Noticing, Day 27: goodness. mercy.

Today it’s hay bales standing in calm ranks on their new-mown fields.

hay

It’s dogs frolicking in pairs in the ditches of the highways: a pair of tiny terriers, a pair of hounds, and — most improbably — a pair of Shih Tzus. The weather, apparently, brings out the joyous dogginess of all dogs.

It’s the breeze that made my swift walk through the sunshine a hint of heaven.

It’s a sliver of setting moon visible through night-blackened oak tree.

It’s the fresh remembrance of what God’s forgiveness means — what it required of Him — brought by trying to explain it to someone else.

It’s this good reminder, rediscovered today:
“If we consider the lives of the Saints, we see the strange paths along which they were driven by the Will to the accomplishment of their destiny: how unexpected and uncongenial were the ways in which they were used to bring the Kingdom in and do the Will of God: and how the heavenly Bread which they were given was given to make them strong for this destiny, and not because it tasted nice.”  —Evelyn Underhill

It’s gratitude that He so often makes that bread both strengthening and sweet; that the ways are not always uncongenial, and that even in the strangest paths, I know that His goodness and mercy attend me all the days of my life, leading me to His house, where I shall dwell forever.

noticing

©2014 by Stacy Nott

glorious monotony

The daffodils have blossomed — finally — under the Chinaberry tree, hints that this winter, which last week coated each leaf, each limb, each pine needle in ice, will not have the last word. (Though, we may be sure, there will be another winter, when spring, and summer, and autumn have come round again.)

ice again

G. K. Chesterton opines that “perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies [or daffodils] alike; it may be that God makes every daisy [and every daffodil] separately, but has never got tired of making them” (Orthodoxy).

I watched the sunset last evening, passionate orange behind the black skeletons of trees, and I realized that it isn’t simply that God says, “Do it again,” to each sunset I see. Every hour in the twenty-four that make a day, every day in the seven that make a week, every week in the fifty-two that make a year, He is busy creating sunrises and sunsets all around the world. He doesn’t simply do it again; He never stops doing it. He never gets tired of it.

Should we worry that He will tire of this never-ending task? We have His promise that He will not. “While the earth remains,” He says, “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).

The sunsets, the ice, the daffodils — these grand markers of the monotony in which God glories and is glorified — remind us that He is faithful to His word; that what He promises, He does.

And He has not only promised us seasons and sunrises. He promises mercies as many as the mornings. Adoption for our loneliness. Life for our death. Joy for our sorrow.

He makes us, not by automatic necessity, but by delight which exults in making each person separately. And He has mercy on us, that is also His delight: He does not weary of keeping His promises; He delights in doing that which He has said He will do, again and again and again.

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday: Encouragement

Some Fridays, when you need encouragement, you find that you aren’t able to write it. So you wait until Saturday.

Last night, I read in Genesis the story of Lot. A sordid tale in many of its parts — the townsmen, the back-looking wife, the desperate-for-babies daughters — yet a picture, all the same of God’s faithfulness.

The Destruction of Sodom

I was struck, in this reading, by one verse. The men — angels? — sent to rescue Lot urge him to get up and get out of the city, lest he be swept away by the destruction God had ordained. “But,” Genesis says, “[Lot] lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city” (Genesis 19:16).

This is mercy: a violent wrench away from where Lot thought he wanted to be, away from his forecasted future, his future sons-in-law, his home, all that was familiar. It is no less mercy for having been painful.

And in this view of God’s mercies, I take encouragement.

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

Use the button above to read more post’s on this Friday’s prompt, “Encouragement,” or two join in the writing yourself.

©2014 by Stacy Nott

Five Minute Friday (on Saturday): Mercy

We’re celebrating a wedding this weekend. I’ve traveled, and others have traveled, and here we are. Last night my face ached with smiling; my eyes had been full of tears more than once.

I’ve known the bride more than eight years, shared a room with her for three. We wrote a poem in the first year of our acquaintance, lamenting the lack of readily-available husbands visible on our college campus.

And now, at last, she’s getting married.

I listen to the families talk, look at her face, at her groom’s face, hear the joy in the voices, and practice to play joyous music on the piano for the ceremony. Mercy.

Marriage is a picture. It’s meant to show us things, to help us understand, just a bit, of the love of God. He makes it beautiful.

In view of His mercies we are urged to present ourselves as living sacrifices to Him, and being a sacrifice is often painful, but seeing the mercies is so sweet.

And somehow He weaves the mercies and the pains — the greatest mercy was the greatest sacrifice — and we are obliged to celebrate most these moments of giving self away. Because that’s what we’re made for.

Because He makes it beautiful.

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

Joining the Five Minute Friday party with Lisa-Jo and friends today. Join in, or read more posts, using the button above.

Five Minute Friday: Again

Wanting to post, but not knowing what, I remembered Lisa-Jo and her Five Minute Fridays. So here I am joining. Again.

Again. Stumped for words. Not a surprise, but a weariness.

The “again” of disappointed hopes.

The “again” of loneliness.

The “again” of wondering what exactly I’m doing and why.

The “again” of not really knowing.

The tides roll in and out again and again, and the days are born and die again and again, and here I am. Again.

And He asks, again, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” And again I find myself confessing: no, I have never commanded the morning since my days began, I do not know the storage places of the snow, I cannot loose the fountains of the deep. Again I have no arm like God’s; again I can thunder with no voice like His. Again I lay my hand on my mouth; again, what I can I reply to Him?

And again, like a Father, He has compassion, mindful again and always of my dust-made frame. Again, His steadfast love never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. New one morning. And new again. And new again. And new again.

Mercies again, for all my “agains.”

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

©2013 by Stacy Nott

Five-Minute Friday: Wide

Five-Minute Friday again, with Lisa-Jo and the others. I’m glad to be here.

Today’s word is “wide,” and I’m five years old singing that “There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide,” and I’m twenty-five years old singing that “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” and today, maybe for the first time, I realize that the two songs say the same thing.

The days are cooling, and they feel bigger that way, under wide blue skies, and I could spread my arms wide and sing to the world like Maria in The Sound of Music. “My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees . . .”

Rise. Yes. And it’s the wideness of the mercy which allows for the rising, which lifts and carries when we fall in this way that is narrow, when it is too steep, too stony, when we are not enough.

And though the way is narrow and we are not enough, the mercy flings open wide the golden gates there at the end, and we, made victors through the deep and wide love of the Lord, enter in.

one wild

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

And I laugh a bit. One life, yes.  But not a wild one.  A very quiet, coloring-inside-the-lines sort of life.  (My brothers are recognized when they jump over chairs; no one would guess my connection based on that.)

Precious, however.  Wildly, improbably, enormously so.  Yes, precious.  But not mine.

It’s easier to see some days than others, this nearly-ness of life.  How we gather its edges in tiny fistfuls, but cannot keep it, cannot ever gather all of it into our arms sufficiently to call it our own.  How it pulls us along and we do not direct it, and we cannot know that we may not any moment look down to discover our clenched fists are empty and it fled away.

I watched the boy stand up yesterday, and remembered the nearly-ness of that other day, when life caught and crumpled him under his car, and how there were no words for the prayers, except “Mercy.”

Mercy surprises us sometimes, coming gorgeous in plumes and diamonds with a caravan of rich gifts, when we look for a darkly clad, wrinkled woman with a basket of coarse bread.  The boy who nearly died stands up; those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death have their bonds burst apart.  The beloved Son laid down His life, that I might have life — not in meager, desperate fistfuls, but wildly, improbably, abundantly.

More life than can be fit inside the lines, life that spills out of them and runs over into forever.

Now, ah, now to live like it.