#quiet · #seeingclearly · #shelterathome · #ShelterunderHiswing · Christmas · Eastern bluebirds · Moravian Love Feast · Spirituality · Wake Forest Lovefeast · Wake Forest University

Glimpses of Blue

Suddenly I am seeing flashes of brilliant blue all around.

If you read my last blog, Seeing Clearly, you know that I recently went through cataract surgery and had PanOptix implants. After a lifetime of blurry vision, the world is brighter! And one of my joys has been seeing bluebirds flitting through the air in our yard, swooping down to pick juicy bugs from the grass, then coming to rest on a tree limb or fence. They seem to be everywhere!

Chuck Porter, Flickr.com

Years ago we put up a bluebird house on the pole of our clothesline and each spring I gently pull down the front door and view the bright blue eggs nestled in their bed of pine straw and grass. We usually have at least two clutches each year and I feel like they are part of the family.

I thought that our bluebirds went south for the winter, but I read an article that said many Georgia bluebirds stay in their breeding grounds and are even joined by Canadian and Northeastern ones looking for warmer temperatures. I love the idea that our bluebirds want to stay near home and welcome their Northern friends!

I never knew so many were living in our trees and bushes until my eyes were opened. What else has gone unnoticed by me?

This Christmas season, despite the inconveniences of Covid, I don’t want to miss a thing.

I am resigned to the fact that my calendar is bare this December. I won’t be traveling to North Carolina to visit with family and friends or getting together here at home for social events. I am thankful that our son and his wife have been able to work from home and have been very careful about being exposed to the virus, so we will have them and our granddog Molly here for Christmas. But I know many who are forgoing seeing their children this year and others who have recently lost a loved one. Some are sick and/or quarantined. The risk of a “Blue Christmas” is high.

I am most despondent about not having the beautiful music programs this time of year. My church is doing a wonderful job of keeping as many traditions going as possible, but I will miss the excitement of a packed sanctuary with voices and instruments lifting to the heavens.

Online services fill in the gaps. Sunday night I sat by the Christmas tree and put in my earbuds to listen to the virtual Moravian Lovefeast from my alma mater, Wake Forest University. At first, I was put off by the empty chapel and the socially distanced musicians in masks. But as I listened in the quiet, I noticed that I heard the music much more precisely through my headphones. I could differentiate the sopranos and tenors and follow the musical lines. The strains of the brass band and majestic organ soared. Without the distraction of other people rustling around, the melodic strains came through in a way that touched my heart. Although the college has shared the service online for years, I never thought to join in until now.

Click here to watch the 2020 WFU Lovefeast on YouTube.

My prayer for this particularly still Christmas season is that I will take in the lights, sounds, and smells with a renewed intensity. When I read an Advent devotion, hear a carol, or bite into a sugar cookie, I want to feel that same spark of joy that excites me when I see the vivid azure feathers of the bluebirds. I want to bask in the warmth of the tree during my morning coffee time and glory in the cold air as I take my walks.  With more down time I want to listen for God’s voice to make this a time for spiritual growth and to be sensitive to ways I can reach out to others.

            How are you making Christmas 2020 special?

#quiet · #ShelterunderHiswing · Running · solitude · Spirituality

Finding Quiet

I stood by my open kitchen window Thursday evening relishing the quiet. No NPR played on the radio; no sounds of television came from the den. The refrigerator didn’t hum, and the air conditioner didn’t click on.  Hurricane Zeta had come through the night before, pulling down trees and causing us to be without electricity all day. Despite the inconvenience, I found the stillness relaxing. (Thank you to NGEMC for getting us back on by 8 pm!)

My evening with no power got me to thinking about how much I fill my time with some sort of chatter — I’m usually listening to the radio, a podcast or an audiobook when I’m around my house or in the car. Some programs are spiritually oriented, some are educational, and some are for fun. There’s nothing wrong with keeping my mind active and informed, but am I spending too much time not listening to the quiet?

The last few years I’ve been working on learning to be quiet with God. It is not easy when my phone is there offering chatter 24/7.

I used to always run with music playing in my earbuds until one spring evening when I went for a run near my house after work. A little Jack Russell terrier charged out at me and a teenage girl driving to church hit and killed him. He ran right under her wheel and she never saw him. Of course she was devastated. I was too. I kept thinking that if I had not had the earbuds in I would have been more aware of the dog and kept him out of the road. What if it had been a child?

Now if I’m running by myself, I almost always leave my earbuds at home. God and I converse, and I try not to do all the talking. The same is true when I’m in my garden. I have declared it a ‘no electronics zone’ and I spend that time praying for people who come to mind and bringing up problems to God. I find that my ADD brain functions better when I am not distracted by multi-tasking.

Keith and I live in a house built in 1859, and I love to imagine what life was like for my predecessors, with no I-phone, radio, television or gramophone. As I stood in the kitchen Thursday evening, I thought about how they would have heard these sounds in the days before electricity —the hush of an autumn day coming to an end with the music of the birds and other animals settling in for the night.

I wonder if they ever got bored with the quiet. Or did their time without constant entertainment bring them closer to God?

In I Kings 19, we are told that as Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel, God told him to go up to the mountain. While he was there, a hurricane wind “ripped the mountains and shattered the rocks” but God wasn’t in the wind. God also wasn’t in the earthquake that shook the ground, or the fire that swept through. But after the fire, God was found in the “gentle and quiet whisper,” and Elijah was able to hear his voice.

What if Elijah had not heard that whisper from God because he had filled his ears with other noises?  I need the quiet to be able to hear the breathing of the Holy Spirit.

Where do you find your time to be quiet with God?