Of Kindling and Light

Of Kindling and Light

Home from work
to a house cold and dark
I create a companion
of left-over embers, paper,
kindling, and cedar logs
My friend breathes
and moves and grows –
a living being of warmth
It fills my home with light
and comfort.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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The Sunflower That Wouldn’t Give Up

So a couple months ago I noticed an interesting development in the little flower box I have on my deck…

sunflower in box

I knew I couldn’t transplant her without hurting her, so I kept her watered and awaited further developments.

And she grew. And grew. and grew.
sunflower in box

And today she shone her intrepid golden glory out on a world of smoke, and filled it with her plucky joy…

Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love, but human belief misinterprets nature. Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

“…after the fire a still small voice.”

“…I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good… It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence… It wasn’t cleverness or courage or any kind of competence or savvy that saved us, it was nothing more than love, our love for each other, for our families, for the lives we wanted so desperately to live.”
– Nando Parrado, Miracle in the Andes

sun through the fog in Bellingham

photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

It would be an understatement to say that we seem to be having a dry spell here in Washington State. I cannot remember the last real rain we had here. I really miss the rain – I miss the sloshy sound of cars rolling along soggy, sopping roads and the feel of rain on my face and the smell of wet earth and asphalt and green growing things.

The drought has brought some real challenges to my state – the biggest one being the wildfires that are roaring through our forests. The fire in the Okanagan is the biggest fire ever recorded here – having consumed more than 256,000 acres – or what would be about a fifth of Delaware (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/24/washington-wildfires-okanogan-complex).

I’ve sometimes heard people refer to disasters – like the forest fires we’re experiencing – as the “wrath of God” – as punishment sent down by God for our sins. But the concept of a god that would punish her children – made, according to the Bible, in her “image and likeness” – is not a concept of “God” that ever made sense to me. I mean, why would a god punish its own creation for being what she made it to be? I really like what Mary Baker Eddy says about this in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing. Good is not, cannot be, the author of experimental sins.”

No, for me, God is Love, as John says in I John 4: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” And we see this love expressed in neighbors reaching out to help each other during catastrophes, and in the courage of firefighters and rescuers putting their own lives on the line to save the lives and property of others.

In I Kings we read: “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

That “still small voice” – that quiet comforting presence – THAT, for me, is God. My God isn’t responsible for earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. My God is found in the love and courage that overcomes the fear and destruction. My God isn’t found in destructive material forces, but in the things of the “spirit” – in “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” and “against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) There is no law, no material force, that can over-power love and steal it from us. Love goes on. Love heals. Love brings us comfort and solace. Even after the physical forms of the ones we love are gone, the love we have one for another continues on. Not earthquake, wind, or fire can destroy the presence and power of Love – of what I call “God.”

My God is the still small voice – that quiet presence that guides, rescues, and protects us. And I don’t think this presence and power is just for a select number of us – I believe all of creation has access to this power. As Eddy writes: “In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as ‘a very present help in trouble.’ Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.”

At the beginning of this post I presented a quote from Nando Parrado – one of the survivors of the plane crash in the Andes in 1972. Parrado’s description of “God” is the closest I’ve ever found to my own concept of God. Parrado writes: “I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence.” Right on! And I’m thinking that “awesome presence” is the “still small voice” – that quiet reassurance – that overcomes fear and hopelessness and discouragement in the face of disaster, and leads us to safety.

“Peace, be still…”

“And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice…” – I Kings 19

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4

***

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods – I’ve sometimes heard people attribute these destructive events to God – using them as examples of “God’s wrath” towards his children.  And when I hear people doing this it becomes apparent that they and I do not share the same concept of “God.”

The God I worship is the God defined as “Love” in I John 4. There is no wrath in my God. There is no anger, envy, or rage. The God I worship loves Her creation, and recognizes Her creation as good and lovable.

The God I worship is all-good – another name for Truth, Life, Mind, Principle, Soul, Spirit, Love.  Just as light doesn’t create darkness, Truth doesn’t create error. Life doesn’t  create death. Mind doesn’t create ignorance. Principle doesn’t create chaos. Soul doesn’t create ugliness and disharmony. Spirit isn’t responsible for matter.  Love is not to blame for hate. And God doesn’t cause hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or fires.

And as darkness disappears when the light touches it, so error disappears when Truth is revealed. Ignorance is destroyed by the intelligence and understanding of Mind. Hate  is destroyed by Love. And evil is destroyed by the presence and power of  Good – by the “still, small voice” of God.

I know that God is guiding, guarding, and caring for her Creation – that each and every one of her children is safe, enveloped in Love’s protective power, never separated for a moment from the power and presence of Good.

Everlasting arms of Love

Are beneath, around, above;

God it is who bears us on, 

HIs the arm we lean upon.

From earth’s fears and vain alarms

Safe in His encircling arms,

He will keep us all the way,

God, our refuge, strength, and stay.

— John R. MacDuff