On the Eighth Day of Summer…

IMG_9870.JPG…my camera brought to me,

Eight buds a-bursting.

Anticipation.  My yard is full of it in the form of these hopeful swelling buds.  Each one is a neat and tidy little package, a ticking time bomb hiding the splendid explosion that’s about to happen.  I await the event eagerly, sometimes checking twice a day on my favorites.  And then I savor the miracles that come.

These are the fulfillments of my gardening hopes and dreams, the reward for all the dirt under my fingernails, for all the times my back ached from bending over to pull weeds and my neck got burned by the sun.IMG_9636.JPGIMG_9872.JPGIMG_9078-1.jpgAnticipation and its reward are very sweet.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)

 

In case you missed them, here are the first day, second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day and seventh day!

 

On the First Day of Summer…

IMG_9316.JPG…my searching brought to me,

A droplet on a lady slipper.

An alternate caption might read: “You know it’s really summer when…”Go take pictures of ladyslippers” makes the Top 3 on your to-do list for the day.”

As we all know, summer in Minnesota is furiously fast and fleeting.  Every year I vow to slow down and savor it better; every year, I promise you, it’s shorter.  But the faster it seems to go, the more determined I am to enjoy it, and so in that spirit, I’d like to announce the first in a series of a summery, illustrated version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”!  Stay tuned!

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

 

A Place to Still Your Heart

icy water dropletSometimes, in all the wonderful hustle and bustle that December can be, it’s good to take a walk alone in the woods to listen to the stillness…

to quietly admire the strange and wonderful effects of melting and freezing snow and ice…ice on branchto be startled and then delighted when a deer goes leaping across the trail mere feet in front of you…IMG_1714 editto stand and watch the late afternoon sun glint through bits of ice on twiggy branches, like hundreds of cut glass ornaments hung for Christmas…ice on twigsto deeply breathe in crisp cold air and be glad for warm new mittens…IMG_1776

and, as the still permeates your soul, to think about the One who said to “be still and know that I am God”,

the Prince of Peace whose purpose was to bring ultimate and perfect peace on earth, whose first humble coming to earth we will celebrate very soon—and be glad.

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.”  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Sometimes in the midst of the busyness, it takes something as far removed from the tinsel and packages as a woodland cathedral robed in winter white, where no instrument plays but the wind whispering through the branches and no voices speak but those of chickadees and squirrels—

to bring your heart back where it needs to be.

End of Summer

IMG_9747 editThis morning, as the mid-morning sun was making the dew on the spider webs sparkle, I rode my bike down the bumpy gravel road to Sheryl’s house.  The bike trailer bounced behind me, heavy with my precious cargo of two little ones and a Bible tucked in the back pocket.  I hoped I had estimated how long the ride would take me correctly; I didn’t want to miss out on the sweet fellowship time beforehand!

This is the third summer we’ve spent studying the 23rd Psalm.  What precious times we’ve had together going slow through the beloved familiar passage, sometimes word by word, soaking it in, mining the depths of Scripture for quantities of treasure that we never dreamed could exist in the space of so few words.  And now it was all over until next year.  Today was the last day, our sweet weekly summer gathering coming to a close just as the calendar was gently finishing August.  The ditches were full of goldenrod and lavender clouds of asters, and the banks of ferns were curling up brown around their lacy edges.  Yes, my eyes told me, as I focused up on the landscape around me and away from the dusty road beneath my tires:  fall was really almost here.goldenrod / rejoicing hillsI’m really sorry to bid this summer adieu, because it’s been such a good one.  Beautiful fellowship with these dear sisters in Christ has been just one of the highlights of this season for me.  As I meditated back over the passage we had been studying, somehow the other happy memories and pictures of this summer seemed to intertwine in my mind with the words of the psalm.  And so in honor of the end of a glorious season and those precious weeks of study we savored together, I present this photographic essay of my summer and Psalm 23:

pie / rejoicing hillsThe Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…herd of cattle / rejoicing hillsHe maketh me to lie down in green pastures…pine over lake / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me beside the still waters…peaceful porch / rejoicing hillsHe restoreth my soul…country lane / rejoicing hillsHe leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…IMG_7262 editI will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me…tiny bee on cosmos / rejoicing hillsThou preparedest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…droplet on petunia / rejoicing hillsThou anointest my head with oil;  my cup runneth over…summer sunset / rejoicing hillsSurely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Amen.

6:36 AM

water droplets on grass / rejoicing hillsdewy grasses / rejoicing hillsdroplets on grass / rejoicing hillsThis is only a tiny slice of the beauty of this morning.

No camera can capture the feel of cool morning dew on bare feet, or the warmth of the rising sun on my face as it burnt through the swirling mists on the lake.

You can’t know that sky high over my head was patterned with a magnificent rippling pattern of cirrocumulus clouds, all shining and white.

Perhaps a video recording might capture the liquid trilling flute of red-winged blackbirds, the trumpeting of many swans and the distant drumming of a grouse that blended in symphonic harmony all around me—but I doubt it would do it justice.

If you looked very closely, you might be able to tell that there is a miniature scene inside every single one of those water droplets, that, if magnified, would be a sparkling world of a thousand blades of grass strung with more pearls of dew with a million more worlds inside.

These pictures are a lovely glimpse of this moment in time, 6:36 AM—but there was so much more.

water droplet on grass / rejoicing hillsThat’s kind of how it is with heaven.  We read about streets of gold and robes of white and singing praises around the throne of God, but they are all only glimpses into wonders that we can’t even imagine.  Lovely glimpses, yes—but there will be so much more.  I can hardly wait!

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully…”  (1 Corinthians 13:12)