A Morningtide Reflection

I arose early today, earlier than normal, well before the sun, even before my coffee pot began his daily work. I prodded him awake–yes it’s a him, his nametag does read Mr. Coffee–and he got right to work grumbling loudly.

As I quietly waited for him, I did a few odds and ends–a load of laundry begun, dogs let out into the darkness.  I confess, I too grumbled loudly as I cleaned up after the puppies.  It is most often at morningtide when I wonder why people have pets.

A hissing sound, Mr. Coffee clearing his throat, tells me that he is done brewing.  I fill my cup and sit at my desk.  Before turning on the lamp, I stare out into the darkness.  How long before the sun rouses? Two hours hence and he has yet to make an appearance.

I read from a variety of books, old and familiar friends: the Bible, a book of Psalms, and the Valley of Vision. I pick up a new book from one of the stacks that always surround me, Thumbprints in the Clay by poet Luci Shaw. Poets see beauty in the ordinary. Her opening chapter is a meditation on coffee mugs, a welcome read as I await the daylight. Shaw writes, “Somehow, the satisfaction of really good coffee is enhanced by the beauty of the coffee mug.” I pause to look up at my new mug, an object of beauty no doubt, hand crafted by the same caring hands that made my last one.

Somehow, the satisfaction of really good coffee is enhanced by the beauty of the coffee mug.-Luci Shaw

The casual observer would notice that the two mugs share a similar shape and size, but that the design is quite different. As an intimate observer, I notice it is lighter, perhaps only a few grams, but I knew the other so well that the change is immediately evident. I notice too that it fits my hand differently, perhaps in the same way that holding hands with my wife and daughter differ. Both comfortable, but somehow distinct.

As I feel the radiated warmth of the coffee upon my hand, I run my thumb over the textured trees, familiarizing myself with them. Lord willing, I will come to know this mug as fully as I knew the last.

And as I ponder, I am reminded that man too was fashioned from clay, bearing the marks of his Creator. Every person we meet bears evidences of God’s “thumbprints,” and each possesses a uniqueness and beauty found in no one else. Hand made things invite us to intimacy and point us to a deeper awareness of God’s love for the unique splendor of each image bearer.

Wisdom’s Drought

Words are frequent
but wisdom is scarce,
billions of voices raised
in praise
not to God, but to self.

Perpetual adolescents
assured of the veracity and value
of their own views
take to their keyboards
to offer their wisdom’s treasures
140 characters at a time.

With enough red hearts
and retweets
they can remain sure
that they are just what culture needs
when, in reality,
what is truly needed
is silence.

Life is not

Hurrying on to a receding future,

Nor hankering after an imagined past.

It’s the turning aside like Moses

To the miracle

Of the lit bush,

To a brightness that seemed

As transitory as your youth once,

But is the eternity that awaits you.

-RS Thomas

Prayer often includes a wider bandwidth than we often think. Prayer means talking to God, but even more, prayer means listening to God, listening for God. Prayer is action. Prayer is sitting still. Prayer happens through our hopes and through our tears. Prayer happens through songs and mental images, through smells and sounds and tastes. Prayer happens with words, and (thank goodness) when our words completely fail us. Prayer happens in any place and in any way open to God’s presence.

-Winn Collier, Love Big. Be Well. 

Christians should be as delighted in the things of sight and sense as God is himself, when at the instant of every creational act, he declares goodness to be observable, enjoyable, and usable. Of all people, Christians should have the best noses, the best eyes and ears, the most open joy, the widest sense of delight. That the opposite is often the case is no fault of the Lord’s. How interesting that God, in correcting the ruminations of Job and his three advisers, turned to his work as Imaginer and Maker rather than his holiness.

-Harold Best

I did not
have to ask my heart what it wanted,
because of all the desire I have ever known,
just one did I cling to
for it was the essence of
all desire:
to hold beauty in
my soul’s
arms.

-St John of the Cross

Judah’s Lion

The Lion of Judah,
walks the earth;
He began in a stable,
the humblest birth.

Now splendor and majesty,
He wears as His mane;
Our glorious King,
His death is our gain.

Strength and beauty,
reflect all His ways;
“of course He is good,
but He is not safe.”

We tremble in worship,
awed at His splendor;
forgetting ourselves,
in reverent surrender.

The seas roar aloud,
the fields do cheer;
all creation rejoices,
when Aslan is near.

Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Psalm 96:6

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