In the spirit of this Sunday's Gospel lesson, where the disciples on the road to Emmeaus encounter a friendly and wise stranger who, it turns out, is the resurrected Christ -- this week's Friday Five asks us to list how God has made Godsself known to us though the following:
1.Book: For some reason, one of the books that, over the years, has given me a profound "Aha!" moment was Lewis Thomas' Lives of a Cell...which underscored the awe and gratitude with which we should ponder our own enfleshed existence, "fearfully and wonderfully made."
2.Film: Where to start?...one unlikely conveyance of God's grace is one of my favorite comedies, Cold Comfort Farm, where a London society girl suddenly down on her luck winds up living with her highly eccentric rural relatives and their equally eccentric neighbors...and proceeds to change their lives by her cheerfully reforming presence. It's a bit like the Joseph story, to me; how we can find ourselves agents of God's redemptive work.
3. Song: This morning I was listening to the Jane Siberry song "The Valley," and it reminded me of the 23rd Psalm only from the sheepherder's point of view: Who shepherds the shepherd?
4. Another person: I've told this story before here, but...someone asked: I was racing through the supermarket one evening after work, trying to find some forgotten grocery, when I turned down a new aisle to find a dirty, disheveled street person (who also dwell here in rural America)muttering to herself as she examined a shelf of goods. My gut, curvatus in se reaction: Turn around. Now. Go. Do not make eye contact. But then the woman turned
to me and smiled. "I have a message from the Holy Spirit for you!" she beamed. Would you like to hear it?" What do I do?
"Okay," I responded weakly. At which point she clapped a grimy hand to my forehead, there in the store, and slowly rocked on her heels. Please, dear God, do NOT let anyone else come down this aisle.
"God says he loves you very much," she finally said. And then she removed her hand from my head and shuffled away.
I still think about that encounter.
5. Creation: I was just telling FT this story the other day, as we were going through a chapter of Kelly Fryer's Dancing Down the Hallway: I spent a week one summer, many years ago, at a women's retreat center outside the village of Leroy, Michigan. It's way out in the toolie-weeds, back in the woods. Anyway, I had chosen to stay in a little hermit-y hut called a poustinia, on a hill surrounded by trees. My first morning there I got up very early, while it was still cool and misty, and wandered through the woods. As I was enjoying myself in a little clearing amid the coolness and earthy aroma of damp forest earth, a large object suddenly shot past me, level with my head, so close that I could feel and hear the "whoosh": it was a hawk, a sleek accipiter type that's able to dart in and out of the trees in woodland habitats. My heart nearly stopped from initial shock, but afterward I was amazed to have gotten this close to a bird of prey. Then, as I was still processing the wonder of this encounter, I looked ahead of me and saw the largest tree I've ever seen. It was a maple tree with a trunk so huge that it would have been a struggle to get my arms around half of it, had I dared to do so; because it was one of those natural scenes that inspires real awe; it sent sparks up my spine to see this gigantic old tree so wide and so tall. How many years had it grown here? This was at a point in my life when I was losing faith, not gaining it; but at that moment it was truly a numinous encounter.
Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
Nothing terribly dramatic; but this week, while stopping at Cold Comfort Cottage during my lunch break I found myself listening to the birds, smelling the wet woods, feeling a hint of extra sun on my skin, noting the subtle recoloring of the tree branches promising greenness and growth; and after a long, difficult winter, it was a real blessing to spend some time in that moment.