Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Things: Everything's Grace, After All

It's been a tough week, and I've spent the last 24 hours lamenting its toughness. There's something so satisfying about whining. But grace is more satisfying and gratitude is the lifeblood of our faith, and so today's "Thursday Things" is a list of some of the colorful graces God splashes everywhere when life is painted with shades of gray.

Things for which I am very thankful:

1. My sister is here for a mini vacation this weekend, and even though she's sick sick sick, her sore-throated, achy, chilled presence is a great comfort to me.

2. My grandpa died this week and now he sees Jesus face to face; he knows Him fully, even as my grandpa is fully known.

3. The sound of voices rushing out of bodies clad in black, souls singing softly,
“I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see,” at my grandpa's memorial service this week.

4. My sister and I returned my place last night and were greeted by the roses outside my french doors: soft yellow sunbursts smiling big for an old friend.

5. Dear friends have sent me a steady stream of encouraging cards of condolence since I broke off my engagement last February. There was yet another lovely letter waiting for me when I got home last night.

6. My landlady had roses, dinner, water bottles, and snacks waiting for me and my sister when we got in last night. Now there are roses all over my studio—"Singing in the Rain" roses by my sister's bed and "Eden" roses by mine.

7. Tomorrow morning I will harvest fresh vegetables from our vegetable garden so I can make us sickies a healthy breakfast. I'm thinking vegetable egg frittatas with sausage is just what we need.

8. We've been drinking orange juice all day, squeezed fresh from the oranges off our tree.

9. I took a three-hour nap today and woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside my window. From my bed I can see the flaming fuchsia bougainvillea cascading down the hedge that borders the yard.

10. There is a rooster that cock-a-doodle-doos every time the sun nears the horizon. Any horizon. He is terribly confused and he always makes me smile.

11. The cough drop I am sucking on tastes like strawberries and cream. Yes, it's true; my mouth is bursting with creamy summery strawberries laced with zinc. Adios harsh menthol flavored cough drops that turn my tongue blue but at least clear out my sinuses in less than 11 seconds.

12. Did I mention I took a three-hour nap today?

13. I got to spend a day and a half in San Diego with my whole family. We ate ethnic food, took silly pictures (which I will debut shortly), and laughed deep belly laughs.

14. I got to see like 18 of my 23 cousins at my grandpa's memorial service. We had a grand time catching up and getting to know the babies that are popping out left and right. Isn't marvelous that Christians can use memorials as a time of celebration?

15. Revelation 1:12-18

"When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.[h] He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance."
17 "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.[i]"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Watch that Mongoose Groove

The Lion King soundtrack was the first CD I ever owned. And boy did I get my money’s worth out of that thing.

I used track #5 to figure out how to play “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by ear on the piano, and then crafted a piano performance I enthusiastically subjected all of our babysitters to that year.

I developed a dazzling song and dance routine to “Hakuna Matata” that I just knew would woo Jonathan Taylor Thomas, should we ever have an opportunity to perform my routine together. I practiced my routine until it was flawless and rehearsed the song’s lyrics until they were etched indelibly on my mind. To this day I have been known to walk through the house bellowing “When I was a young warthooooooooog……”.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas sure missed out on something special.

Whenever I played the dark and menacing "Be Prepared", I lurked around the house pretending to be a dancing hyena; and when I skipped ahead to the orchestral music on the latter half of the CD I worked diligently to choreograph new age jazz routines. I have no idea what new age jazz is, but it sounds impressive.

Yesiree, the Lion King is responsible for a very colorful time in my life. So you can imagine my delight when yesterday, while sitting on the patio here in Sun Valley, I saw Timone dancing on our woodpile. No joke.

Okay, okay, it was probably Timone’s great great nephew. But still, he was dancing on the woodpile.

Determined to document this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I whipped out my camera and crept stealthily to the woodpile. Thankfully, I had the foresight to refrain from bursting into the impassioned and no doubt moving rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” that was bubbling up my esophagus.

