Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Close to Water

What is it about water that soothes the anxious soul?

Sound, sparkle in sunlight, the rhythm of waves or current,

the concealment of what lies under. . .

Water wears many faces,

lives differently depending on location,

but woos and mesmerizes in its varied forms.

Rushing, undulating ocean waves,

singing, shimmering stream flowing through forest,

peaceful pond reflecting moonlight.

I am drawn to water, soaking in its call to calm, my soul

slaking its thirst for peace.

Is it the water in me that makes me feel at home,

at one with water in the world,

joined by our common nature?

Thursday, February 17, 2022


One of my potted herbs, a basil plant, takes time to water. If I try to pour water on it from my watering can, the water simply runs across the top of the soil and over the edge of the pot. The plant itself gets no benefit.

What I’ve learned is that I have to use a small watering bottle with a straw, and squeeze water through the small opening in the straw to give the plant what it needs. It takes time, but it’s the only way I can adequately water the plant.

I thought about this plant as I was reading from the epistle attributed to James. James begins his letter with these words:

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

To build endurance involves some soaking. It takes time, patience, consistency, and the ability to be content when you don’t see “progress.” Endurance requires showing up, day after day, moment by moment. It isn’t glamourous. It doesn’t draw much attention. It doesn’t generate a rush of adrenaline. It may not garner you any praise or recognition.

Endurance is about remaining in the flow of God’s grace so that you are gradually reshaped. I think about rocks worn smooth by constant contact with the flow of a stream. It takes a very long time for a rock to go from jagged to smooth. In the same way we grow more complete in our faith by remaining in the flow of grace.

The willingness to be consistent and constant without any significant signs of progress does test our faith. We would prefer that God would bestow signs and wonders on us that enable us to be certain of our growth. It’s been my experience, though, that God works mostly in small, subtle, barely perceptible ways. We have to trust that the soaking, the flow, is moving us toward maturity and completeness.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Winter Beauty

 Living in middle Georgia, winter is a variable affair. One day it’s 65 degrees, another day it’s 40 and drizzling. We don’t get the Winter Wonderland of snow that friends further north enjoy, but I have a deep appreciation for the beauty that a middle Georgia winter offers me.

 I enjoy the bare trees. To see the intricate lace of limbs against a gray sky always generates a sense of wonder in me. I have my favorite trees around town but I enjoy them all. Their bareness also yields the surprises of bird nests that were hidden by summer leaves. I walk by the nests and think about how I passed them in the summer without any awareness of the life that was so close by.

 I like the days we have cold drizzle. Those are some of my favorite days to walk outside. Ever since I went to Ireland several years ago, I’ve grown to appreciate rainy days. An Irish man gave me a pearl of wisdom I remember every rainy day: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! So I don my raincoat and waterproof boots and enjoy a walk in the drizzle.

I enjoy the winter plants, the stalks and sometimes seed pods that remain when all the green is gone. The shapes and patterns they make, and the ways they light up when the sunshine hits them, is as much a treat for the eyes as flowers in springtime.

 If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I am grateful for the beauty I see in a winter landscape. I do believe that to see beauty in the browns and grays of winter is a choice, an intention that can make the difference between having a gloomy day or a delightful day. May you be gifted with eyes to see the beauty around you in wintertime.