Adventures AWAKE

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Space, flame, transformation…and marshmallows July 7, 2010

It’s camping season. Maybe that’s why when I saw this poem on a friend’s blog, it seemed right to swipe it. That and maybe the fact that, as my husband says, “we Piersons don’t camp…we golf.” It has left me somewhat longing for those growing-up days when my family would load our backpacks for a trek into the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Ahhh nature. After a few days on the trail — clothes caked with dirt, fish slime, and the smell of hours by the campfire — we’d find our way back home. One of my favorite memories is still sparked with the whiff of an open campfire. Hence, the pull toward Judy Brown’s  poem, Fire:
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on logs,
then we come to see how
it is fuel, and the absence of fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time. 
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

(San M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, Editors, Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003, p,89.) 


Nature. It gives me breathing space. And, in that space is the breath of God. Why too often it takes me getting out of the house to remember that, I’ll never know. This poem floods my senses with all the goodness of God’s creation right outside my door and, more importantly, reminds me of the Divine purpose for space — creating and maintaining it —  in my life with Him. His air and raw material combine in careful balance to create energy, warmth and reaction. Without building empty space into a fire’s structure — the careful placement of each timber and twig — nothing catches. The flame dies.

As long as you’re along for this mental hike, let’s take another step: The prose also begs me to cozy into the fiery embers of the space between. I imagine myself a marshmallow within those spaces — being changed into a treat to be savored. I am transformed by my time in what’s set apart. While in life I don’t relish the refinement of fiery trials, I actually prefer my marshmallows a tad singed.  The open fire somehow develops the flavor into a toasty, charred-wood sweetness that is unmatched by any other heat source. So, what am I doing to position myself for change?

Fires are built-in anticipation of their function; sometimes we build them for heat, cooking, atmosphere…marshmallow roasting. Whatever the purpose, it is only when we draw near its glow that we — as marshmallows or those in need of warmth — are changed.

Want an adventure? Build a fire. Think about your life’s construction; its space and flame (or the lack of either). What gives you “breathing space”?  Think about what you can do to stoke your fire for God. Most likely, the result will ignite things and draw others close. Make some space to think about fire as it relates to God’s essence, holiness, refinement, and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Meditate on  John 21:7-19. What did the campfire add to the story?

Space and flame in all you’re called to~

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Look. See? August 22, 2009

Filed under: Creative Christian Adventures & Encouragement,love,Nature — Amy Pierson @ 8:14 am

Yesterday was a banner day in the “I am loved” category…or maybe I should say it was a note in the margin. No big banners, really, just a lot of sweet reminders. Like when I was doing the dishes after sending my kids scrambling out the door for Friday night fun, I look over and right there in the dish soap bubbles was a perfectly formed little heart. I blasted the pot with the sprayer mere seconds before thinking, “I should have taken a picture of that.” Sweet.

A little later, Bill and I took our wanna-be rugged Labrador out for a sunset hike on the bluffs not far from our home. It was a perfect, end-of-summer evening; not too hot, not too cold and the sky was glorious with striking values of  purple mountain-y haze set off by the fiery peach glow of sunset. As we climbed up the back of the ridge, I looked down and just to the side of the trail was a little heart-shaped rock about the size of my palm. For a split second, I thought about picking it up and then pressed past the stone, not even mentioning it.

Sometimes, saying something out loud ruins the moment.

I was pondering the sweet touch from God;  solid symbol of what I walk by daily — too often without noticing.  And in this instant, I remembered the soap bubble too. My heart was full. My eyes were alert. I was present to the fondness of God.

 

heart rock

 

Want an adventure? Look. See? (Ponder).

At times like these, Jesus seems to crack my consciousness — pry open my eyes — just enough that I am able to pay attention to the big message in these little things. How can you be more present to God today? Matthew 9:27-31.

 

Not far from the tree August 10, 2009

acornTo be an acorn is to have a taste for being an oak tree

~ Thomas Merton

 

Want an adventure? Think like an acorn. (Yep. That’s a little nutty). What is it you have a taste to become? Ask God to shape your life for the end you are living toward.

 

Walking home July 14, 2009

God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk

~Meister Eckhart

 

Walking woods

Want an adventure?  Go for a walk and take God along. Be present really present — to what He has created along your route. He is in your breath and in the breeze. Let Him choose the path. Contemplate the person He has created you to be — being careful to focus on Him (His plan for you) as you do. Ask and listen. This is not about physical fitness but about spiritual soundness. Walk with Him and He will show you your way home.

Psalm 84:3-5  

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

 

Beautiful valleys July 10, 2009

beautiful valley

Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.

~ Isaiah 40:4

 

Want an adventure?  Using the meditation from Isaiah 40:4, place yourself into the scene above. Are you in a daunting place on the edge or a peaceful spot in the meadow? Think about the road you’ve travelled. Look at the path you’ve walked. Has it been smooth? — steep? — downhill? — a cliff? Is the sky above looking brightly blue or do you see storm clouds building? Is your pack heavy? — your heart light? What is ahead of you on the path today? Look for God’s guidance in the level places and praise Him for each step along the way.