Or is it diaphragm?

But Timone still scrammed. And so I waited, and waited, and waited, until about 26 seconds had passed and I realized I could never be a National Geographic photographer.

And so, I just took a picture of the woodpile.

Now look at this woodpile and try to imagine Timone grooving like he has no worries for the rest of his days, his tiny feet frisking from side to side, his wide eyes shining with delight.

Can you see it?

Isn’t it amazing?

Who would have thought: a desert mongoose in the mountains. In Idaho.

Of course experiences like this demand the consideration that I'm crazy or need glasses, and that maybe all I saw was a slender squirrel with a shaved tail. But my mom thought it looked like Timone too, and she has great intuition and vision.

So I'm not crazy, and I don't need glasses.

Hakuna Matata.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Things

It’s true what they say: good things come in small passages. But some of the best things come in lists.

Lists are a daily compass, and a portable filing cabinet. They make me feel productive and they may even make me more productive. They are a convenient way to compile random-yet-interesting sound bites, and they are an excuse to use scratch and sniff markers. Lists make me believe I am organized, which is a peace-giving delusion that I prefer to continue perpetuating.

If you were to search my purse (a risky operation) you’d find three cough drops, a bobby pin, a golf ball (doctor’s orders), my wallet and phone, some "recycled" Kleenex (I’m pride myself on being green), chapstick and approximately 11 lists.

I love lists. I love reading ‘em, and I love making ‘em.

And so, I give you “Thursday Things”—a weekly list to celebrate the day before Friday, and to ease my mind into weekendium, which is a word I just made up to represent the slowing brain synapses and ensuing static that typify my Saturdays and Sundays.

The list:
  1. Why are men unable to stay on the same TV channel for more than three seconds at a time? I feel dizzy.
  2. I wish the sun coaxed freckles onto my face. Anne Shirley would be incredulous.
  3. I recently discovered that pumping your arms really high when you go walking is a great motivational technique. Your incessantly waggling triceps will make you want to just. keep. going.
  4. “Waggling” = wagging + jiggling. What can I say; I've got end-of-the-week word quota. Thursdays bring out the sniglets in me.
  5. Dave Barry will be speaking at the local library here in Sun Valley next week. Go read his stuff if you haven’t already. I made the mistake of reading his colonoscopy piece back when I taught third grade, while my students worked in rare, silent independence. Sometime between my uncontrolled wheezing and tears of joy my students’ writing mojo was disrupted. That darn Dave Barry.
  6. The more I write the more confusing punctuation becomes to me. I am hoping this is something akin to learning a lot and then realizing how little you know. Which is a good thing. Right?
  7. Because of my health problems this year I’ve had to implement some rather unfortunate diet restrictions. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle another dessert of raisins and spoonfuls of honey, my mom made the most glorious gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free muffins. I’ve eaten one for every meal and snack today. Amen.
Enjoy your Friday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

Today my dad and I went on a bike ride near the vacation home we’re staying at in Sun Valley, Idaho. We pedaled hard and breathed deep delight as the sun warmed our backs and the wind pushed us toward the stately mountains standing guard on the western horizon.

Slowing our pace to enjoy the murmuring applause of nearby quaking aspen, we were suddenly enveloped in a troop of dancing dandelion seeds, gliding and swirling like little parasols caught up in the gusting wind.

I smiled big and remembered my little girl self sitting at the family’s new fangled computer, writing story #46 about a girl who was turned into a dandelion seed by a benevolent wizard, blown off to fairyland, returned to her human state upon reaching a candy-flavored apply tree (the blue cotton candy flavored apples were totally the best), and thrust into an adventure that began in a fairy lodge made entirely of cherry blossoms.

This story, “The Babbling Blossom Tree,” was the last I fictional story I ever wrote. Adolescence came soon after, sending hormones coursing through my changing body and making me painfully self-aware.

Aware that there were other writers out there who penned much better stories than I.

