Another snowbound week and I was feeling trapped. I had to find peace and quiet. They go together “peace and quiet”. The problem I have is finding the quiet to have the peace. I have to physically go somewhere away from the activity of my house. Not only away from the noise and demands of my family, but also away from the chores and gadgets that I find that I do not have the discipline to ignore. With the weather as ugly as it has been, it is easy to use that as an excuse for not “running away”. This week I put on my layers of clothing and my thickest socks and headed outdoors.
As I have written many times, once outdoors my whole perspective changes. I know this is a simple trick of the mind. I associate outdoors with God – because that is where I feel closest to him. It is where I go and allow myself to be seen by the one who sees me and understands me. I need to be in his creation and in his company. I know he is as close as my next breath, but there is something special about going to God in the places I have deemed as Holy.
I contemplated this while looking at the world through my camera lens. The world was in its best attire to be photographed. The snowy dress it had put on the night before was shimmering in a veil of ice and cloaked in a freezing fog. This is where I come alive, I feel unburden as I slip out of my fake skin and come to the place where I allow the soul to roam free.
I spent time in the garden until the sun burned off the fog. Once the fog lifted the lake came into focus. It too was beautiful in the winter scene. The lake traded its typical blue for steel-gray. It was a stark contrast against the white winter trees. The wind gently swirled around me, nipping at my cheeks and nose. It would be much colder at the lake, yet I felt the wind pushing me towards what I considered the most Holy ground. The trip was strenuous, as I had to break through the snow hardened by last night’s ice. I walked with my head down, concentrating on each step. When I reached my destination, I was not disappointed.
The wind was stronger here and it whipped around me as if eroding away all the insecurities and doubts that piled on me the last few weeks. I endured the chill and allowed it to refine me. I long to have my rough edges smooth as the river rock underneath my feet. The real me has jagged edges and I use it as protection. I sometimes bruise those that are closest to me. I surrendered to the wind and begged for forgiveness.
My feet where numb, eyes were watering and nose was running by the time I returned home. Yes that wind was brutal that day, but I felt freer and lighter. I allowed myself to be refined by the elements and felt the sacrifice was worth it. I also noticed that my coffee cup felt wonderful in my hands and it tasted better after being out in the cold. It is one of the small benefits of my quiet time.
My daughter and I went to church today in a neighboring town. As I was driving, I was thinking about how far it was from our house and how doubtful I was that this little church would be worth the effort. We sat in the modest sanctuary and felt like strangers in a strange land. Then the pastor spoke of wind and the Holy Spirit. Scripture I have heard a hundred times had new meaning. The Holy Spirit cleans up and removes the chaff in our life, if we yield to it. It was an extension of the lesson I learned early this week on the lakeshore. It made me pay close attention and that was good thing because there is another lesson I have yet to learn.
I have struggled over the last month about changing directions and what new course I should take. The answer is in the wind. I waste time going in the opposite direction and waste energy fighting against the gale. If I am to flow with the wind I must trust where it will take me. Once I stopped fighting it the answer to which direction I should take became clear.
Like a mighty wind
Light the fire again
Come and breathe your breath on me.