 

Dirt about dirt July 6, 2009

Apparently, my mind is in need of a science day. The difference between dirt and earth has caught my interest. Hard to believe, I know. This is the unsanitized truth of where my blog ideas come from. But I digress…It has occurred to me that there is a difference between the dirt on my carpet and terra firma. But what is it exactly? I had to explore. Quickly, I learned that the most fertile topsoil extends down only a foot or so (unless you live here in Colorado where clay meets you at about 1-1/2″). And, while soil contains rock particles it is far more than that; soil contains life — as it is and as it breaks down.dirt and shovelThe dirt about dirt:

  • Plants and animals live on the surface — their topsoil homeland is the ground you and I walk on. One purpose of plants is to keep the soil from drying out (see desert). Just like a giant compost pile, on this level organic matter (plants and animals) die, decompose and feed new life.
  • The layer just below topsoil is where most of the “plant food” is found. A plant will try to seek its roots deeply into this section in order to enjoy all it can. As water soaks into the earth, this is likely where it settles with the rich mineral deposits and clay found here.
  • Deeper still all that can be found are rock particles and minerals. On this level there is still some subjectivity to the elements. In fact it may have found its way here as the result of a glacier or other type of erosion. But don’t be mistaken, at this level absolutely nothing organic grows.
  • And then there is bedrock. This stuff is solid. Before anything above it, this rock was here — set in place as the foundation. Yes, it can be weathered to the surface over time or jolted up by some seismic shift  but it is solid.

As mentioned above,  the layer just below the topsoil is a place into which the mightiest cypress trees yearn to sink their roots. It is in the densest most nutrient and water rich section. From here, the behemoths will not easily be uprooted. Spiritually speaking, this is where I want my roots to take.

And, this is my most fascinating find — or should I say, ephiphany: Beyond the deepest place I can grow, there is a layer of earth where nothing can. It is a great unknown. A layer of rock and minerals which can only be revealed over time, seasons and erosion. It is a mysterious void just before the bedrock. Intriguing. Learning from the famous passage in Luke 8:4-15, I guess the layer between the subsoil and bedrock never made my seismic radar.

Somewhere in God’s grand scheme, He built in mystery. We are not intended to reach our roots into that place — we don’t get all access, all answers, source. I know it isn’t a new analogy, but think about that. The bedrock is solid. While our roots can sink deep into the soil of God, we can never breakdown the rock of His foundation. That means there is an intentional space which will always leave us in wonder and awe. Faith is required here. Deeper, exceedingly immovable and more glorious than the Grand Canyon at sunset, He is the one, indestructable, true solid — omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

 

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. ~ Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message)

 

Want an adventure? Dig deep inside. Where are your roots? What level of soil have you penetrated in the Spirit? Are you hungry/thirsty for what is deeper? If so, ask God what needs to happen to get there. Spend some time here. Growth requires it. Now, think about the mystery — the great gap between what you and I can comprehend and the bedrock of who He is and what He promises us. Sink your roots into that. FAITH! AWESOME WONDER! That we may GROW in Him!

 
     
 

Mountain Biking with Jesus July 2, 2009

Mountain biking. What a great sport! When I was single (which tells you it was quite a while ago), I used to mountain bike at least a couple of days a week. But for years now my bike has been — shall we say — out of tune due to lack of use. But a couple of days ago, I pulled it out for a trip to Beaver Creek with out-of-state state friends. As the wheels hummed, the tires skidded each gravely turn, I remember what I love about the sport! Man, I gotta get back to this.

Then, we went off road.mtn bikes

A single-track path into the lush green lured us into the unknown. So beautiful!  and — other than the sound of me sucking wind — very peaceful…at first. I think whoever first forged this trail did that on purpose. The further you got from the wide-open way down, the longer we were on the narrow way, the trickier things got. And, the trickier things got, the more I seemed to hear God’s many lessons.

  1. I was much braver when I was younger (sort of in a hot-air-balloon-without-sandbags kind of way),
  2. I need someone with me on the journey — both to make it more fun and to help when I fall (notice the use of the word “when“),
  3. I can learn a lot out here paying attention to God’s incredible creation — vistas and valleys, fresh springs and brightly flowered meadows, bold wildlife, rough terrain,
  4. The trail may begin with another, but it ‘s ultimately about me and God,
  5. When I focus on the obstacles, instead of the trail ahead, I loose my balance.

That last one, I seem to have forgotten. It was like re-visiting an epiphany; an “I’ve learned this before” moment, but nonetheless profound. When I spot a big rock in my course, the absolute worst thing I can do is to lock my vision on it and abandon the perspective of where I’m heading. To do so, is a sure “biff, splat”. Just like when trying to balance on one foot, to focus on my foot messes me up…to focus on a spot out in front of me makes balance possible.

Rarely is God’s calling on the wide open road. My off-road journey is where I’ll find Him glorified in my life because it is just that — my life, my ride with Him alone. And, God’s calling is not to focus on the obstacles, the fears, the failures. God’s calling — His ultimate glory — is on the outcome somewhere on the horizon. It is in my struggle that we meet on the mountain and He reveals the purpose and the path I am to follow.

 

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Want an adventure? Take a bike ride (it doesn’t need to be on a mountain). Use all five senses to hear God on the journey. Look around. Listen. How did He meet you on the trail? Be blessed and ride-on with new perspective!