Wednesday, May 2, 2018


By Beverly

Crows have built a nest in the cedar tree in our backyard.  Now they take turns bringing new twigs, perfecting, and guarding the nest.  This nest-building, provisioning and guarding is done not just by the nesting pair, but by at least one generation of their offspring - maybe two; hatchlings from last year and the year before.

It’s fascinating to watch the interactions between these feathered family members!  As one member of the mating pair sits on the nest, the other perches on a branch just opposite and slightly above, in another tree across the yard, standing guard.  Siblings take turns with the watch-parent; occasionally we have seen them rub beaks together in what looks like a loving greeting.

One day, watching the crows from an upstairs window, I realized that they illustrate beautifully the way that prayer works.  Just as one crow always sits on the nest (they take turns) to guard the eggs and hatch them, we pray continually for the nurture, protection and maturity of the brothers and sisters in our community.  As Paul said, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” Galatians 4:19.  Paul “labored over” his brothers and sisters in prayer in order to present them mature.  “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity.
But we also have the privilege and responsibility to send our prayers in help and defense of the Church (our brothers and sisters) beyond our geographical location; keeping watch for attacks and needs so we know how to pray.  We keep an eye on the Church and we stand ready to pray.

These things we do because we are family.  We are generations working together in love and humility for the good growth and wellbeing of all our members.  Not one crow outranks another, each mate takes a turn standing guard, fetching supplies, and sitting on the nest.  Each sibling does their part to help the adults prepare, protect, and provide for the new hatchlings and the entire family.

May we, too, be found “... praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”  from Ephesians 6.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Taking the Back Way to Work

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
It’s been over a decade since I've been able to drive on a highway with confidence; a decade since I have driven on an interstate at all. I even had to re-learn how to drive myself to and from work, though it’s only ten miles on a two-lane highway that even Amish buggies traverse with finesse!  Panic disorder can take many forms, and this inability to drive was one of the most serious and inconvenient ways that it took me.

Re-learning to drive myself to work and back meant that I needed to find an alternative route.  It’s one thing to face your fears, but when that could mean passing out while at the wheel of your car, you need to come up with a solution that won't potentially involve an accident. I found a back way to work that was longer, more circuitous, and less convenient, but there were fewer cars and I could do it.

It is prettier going the back way; the scenery distracts me and keeps me occupied with gratefulness. There’s always some sort of breath-taking surprise: The way the sun catches ice on the tips of birch-branches; a glorious sky-scape or a bluebird on a fence-post; a flock of turkeys; a herd of deer.

One morning, as I looked for the pair of wild swans I had seen the day before on my way to and from work, I had a revelation: Had I never experienced the panic that drove me to the back roads, I would have missed so many surprises!  It’s faster and more practical to go the straight route to work.

G.K. Chesterton said that “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

I like an adventure that involves wild swans.  


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Goose Poop and Glory

The weekend before Glen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I experienced one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen. To the south the clouds were red-gold, with a pillar of gold light marking the rising sun.  Vast wings of purple clouds, touched with red, fanned out toward me from the west.  The east was on fire.  My back was to the north at the outset of my walk, so I kept turning around because the sky was most spectacular in that direction. Bright pink cloud walls, dropping snow, sailed across the northern sky like the aurora borealis.  In their midst, directly opposite the sun, rose a pillar of rainbow; a stunning sundog.  It was the tail-end of November.

My prayer was simply, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”

My paved path was the perfect opposite of all that sky-glory; running through goose grounds, it was littered with so much goose poop that there was no way I could walk and enjoy the sky at the same time.  I kept stopping for the sky, then resuming my careful walk through the mess. It was a perfect metaphor for life.

The goose poop was gross, inconvenient, and it slowed my progress.  It could have ruined my sunrise experience had I focused on it.  Or I could have been so caught up in the sunrise, refusing to acknowledge the mess, that I stepped in it, maybe even slipped on it and found myself in a heap on the ground, covered in it!  

I chose to focus on the sunrise and watch my step.

The perfect timing of this living metaphor was not lost on me when the doctor called me in to discuss Glen’s diagnosis early the following Monday morning.  Immediately I remembered the poop on the path (simultaneously trying not to hyperventilate).  We had a choice:  We could remember God’s goodness and glory as we came to terms with a hard reality, or we could despair over the diagnosis, losing sight of all of God’s faithfulness when we had traveled messy roads in the past.

We have this choice daily.  There’s plenty of poop on the path.  If you stop and look up, you will find the living God stretching his wings toward you, waiting to bless you with beauty and lend light to your steps.  You won’t experience this if you don’t look up.  Make time to watch what God is doing, remember what God has done, and be thankful. It will strengthen you for when you resume your way along a messy path.

I am under vows to you, my God;
   I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
   and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
   in the light of life. Psalm 56:12-13