Monday, September 26, 2011

Out of Sight

During an afternoon of driving and hiking to and around Palouse Falls yesterday, I was struck by so many things surprising and wonderful to my eyes. Rounding a corner of the dry, fall-brown countryside studded with dark rocks and scattered with sagebrush to see startling spring green filling farmer's fields, resting under the silver lines and sprays of irrigation pipes and the slowly moving backs of Hereford and Angus behind even fences. Parking at the Falls and walking to the edge of the drop-off to gaze down at more water than you typically see in Moscow over months of time just hurling itself into the ravine like a suicide throwing his life away from a high bridge.

A little later, I wandered away from my friends (who were all either swimming in the pool downstream from the waterfall, or resting, watching and chatting from the rocks) to creep along one side of the rocky walls of the ravine toward the falls itself. The rocks became more slippery, coated with brilliant green vegetation and sludgy mud. The sound of the falls was like thunder, drowning out the voices of my companions, and the power of its rush downward created a wind that drove the constant mist at me like a winter storm. I shielded my eyes from the sting, thinking of the ocean, and craned my neck to look up along the torrent of water to the craggy rocks at the top of the falls. There, 160 feet above, where we had been some thirty minutes before, the water just continued to curve white and blue in a never-ending rush. Hundreds of gallons of it, continued to pour over the falls the entire time I was there.

So much water. So much strength, and voice, and so much moisture. All of those droplets that have existed since creation, are now, here, appearing at the top of this falls and plummeting to crash in the dark blue pool beneath. All this water that is in front of me, that God meant for me to see and feel spitting against my face, for me to wade into with my sandy shoes and sweaty socks, that He planned to lap against these rocks with quiet reverberation, that He wanted me to taste on my lips and to darken and droop my hair, and that He fore-ordained to wash away the blood from my throbbing ankle and the sticky apple juice from my fingers. All of this water has been around since before Adam. The molecules bumping into one another and hooking up to form the Mickey Mouse head of H2O, traveling the circuit from sky to earth and ocean to sky again. God does that, and God made us meet today, and God will carry it onward all this week to other destinations. It will have other stories besides me kneeling and trailing my dry fingers in its life, stories besides these young men swimming in their jeans, and muddy converse on slick stones, and the long, stringy seaweed clinging to the vertical wall of rock on both sides of the falls for hundreds of feet. The water it keeps on keeping on. God sustains this with the words of His mouth, and by His love draws its story on, fuller and richer and more complex and beautiful with the passage of time.

It stuns me to realize the hugeness of the world, the glory in even one small part of it. Sometimes it is the little things that make me really think. Sometimes it isn't even something important like people being born and loving and marrying and dying 4,000 miles from here with their own struggles and homes and religions and diseases. It is something like a waterfall just under 2 hours' drive from my town, invisible until you are right upon it, but so very alive and thrumming with God that I can't believe I've never seen it before. It is just some water going through a chasm in the rocks. But this waterfall has been here far longer than the 4 years I have lived in this region, and I never knew the place. The waters of this fall have been moving and working green and satisfying thirst and going salty as sweat and evaporating upward into clouds and falling as evening rain for thousands and thousands of years, sustained by the word of God.

I see so little, and God is so much bigger. My eyes glimpse and shimmer and blink in amazement and gratitude, and then I turn to my next creaturely duty. I will forget again for a while how there are great stories in this molecule of water, this particle of dust, this portion of the universe. But God never loses sight of any of it. He never ceases to speak story into this world, and to love into existence.

#98. Wind in an open window on the highway
99. A bleach-white snake skeleton, dry and still gently shaping S with even its death
100. The crag of a rock under fingertips, and that it bears weight
101. Watching a crow soar along the canyon below us
102. New friends and conversation
103. Emptying one's shoes of all kinds of dirt and stones and tying them snugly again
104. Climbing up a narrow crevasse, and the view framed by this narrow V when you look backward
105. Safety
106. Raindrops in a sky of sunset, spilling a double curve like an oil-color over the grey
107. Wheat stubble turning to heaps of gold along both sides of the highway
108. 65 mph speed limits
109. The goodness of physical tiredness and mental adrenaline after time spent outdoors

Monday, September 19, 2011

Time Turns

Hi, Monday.

After a weekend of homeric proportions, this is one Monday I am not quite ready for. But it is ready for me. Time turns, the sun runs ahead, and we have to follow even if we are looking back over a shoulder at some moments that we would rather see again.

You open your eyes from a dream that is half remembering and half wishing, and as you lie there, backing it up and replaying it, and sanctifying it all with the grace of prayer, the digital numbers on the nightstand blink from 6:58 to 6:59 to 7:00. New numbers. A new minute. A new day, a new week, a new space for you to work in. And so you must work.

The wind is pulling at the trees and dragging all toward autumn. Do not resist the pull of time, but follow it with the steps of the faithful who knows what power sends the seasons. See this too as gift. Let go the slow, golden, heady air of summer, the almost drunken warmth under the sun gaze as he rolls around the sky. Feel the air snap at your sleeve, and open your arms wide to this season of sweaters and sneakers, of spiced cider and flannel and long-handled rakes. Run with the wind, not against it.