Aware that any story I wrote for public enjoyment would be criticized and maybe even mocked.

Aware that trying my hand at anything meant experiencing inevitable, embarrassing failure.

I wish an awareness of the awarenesses that made me stop writing stories were enough to coax stories out of my fingers again. But it’s not.

And I realize that the things I did as a child when I was unaware of people’s expectations, untainted by insecurity, and unburdened by failure, those things made me feel fully alive.

Because those were the things God wired me to do.

 Those were the things he knew would pump life through my soul; the things he knew would give him great glory—not because I shouted praise each time I did them, but because he is glorified when we bust out of our self-made cocoons of mediocrity and monotony the way he busted out of the grave.

Because he is the Redeemer God and he made us to really live, the way Adam and Eve lived in Eden before they became self-aware and ashamed.

I’ve been looking back on the things I did as a kid—the pastimes that didn’t make it into adulthood with me—and thinking maybe I should try my hand at them again, see if they seep new life into my soul. Not driven by an awareness of my awarenesses, but by the realization that to live in Christ is to live better, fuller, richer.

As a kid I used to sneak away from the din of the cul-de-sac kids just before sunset and climb to the top of the neighbor’s tree. I’d sit alone on my little stump seat, my hazel eyes wide, my soul hungry, and I’d watch the sun shoot sherbet flames beyond the horizon’s darkening evergreen fringe.

I've forgotten to seek this kind of beauty daily.

This will be my starting place,

in re-learning to really live;

To recover Eden,

like a child.

Bring on the sunset.
© by scj

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pump Those Brakes, Baby: Part 2

I give you: Part 2
(Previously entitled "Pump Those Breaks"--yet another sign it's time to slow down. And work on spelling.)

5. Some of us have the thousand-white-rabbits-running-wildly-and-reproducing-rapidly-in-our-heads syndrome that kicks in without fail when we crawl into bed each night. When this happens we are overwhelmed by our rabbit-like thoughts and often spend hours chasing them, trying to corral them into some sort of cage before we can peacefully fall asleep.

Enter: journaling. Your journal is your rabbit cage. It corrals and preserves your unruly thoughts, helping you to process them now, and making them available to process further at a later time. I've found that it's helpful to journal at least an hour before bedtime each night so that your mind is cleared from the day's events and burdens sufficiently in advance.

If your rabbit-thoughts come in the form of thinking through (and worrying about) the next day's events, start a to-do list around dinner and add to it throughout the evening. I've heard these planners work wonders as we try to spill our messy thoughts onto a sheet of paper.

6. Go on a 20-30-minute walk each day. Walking is another sure-fire endorphin releaser. So strap on your walking shoes and go tackle that massive hill down street. Better yet, play the "Ha-ha-ha" while walking up the hill. Your body will be relaxed and invigorated, soaring in a sea of endorphins.

I've been battling a number of health problems this year that leave me absolutely exhausted each day, and my daily brisk walks are the only thing that make me feel temporarily rested.

I've also been doing some research lately on the role of walking in health, and have discovered that it can prevent chronic fatigue, in addition to heart disease. A rested body is a healthy body.

7. Take time at night to lie down, close your eyes, and listen to this song.

8. Ease the day's tension out of your body with a 15-minute stretch. If your muscles are beyond the help of normal stretching, get a foam roller. When in use these things are borderline torture weapons, but they work better than a deep tissue massage.

A tip: the black rollers are the firmest, so they loosen you up the best and hurt the worst. Trust me, it’s worth the pain.

When you're done stretching, take a soak in Epson salts. The magnesium in the salts will help your muscles relax (A fun fact: calcium makes them contract).

9. Finally, “forget not his benefits” (Psalm 103—Go read it). Our bodies can only be as rested as our souls. If you’re like me, your schedule is often packed to the max because you’re striving to get. things. done. And if you’re like me, it’s natural to blaze through your day meditating on the difficult, discouraging, or potentially disastrous things in your life. Neither of these patterns gives rest to our souls. And no amount of practical activities can undo the frenzied toll they take on our souls.

