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Inspiration: Whichever way

“Whichever way we turn,

O God, there is your face

in the light of the moon

and patterns of stars

in scarred mountain rifts

and ancient groves

in mighty seas and creatures

of the deep.

Whichever way we turn,

O God, there is your face

in the light of eyes we love

in the salt of tears we have tasted

in weathered countenance

east and west

in the soft skin glow of

the child everywhere.

Whichever way we turn, O God,

there is your face

there is your face among us.”

~John Philip Newell

Whichever way we turn… God is there. These words of John Philip Newell found their way to me this morning. I have to admit to a sleepless night. Waking up as I did in the wee hours, I stared at the ceiling, my mind full of people I know and love who are wrestling with the things of life. Illness. Transitions. Loss. New birth. Job struggles. Dreams deferred. All this and more is spinning among those I know, is spinning I. The course of the world. This living is fragile business and, so often, our delusion that we are in control of any of it keeps us in a place where we are visited by the surprise that we are not. It seems a lesson we need to learn over and over again.

So, to read Newell’s words this morning was a welcome reminder and a blessing. Whichever way we turn... there is some manifestation of the movement of God. For many people spring is the season to see this presence more than any other. Buds pushing through rich earth. New life all around waiting to come into its fullness. Rains that wash all the residue of winter from an accumulated landscape of frozenness.

As we sit full bodied in this season of autumn, I am as equally aware of this sacred presence in all that is changing around me, all that is letting go of that same new life that was birthed in spring. Watching leaves turn color and fall to the ground, I always come face to face with this Creator. Embracing the receding light and preparing myself for the darkness that will hold the days, I know once again this One who breathes in both the showy light and the often fearful dark.

Yesterday, I waited for the news of one who was making its own place in time, reminding the mother birthing her and the father who waited and worked alongside, that each child that is born comes into the world in their own way, their own time, full of their unique gifts to offer. A community was breathing with them. Whichever way we turn... there is the Holy.

Nestled in this waiting, I spent time with one of our dear ones who is struggling with an illness that snuck up and took hold. The speed of it took everyone by surprise. The fragility of life took up residence in all who have begun to stand watch. Prayers were begun and have continued and will be both whispered and shouted in the next days and hours. Physicians and nurses, those with specialized training were called in like an army headed to battle. Whichever way we turn…

In the light and darkness of changing seasons… in the color brilliant and fading… in the glow of new birth and its promise… in the tears and fears of illness and what it brings… “Whichever way we turn, O God, there is your face among us.”

May we remember and give thanks.