As children in elementary school, we were taught that the word “Iowa” meant “beautiful land,” and Iowa is a beautiful place in early summer. Rosy, morning skies and gilded sunsets punctuate the days. Fat, cumulus clouds tumble across acres of corn and soybeans. Golden oat fields sway in afternoon breezes. Wild roses, half hidden in the grasses, unfurl pink petals to uncover a yellow heart. Meadowlarks’ liquid calls pour over the fields. All this beauty speaks to me of a Creator, the Holy God.
Just as the weather vane on the top of our big shed points to the direction from which the wind is blowing, creation points to its Maker.
I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you.
I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence. You can find Me in each moment, when you have eyes to see and ears that hear. Ask My Spirit to sharpen your spiritual eyesight and hearing. I rejoice each time you discover My Presence. Practice looking and listening for Me and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.
–Jesus Calling: Enjoy Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Psalm 8:1-4 NIV
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2 NIV
Look about you: the beauty of the rose or the glorious sunset–these and others are meant to proclaim His Presence in the world. –Sarah Young
And [the seraphim] were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3 NIV
My prayer for us all:
that God may sharpen our “spiritual eyesight” so that we may discover His presence in a world full of His glory.
I settled the strap of my camera around my neck, stepped off my front porch, and crossed the yard to a treeless spot. I strolled across the lawn of mixed bluegrass, rye, and sweetly fragrant clover, whose white blossoms lie sprinkled like stars across the deepening green. Climbing the darkening clouds in the east, the full moon of early June began to cast shadows as the sun collapsed into a golden puddle in the western sky.
As the moon rose higher and brighter and as the sunset glow grew darker, soft shadows of darkest green began to form, twinned shapes of sentinel ash trees, motionless bushes, and fence posts at attention. A moving feline-shaped shadow padded up to me and leaned her black, silky shoulder against my shin, twining around my ankles.
The breeze had dropped to a whisper of shushing ash leaves. I could hear the neighbor’s cattle lowing from their pasture and the peeper frogs trilling in chorus. The peace and beauty of this moonlit evening wrapped around me like a blanket.
Native Americans called this full moon the Strawberry Moon, for the time of not-quite-summer when wild strawberries ripened in the meadows at the sunny edges of woodlands.
Watching the same full moon sail across the same gentle spring skies, the Europeans named it the Rose Moon, for the time when roses began to unfold their fragrant blossoms from thorny stems.
So which is it, Strawberry Moon or Rose Moon? Sweet fruit or sweetly scented flower? The choice is a false one.
When searching for full moon names and scientific names of fruit and flower, I found unexpected family ties. To the botanist strawberries are rosaceae fragraria and roses are rosaceae rosa. Both are in the rose family.
* * * * *
I read the news about the nine from Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, who were shot and killed in their own church. I don’t know what to say or what to do, and the fear of stumbling awkwardIy in my response to such sorrow and such noxious hate can paralyze me.
Perhaps I can start with this: there is no “their church” and “our church,” no “them” to our “us.” There is only “us” because we are all family, brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 NIV
I can cry with those who cry, recognizing that I will never truly understand the pain another suffers.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 NKJV
I can call sin by its name: hate, violence, racism.
Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 12:9 NKJV
I can celebrate the spirit of forgiveness that is Spirit born.
I can pray for the families of those who were killed and ask the Lord that sweet fruit may come from bitter actions.
Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. I Peter 2:17 MSG
In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.
or black church and white church . . .
Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:28 MSG
Emanuel AME church, I send you my love and prayers. You are family.