True rest is only found in Jesus. Our souls can spread out and rest because he is good. That’s it.That’s the secret to a rested soul, and eventually a rested body. Truly believing and meditating on God’s goodness.

Of course rest is a choice—we can’t maintain our crazy lifestyles and expect to evade the consequences. So we sometimes say “no” to create margin; we reorder our cram-packed days to allow for stillness; we take care of our bodies; we divert ourselves daily; we take a weekly Sabbath and an annual vacation.

But first we remember the good things God has done. We record them by journaling, writing, and composing so we can regularly look back on God’s history of faithful, good provision. Then we meditate on them instead of our worries, burdens, and the unknown future.

This meditation almost always turns into praise.
We praise God for being good, powerful, with us and in us.
We praise him for his sovereignty that swallows up our frantic striving.
And this praise is the consummation of our rest.

Pump Those Brakes, Baby: Part 1

The other day I signed my replacement credit card on the silver strip you slide through the little card machine at the grocery store. Somehow I didn't see the gleaming white strip two centimeters below that said "SIGN HERE."

This hardly phased me. You see, it was nothin' compared to the time my key to my apartment didn't work and I stood banging on my apartment door for four minutes, juggling eight bags of groceries and yelling for my roommates to come answer the door, before realizing it wasn't my apartment.

And it was nothing compared to the time I tried to break into my car because, well, my key wasn't working, only to realize that, yep, you guessed it: it wasn't my car.

Or the time I finally bought a car with a clicker, got into my car after an appointment and wondered why it reeked of cigarette smoke, before realizing it wasn't my car. Creepy. For the owner who may or may not have been watching the whole thing, that is.

Or the time I got in the shower with my clothes still on, or asked the car wash guy for an unscented air freshener, or locked my keys in the car twice in three days.

Yes, the credit card incident was mild. But it was yet another yellow flag waved high in the air, cautioning me to slow down, alerting me of my desperate need for rest.

For years I blazed past these yellow flags, pedal to the medal in this life I'd made into a race. Not surprisingly my trusty racecar began to wear out. Its hubcaps fell off, its spark plugs misfired, its gas sensor went screwy, its batteries ran down, and its engine started to stumble. But let me tell you, its brakes were still in great shape. And so I decided to start using them.

Here are a few ways I've recently learned to apply the brakes:

1. Remember the Ha-ha-ha game? The one where you and your friends would lie in a circle, your heads on each others' stomachs, and take turns fake laughing? The game where real raucous laughter would always eventually ensue, sending endorphins shooting through your body?

Well, your tired body needs those game-induced endorphins. Majorly. So play the laughing game with your kids or your friends. Or yourself. If you're playing with yourself all you have to do is fake laugh for 60 seconds straight. Feel free to experiment with different laughs. If you’re alone you can do this in a vertical position. No need to lie down.
I sometimes do this when I'm feeling especially stressed, and always when I'm alone. I end up laughing for real. And blushing. And looking cautiously over my shoulder.

I heard from someone who heard from someone else who heard from their doctor that fake laughing is actually an effective way to lower anxiety levels and prevent panic attacks because it really gets the endorphins flowing. So do this. Doctor's orders.

2. Try to sit down 2-5 times each day for 2-5 minutes. This is SO DOABLE and amazingly rejuvenating for body and soul. The key, according to my clinical nutritionist, is to sit and not do anything. No reading. No Facebook. No nothin'. Just you in a chair, leaning back, your legs up and your body limp like linguine.

3. Eat like this.

4. Bribe your kids/siblings/students to give you a back massage at least once a week. Then drink lots of water. People who are touched often stay healthier. I just made that up, but it's got to be true.

If your bribing skills aren't great, a simple hug should help you chill out.

