A favorite beach we visit occasionally has a rocky section of what I call “singing stones.” The waves crash repeatedly over them, and then as the water pulls back to the ocean, a burbling song arises as the stones are turned over and over, rolling against each other as if in a natural rock tumbler. Eons of tides have smoothed them to a perfectly round or oval finish with few defects.
Depending on where I walk on this beach, the stones can be several inches across, or can be reduced to tiny pebbles. They tend to keep company with those the same size.
The smoother the surface, the more easily the stones roll as the wave turns them over and the louder they “sing” as they clink against each other when the wave pulls back.
Over the years, I’ve brought home a few stones as tangible memories of my time on this beach. For now my smooth stones lie immobile, no longer singing, no longer rolling, no longer tossed one against the other thousands of times daily. I’ve stopped their inexorable transformation to seek comfort in their steadfast permanence. Maybe I will add them to my aquarium or to the koi pond in the yard.
So too I cry out when I’m rolled over and over by life’s wave action, my rough edges worn down over the years. Each day smooths me a little bit more, rounds my corners to a gloss, until such time I’m picked up and pocketed, perhaps on to a new adventure.
You would guess he uses a paintbrush as you see seven beautiful colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. God’s paintbrush uses sunlight and raindrops together to make the visible color spectrum.
God paints a rainbow to remind us of His promise to us that floods will never cover the earth again. It is God’s covenant with His people that He loves us even through very hard times.
This is His sign that His love will last for always and for ever. When you see a rainbow in the sky, remember all the promises you hold in your hand!
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
So I’m sauntering through life, enjoying the view, appreciating each mundane moment, doing what I think I was meant to do and whammo!~clobbered by a cold wave that knocks me off my feet, chills me to the bone and stops me in my tracks wondering what just hit me and why. It feels like I’m drowning.
I feel rudely interrupted because I was ill prepared to change course, alter expectations, or be transformed by life’s sudden cold shower.
I can’t think of any situation where interruption initially feels good. It shocks because it seems unexpected but I chose to be someone who must be rudely interrupted in order to change direction.
God doesn’t just soak me to the bone–He made my bones and heals my fractures. He doesn’t just knock me to my feet–He offers His hand to pull me up again. He doesn’t let me drown–He throws me a life preserver that I must choose to grab and hold on to. Then He wraps me in His warm embrace like a huge towel to remind me where I come from and where I’m heading.
We interrupt this life for a message from our sponsor.
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall. For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
Apple PIcking at Eragny sur Epte by Camille Pissarro
I enjoyed the following passage in a book I’m reading as I approach my fifty-seventh birthday this week. This says it all far better than I could!
“My dear Mrs. Ali, I would hardly refer to you as old, ” he said. “You are in what I would call the very prime flowering of mature womanhood.” It was a little grandiose but he hoped to surprise a blush. Instead she laughed out loud at him.
“I have never heard anyone try to trowel such a thick layer of flattery on the wrinkles and fat deposits of advanced middle age, Major,” she said. “I am fifty-eight years old and I think I have slipped beyond flowering. I can only hope now to dry out into one of those everlasting bouquets.”
from Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonsen
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? 18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
Job 38: 16-18
We may feel we have plumbed the depths and walked in the valley and peered at the gates of darkness. Grief, abandonment, suffering, pain and loss–all things Job was experiencing acutely–can make us feel that we know how bad things can get. But God says we cannot comprehend what He knows and sees, where He journeys and walks. Only God has perfect understanding of where we have been and where we will go.
We hold His hand while He guides and protects us in the darkest places. Only He knows the way.
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
I don’t think much about the molding and shaping that I have undergone until I look in the mirror or at old photos. Like the earth changes by the flow of water and waves, wind and quake, my body is in transition, stamped as if by a seal, adorned with gray, accumulating lines, wrinkles and sags like a treasured well worn garment.
There are many people who mightily resist aging with surgery, implants, hair dye and drugs. Then there are those of us who simply feel it happening, knowing we are being sculpted by the potter, even though the original glossy glaze is wearing off.
When earth is God-stamped with His seal, it is beautiful. And so, sealed and delivered, are we.
From Job 38:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone— 7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? ”
Today my hankering is to be put in my place, reminded of my insignificance in the vastness of time and space. This chapter of Job which we studied together last night at our little church confirms that. As often as I may try to control my life and that of those around me, or complain when I cannot, I must remember:
He is God
and I am not
I was not there at the beginning. He was.
In the beginning,
Yet He speaks to us, this God of the Beginning, the Middle and the End.