A REFLECTION AND A BENEDICTION FOR THE WEEK
(Friday, October 8th)
When we first moved to our home here in West Virginia, I was so happy to discover a place along my neighborhood walking route that offered a quiet, solitary moment among beautiful hills and meadows. This soon became a sanctuary of sorts for me. I have ventured out to see glorious sunrises, foggy views, magnificent skies, frosty or snowy fields, silent deer and noisy geese. This place is where I pause to thank God for each new day.
Recently I learned that my sacred space will soon be changing. The city has been developing the area into a recreational park – including a playground and soccer fields – and the changes will soon impact “my” holy meadow. This week I am seeing the backhoes and wood chippers coming into my view. As much as I am relieved that this hillside will become a park and not a commercial development, I am grieving the loss of my quiet, solitary, natural, “private” sanctuary.
The landscapes of life are continually changing, aren’t they? Here in the northern hemisphere, we are seeing the landscape changes of the autumn season, with brighter colors but shorter days. When I last visited my hometown, I found that my junior high school had been replaced with a soccer field. My childhood home is now occupied by someone new and unfamiliar. Jim and I like to revisit some of our favorite vacation spots, but they are always different in some way. The landscapes of life keep changing, evolving, and at times, improving – with or without our approval or consent.
Today I am reminded of God’s constant and loving presence through all the changing landscapes of life. These changes may bring grief and a sense of loss, but they can also bring growth and a sense of opportunity, if we place ourselves into the transforming care of God. In these times, we can ask God to comfort our grief, change our perspective, inspire us to action, turn our focus, learn to accept, think of others, give us wisdom, or deepen our faith. God can lovingly bring goodness out of every new and different circumstance or experience, every changing landscape.
This current changing landscape is a minor loss, but I hope that the lessons I am gleaning will inspire and equip me for any other changes that may come. I am learning to ask God the questions that will help for every change in life. Is there a new route I should take? What opportunity have I not yet seen? Is my loss someone else’s gift? Will I become a conduit of your love for someone who will be drawn to this new landscape? How can I hold the gratitude in my heart for what was, while embracing what is and will be? Am I being nudged to advocate for the care of our changing earthly landscape? In what ways will this change transform me into a better person? Is there some new plan that I do not yet perceive?
I wonder if I may find that this new park will be even better than my solitary sanctuary.
More importantly, I wonder if I may become a better person, through the work of God’s transforming love.
When the landscape is unfamiliar
and the wilderness seems vast,
may you turn to take the hand of One
who guides and holds you fast.
May you place each changing landscape
into God’s all-knowing care
and ask how you may use this well
as you come to God in prayer.
May you hold in deepest gratitude
the landscapes you have known
as you follow holy cloud and fire
the journey you’ll be shown.
May you go forth in expectation
of great wonders (now concealed)
as you explore these new horizons
for the joy to be revealed.
BIBLE PASSAGES TO BLESS YOUR WEEK:
God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea… The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Exodus 13:18, 21-22 (NRSV)
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:19 (NRSV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (NRSV)
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/
(Photos by Karen, Hurricane, WV)