I've been brake happy these I've got more! Come back for a 100% guaranteed, sure-fire rest-giver in part 2.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I've been thinking about tradition lately. This means that at random intervals throughout the day I throw my arms in the air, begin shaking them, swagger forward and burst out singing "Dai dai dai dai, Dai dai dai dai...Tradishun! Tradishun!"

This is the kind of thing that made me a hit in third grade classrooms.

This is the kind of thing that makes my college students very, very uncomfortable.

I've always been a big fan of tradition. When I was a little girl I convinced my younger sister to participate in a yearly Christmas tradition: at least once every childhood Christmas we waited until everyone had fallen asleep, put on our fluffy white slips, and crept out to the Christmas tree where we danced and twirled in the colorful glow of twinkle lights. It was lovely, and I wish we still did it.

My favorite childhood tradition, though, was going out to breakfast with my dad for my birthday. I’d go to bed with excited butterflies in my stomach the night before (no surprise there) and dream about the imminent excursion. I loved this tradition so much that my college roommates and I continued it. Whenever someone's birthday rolled around we'd roll out of bed at an ungodly hour and drive to our local pancake house, where we'd groggily celebrate the years God gave us by stuffing down colossal stacks of chocolate chip pancakes lathered in whipped cream.

Sometimes I like to play the "What is your favorite childhood memory" game with new friends. Invariably, family traditions are right up there with digging a swimming pool in mom's garden and making perfume for her with the neighbors' roses. I think this is because there is something in us that reaches for tradition and wants to weave its colorful textured threads into our living tapestries. Maybe this is because Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof is right: Maybe, with the right kind of traditions, "everyone of us knows who he is."
Of course our starting place for knowing ourselves is knowing God, but I think Tevye is onto something. Here’s why:

Traditions can orient us in God's story, reminding us that we're part of something bigger than ourselves.

As a kid my mom did a unit on Jewish celebrations with me and my siblings (we were home schooled. That may explain a lot about me). We learned about the Passover, during which Messianic Jews remember God's faithfulness to spare the Jews from death before freeing them from slavery, and then look forward from the Exodus to the Cross where Jesus frees us from the bondage of sin. We built a sukkot or booth when we learned about the Festival of Booths that reminds Jews of the years they spent in the dessert, headed toward the land God promised them. We also read about Purim, the festival of lots, during which Jews remember the way God saved them from annihilation as recorded in the book of Esther.
These and other Jewish holidays are structured opportunities built into yearly living that help participants shift their gaze from the stress and uncertainty of daily living to the faithfulness of God. They help to center the hearts of humble celebrants on the sovereignty and provision of God throughout his salvation story that spans the centuries, a story we have become a part of. They are reminders that the same God who fought for them thousands of years ago fights for them today.

The older I get, the more I realize I need this kind of reminding. Because, like the Israelites who grumbled while wandering in the desert after God freed them from Egypt, I am quick to forget God's nearness, power, and faithfulness.

Church and family traditions are also an expression of solidarity, reminding Christ-following participants that they aren’t sojourning through this salvation story alone.

The church I grew up in holds a candlelight service every Christmas Eve. My favorite part of this service is during the last Christmas carol of the evening, when everyone’s candle is lit. As voices fill the once silent sanctuary I find myself wishing I could creep up onto the stage and watch everyone as they remember that silent, holy night so many years ago that changed the course of history.

Instead, I crane my neck, taking in as much of the room as I can from my position. Light dances off the walls and faces, a reminder that we’re a city on a hill, a lamp on a stand, a light that cannot be hidden. And I’m struck by the reality that every believer in the room is part of a Body that spans the globe; a Body that celebrates Christ’s birth in unity because of the cross; a Body that’s been carrying its cross for thousands of years and that grows in grace as the centuries unfold.

I know that when the final song ends and the last candle is snuffed we will disperse, returning to our responsibilities, our hardships, our victories, our pain. But we are all filled with the Life that is the Light of men, reminded afresh that we do not bear our crosses alone.

