“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This one from This DayPictures app popped up my computer today. It triggered a hundred thousand words worth of memories of a solo snowshoe trek ten years ago high up in Alaska’s Talkeetna Range.
Snowshoes hushed shush over a white landscape is a clam like none other . . . my Silent Nuance Of Wonder (SNOW) Abba therapy.
Lord willing, I’m planning a repeat performance next February 28th when we’re permanently settled back home in the Last Frontier . . . provided I’m still fogging a mirror and my decade older bod will still be able to make it . . . if not, it will be a ‘cool’ way to exit the planet 😊
Hatcher Pass, Alaska
“We need silence to be alone with God, to speak to Him, to listen to Him, to ponder His words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and transformed. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the energy of God Himself that makes us do all things with joy.” – Mother Teresa
“He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray… He was alone there.”
Officially, the first day of Spring is a month away. Evidently, this daffodil didn’t get the memo😊. Heralding life, it validated the ‘silent loveliness’ of our garden stone’s inscription:
How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things
I’ve been truly blessed for most of my life to reside in the relative calming silence of ‘Rularia’, compared to the chaotic cacophony of ‘Urbania’ environs. Childhood summers were spent roaming the Pocono Mountains’ forests in Promised Land, PA, so aptly named. There, ‘silently serenaded’ by nature, I learned to rest in my Abba’s arms, quietly listening to His serene, still small voices and gentle whispers sung by Creation. In adulthood (still working on that 😊), my career adventures most always found me residing on the outskirts of civilization where, just outside my door, the unending melodies Creation’s chorus could silently comfort my soul.
‘Listening’ this morning to the daffodil’s vibrant first bloom shout . . . Spring’s Here!!! . . . reminded me of how effortless it is to be caught up in the ‘noisy busyness’ of today’s world which drowns out His still small voice and soothing gentle whispers. Throw in some smidgens pride, ego, power, covetousness, and a few other “pleasures of sin for a season”, and our ‘deafness’ hastens.
Not everyone has my luxury of living in the relative solitude the outskirts of civilization affords . . . Go Alaska!!!😊. However, whether we reside in ‘Urbania’ or ‘Rularia’, we’re all equally blessed with 24/7/365 in which to carve out some crucial one-on-One ‘silent listening’ time . . . time alone to converse and ‘listen’ to the One Who always listens to our every request, plea, and heartfelt cry.
During a one-day church retreat participants were asked to write what they thought Jesus would write to them in a letter. A 17-year-old girl volunteered to read hers first. She began by apologizing that she’d “messed up”. Instead of writing what Jesus would say to her in a letter, she’d written a deeply personal, ‘open-heart’ dialogue between her and Jesus. Here’s the still small voice, gently whispered one-on-One ‘silent conversation she humbly, and boldly shared:
“I feel awkward because it’s been so long since I’ve been near you.”
“I’ve missed you too; I think about you every day.”
“But I’ve messed up; I’ve done a lot of things I regret.”
“It’s okay child. I forgive you.”
“I don’t understand. I turn away, I ignore You.”
“I’m still here right beside you.”
“I try to live without you even though I know deep inside that You’re still a part of me.”
“You don’t have to make yourself loveable; I love you how you are.”
“Even after everything I’ve done, and everything that’s happened, would it offend You if I called You bizarre?”
“I am bizarre; more so than you’ll ever know.”
“This may sound strange, but could I please ask You to hold me, for a little while?
“My child, I’ve been waiting for you with outstretched arms.”
May each of us, like this teenage girl, find time each to escape this world’s ‘noise’ . . . snuggle in His arms . . . and ‘listen’ in ‘assuring silence’ to His still small voice and comforting gentle whispers.
PS – When we do so, I wonder if God is smiling and says . . . How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Saints . . . even this ole ragweed 😊
‘Woulda’…’coulda’ …’shoulda’ … Life’s ‘if only’s that can block out the bright sunshine with dark stratocumulus clouds of regret. Intriguing that “if” resides smack dab in the middle of LIFE.
Regret is “If Only’s” synonym. The dictionary defines regret as, “To feel sorry, disappointed, distressed, or remorseful about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.”
Ever been there? . . . total bummer! . . . not where any of us wants to spend a lot of time. The good news . . . we don’t have to!
All regrets are all past tense. They may be useful to learn from, but not to focus and dwell on. One thing I’ve learned in struggling with regrets over the past eight decades is . . .
Regrets are a place of reference, not a place of residence
Without fail, choosing to focus on my blessings always scatters regret’s ‘if only’ ominous clouds, and life’s sunshine soon comes back out to bask in.
Sure wish I’d learned this a long time ago. My German grandmother was spot on whenever she observed me about to hatch yet another regret (regretfully a frequent occurrence 😊), and would sternly, but lovingly reprimand . . . “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I’m still working on the latter 😊
In her book The Top Five Regrets of The Dying palliative nurse Bonnie Ware poignantly lists the five most common regrets of ole duffers (some actually older than me😊) facing the imminent reality we all like to bury in the background, but will ultimately unearth and come face-to-face with one day . . . I’m actually gonna’ die!!! ☹
Here’s the five terminal regrets Bonnie discovered folks at eternity’s threshold wrestle with:
I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier
In this New Year may we all turn these wishes into actions while we’re still blessed with the time to do so.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it .”
