Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wasting Away in Blackberries

The old farm where I grew up is in the process of being destroyed organically. My dad sold it thirty-plus years ago and since then, it has become unrecognizable. Blackberry vines surround every structure and wherever there’s an opening the vines have snaked inside, digging in their thorns and pulling down roofs and decimating walls. Little of the barn buildings can be seen and I expect by next year blackberry vines will fully encase the house. Who knows why the present owner has allowed this destruction but it hurts my heart to see this once beautiful piece of property looking like Sleeping Beauty’s castle before the prince came to rescue her.
Renovating isn’t even at option at this point. If ever I were able to buy back this land, we would have to bring in a bulldozer and completely level it before we could restore it. 

A writing exercise sent me to this verse: The LORD determined to tear down the wall around the Daughter of Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away.” (Lamentations 2:8 NLT) As sad as it looks and for various reasons according to further study, God made the choice to let Israel, the Daughter of Zion, be destroyed. Whether it was with blackberry vines or some other vegetation, or at the hands of sword-wielding warriors, the end came. He still has a plan for full restoration that He is working on. He has measured it all out and knows exactly how far things must go. Clearly grieving over loss is an expected part of the process. 

I grieve over losing things, from certain places I enjoyed living in, to those I love making less than best choices or at least, contrary to my beliefs, to friendships that soured and died, to my own youthfulness passing by. I look around to see where God put His measuring line in hopes the mark He placed for the boundary is in sight. Knowing that God uses a measuring tape reassures me that there will come a time of restoration. When I understand that tearing down a city allows a new one to be built, hope surges up and the pain in my heart ebbs. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Never Too Late, Never Too Old

A devotional I shared with my writing group today.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)

As writers, some of us feel we have nothing significant enough to express. Others of us think it might be too late to develop our skills, that we’re too old. Maybe our attitude is that there are already so many writers, who do we think we are jumping onto the page. 

From the time I was about twelve years old, in addition to writing, I’ve had the desire to interpret and share my world through a camera’s lens. Never had anything fancy in the way of photographic equipment—instamatics back in the day when we used rolls of film, followed by cartridges. Cameras were always point-and-shoot types with film, and the same now with digital. Except for the last couple of years I’ve mostly used my iPhone6. Someday I’d like to have the opportunity to get acquainted with cameras that have adjustable lenses and learn how to use them. But I’ve been told, regardless of the equipment, that it’s your own eye that is responsible for a great photograph. 

In photography, as well as in life, sometimes it takes looking at things from a different perspective. With camera in hand, it might require getting down on your knees, or squatting rather unbecomingly. I’ve even resorted to holding my iPhone low to the ground and without even looking at what’s on the screen, snapping away and hoping for the best. Lots of shots get deposited in the trash; thankfully no film gets ruined anymore. But there are times when a photo that I’ve captured in that way ends up capturing me when I see it later uploaded onto my computer screen. One such recent photo makes me think of our lovely group of women who aspire to write. 

I don’t know what the flowers are called but they grow in wild crowds on the spit at Semiahmoo at this time of year. As my husband and I meandered along the path, the sun, a hazy blaze on the western horizon, set up its last hoorah for the day with those flowers. Quarter-sized centers of bristly brown, surrounded by candy-corn petals, they looked good enough to eat. Grabbing the sun’s setting rays, they lit themselves up, dancing in the breeze. They didn’t compare themselves with each other, they didn’t consider it too late in the day to splash their beauty across their world, and though some were losing their petals, they waved just as energetically as their fully-petaled companions. 

It’s not too late in the day for us. I know Hebrews 12:1 refers to pursuing our faith-walk but could we apply the principle? Isn’t our writing part of our faith-walk? Remember when the sun is setting here, it’s rising somewhere else.