Finally, what we do with our bodies affects our souls. Traditions and customs can put our bodies in positions that open our souls to growth and change.

This is amazing to me. I’ve heard the whole “what you do with your body affects your soul” talk during many a youth group “sex talk,” but I didn’t really get it until I ran collegiate track.

Day after day in college I ran to the point of blacking out, vomiting, and seizing up with excruciating pain. There came a point during each practice when all I wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position under the bleachers, but I kept moving, pushing my feet into the track, fixing my eyes on the finish line, centering my mind on the upcoming competition.
In that physical pressing and striving something happened to my soul: it began to understand victory over pain and yearned more deeply for heaven. My sturdy body housed a steadily sturdier soul.

I think something similar happens with traditions and customs.

When we kneel to pray we feel the posture that our heart should take, and our hearts may understand humility in a new way. When we fast we know the feeling of sacrifice that results in gain and emptiness that leads to fullness, and our understanding of Christian paradox deepens. When we lay hands on fellow believers to pray we feel what it’s like to support and rally around fellow Christians, to be united as a Church, and our paradigm for living in a Body shifts.

Mysteriously, the seen shapes the unseen, so that one day we can clearly see the fruit of spiritual formation through tradition.

I've focused a bit on Jewish traditions in this blog because I think I can learn from them. In fact, as my soul craves a more textured tapestry of tradition I'm realizing I can learn from other denominations that participate in spiritually forming traditions that are unfamiliar to me.

So I'm curious: what traditions make up your family and church tapestry? I'd love to hear about them as I embark on my summer quest to discover new TRADISHUNS! In the meantime, I'm going to go watch Fiddler on the Roof.

Dai dai dai dai....

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

This photo must never be forgotten. I hereby commit to displaying it annually, thereby keeping its memory alive.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fine Friends

Today I'm wishing I counted these three among my finest friends.

I think they would make kindred spirits:

"When I was in my cradle, a wood woman, a Dryad, spoke this verse over me: 'Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet, Doubt not, Reepicheep, To find all you seek, There is the utter East.' I do not know what it means. But the spell of it has been on me all my life."
-Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis


"Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends [Mole and Rat] landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river."

"Then a change began slowly to declare itself. The horizon became clearer, field and tree came more into sight, and somehow with a different look; the mystery began to drop away from them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up suddenly and listened with a passionate intentness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just keeping the boat moving while he scanned the banks with care, looked at him with curiosity."

"`It's gone!' sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. `So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!' he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound."
-Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Anne with an 'e'

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
-Anne from Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Wouldn't it be lovely if we met our favorite "book friends" in heaven?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Expansive Skies

I just got back from a glorious walk near my folks' house in Washington state.

Every time I come home I'm in awe of the expansive skies. I spend so much time in Los Angeles hemmed in by buildings and the thick ribbon of smog painted across the horizons that a stroll under the sweeping Washington sky makes my soul feel free to spread out and rest.

Down in L.A. the people aren't the only ones fenced in by the layers of smog: the east and west are too. I can always see them lodged on the sticky horizon just a few miles off, struggling to break free from the dirty sky, maybe see how far they can stretch before they meet in the middle.

Today I couldn't stop looking east, and then west, and then east again.

In the Pacific Northwest the east and west just keep going. I can see them stretching beyond the farthest horizon for a bit, and then I can't see them anymore.

Do you see the dip in the trees toward the center of the photo just to the left of the white house? That's where the east scurries out of view.

Now look at the horizon, just a couple of inches below the street light. Can you see the dark far-off hill behind the trees? That's where the west soars out of sight.

My horizon gazing today has helped me to understand a little bit better what the Psalmist meant when he said "[God] has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west."

Up here, that's really, really far.

Now, if I could only get my heart to fully believe this bit of grace I think I might live a bit more like these "daisies" of the field, resting instead of striving with my head tilted toward the sun, leaning easily in whatever breeze dances by.