The Winter Stream

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I took this picture on my recent flight from Kansas to North Carolina.

Look at all those tiny boxes.  Each of them a mile-wide pasture.

From the air, you can clearly see the structure and order that humanity superimposes onto creation.  And it’s beautiful in of itself.

But what is truly breathtaking to me is the river.

* * *

When I was 10, we lived in the country, outside a little town called Saline, Michigan.

Winters there were pretty heavy duty.  We’d pull on our snowmobile suits, build snow forts, go cross-country skiing.

Snow was everywhere.  White like the surface of the moon.

One year, out in front of the yard, in the large ditch by the dirt road, the snow began to melt.  There were still big piles of the stuff everywhere else, but as the sun passed overhead on that late winter day, a single stream of water began to form.

How can I describe the magic of this next part?

There in the ditch, the tiny stream pushed back the snow, and wound its way back and forth around tiny trees. stones, and discarded brush.  My friend and I watched it work, and nudged the dirt here and there to help it expand and stretch.

There in that desolate-white landscape, we were staring down at something that was Alive.

It was revelatory for us.  Almost incarnational.

We were caretakers of that stream up until darkness came, and we were called in for dinner.

* * *

Back in the airplane.

Take another look out of my window seat, above.

See that S-like line weaving its way across the middle of the picture?

When I saw it, some 10,000 feet overhead, I instantly remembered looking down at that winter stream, some 35 years ago.

I love how it winds its way across the landscape, charting its own course, crossing all boundaries.

It is clearly Alive.

Streams of living waters, Jesus said. Yes.  A living Spirit of God that nurtures and refreshes.

I wonder.  Is this how God views God’s self at work?  Staring down from on high?

Is this the perspective of Creation?

Lord knows I’m still just an ant,

but I have seen the winding snake, and the living water.

I have drunk deeply from the winter stream,

and I have believed.

* * *

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Dancing Unawares

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I witnessed a miracle.

It was in a likely place (at church) but at an unlikely time (shaking hands at the door).

I watched a woman walking towards me.  Bulletin in her left hand, purse and jacket in her right hand.

She was totally unaware of her actions as she walked toward me, but this is what I saw:

  1. She switched the bulletin into her right hand that already held her purse and jacket.
  2. She opened the bulletin awkwardly in that same right hand, allowing her to pull out the announcement insert with her left hand.
  3. She dropped the rest of the bulletin into the recycling bin.
  4. She switch the jacket and purse onto her left arm,
  5. which allowed her to reach out her right hand, and shake mine.

Could you follow that?  It happened in about two seconds.

I know.  Doesn’t sound like much.

I’m not sure why, but time seemed to slow down, and I watched her maneuvering with something close to awe.

She had initiated this really elaborate series of actions during those three steps towards me, and she was totally unaware of it.

In my slowed down vision, this movement back and forth from hand to hand and arm to arm made it look like she was working magic.  Or dancing.

There was something beautiful in this moment.

Beautiful, but otherwise overlooked.

I wondered:  How many times do we dance like this, moving our arms and legs in beautiful ways, without even knowing it?

Once I’d noticed it with her, I noticed it with everyone.  Pulling on coats, carrying toys, adjusting papers, waving goodbye, shaking hands.

Subtle movements, easily missed, but once I’d recognized it, I was transfixed by the beauty of it all.

As I watched hundreds of bodies dancing past me, shaking my hand,

it was as if their physical beings were still praising God even after their mental beings were already thinking ahead to lunch and the rest of the day.

What a revelation! What a miracle!

We might not even notice it, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped worshipping.

Our minds may be focussed on other things,

but our bodies continue to be

dancing unawares.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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