Posts Tagged ‘heart’

Approaching Storm Over the Eastern Sierras

Image by Bill Gracey via Flickr

As with most winter storms, the ones that have crashed through my neighborhood have left everything more than a little messy. Not only tree limbs have come falling to the ground, but whole trees, roots and all, along with utility poles snapped in half like toothpicks, dotted the landscape for days after one of the biggest ones came through. It took PG&E crews days to repair all the damage, even though they were amazing in their efficiency and expediency.

Pretty much everyone is powered up again, but everything outside is still more than a little soggy. A walk through the yard reveals everything that will need to be taken care of in the next few weeks in order to clear things out for new growth, and the approach of spring along with its flowers and color.

But, a funny thing happened to me just the other day when I was sloshing through my back garden. The person who lived here before me laid out a nicely designed granite patio area complete with a stepping stone pathway that winds itself around a rock garden. In the summertime, when everything is dry and cleaned off, it’s a peaceful place to be, but since the rains have come, mud has flowed over the stepping-stones making some of them very difficult to see.

Since I was out there, and it was pretty nice day, I started to clean off some of the stones to get ahead of the inevitable springtime work.

So there I was, crouched down, digging out the waterlogged mud and debris from around the stones that I have become well acquainted with through the years, when I noticed a stone that didn’t look like the rest. In fact, as I dug a little more, I realized it was a stone I had never seen before.

So, of course being curious, I began to focus my attention on it. The other stones were just that, stones that had been cut to a flat surface but rather course and jagged around the edges, but as I dug deeper I saw this one was smooth and round, looking nothing like the others. Then I realized there were letters on it.

After much mucking out and smoothing mud away, I saw that it was one of those highly polished stones that are sold just to decorate gardens and it had the word “bienvenue’ which means ‘welcome’ in French engraved in it. As I cleared each letter away, feeling like an archeologist in my own backyard, I thought of the many times I’ve cleared the area in the three years that I’ve lived here, and not once had an inkling that there was something so polished with such a nice message underneath all that dirt.

It was hidden away until a huge storm provided what was needed to reveal it, to allow it to be dug out so to speak, which is a little like how it is with our lives. None of us like the storms when they come, especially the huge ones that cause a lot of damage and take a while to recover from. But, it’s worth trying to remember in those times when everything is shaking and crashing down around us, that we never know how God is using those storms to reveal something beautiful that He has planted in us that we would never know existed until after the storm has passed.

“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli.”

Isaiah 54:11






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The inner workings of the human heart are bizarre to say the least. If we were to actually take a journey into our hearts I often think we would end up in a place where the roads and pathways turn in on themselves, or just stop in the middle of nowhere.

I picture it being a little like the ancient Byzantine Empire with its beautiful buildings and expansive borders encompassing a multitude of cultures and societies and worshiping first this god, then that god depending on who was ruling that day.

Any empire that lasts as long as that ancient one, almost by necessity has a huge amount of political intrigue with most of it not being  of the warm and fuzzy variety. It’s more like factions growing and attacking other factions typically through the use of extreme cunning, deceit and trickery, to gain what they want.

It’s like living a life on shifting sand always looking which way the wind is blowing, which way the sand is falling away under your feet and adjusting your position accordingly. Of course  they wanted very much the same thing that our politicians want today, power to do what they want.

Sound a little familiar?

Maybe not. Most of us don’t relate well to politicians, or at least we don’t think we do. But, it has been my experience with many of those who go into elected public service, that they go into it for the service part of it. They are hard-working, usually intelligent people who want to make the world a better place, and they have the idea’s to do it. The problem is unless those idea’s are based on what God says would help the human heart, namely Himself, they will end up freeing some and shackling others.

If we’re honest with ourselves, which can be a rare thing indeed, we’ll admit that we often play politics in our own hearts. While we are traveling along the road, we very often decide to turn from the way that God wants us to go and choose instead to do something else because it will help make the world a better place.  We start out with a good idea that we know will help others, and possibly ourselves in the process. And, we don’t feel the need to talk to God about it because He couldn’t possibly disagree with it if it’s a really good thing that will benefit people, or so we think.

The next thing you know, you’re deeply embedded in what you’re doing for the benefit of others. But, you haven’t talked to God in a while, you haven’t looked at His Word and you definitely haven’t asked His opinion about anything because you know what you’re doing, right? What could He possibly add to it?

In the Byzantine Empire, as with the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the other empires of old, no matter what power grabbing plans the different factions cooked up, they knew that the ultimate authority and power rested with the one who ruled the empire. And they were always mindful of who that ruler was and how their plans fit or didn’t fit, with his.

As followers of the only living God, if only our hearts would be continually reminded of the same.

“When this happens, be careful that you don’t become arrogant and forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 8:14

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Memories are amazing things, and even more amazing are the seemingly innocuous little situations that stir them up in all their multicolored grandeur.

Like seeing the color pink. For me a flood of images from an evening carnival excursion comes to mind, complete with the all consuming sweet smell of cotton candy and the taste of it melting on the tongue. Or, my first time at a baseball game where I could buy bags of the stuff that made my hands sticky and tacky in the heat as I watched pitch after pitch, and run after run trying to make sure my hair didn’t stick to my fingers or my face or the glob of gossamer pink when the wind blew my way

Some memories aren’t so sweet. Recently, my son and I took a drive up a mountain highway so I could take photos for a story I’m doing about off the track swimming holes. You know the kind, those that you stumble on when you’re out walking in the woods or driving on an out of the way road and see a sign that says Elephant Rock Lake. When you go there you find an amazingly refreshing oasis surrounded by granite boulders among the trees.

We sat eating lunch near a stream at one of these wonderful out of the way locations. The stream rustled softly and the sun spread warmly on my back as I started to think about the last time I had driven this highway through the Sierra’s with my heart’s love, who is now gone but not forgotten.

Most of us have had this type of love in our lives. You know that one love, the one you can’t conceive of ever breaking, but if it does break, it breaks your heart into a million pieces making you wonder what fool coined the phrase ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’. Because to never have loved at all means your heart isn’t riddled with scars and missing bits after it’s been put back together.

It was when these thoughts were running around my head, that I saw the fish. A dark grey spot struggling feverishly as it tried to get upstream to its spawning ground. Because of the snow melt, the run off was quick and ruthless as it pushed the fish back, but time and time again the fish pushed forward sometimes fighting so hard it splashed up out of the water before it settled back underneath the surface to continue its struggle.

The struggle made me think of my heart’s love and how many times it felt like I was swimming up stream just to make it work. But, there is no rhyme nor reason to love and sometimes we fight for things we really were never meant to have, only to find after the experience nearly kills us that we still look at it through the fractured lens’ of the rose colored glasses our hearts still wear.

It’s when some of our memories lie on the other side of those broken tinted glasses and the truth lay somewhere else that we need to rely on God’s sight so we can see the truth of the matter.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

English Standard Version

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