You Aren't Reading
Jul 20, 2008 by Nancy Buschart | 1 Comments
"You aren't reading." My husband was right. I haven't been reading-bound-paper-and-ink-type reading. Haven't read my Bible, devotional works, non-fiction, novels, not even a newspaper.
I'm on vacation in Wisconsin's North Woods. We come every year to this place: a little cottage in the woods on the edge of a crystal lake where Creation sings and trees "clap their hands." Heaven on earth!
For the 27 years that I have been coming here, I have experienced this same phenomenon. I can't read for the first several days that I'm here. Picking up a book and focusing my attention on its pages is impossible. My most meaningful devotional practices lose their draw on my soul. During these days, I used to be confused by this, thinking "My prayer life is the pits and I'm an emotional dwarf."
However, several years ago I began to understand that something good, something holy, is taking place. It is not that I cannot read or that I have lost ground toward emotional maturity; rather, I'm being emotionally and spiritually refreshed by reading a different kind of text. I am drinking deeply of the glorious text of creation and I am drawn into the arms of the Creator.
For the first week or so I can scarcely close my eyes; don't even want to blink. My senses are acutely awake in this place. So much to see, hear, smell, taste and touch.
"The heavens declare the glory of God."
" Heaven and earth are filled with His glory."
I see God in nature. Can't get enough! The macro: the woods, the lake, the sky. The micro: individual tiny white daisy, dragonfly, fish, bird, a leaf turning silver then green in the breeze. The sounds: chattering chickadee, screeching eagle, tapping woodpecker.
I can see and hear the wind in this place. I watch the breeze start to trouble the surface of the water across the bay and anticipate the moment the coolness will touch my face.
I'm crazy about the birds here. When we first arrive, one of the first things to do is to set up the bird feeders. I have thistle seed for the finches and chickadees, black sunflower seeds for the nuthatches, suet for the Downy, Hairy and Red-Headed Woodpeckers, and, of course, sugar water for the hummingbirds. Then I have to wait for these to find this new source of food. The first hummingbird makes me giddy.
There's an earthy smell here that I love. Pine trees, decaying leaves. The rich scent of the cycle of life.
The birds in the water are especially captivating. Last year the loons nested and hatched one black puff-ball chick. No successful nest for this summer, but all still comes to a standstill when the loons come to fish in the bay. This year the mergansers have a full brood of nine young!
I can get a little intoxicated by it all. I want to show my family, and anyone who will join me, the majesty and wonder. My daughter, Meredith, recently remarked that sometimes it's most entertaining to watch mom watch the loons.
This craziness is not new to me. I am in good company. The psalmist experienced this strange phenomenon before me.
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth...
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them;
Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes. [Psalm 96: 1, 11-13]
Today the liturgy of the church we attend here included the hymn "This Is My Father's World." The text, written by Malthie D. Babcock (1858-1901), is wonderful to me.
This is my Father's world, and to my list'ning ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres. This is my Father's world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father's world; the birds their carols raise; the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker's praise. This is my Father's world; he shines in all that's fair. In the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me ev'rywhere.
This is my Father's world; oh, let me not forget that, though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father's world; why should my heart be sad? The Lord is king, let the heavens ring; God reigns, let the earth be glad!
The profound impact for me of all this creation glory is an attitude and perspective adjustment. God is God. I am not God. He possesses the wisdom and the sovereign power to sustain all that is. And, yes, evil and injustice "seem oft so strong," but "God is the ruler yet." I can rest. I can trust.
As I write this, it is Sunday evening-just between dusk and dark. I'm sitting on the screen porch facing the lake. Between myself and the water are a few trees - maple, pine, oak - and one solitary deer. She is sensitive to my presence; her ears perk and turn toward my every movement and sound. Her tawny body is becoming increasingly silhouetted against the graying color of the water. Still, I'm looking, listening, watching. As dark approaches, I'll soon allow myself to cease looking, although the sounds of the night increase at this time.
I am brimming with thankfulness. For this place, for the privilege and gift of being present to all that is present here. For the legacy of my husband's family that valued this and struggled to provide a place where family could gather to enjoy each other and the Father's world. For the refreshment that comes by being in the presence of trees that clap, birds that sing, eagles that soar, water that glistens, and skies that amaze with ever-changing glory.
The Three Questionstm for today:
Who is God?
Creator and Sustainer of all that is
Who am I?
A lover of the Father's world; one in need of perspective adjustment and emotional refreshment
How am I living?
Help me, Lord, to be awake and attending to your living Word around and within me
(c) 2008 Vine, Vision & Voice
Nancy R. Buschart