the chilly cabin.

Ah, Winter! You’ve arrived!

Second cup of steaming coffee accompanies me to the deck.

I have to smell the freezing, chill air; so brisk it takes the breath away.

There it is!  That crisp and lovely scent of pine. Refreshing!

Nowhere to sit with the coffee, since the chairs are covered in ice.

Brave birds cover the bird feeder and relish the seeds I’ve put there for them; fluffed feathers making them look like plump, roly poly little things.

More coffee, eggs, sausage and toast go with me to the little table by the window, as I watch the winter morning unfold.

Fire crackling well now; should last for a bit.

Donning hat, gloves, scarf, heavy jacket, boots; out I go to brave the cold and see the meadow and forest that winter has created.

No one is really out and about this morning.

Evidence of creature activity is all around, but those brave souls must already be back in warm, earthy dens; watching me from hollowed out logs or nests in tree branches; wondering at the sight of me.

Trudging on for a bit; breathing in the wintry, piney air; chilled nose, ears and chin; time to turn back.

The idea of a warm blanket, hot water with lemon, comfy slipper socks by the fire with my book is too strong of a call.

Shedding layers and climbing under the blanket, I relax and am swept away by the book.

Clouds have rolled in while I read. Brisk wind crept up and is rattling bare branches. Colder.

Dinner tonight will be hot bubbling soup and warm bread that I took a break from reading to prepare.

Back under the blanket, watching the fire, I hear the shushing sound of ticking snow on the deck.

Tomorrow morning will be white.

The forest is quiet; night has fallen on the cabin.