The Great Smoky Mountains has joined much of our nation’s pre-Christmas frigid cold snap . . . the coldest temperatures recorded here in a quarter century!
At our digs up here on the mountain > down in the ‘holler’ > over the ‘crick’, the temperature plummeted from near 50 degrees last evening to flirt with zero this morning . . . an ‘invigorating’ touch of the Last Frontier😊
Unlike her unhinged Alaskan hubby, my refined New Orleans spouse isn’t a ‘cool’ temp aficionado. I explained to her that there is really no such thing as cold weather, just improper clothing. She tacitly complied by layering herself in a decorous assortment of stockings, sweatpants and sweaters (pic strictly forbidden!)😊
Evidently, rhododendrons prefer warmer climes as well, and shrink from ‘cool’ temps as the pics indicate. BTW, don’t nibble on their leaves. They have high severity poison characteristics . . . that reminds me . . . I need to check my dinner salad tonight😊
May this Christmas find you surrounded by friends and family rejoicing together in His birth that conquered death. Smile😊. . . . and stay warm, happy, and healthy.
Flying has always fascinated me. As a child (some claim I still am 😊), the adventures of Sky King, a WWII aviator turned Arizona rancher, kept me glued to our family’s state-of-the-art, oval, 13” black and white TV.
My time in the USMC as an aircraft electrician heightened my flying passion, and early in my teaching career I began taking flying lessons to become a pilot. Eddie, a young, nerves-of-steel flight instructor became my newly revived, in-the-flesh, Sky King. I’ll never forget his calming words of reassurance after my initial, erratic, 3-bounce landing,
“Every landing is a controlled crash.Let’s go around and try that again Fred.”
One blue-bird day, anxiously waiting for my pre-solo flight lesson with Eddie, his dad and flight training school owner approached me with tears in his eyes,
“You need to go home Fred.”
On a helicopter training flight with a major network journalist the tail rotor malfunctioned. Eddie and his student tragically perished.
Returning home, I shared the sad news with my wife. Her prudent words sealed my pilot aspirations,
“Fred, we have four young children. No more flight training.”
Other than another ‘Eddie’ flying me to my favorite mountain’s base camp (pics) a few years ago, my only solo flight has been a sky dive . . . personally exhilarating, but not exactly inspirational to others.
David Gibbs is a lawyer, founder and president of the Christian Law Association, and a pastor. This 8 minute You Tube video is to his truly inspirational, white-knuckle, Alaskan life ‘flight story’. May it inspire you as it has me to always listen to the Voice of your Flight Instructor on your ‘flight’ through life.
Looks like we’ll be on a jet headed south for the winter next week. Rather than spend the day going through another box of Kleenex today, I hiked up Castle Mountain to dry my tears 😊. I built a rock cairn on top with a Good Book pocket edition for other solitude seekers.
Here’s a few pics snapped along the trail, and one of my foraging feral friends who showed up to bid me adieu. Like Arnold, I assured him, “I’ll be back!” 😊
Seasons transitions are Nature’s Beauty Pageants. Forest floors carpeted in gold . . . mountains engraved with a 3,000 ft. white line . . . the Last Frontier’s spectacular Fall surrendering to Winter transition.
Here’s a few displays that set my soul singing How Great Thou Art this afternoon . . . gazing in awesome wonder. I M Blessed . . . May U B 2
Oh Lord, my God When I, in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee How great Thou art!
Wild berries captured my attention on today’s woods-wander.
Perhaps it was the dampening drizzle, or the fading yellow Devil’s Club with its red fruits, that cast an uncharacteristic, slightly glum mood to my ever wandering musings.
It was a pair of raindrops that fixed my gaze. Precariously clinging to high-bush cranberries . . . they mystically transformed into ‘teardrops’. . . Fall’s final fruits perishing to Winter’s impending, frozen death . . . Snap Out Of It Freddy!!!
Back home, tossing another log on the fire, my ‘drizzly’ attitude began to dry out . . . temporarily.
Opening my email, I read Ray’s Daily blog post for today. Ray’s creative, humorous, pensive blog has been a favorite read of mine. I surmise from his gifted writing style he’s an elderly Jewish man, who may actually be older than me 😊
Erma Bombeck was a popular American author, humorist and newspaper columnist. Today Ray posted her poignant, introspective reflections penned shortly before her death in 1996 . . . . food for thought as today each of us find ourselves another day closer to our own Winter . . . the Good News . . . the eternal Spring of Eternity awaits for those who choose to claim Christ as their own . . . now I feel much better😊
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life anyone ever gets to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more “I love you’s.” More “I’m sorry’s.”
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it … live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let’s think about what God HAS blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well.