“The news isn’t good again today,” I sighed and turned off the television. I went outside to sit in the sun, hoping it would change my darkening mood. “So many things going wrong. So many people hurting—and I’m powerless to do anything about it,” I said.
“It is an unsettling time,” God agreed. “But you are never powerless.” He put His arm around my shoulders, comforting me.
“What power do I have?” I asked.
“You have the power to be kind. You have the power to be compassionate,” God said. “If everyone embraced those powers, the world would be a better place.”
I leaned my head onto God’s strong shoulder, relaxing into His love. A soft breeze stirred as the sun leaned down and kissed my cheeks. I let a long time pass before I spoke again, enjoying the warmth.
Finally, I broke the quiet between us and said, “I will be kind. I will be compassionate. I will help change your world for the better.”
God didn’t say a word but hugged me tightly to Him. It was answer enough.
It hadn’t been the best of days—the weather was soggy and cold—and work had been hard and emotionally draining. I knew I should put on my coat and go for a walk, but I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm. I curled up on the couch and felt sorry for myself.
God came and sat down next to me. “Rough day?” He asked.
“Yes. Rough day.” I nodded.
“What can I do to help?” He asked.
“I just need to know that you are here and that you care,” I answered.
God reached His hand out to comfort me. Something caught my eye as He moved it toward me.
“What’s that?” I asked and turned His hand over. There was my name, engraved on His palm!
“You’ve been written here for all of time,” God said softly. He took my finger and invited me to trace my name. I ran it over each letter as my tears fell into His precious hand.
My eyes kept wandering out the window. Try as I might, I couldn’t stay focused on my work. I closed my laptop and tugged on my jacket to go for a walk to clear my head.
The air, velvet soft, damp from last night’s rain, wrapped herself around my shoulders. I shivered for a moment under her touch. The trees, cold from her hands, shivered too, whispering among themselves. I stopped and listened, but the clouds kept inviting me to play, so I set out, chasing their ever-moving shadows.
At the bend in the trail, God tossed a handful of leaves my way—I watched as they scuttled over the ground, tumbling over one another, coming to rest by my feet.
I picked one up. It was a universe of perfection. I picked up another, and another, admiring them. “Your beauty is in the smallest details,” I said to God. Another gust of wind came and picked up the leaves, sending them off into the woods.
“You don’t have to look far to find beauty in my creation,” God agreed. “You have to look close.”
I nodded. “It’s so easy to miss the little things, the everyday things, the things we take for granted.”
A jay squawked as she flew overhead. I turned my gaze up to her and watched her navigate under the frolicking clouds. A smile worked its way across my face. I turned and made my way back to the cabin, taking with me the beauty of God, found in the up-close, the everyday, the seemingly mundane.
I was ready to return to my work.
Walking a new path, I came upon an area in the woods that had been scorched by fire. What little remained—the skeleton of trees and undergrowth— was blackened with soot. It looked apocalyptic—as if life could never return. I wondered if my life will be so changed by the pandemic that it won’t return to normal.
“The plants and trees will grow back,” God said as I walked into the clearing. “See the green leaves pushing up from the earth?” He pointed to a blackened stump where new life was finding its way. “You’ll always grow back, too,” He said gently, “No matter how devastated you may feel.” He reached out His hand to me; “Come, let us walk together.”
I put my small hand in God’s great strength, and walked on, past the burnt clearing—out into a field of wildflowers that had recently sprouted up from their time buried underground as seeds. “Sometimes, Sparrow, the darkness is where you germinate and grow roots. It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.”
I knelt down to smell the flowers and gave thanks for the mystery of life pouring forth from the mystery of God.
A wisp of fluff floated by. I watched it sail on unseen breezes, bobbing up and down at the whim of the currents. A quick gust sent it somersaulting, whirling and twirling, out over the open field where it gradually lost altitude and ever so slowly, came to rest on the welcoming earth.
“A dandelion will grow where that seed landed. Next spring, it will sprout a yellow flower and be the first food available for my bees,” God said with pride in His voice, like a first-time father bragging about his new baby. “It will be beautiful!” He clapped His hands in glee.
I cleared my throat. “God? Um, you know…” I paused, hunting the right words. “Dandelions are seen as a nuisance. People spray them with weed killer.”
“I know,” God said, His voice now changed, the joy deflated. “I wish they didn’t. All life is sacred for I’ve breathed my spirit into it. I wish man respected that. I wish, too, that man respected the complexity of all the cycles and patterns and relationships in everything I’ve created.”
My heart sank, hearing His words. “What can I do to respect your creation?” I asked.
“Understand that everything around you is mine. It doesn’t belong to you,” God replied. “Understand that I love everything I’ve created equally. I love man no more, no less, than I love that tender seed that landed, eager to do what I created it to do. I created man to love. So do what I created you to do, Sparrow. Love well.”
“I will, God,” I said. I closed my eyes and felt God’s tender hands on my face. I smelled His glorious breath, the perfume of life. “I promise.”
The stars hung haphazardly in the night sky. I sat on the deck, alone in the dark, and pondered their disarray. They looked as chaotic as life now feels here on earth.
“There is no order to anything anymore. Even your stars are messy,” I said to God.
“You don’t see the order in the stars?” God asked. An owl called out from the woods that lead to the pond.
“No. None at all. Look how out of alignment they are, ” I replied. Off on the southern ridgeline, a coyote howled to the rising moon, its voice echoing down the canyon.
“My sweet child, everything in my creation is in perfect order,” God answered. “Things only seem to be out of order because you are looking with your eyes, not with your heart.”
The owl called out again. I closed my eyes and listened. I heard the wind pass tenderly through the trees. The stream at the foot of the hill splashed happily on its way. The cries of the coyote, fainter now, but still discernable, found their way to me. My heart knew that the night, and all it contained, was in God’s perfect hands. So too, was the chaos of the stars. So too, the chaos of this life.
I raised my face to the sky and looked with my heart. All I could see was God’s glorious mystery, shining through billions of twinkling stars, waving down to me.