Today I stop and watch the river running through our yard, a dark ribbon lying on a silky white sheet. Don’t be overly impressed here. It’s really only a creek (someone more athletically-inclined could jump across it) but it is the north branch of the Little Wolf River. No matter how cold it gets, that little river never freezes over. It just keeps moving steadily along its course. When boulders and branches clutter the way, it alters its course to follow the path of least resistance, determined to reach its final destination. That river refuses to be stopped.
Today’s dismal sky mirrors my mood. The cold clouds seem to notice my demeanor. A crystalline winter shower sifts down as they try to shake off their indifference – the closest thing to empathetic tears they can muster this time of year.
One of our former pastors died earlier this week. The funeral was today. He didn’t die of illness. Or old age. Or an accident. He died of depression. Of desperation. Of irrepressible despair.
Today my windshield is frosted white with feathery finesse. The grass and trees have been powder sugared, and the damp air has an unmistakable edge. Jack Frost passed through last night, leaving his frosty fingerprints on everything he touched. I’m not sure what kept him this year. Maybe he was vacationing in the Yukon! Whatever the case, he arrived later than usual.
Today a local farmer harvests his sun-dried corn from our field. The combine rumbles down the rows, cuts and collects the corn, and chops up the stalks and leaves for silage. He works diligently all morning. In the late morning I realize the homey hum of distant machinery has stopped. Must be lunch time. I grab a bite to eat, too. When the tractor turns over, I resume my house work and the farmer begins plowing. I’m not sure who’s happier when the field work is finished… him or me. He’s smiling as he drives past the house on his way home with his feed. I’m smiling as I slip on my old boots and head out to the freshly-plowed field.
Tonight a shekinah moon casts midnight shadows on the frosted lawn. Not many moons are this brilliant. The heavy, white frost accentuates the light, bouncing it back into silent night. As I stand and watch, the moon is momentarily shrouded by a passing cloud The thin veil erases the grass’ frosty glimmer and obliterates the stark shadows. But only for a moment. Before long the cloud slips silently on, once again unveiling the moon’s full glory. The cloud may have momentarily masked the moonlight, but it could not diminish it. It shown as brightly when cloud-covered as it does now. I just couldn’t see it.
God’s shekinah glory is no different. It shines with brilliant intensity today as it did yesterday and as it will for all eternity. I just can’t see it. Oh, I get a glimpse of it on occasion in the color of a sunset, or the feel of a newborn’s soft skin, or the smell of a hemlock forest after a spring rain. But His full glory is masked by a protective veil that could never diminish its beauty.
I wonder what it will be like to see God in all His glory, clothed in majesty. A rare few were granted the privilege on this side of heaven. God at the burning bush, he hid his face. Isaiah was utterly humbled, Ezekiel fell on his face, and John fell as if dead when he saw God’s full glory. What a wonderful, and terrible, and awesome, and fearsome thing to see.
“Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (Isaiah 6:2-4)
One day God’s glory, unveiled, will fill all the heavens and the earth. On that day, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10,11) And when God establishes His eternal kingdom, His glory will shine unveiled forever. “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:23)
Today I watch some late fall leaves slough off the molting trees, coast through the air, and settle on the river. The lazy current twirls them around as it carries them toward the dam. The leaves have no say in where their journey will take them. They simply go where they are taken, obedient to forces beyond their control.
Today a flock of geese congregates on the pond. They honk their nasal greeting at some stragglers flying overhead. The pair in flight lowers their flaps and puts down their landing gear. They bank and glide, catching the wind at just the right angle to slow their approach. Their feet hit the watery runway. They ski into the flock, pulling in their flaps as they come to a complete stop. The noisy greetings fade.
Today I hunt for wild grapes. The vines are everywhere, climbing fences and trees and boulders along the wild country roads. Many of the vines are bare. But some have clusters of tiny purple grapes, miniatures of their cultivated cousins. A couple of light frosts have made them as sweet as they’re going to get… which is not very sweet. They’re far too tart to eat plain. But they make excellent jelly. I fill several ice cream pails and head home.
Today I take special notice of the fall flowers. It seems God ordained purple and gold, with a sprinkle of white, for the late bloomers. The warm yellow sunflowers and lively lavender blazing stars are the first to signal summers eminent demise.