call: lent in pictures day 42

lichen

call

+ + +

The buds for next spring have already formed on the branches by late fall.

I’ve been holding those words close these days, after I read them on a card at a friend’s house. The strange winter wilderness of not knowing still surrounds us. We can’t see the fruit yet. Not even the first green shoots. Just bare branches and blank sky.

But the little nubbin of life already exists. Sprouts and leaves and flowers and whole trees are ahead for us. God is calling us to flourish, though the reality of winter feels more real than the memory of last spring. Every year, we forget. Every season is brand new, again.

God designed the world to work this way. God prepares the trees for new life before they even go dormant. He knows what’s ahead. But he asks us to make it through winter before we can sink into spring.

Oh, we are ready. If we hear one little bird call, if the ground warms one more degree, if the sun shines for another minute, we’ll be ready to burst into bloom.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

live: lent in pictures day 41

succulent sprouting

live

+ + +

Then he said to me,
“Prophesy to the breath,
prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath:
Thus says the Lord God:
Come from the four winds, O breath,
and breathe upon these slain,
that they may live.”

I prophesied as he commanded me,
and the breath came into them,
and they lived, and stood on their feet,
a vast multitude.

—Ezekiel 37:9-10

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

celebrate: lent in pictures day 40

watercolor prairie landscape

celebrate

+ + +

Another afternoon of mochas, prairie landscapes, watercolors, The Weepies, and friends.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

see: lent in pictures day 39

maple scone for breakfast

see

+ + +

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

meditate: lent in pictures day 38

cyclamen in bloom

meditate

+ + +

Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
—Psalm 1:1-3

Oh, how I want to be a tree, planted by a stream, roots sunk deep and limbs reaching high. Sturdy trunk and lithesome branches, sweet, leathery leaves. Tiny blossoms if I’m lucky.

But I remembered today that becoming a tree follows meditating on the law of the Lord. How can I be a tree if I’m not growing by the stream?

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

seek: lent in pictures day 37

galison feather journal

seek

+ + +

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
—Matthew 6:33

Strive first for the kingdom of God, Grace, not for wholeness and peace, not a fulfilling and cultured life. You spend a lot of your time daydreaming about and seeking out this certain life. A life where you sleep until you’re rested, wake to birdsong, putter around the house. After you feed the chickens, you make tea, practice yoga, and read poetry. Then you tend the sourdough starter you set out the night before and knead the bread. You share lunch with a friend, then take a nap, wordsmith a story, dabble in watercolor, or play the piano. When Dan comes home, you turn up the music and cook a long, slow meal, have a glass of wine, and tumble into bed.

But as hard as you’ve tried, your days aren’t like that. They’re never so romantic. And you’re not fulfilled, either. Because it’s not about the quality of your life.

It hit you the other day, didn’t it, while you were in the car and the sun was blaring into your eyes, that you’re seeking the wrong things first. You’re not seeking the wrong things period, just the wrong things first. Your seeking is disordered. If you sought first God’s kingdom, the other things would accompany it. But if you seek the other things—if you try to save your life—you’ll lose it.

And don’t seek the kingdom so that you can have your sunny window, lazy morning, chicken dream. Seek the kingdom so that others can join you. Seek the kingdom because why else is life worth living? Do you really want to arrive at the end of a pleasant, orderly life, only to find yourself alone? Alone because you’ve not invited others in? Or perhaps truly alone, alone because you’ve sought the wrong thing. God granted your wish, but now you see how misguided your wish was.

You are seeing, aren’t you, what matters. You told the girls in your Bible study that you didn’t want to live so selfishly, seeking out your own wellbeing. You wanted to throw open your arms and invite others into God’s kingdom, the life he offers.

It makes you anxious when you think about it, about the untidy floors and the tiny windows and the untouched art supplies. But you’ve managed so far, and your life hasn’t been half bad. Do you trust that God could burst the edges of your dream life and add even wilder things, things that fulfill you more deeply than you could have conceived before?

Why limit yourself to hardwood floors and cats napping in paned sunlight?

Why not seek first the kingdom? It’s the only worthwhile thing there is.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Allelu, alleluia.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

truth: lent in pictures day 36

afternoon light on the desk

truth

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

mercy: lent in pictures day 35

white tulips on their way out

mercy

+ + +

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let Israel now say,
His mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron now say,
His mercy endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
His mercy endures forever.

—Psalm 118:1-4

Oh, mercy. Thank goodness yesterday’s prompt was “forgiveness,” or I’d never have given myself the grace to turn in for the night without having posted.

But the forgiveness, the mercy, they keep haunting me. Over a glass of wine with a friend yesterday, we lamented the difficulty of reconciling with others when those others don’t share the desire—or even the vocabulary—for reconciliation. How can there be forgiveness when things are only withheld? Can a relationship stay fractured forever, unless both parties consent to forgive? Or can forgiveness be one-sided? Will you, Lord, have mercy on me, even when I cross my arms tight over my heart and shrivel into myself? Will your mercy pull at my arms until they unwrap and open themselves toward you?

Your mercy endures forever.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

celebrate: lent in pictures day 33

thaw at lake austin

celebrate

+ + +

Though the rest of Lent is fairly gloomy by design, Sundays are always little Easters, days of joy and hope. In this series, the word on Sunday is always “celebrate.”

Today, mercifully, is a little Easter, a celebration of resurrection, of new life (and spring thaw), because tomorrow holds a funeral. We cling to this Easter hope.

We love you, Uncle Alan, and we’re holding the rest of y’all in our hearts.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

still: lent in pictures day 32

pods at roselle park

still

+ + +

On an evening walk in Roselle Park.

+ + +

This post is part of a Lent Photo-a-Day series, connected to Rethink Church. The rest are here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 131 other followers