Beautiful Messiness

I hear a story about a company that allows you to rent a grandma.
I am intrigued and turn up the volume to learn more. I learn that you can rent a grandma of your own ethnicity who can teach you about your roots. She will teach you your traditions and will teach you how to cook your ethnic foods.
Gram and A cooking
As I smile to myself and think about the silliness of the idea of renting a grandma to try to fill a space that can only be truly filled by someone who has known you from birth, who knows your good and your bad and yet loves you anyway, my mind drifts off to what I might wish to pay someone to accomplish for me.
Cleaning my home. Birthdays. Decorating my home. Planning a vacation.
The more I dream about not having to do any of those things anymore, however, the more it occurs to me that perhaps hiring someone to plan a birthday party or to clean my house is not really all that different from paying someone to be a grandma.
Both are about avoiding a process that might be a bit messy and difficult, as well as trying to achieve a result that will be more perfect than what I am able to accomplish on my own.
Yet if I search my own memories of childhood, or if I ask my own kids what they love and remember most, it is that very same messy process and not-so-perfect ending that bring the most smiles and laughter. Perhaps, if I truly want a beautiful party or an inviting home, the only way to really get that is for my family to journey through the process together.
Later, as I watch my girls with their finger paints, I can’t help but wonder if these ideas in my head about process and journey are perhaps true for more than just the activities in my life.
Perhaps they are true for life itself.
When faced with the ugliness that can be found in this life, in this world, I often echo John’s words: E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.
I wonder why there has been so much delay between our salvation and our redemption.
4.13.09 016
I sit at the piano and play through a bit of Bach.
As I play, the music reminds me that time is good. That delay can bring out beauty. That tension makes the release infinitely more beautiful than could be had otherwise.
Music challenges the belief that the longer something takes, the worse it will be…Music, in a very concentrated way, tells us that something can take time AND be good. Music takes time to be what it is, and as such can be glorious. It can remind us that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Jeremy Begbie in Resounding Truth
I need this reminder.
I want to look for the purpose in this time we have here. I want to see the beauty in the way God created our world to need time in order to become as He intends.
I want to enjoy God’s glorious ending (beginning?) when God will make his dwelling among us, when there will be no more tears, when we will forever enjoy the beauty of the new heaven and new earth.
Listen and revel in the way the music takes us through the delay, the messiness, and the tension of time on into a glorious ending.
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For the Beauty

I have written a lot about the ugly things of life, about death and about obeying when you can’t make sense of what you see.

I have been reminded recently of how beautiful this life can also be.

Will you feast with me? Replenish your soul with beauty.

Let God remind you of His goodness, then walk away more able to see the beauty all around you.


(perhaps let this play while you soak in the rest of this beauty? And if you are viewing this via email/in a reader, click here to view this video)

new life

steadfast love
harvest bounty
I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics–each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother–or of the young wife at work–or of the girl sewing or washing, each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day–at night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow.
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

the gospel
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
For any positive integer n, 1+2+3+…+n = n(n+1)/2.
Obviously, 1(1+1)/2 = 1.
Suppose the result holds for all positive integers k
Then 1+2+3+…+(n-1)+n = (n-1)n/2 + n =(n^2 – n +2n)/2 = n(n+1)/2.
By induction, the result holds for all positive integers.



…she broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head…”Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.” ~ Mark 14
There was an old Navaho prayer song that said:
Beauty before me, I return. Beauty above me, I return.
Beauty below me, I return. Beauty all around me, with it I return.

It was a song of the Southwest, where the aspens are full of gold now and the scrub oak makes the foothills rich with wine; but we of the Northeastern woodlands should know such a song, when Autumn comes down from the treetops. Beauty, the fragile but abundant beauty of the turning leaves, is before us, above us, below us and all around us.

The birch leaves drift down at midday, a sunny shower. The sugar maples are pure gold when dawn light strikes through them; and beneath them the rustling gold leaf begins to cover the grass. The swamp maples are cherry red, and knee-deep in their own color. The poplars stand naked in pools of tarnished gold, their leaves shed. The beeches are rustling with gilt Hakes, to which they will cling for weeks to come. The oaks are leather-clad, russet and oxblood and purple and ruddy brown, brown as acorns, crisp as parchment.
One walks in Autumn, now, beauty above, below and all around. 

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.  ~ Psalm 27

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies…

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled…

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven…

Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

art credits: Abbey of Batalha by Carlos Paes; The Starry Night by Van Gogh; Pieta by Michelangelo; last three photos by Kirk Sewell