Playdates with God: The Sweetness of Things

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Today we go back to the normal. Normal has been interrupted by Winter Storm Jonas these past couple days. We’ve been digging out from under 16-17 inches of snow, bit by little bit. But today I return to work, Jeff resumes his teaching schedule, and though school is closed for Jeffrey, he won’t be snowed in the way he was this weekend. Temperatures still sleep below the freezing mark, but yesterday the sparrows sung the sun high and we warmed under her gaze. Still, all this white is going nowhere—save for one shovel full at a time.

There is something so sweet when normal is interrupted. We huddle together and light the fire in the fireplace and hearts are soft to one another. We walk together through snow drifts, slipping on ice patches here and there, giggling and holding on to each other like we haven’t for years. We catch snowflakes on our tongues. And our eyelashes. And shoulders and the tops of our heads. Both of my boys had birthdays this past week and though we celebrated with Teddy before taking him back to school, I kept finding myself near tears as his day came to a close and I did not get to see his face.

“I miss you today,” I texted him. “First time you’ve not been home on your birthday.”

“It’s the way it has to be, mom,” he replied, always the practical one. The new semester has only just begun and he is busy learning his new schedule, getting the lay of the land on the new classes.

“I know,” I replied. “It’s how it’s supposed to be and it is good. I’m glad you are having some fun.”

I watched the birds hop atop the frozen crust of snow under the feeder. A Cardinal pair, a handful of snowbirds, some house finches. The day before, an Eastern Towhee stopped by, his cinnamon breast and side a sharp contrast to the pearly world he haunted. But after all that snow, today the sky gleams brilliant blue and the glistening trees carve their shapes into its void. In all this alabaster I struggle to feel what is greening inside me.

Belden Lane quotes Jonathan Edwards as saying, “The works of God are … a kind of voice or language of God to instruct intelligent beings in things pertaining to Himself.” When I watch the birds I am listening to the voice of God. It’s a kind of synesthesia—every sense engaged in this knowing.

I watch the male Cardinal tap a sunflower seed against the mottled trunk of the Maple tree. His insistent tapping sends an avalanche of snow from the slender branches and the air is filled with flashing shafts of powdered light. My throat catches at the sheer abundance of nature. I remember the question Augustine asked of God,

What do I love when I love you? Not light nor the fragrance of flowers, not the taste of honey, nor the gentle touch of the human body. None of these and yet all of them! I do love a kind of light, a certain fragrance, a food and an embrace when I love my God … I said to all those things which stand about the gate to my senses: ‘Tell me about my God … ..’ And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘He made us.’ My question was in my contemplation of them, and their answer was in their beauty.”

This interruption of the normal has been a gift of space for contemplation. For a short while, life slowed to a stop, warmed under a blanket of snow, baffled in white, breathed beauty in every language.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

There is No Hurry

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I move through the days as a series of slow steps, a circling round and round again. The rhythms repeat and sometimes I feel the weight of the earth laboring in its turning. When each day melts into the next I know it’s time to change direction, time to shift the gaze and trip myself up.

Last night I went for a run, starting over again, as I have been on a rest to avoid pounding this tender heel. Who knew plantar fasciitis would take so long to heal? I’ve been doing the stretches and taking ibuprofen but still, some days the pain makes me walk funny and I feel old and fragile. Finally, I could not wait another day to get outside and feel the sun on my face again, pain or no.

So I lumber along and I am aware of the long break from running in my lungs and once again I rail against the injustice of it all, drive my body all the harder, feel my muscles protest against this sudden demand after the long holiday, and there is an odd sort of pleasure in this pain. I am on the edge of despair as I approach the steady rise of a hill lifting up before me.

I have forgotten that I do this thing for pleasure, that it makes me happy to explore my little valley on foot, that I feel good in the doing and for the doing. This doesn’t feel good. Frustration at the loss of months and years of conditioning runs alongside me, when I hear a voice in my head clear as a bell:

There is no hurry.

These words fall like a stone into the middle of my striving, then lose their weight and float before me like a feather. Suddenly, I feel lighter too.

There is no hurry. Aren’t we all heading in the same direction? There are things I want in this life, yes, good things. I run toward them blindly, sometimes. And I forget what is best. I forget to see the way the sunlight falls, all golden in its descent behind the hills. I forget to hear the invisible sparrow’s song from his secret place. I forget the pleasure of studying the cracks in the pavement, how water flows into the lowest places.

There is beauty in the repeating rhythms of every day, if I slow to see it. I, too, will bend low. And be quenched.