December 1, 2015

Musings of a Fellow Pilgrim
Brenda Tsimekles

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ~ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ~ think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me ~ put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.   Philppians 4:8-9

When I agreed to write a little message for the Pastor's Page, it was my good intention to submit something once a month. "Good Grief!" It seems I've missed October and November entirely! Sigh. Today is the first Sunday of Advent and it seems fall has turned to winter overnight. Just yesterday it was in the 50's and sunshiny . . . and today it's spitting snow. Christmas is coming!

I hope that you had a Thanksgiving to remember. I started my Thanksgiving Day reading a little book of reflections from Ann Voskamp's book, " one thousand gifts." On the cover was a picture of a tiny sparrow resting in a woman's cupped hands. I was drawn in, sensing that the author and I were kindred spirits. I poured a cup of coffee and had the book for breakfast. It was sweet. As I finished I thanked the author for reminding me of something I've long known, but seem forever losing track of.

"You've got to figure out a way to stay awake to your one wild and beautiful life, " she says. You've got to "wake to the wonder of the small." You've got to go about your life "receiving each moment for what it really is: holy, ordinary, amazing grace." You've got to stay awake to the truth that each flying moment is precious gift.

But HOW? How does one live awakened to the God gift in each precious moment and still manage the mundane and the minutia? How does one find the gift in the dirty and the ugly? How does one live Philippians 4 when what is true is not at all lovely??????????

I carried my coffee cup to the sink where dishes from dinner the night before waited. I drained the cold, greasy water they'd been soaking in overnight. Turning on the faucet, I let the clear, clean water run through my fingers . . . and I forced my mind to focus on just THAT moment . . .

It's hard to describe in words, the song that running water sings. It's hard to describe the way the water felt against my skin . . . but it was beautiful . . . the water seemed to be . . .well . . . ALIVE!

God's word is full of reminders to pay attention. Give thanks in ALL things. Whatever is pure and lovely . . .THINK about THESE things. This urging to live in the moment and find beauty there was nothing new, I knew. What I DID find new in Voskamp's book was the dare! Could I write a list of one thousand gifts? Could I recognize and remember one thousand love gifts from God? Could the recognizing and remembering and list writing change ME?

Last Christmas my husband gave me a beautiful, leather bound journal. The "Tree of Life" is embossed on its cover. Its pages are made of fine linen paper. I had made several attempts to use it. Each time I'd tried it seemed that my words just weren't lovely enough to do it justice . . . but a list of one thousand God gifts . . . perfect. . . I laid the journal on the table, ran my fingers over the warm, smooth leather, opened the cover, put pen to the paper . . . and so I began. . .

Care to join me in "list making?" 'Tis the season after all. I dare you! Just to get you started, perhaps you might enjoy thinking about some of the pure and lovely gifts God gives in winter . . .


The Gifts of Winter

How creative the Creator
who paints countless snowflakes in a starless sky,
and sends them floating down
to land gently upon mittened fingers,
and make us pause
in wonder.
Then, causes them to lie down quietly,
until they are a soft, white blanket
tucking in field, and forest, and the forty-six peaks.
How joyous, He who invites the sun
to set the snow fairies dancing in sequined gowns;
He who calls the chickadee from the woodland
to sing for his humble supper of seed
that we might pause . . .
that we might linger by our frosted windows
to listen
and to laugh.
How kind, He who leads us to this place of rest,
making a gift of the stillness,
drawing us nearer the warmth of the fire and the Light.
And how like Him to write winter a parable
"See, all that seems lost to you is only sleeping."



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