These days is tempting to build a house in the land of my failure. In that landscape every bird, every breeze is a reminder of how I have fallen, how broken I am, how every action of every moment is tainted with the righteous indignation of those who know my sin and my weakness. No one else is building me this house, but I carry a weight that encumbers every moment. Like Bunyan's "Pilgrim" I bear a heavy burden on my back that needs to drop from my shoulders.
This morning as the sun cleared the trees beyond my meadow, a doe came grazing up through the early morning light. She shook herself in my front yard and the droplets of water flew from her like a misty cloud. I could see her chin whiskers highlighted in the crisp sunlight as she, head-down, examined a woodchuck that scampered out of the way of her curiosity. The sleek reddish-brown of her coat stood out so I could see every hair. Beyond her, the swamp grasses stand, seeded heads waving, growing inches each day, reaching for the light. Psalm 65 continues to ring in my eyes from my morning recliner:
"You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it ... the pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy."
Like dusty spiderwebs in the corners of my consciousness, I live with my frailty. Savoring the memory of quiet exploration, of shared reflection on the word God is speaking into this day, I long for free conversations that will reinforce to me the righteousness, the benevolence, the compassion of God. Instead I turn and turn and turn on the racetrack of my own isolate thoughts. The superabundance that is so evident in all my context goes unnoticed, and I carry an anvil in my heart.
Last night we had a work crew here at Decision Hills, something I had initiated and organized. People showed up eager to sweat, to trim back the brush at our north entrance and to clear the patch of thistles where our repaired dock will go in the water this week, to give themselves with joy to the needful tasks of stewardship. We trimmed buckthorn and blew piles of last winter's moulded leaves and repaired leaky roofs. Our work was lightened and deepened by joyful acknowledgement of God's gracious goodness in this place, by beauty set in a gorgeous landscape, by loons calling from lake to lake around us, by the anticipation of God's goodness.
Since Seattle, I am fighting a cold and the weight in my lungs, the scratch in my throat, the drip in my sinuses feels deserved, like I have earned this discomfort, like why should I complain? It's karma, it's reaping what I have sowed. The virus twists me, turns me in on myself, makes it hard to get outside my own head, hard to get beyond my own infected consciousness, hard to lose myself.
In my morning reading, Oswald Chambers bears witness to the goodness of God and speaks incisively into my circumstances: "If you will give God your right to yourself, he will make a holy experiment out of you. God's experiments always succeed. The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water, springing up perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus. Never make a principle out of your experience."
God's experiments always succeed. We wonder why God doesn't send burning bushes anymore, but perhaps our ears have grown dull and our eyes clouded. Maybe the glory of God is abundantly burning all around us, and it is our filters -- my filters, my whine -- that keep us inebriated on the toxicity of our own perspective. Maybe the majesty of God is all around, waiting to be absorbed, experienced, enjoyed, worshiped.
There's a good chance that if I can't find joy in days like these, I would be dissatisfied if all my longings bore fruit exactly as I wish. Joy is here to be seized, to be grasped. to be danced and delighted. The question on a gorgeous June morning is whether I can abandon myself to Jesus and let him engineer my circumstances, let him be the wellspring, be the Opener of my eyes and ears.