A single star was all that remained in the soft blue of the morning sky. Westward, a lone contrail revealed the passing of an airplane. Where were those people going so early in the morning, I wondered. Home for the holidays? A darkness filled my heart as I laid wood in the fireplace to chase off the night’s chill.
“Your children will arrive soon,” God reminded me as I struck a match. “But your melancholy isn’t about people.” He put His hand on my shoulder.
“It’s the fear that I’ll never succeed. That it will always be just beyond my grasp,” I replied. The kindling caught and spread the flames.
“What do you want success to look like, Sparrow?” God asked.
“More money in the bank. I’m tired of financial worry.”
“Is that all?”
“No. I worry if my work matters; if it really makes a difference,” I confessed. The logs caught fire and suddenly the stove glowed a bright orange.
“Everything in its time,” God said gently and patted my back. “My love that you share grows, just as the fire you started from a single spark now blazes. Don’t lose faith. Even if your words only touch one person today, that is one person more who knows my love, and that is a success.”
God put His arm around me and I rested my head on His shoulder. We stood in front of the fire warming ourselves as the sun came up; the darkness in my heart now replaced with His Light.
Your word is a lamp for my feet.
~ Psalm 119:105
“God, there are two different paths that my work could take,” I said while folding my laundry. “I’m not sure which one is the right one. Can you help me, please?”
“I’d be delighted to help,” God answered, and sat down next to me.
“Which path would you prefer I take?” I asked.
“Which one makes you the happiest?” God asked.
“Whichever one will make you the happiest,” I replied.
“I don’t have a preference for which one you choose.”
“Really? I thought that there would be just one path you’d want for me,” I explained.
“There are many paths you can take. Each one will give you experiences and lessons.”
“But you’ll give me suggestions, I hope.”
“I’ll set your feet in the right field. From there, take the most interesting paths. Make your life a joyous adventure, Sparrow. And, don’t be afraid of making a misstep, for they will happen. Enjoy the journey,” God said gently.
I put the stack of folded clothes in the laundry hamper. “You’ll go with me, won’t you?”
“Every step of the way,” God said and smiled.
Even in your old age, I am God. I will take care of you.
The gate pushed open with a rusty groan. I should oil that, I thought as I walked over to what was left of the garden. A few tomatoes, shriveled and sagging earthward, hung heavy from their branches. I walked to where the squash had grown. The once hardy plants. now unrecognizable, were returning to the soil. Even the still-standing kale looked tattered and forlorn. A rotten apple squished beneath my shoe—its slippery mess now flattened beneath my weight. I scraped off the slime on the grass. A damp wind blew through the trees and I shivered.
“The garden looks rather sad, God,” I said. “But there is a sacred beauty to it.”
“Not everyone can see it,” God said. “To some, it would be depressing.”
“Not to me. I see your handiwork. I have a great respect for the process going on here.”
“All of life is in my care. Even in old age. Even in death,” God said softly.
I nodded. “You are a mystery, God. But I trust you, even with the end of life.”
I looked up and saw a lone bird flying above the fruit trees, its brown body blending in with the dark clouds. A drop of rain fell. Then another. And another. I turned my collar to the wind and made my way back to the cottage, feeling quiet and humble, appreciative of whatever time I have left here on the planet.
To every thing, there is a season
I was exhausted after a long day of work. I had listened to so much pain and sorrow that my heart was heavy. So were my arms and legs; was I fighting off a winter virus I wondered? I crawled onto the daybed and pulled a throw blanket up over me and shut my eyes. Perhaps a few minutes of quiet and I’d feel better.
“You need to let others help you,” God said just as I was getting settled.
“Help me with what?” I asked and opened my eyes.
“With everything. You give, give, give, and give until there is hardly anything left,” God explained. “You must learn to receive.”
“But it feels good to give,” I replied.
Yes, it does. But you must be careful that your giving isn’t feeding your pride which tells you that you don’t need any help,” God said softly. “And, you must be careful that your giving doesn’t make you feel better than those you help.”
“I can see both of those points,” I said honestly.
“Jesus knew that in order to be healthy He had to give and to receive. He even took time off from healing and teaching and went away from the crowds to be quiet and to be with me,” God answered.
I closed my eyes again and exhaled a long, slow breath. “I’ll be quiet and be with you,” I whispered. “And tomorrow, I promise I’ll call a friend and ask for help. I’ll do my best to make sure that my giving is from love, not from my pride.
“I’m glad that you will learn to receive,” God said as I drifted off into a deep and restorative nap.