#87. for stiff calf muscles in the morning, compliments of a night of dancing, making me walk around the house like a grandmother when I first get up
88. for library books - Terry Pratchet, at the moment
89. for books I'm borrowing from Jordan - poetry from Edmund Spenser and Billy Collins
90. for books I bought at the conference - G. K. Chesterton's delightful Manalive, and The Ball and the Cross, which I've not yet read
91. for the surprise of receiving The Dragon's Tooth (N. D. Wilson) in the mail. Whoever ordered that for me, thank you! I am already enjoying it.
92. for new friends from faraway places, the first face-to-face conversation with them, and things like cell phones and facebook to hopefully help it continue
93. for canned tomato soup, even when I'd rather have something hefty and homemade and healthy, and better-tasting.
94. for an open afternoon in which I can rest and then tackle some of my self-inflicted chores
95. for weather that makes a hoodie your favorite piece of clothing
96. for sunshine on the brown grass of my front yard, and on the constantly undulating leaves on this little maple tree just outside my window
97. for peanut butter

Thursday, September 15, 2011

reggae night

Sometimes you just need to get a bit of swing in your soul.

Sometimes you need to feel anything but white, and pretend you have the do-wop rhythm and dreads.

Sometimes you just need Bob Marley to tell you everything's gonna be alright.

On 21 May 1981, Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga delivered the final funeral eulogy to Marley, declaring:
"His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

new sister(s)

In 2.5 weeks I will receive another sister. Theresa marries my brother on October 1st, and we are thrilled to have her join our ranks!

But it is probably even more momentous for the other side of the equation. While we'all (10 biological sisters and 2 sisters via other brothers' marriages) are adding 1 to our numbers, Theresa is going from having 0 sisters (1 sis in law, I think) to having, suddenly, scads and scads.

Here is a picture from the bridal shower this last Saturday. Theresa surrounding by current and previous Dahlin gals. (Exception: the 4 littlest ones in this picture are not sisters she is gaining, but nieces and nephew.)

Left to Right:
Naomi holding (my nephew) Devon, (niece) Natalie, Emili, Maylene holding (my niece) Evelyn, Maria holding (niece) Hailey, Vicki, Becki, Theresa, Laura, Bobbi, Brianna holding (my niece) Alyssa, Lydia, Elsi, Abbi.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Speaking Back

Last night I felt that there were too many good things. Too many things about my life that I love to really mention them all, to even share with people who care how happy I am, to even bookmark enough things that I won't forget them. There are too many. And I really can't do them justice. But I must still attempt it.

If I am living under a waterfall of mercies, I must at least try to acknowledge a few teaspoons-full of it. I am walking the North Cascade Highway, and I have to take as many digital pictures as I can, although even a video camera would never do it justice. I am a small creature on a vast seashore, and must draw my lines through as much of the golden sand as I can.

Christ gave His all in order for me to have all of this.

And even today, when some of the rose of a fabulous Sunday has faded, and I'm not having the smoothest Monday of my life, I must speak. Still the waterfall falls, pouring silver and sunlight over my head. The right hand of His mercy is in water flowing over me, the left hand of the rocks below that catch me roughly when I slip, and so much else, so much crowding in on me and so much out of my sight, speaks Christ incessantly, boundlessly. This is my one response.

#73. tears that lead to unfolding and understanding and healing
74. music by Over The Rhine
75. having a job that is all about building a person - body and mind and soul. I am honored.
76. tylenol
77. the Nuart Block Party and scads of people enjoying and loving God together there
78. standing 10 feet from the stage to experience the music: the praiseful words, feeling the rhythm reverberating in me, watching fingers on frets and keys leaping and switching skillfully, the people surrounding me moving to the music
79. Maria and Becki, reading aloud from my Lord Peter Wimsey collection as I drove the 115 miles yesterday
80. fresh veggies in my fridge from my mom's garden
81. BBQ food
82. Joseph Schoolland's laugh
83. the satisfaction of a child accomplishing a hard task, and being there to praise their efforts with the right words
84. sharpies
85. the gas I bought and used this weekend - I am so grateful to have a gas-burner to get me places I want to go!
86. waking up early even when I don't need to. The extra time provides such a relaxing morning routine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Whelmed-o'er (54-72)

This (thus far) has been a weekend of epic proportions. Life has been lived, and accidents have been averted. Life has been taken up, and sin has been left behind. Life has been shared, and tears have been held back. Life has been eaten and drunk after thanksgiving, has been celebrated in song in my living room and enjoyed in smoke around a campfire. Life has been commemorated in Scripture reading with friends. Life has been renewed in my mind and my heart so that I feel overwhelmed as with sea breakers with the joy of it.

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:16

#54. laughter and talk and food and tea with an old roommate who is finally back in town
#55. that we didn't hit that moose on the way up the mountain on our camping trip
#56. that moose exist. What faces they have! I grin just thinking of them.
#57. safety climbing rocks, and living with yellow jackets and hornets for a couple days - especially that Tali was not stung
#58. the light show from the top of the mountain - stars above, and farms and towns below, flecking white fire in the black of night
#59. burritos baked over hot coals
#60. water
#61. the portable word of God. Reading around a campfire has got to be one of my favorite things to do.
#62. our friends who came by to make sure we were all right when they heard about our heavy-drinking neighbors at the campfire
#63. the smell of pipe tobacco
#64. thimbleberries
#65. cedars and ferns, making the whole place feel like my grandparents' place
#66. Bailey's fine little car, 'Cheese'
#67. finding breakfast burritos, coffee, and my brother and his fiancee at our house when we got back early Sunday morning
#68. Pastor Wilson and the book of Samuel
#69. passing the peace with Emma
#70. orange juice
#71. serving dinner with my roomies to 12 people in my house. What a delight!
#72. a real night's sleep, complete with ridiculous dreams