One Ordinary Summer Night

IMG_5315 edit 2.jpgAs the coral sun sets in a sea of softly apricot sky, I drive down the familiar bumps and curve of our own driveway after a long day in town.  Three small girls, happily sticky with the residue of free Dumdum suckers from the bank, tumble out of the car and I herd them inside to put on pajamas, brush teeth and crawl into bed.  We kill all the mosquitoes in their room, say prayers together, turn out the lights.  And then, I go back out to unload the groceries, a flat of plants from the greenhouse, and a newly repaired  bicycle that’s ready for a six-year-old to learn to pedal.  It’s late and I’m tired, but suddenly I pause in the midst of my trips up and down the porch steps, because—

There’s a milky half slice of moon in one half of the sky, a nearer-than-usual planet blinking like a solitaire diamond in the other.

The barn roof and my bridal wreath spirea in full bloom are glowing pure white in the gathering darkness.

The heady fragrance of lilac is on the breeze, perfuming the night.

I hear the whistle of a woodcock’s wings,

the hoarse voices of frogs along the shore,

one loon calling to another,

then a deep boom from beyond the trees on the other side of the lake.  Somebody, on this ordinary Monday evening in June, is shooting fireworks up into the perfect night sky.  I stay paused, whole watermelon cradled in my arms, to scrutinize the horizon and see if I can catch a glimpse of the sparkling explosions above the treetops.

And then, like a bit of falsetto to offset all the bass, comes the whine of a cloud of mosquitoes who had taken a surprisingly long time to realize there was human flesh waiting to be sampled in the great outdoors.  I hurry inside, grateful that they stayed away just long enough to give me time to savor what I’m too often in a hurry to discover:

that even when you’re tired and to-do list is long, or maybe especially then,

there’s incredible beauty and wonder to be found in an ordinary moment in time,

if you just take the time to pause and notice.

“Cease striving, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

All On a Saturday Night

IMG_7055.JPGIt was a Saturday night.

The mingled aromas of garlic, basil and oregano lingered in the kitchen, echoes of a tomato-zucchini-chicken-mozzarella-smothered dish that had my husband claiming that all that was lacking was tiramisu to transport him to our favorite Italian restaurant.

A candle was still flickering on the table from our late night meal, the first candlelight one of the year.  Behind it, a fistful of Russian sage stood stiffly upright, stuffed in a vase with all the advanced flower arranging skills of a four-year-old.  It was, after all, the fistful of Russian sage I didn’t have the heart to scold her for picking because it was so sweet the way she happily presented it to me.  The bouquet threw flowery shadows to dance on the wall as the flame below it flickered.

The baby was sleeping, peaceful, in her wooden cradle, lamplight making spindled shadows across her blanket while long eyelashes rested softly on round cheeks.

The squeaks and splashes of her older sisters in the midst of enjoying their Saturday night bath echoed from the bathroom.

I rinsed soap bubbles off the last clean white plate and set it on the rack to dry, humming to the old familiar song playing softly in the background, that one that forever conjures up black and white images in my mind of my grandpa when he was a little boy.

And then I turned out the lights—but before I could blow out the candle, I caught a glimpse through the window of silvery mists swirling over the fields.  A great yellow moon was rising through the trees and there was a path of liquid gold across the lake, leading straight to it, calling me out.

When I stepped back inside, there was dew on my bare feet and a cratered harvest moon captured on my camera.  The crowning touch to a perfectly ordinary evening in which all the simple, happy things of life were strung like pearls and shone together as one beautiful blessing.

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” (Psalm 116:17)


 

When I Consider the Heavens…

northern lights / rejoicing hillsnorthern lights and the moon / rejoicing hillsOn the evening of the 22nd, moving into the wee hours of the 23rd, we stood outside, oblivious to the mosquitoes (and believe me, it takes some pretty incredible distraction to make that possible right now), and watched one of the most spectacular displays of northern lights we’ve ever seen.  They were everywhere, around and above us, even into the south, dancing and pulsating and rippling across the diamond-studded velvet of the night sky in glowing whites and greens.  We were in awe.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, there’s really only one passage in Scripture in my mind that comes close to describing the thoughts and emotions running through my head on a night like this—and in honor of the wonder that left me speechless, I will say no more and let classic opening lines of this ancient Psalm of David speak for me.northern lights / rejoicing hills“O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens…northern lights over farm / rejoicing hillsWhen I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained…northern lights / rejoicing hillsWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”  (Psalm 8:1, 3-4)northern lights / rejoicing hillsAnd to that all I can say is wow—and amen!