Friday, March 05, 2010

Fire and Hail, Snow & Frost, Praise Him

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven...
Praise the Lord!

Those who know me at all well know that I am from California and that I miss the sunshine. If anyone would have told me, back when I was growing up near Los Angeles, that I would spend a large portion of my life in the snow belt I would have been unable to even imagine such a thing. Who would have dreamed (not me!) that my husband and I would live in North Dakota for several years while we studied theology?

When the time arrived for actually pastoring a church somewhere, we tried to get back out west, or at least south. Such was not to be the case. We left North Dakota and came to Wisconsin and have lived hear for more than 30 years. While a part of me will always be a California girl, I have become a Wisconsinite I suppose, because I eat too much cheese, I love bratwurst with sauerkraut, I own a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt and I also own long johns. I not only own them, I wear them. Still, I frequently wonder, even after all these years, what I am doing in the Dairy State.

Last night was a pensive one for me. I was talking to the Lord about the changes of the last few years. I'm still attempting to absorb the deaths of my mother and beloved sister, the loss of my church, my vocation (at least for now), some long-held dreams and hopes, some of my dearest friends, and more.

Then came the morning. It was cold, about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but the sunshine was streaming in the window. When I looked out I caught my breath in awe. I've written on this blog before about frost, but this morning was possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen. The "feathers" of frost covering every branch, every tiny twig and sparking in the snow, were over a half inch in length. This kind of frost forms on a cold but foggy day. Usually it is gone as soon as the sunshine hits it, but today was different. Perhaps it was the cold temperature. My 17-mile drive to work took me through frosty countryside, still dressed in some remnants of fog, but drenched in sunshine--and stunningly beautiful. I would have never seen this display if I hadn't ended up in a state I never intended to live in!

I drove through fields, woods (now bare except for their frosty vestments) and evergreens. Each bend in the road revealed a scene more beautiful than the last. I was sorry not to have someone to share it with--and then I realized that the God who fashioned it all was enjoying the scene with me, perhaps even taking delight in my wonder.

I drove more slowly than usual, not wanting my drive through this natural wonderland to end. I thanked God for this moment of joy and began to sing, "This is My Father's World."

I am well aware that some of you who may be reading here are also going through a patch of grey, a time of indecision or confusion, perhaps even grief or a "dark night of the soul." For our prayer today, go back to the Psalm and read it aloud, turning it into a prayer to the God who created it for our enjoyment. And I'm praying for each of you who read these words to be surprised by glory today.

P.S. Sadly, I did not have my camera with me. The pictures are from the web, and are just my attempt to show the indescribable. The real thing simply cannot really be captured in photos, but I hope you get the idea.

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