God’s word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
My phone rang and broke the silence of the night, waking me from a peaceful slumber. Shaking the sleep from my mind, I answered it. No good news comes at this hour. I braced myself for what I was about to hear. When I hung up, I pulled on my coat and slippers and went out and sat in the garden, out under the crescent moon. “God, there’s a lot of pain and suffering in the world. It makes me wonder if you really exist.”
“If you need proof of me, don’t turn your back on me,” God whispered through the bare branches of the pear trees.
I looked up and saw the North Star shining brightly. “Then be my guide, God, in this darkness. Don’t let this sad news blind me to your light.”
God sat down next to me. “I’ll be the lamp for your feet, the light for your path,” He assured me. A shooting star raced across the sky as if punctuating God’s promise.
I looked toward the east at the faint glow of the coming sunrise. “Let’s go back to the cottage,” I invited God. “I’ll make us some tea and toast.”
We rose together and walked back hand in hand, our steps illuminated by God’s love.
(Rest in Peace my friend.)
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers…
The sun dipped below the horizon, waving goodbye to the day. The sky looked as if God had broken open a pumpkin with His gentle hands and poured out all of the colors inside. How beautiful it was! I sat on the wooden bench under the pear tree and admired the sunset as the night slowly erased the orange and ochre tones.
“Thank you, God, for my eyes that see your beauty. Thank you, for my heart that feels your love. I am humbly grateful.” I whispered as the dark reached out her cold fingers across the meadow. I buttoned my coat and tied my scarf tighter.
“You’re welcome. Here, let me keep you warm,” God said and put His arm around me. “Shall I walk you back to the cottage?”
“I don’t want to go in just yet,” I said. “I want to stay here with you a little longer.”
“I’ll light your way when you are ready,” He replied and lifted the full moon into the dark sky. Its soft lantern of light cast a glow across the meadow. I sat there for quite some time, enjoying everything about my life. Enjoying everything about God.
When the stars began to shine, I rose and began my way back to the cottage to build a fire to warm my body as I slept, trusting that God would keep heart and soul warm.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Hot tears sprang to my eyes and anger boiled in my veins—someone I trusted had betrayed me. “You made loving others look so easy, ” I cried out to Jesus. “How did you not smite Judas, and Peter, and all of those who mocked you and then killed you?” I pushed open the door with a little too much force, sending it slapping against the cottage wall.
“Come, walk with me,” Jesus invited, His pace slow and measured. “I knew they were doing the best that they could,” Jesus said. “You can’t expect anyone to do more than they can do.” He stopped and pointed to the feral cats playing in the garden. “You don’t expect them to act tame, do you?” He asked.
“Of course not. They weren’t socialized when they were kittens,” I explained.
“It’s the same with people. They are who they are because of their experiences in life,” He replied. “Forgive, Sparrow. Reach out to your friend with love. Help them carry the burdens that make them so fearful that they hurt others and themselves.”
I thought of how Jesus bore our burden of sin on His back as He walked to the cross— all the way into death. “You carried us,” I whispered. My tears of pain now turning to tears of gratitude.
“When you carry another, you carry yourself. You carry God,” He replied.
We turned back toward the cottage, the hurt and anger now drained from my body. A gentle wind blowing down from the mountains played through my hair, making me laugh. Jesus smiled and patted me on the back. I smiled in return, my heart too full for words.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for they know the kingdom of heaven.
As I turned the last corner towards home, four deer leaped across the path in front of me, their brown bodies gleaming in the last rays of sunlight. I listened to them as they bounded away through the manzanitas.
“They know what it is to be blessed,” God said to me as I continued walking. “They live their lives guided by my Spirit. It is only man who strays from me, missing out on my Kingdom by seeking fame and fortune, exalting himself above others.”
“I want to live my life guided by you. How do I do that?” I asked as the path grew darker. I reached out for God’s hand to help me as my steps became harder to discern in the fading light.
“This is a good start,” God said. ” Always reach for me, and rely on me, not on yourself.”
My footsteps startled a covey of quail resting in a tall oak. They rose all at once and flew on the breath of God, towards the meadow. I watched them until I could no longer make them out in the inky sky. “I’ll let go and rely on you as the animals do,” I said, and gripped His hand more tightly.
Slowly, surely, God led me back home, back to His heart, back to where He’s always been, back to where He will always be.
Not one animal will die apart from God
I saw him when I turned the corner on the gravel road I was walking. I thought he was sleeping; his soft body stretched out, his head turned to the side. I expected he’d jump up and scamper away as soon as my footsteps grew closer. But he lay still. I knew then, from yards away, that he was dead.
“Oh, Mr. Squirrel,” I sighed, my heart filling with sorrow. “What happened to you?” Not a mark was on his chubby body, his gray fur bright and shiny. I stood for a few moments, admiring his beauty, then turned, and walked on.
“He’s safe with me, Sparrow,” God said as He made His presence known, His stride matching my own.
“I know. But life is such an amazing gift, I feel sad to see it come to an end,” I replied. God didn’t say anything more, allowing me to be present with my feelings. A gentle rain began to fall. I’d not worn a raincoat, so I took off my scarf and draped it over my head.
“This rain nourishes the tender seeds waiting to sprout. New life lies below the earth,” God explained. Mr. Squirrel’s body will return to the earth, to nourish that new life waiting to come forth.”
“It’s still a mystery to me, these seasons of life and death,” I confessed.
God reached out and took my hand. “It’s not a mystery at all. It’s love. It’s me,” He said tenderly.
We circled back toward home. When we came to the place where God will bury Mr. Squirel, we stopped. I looked once again at his beautiful body and gave thanks that he was a part of God’s love. I wished him well on his journey.