Standing like a silent becon the ancient tree rises up to touch the sky. When I was a child this hilltop was pasture land. I can remember seeing the cattle gathered under it’s branches to shelter from the sun or the short summer rain shower. At other times dense blocks of hay formed a dotted line that followed the contour of the landscape. These big old trees have always been a draw for my eyes and even today one the lower branches seems to be waving hello. I imagine that the tree is inviting us to come and sit beneath it’s branches and enjoy the soft breeze as we listen for the voice of God. We climb to top of the hill and sit in cool grass. Close your eyes for a moment and lift your face to feel the warm rays of the sun. Can you hear it? That still small voice speaking peace to your soul?
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Gently floating on the Kanawha River just above Kanawha Falls the fishermen works his line. I was a bit envious when I spotted him peacefully maneuvering his one man craft across the river. He seemed to be so free. The morning mists were cascading down the mountains and spilling out over the falls as he casts out and slowly retrieves the bait. The ducks on my side of the river slyly slip into the water unsure about the big blue truck that came to an abrupt halt near their perches. As I scan the water a trail of bubbles break the surface. That’s the tell tale sign of big mud turtle lumbering on the bottom. With my camera in one hand and my ever present coffee in the other I step out of the truck to enjoy nature for a few minutes and thank God for the new day. Silently, I wish the fisherman luck as I preserve the peaceful scene in my lens. The ticking of my internal clock urges me to resume my daily commute. The engine purrs and I check the mirror as I pull out taking the peaceful feeling with me as I drive away.
It’s in those moments of peaceful contemplation that you really get to know the voices the speak to your spirit. We all have theses inner voices that speak to us throughout the day. The voice that tells you that you have chores to do, the voice that talks you out of doing those chores. There’s a voice of confidence. ( Be careful about this one because he can get you into trouble. ) There’s the voice of doubt. ( Also not to be fully trusted. )
I suppose that if we were to take inventory of all these inner voices that the list could be quite long. But the one I want to focus on is the quiet one. The voice doesn’t speak often. He patiently waits for an opportunity to make his point. The quiet one doesn’t compete with the other voices. He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t argue or complain. The quiet one is logical and honest without being judgemental. The quiet one is the voice of Truth. He’s that Still, Small Voice. He is the voice of God. One of my atheist friends once expressed concern ( while smirking) about people who think God speaks to them. My only answer there is that God speaks to everyone, it’s just that not everyone listens. As I said, He doesn’t compete with the other voices. He simply waits to be heard. This why in a lot of my writings I like to focus on the opportunity to sit in quiet and peaceful places. It’s why I strive to push back the world with its ads and loud voices that attempt to dominate your every thought. Because when that Voice Of Truth speaks I don’t want to miss out on what was said. His words are life that added to my day.
This one is the reflection of a cloud on Summersville Lake. I snapped the photo on a whim and it’s one of the first photos I ever took with a quality camera. What I like the most about this particular image is contrast in harmony. The cloud is a symbolic representation of the element of air floating on water. In order to get the image I had to point my lens away from the sky. The photo shows two forms of water in the same place at the same time. The cool blue-green color of the lake belies the near tropical weather we had the day I took the photo.
Nature loves balance. We tend to think of world in terms positive and negative depending on how something impacts our lives. Sometimes I like to think of these situations more in terms of ebb and flow. A balanced life will experience both sides of the equation. The old adage is that “in every life a little rain must fall.” I assure you that Summerville Lake is drained every year and that without a lot of rain there would be no peaceful days floating on that beautiful blue-green water. This is the simple concept that pulls me though the tough times. There will be a wonderful calm after the storm. Balance will eventually bring the nice things back around in my direction.
I have very little trouble deciding on which image I want to feature in my posts. The challenge comes in when I try to relate what the image is saying. The railyard seen here is one that I pass by every day. As I look at the image I really like the way the setting sun highlights the rails. It’s like an invitation to come into the West and take the evening off. The rail cars have even cast off their burdens as the engine takes a deep breath and refuels. I believe that there truly is a time for every purpose under heaven and that includes a time to recharge.
“Be still, and know that I amGod: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
King James Version (KJV)
Sometimes it’s hard to simply be still. As humans, we are creatures of action. We want to make things happen on our schedule. We desire to crack open a situation and “fix” it to fit into our plans. However, it’s not our plans that need to be completed. God has a plan and He is able to complete it. We have all had the experience of the over eager helper who means well but messes up the plan by doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or even when it’s right thing but at the wrong time.
Imagine that you have a classic car and you’re preparing it for a show. Your child wants to help and you’re overjoyed. Now, imagine that you’re soaping up the driver’s side and you look up to find the child waxing the unwashed passenger side. There’s a big smile on his face because he’s giving you his best effort and he’s proud because he hasn’t missed a spot. How often do we mess up God’s plans by trying to help but not doing it at the right time? How often do we try to polish a soul that God is still cleaning? I know that the verse above is normally quoted by folks who mean to inspire a sense of peace but there are times when God is simply saying “Step back a minute, I got this”. In those times we need to step back and let God deal with it.
I learn a lot from watching nature. Take geese for example. They have no complex language (as far as well know) and yet they seem to have the ability to maintain social cohesion. Maybe not as perfectly as some other birds but they do seem to function as a single unit. What’s more is that they seem to take turns at being the leader with relatively little conflict. If you watch closely as that V formation flies over or swims by they shift position with the leader creating a wake for the rest of flock to cruise in. I know the science of how it helps them to travel farther but it amazes me how there’s cooperation. I think that the secret is that each bird knows that their own well being is dependent on the well being of the flock. In turn, the well being of the flock depends on the well being of the individual. If the flock loses a member that means that the unit can’t travel as efficiently during migration. I think it’s the interdependency between leadership and followers that maintains the balance. That’s a lesson we should all learn.