Return to Radnor Lake

“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature” (Henry David Thoreau).

Of all the choices and decisions I’ve made of late, precious few were any better than returning to Radnor Lake for a hike.

It’s been way too long since I last had a good long hike into nature and away from the things of man. I relish the quiet calm of nature, listening to my own thoughts, but more often listening to the still small voices of nature.

It almost seems like to speak would be to profane the sacred silence around me, so I often keep quiet and try to pay attention. Those two qualities work well not just on a hike but in any suitable occasion.

I counted 11 deer, plus countless squirrels, some turkeys, a swimming muskrat, and a busy little woodpecker. On the whole, the hike lived up to my expectations.

I often wonder if this current culture isn’t allergic to silence. You never hear dead air in any media format. People will fill any kind of silence with inane talk and chatter. It’s like we’re (me included) addicted to noise.

But there’s something curative and refreshing about peace, silence, quiet, and nature. I’m sure Thoreau was onto something with Walden Pond.

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More Good Music

I recently rediscovered the early solo recordings of one Rod Stewart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of just about everything he’s ever done, starting way back with the Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces all the way to the present.

But there’s something about the Mercury recordings he did that are magical. I think most people will agree that Maggie May is a classic. There are plenty of other gems from this era, including Reason to Believe, You Wear it Well, and Mandolin Wind, among others.

I listen to these recordings and most of them sound fresh. Maybe it’s because they sound a lot like the Americana/Roots music coming out these days. Maybe ol’ Rod was ahead of his time.

It’s just good driving during rush hour/laying in bed with your headphone on/road trip/anywhere music.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Random Saturday-ness

I have a lot of thoughts in my head currently, most of which don’t really mesh together well, but I’m needing to get at least some of them out of my head and in some form of writing.

I’m thinking about my mother’s cat Paddy today. It was 4 years ago that she took her last ride to the vet. It was an emotionally wrecking day for me (and I’m sure for my mother as well).

I still miss that grumpy old cat. She might have been an ornery cuss at times, but she could be endearing and sweet at other times. She had her own loving way and was unswervingly loyal to my mom.

Two years later, I found out my own beloved cat Lucy was terminally ill. It devastated me. For the next six days, I cried, prayed, hoped for a miracle, and tried as best as I could to prepare for the worst.

But today was filled with happy memories. We had our traditional yearly family celebration of my sister’s upcoming birthday. It was festive and filled with truck rides, eating too much, badminton, and hammocks. And birthday cake.

That’s a sort of microcosm of life. There’s a great amount of sadness and heartache, but there’s also joy and beauty. Sometimes, you can’t have one without the other. Sometimes, suffering helps you appreciate the joy more.

But all in all, life’s still a gift. It’s a blessing that I take for granted most days, but on those days when I remember, I give thanks for the privilege of waking up and breathing in God’s air. As long as you or I are still breathing, we still have a purpose and a reason to live.

Cherish your life and the people in it.

Goodnight to All, and to All a Good Night

“Lay down my dear brothers
Lay down and take your rest
Won’t you lay your head upon your Savior’s breast
I love you all but Jesus loves you the best
And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight” (Grateful Dead).

I can’t believe I actually stayed up past midnight.

Back in the day, I was quite the night owl, but having a 5 am wakeup call during the week curtailed my nightly antics a bit.

So here it is– 12:32 am– and I’m finally calling it a night. I’m beyond ready for some sleep.

Is that what happens when you get old? Asking for a friend.

I’m Just Gonna Leave It At This

It’s more of a reminder to myself, but if it’s helpful to you, then that’ll work.

I remember someone saying once that no one can make you feel anything. Ultimately, they can’t make you happy or sad or angry or anything.

They can say hurtful things, but you still have a choice as to how you will respond. Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket (as I heard someone else say once). Let your joy come primarily through God and let others be conduits of that joy.

No matter what, you can choose gratitude and joy and thanksgiving because you know that God is still a promise keeper, no matter what the weather or the day.

Gratefulness

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community)

To put it another way, how can you expect for God to entrust big tasks to you unless you are first faithful in the small tasks and minute details?

In whatever season of life you’re in, be all there. Be faithful and bloom where you’re planted. Do whatever is in front of you to your utmost ability. Stay obedient and trust God with the results.

Deep Thoughts on a Monday

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands” (Oswald Chambers).

That’s awfully deep for a Monday. It’s hard to go from weekend vegging to having to think real adult thoughts in just 24 hours. That’s why Monday is the least favorite day of the week (or whatever day follows a holiday).

But these words by Oswald Chambers aren’t just deep. They’re true. They may be your experience in this very moment. You may feel stretched and strained beyond your ability to endure, but God knows and sees and end that is beyond even your ability to dream about at this point.

As much as the aiming process feels like forever, it’s not. Don’t abandon the process because of temporary discomforts that will lead to eternal joys. Whatever the pain feels like now, it will be forgotten when the blessing comes, much like a mother isn’t thinking about the agony of childbirth when she holds new life in her arms.

Trust the process. Trust God. Believe that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes with the dawn.

Pre-Monday Stuff

It’s that time of the week dreaded by many that’s known as Monday Eve. It’s Sunday night and the work week looms ahead.

So here’s a funny that will hopefully take your mind off whatever’s worrying you about the week ahead.

I also hate getting up early, for the record. Especially on Mondays. But here’s the deal– it’s gonna be a good week. Just set your mind on that.

How do I know? Because I know God’s in charge. Whatever’s giving you anxiety or concern, God won’t be taken by surprise. It’s not like you’ll bring it to Him in prayer and He’ll be like, “Well, I definitely didn’t see THAT coming.”

The worst case scenario with God in it is better than any scenario without God because even in those worst moments you are still being carried along by those Everlasting Arms and He’s still working all things together for good.

In other words, it’s all good. Trust more, worry less. Focus on the here and now and say lots of short prayers and take deep breaths and trust that God will take care of you.

The Latest Doctor

I finally made it to the 13th incarnation of the Doctor. I’ve embarked on the latest series of Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker playing the title role.

I confess I had a bit of trepidation and fear going in after reading some of the negative reviews (and some of the overly positive ones, too). My fears have been assuaged. It’s all good.

I’m really liking Jodie’s doctor. I’m liking all the companions, although I don’t know how they can sustain a Tardis with four people. But so far, the stories are good, the acting is good, the pacing and production are good.

Ok, David Tennant is still my favorite of the NuWho doctors, but Jodie is a more than admirable successor to the character. I also would like to point out that I still prefer the Classic series over the new stuff, but it’s all good.

Maybe I’ll be all caught up when the new episodes start in 2020. Or maybe I’ll just start over from the beginning.