outdoors, spiritual life

Sea change

“Don’t let the rain drive you to the wrong shelter … sometimes the rain is the perfect protector from the rain.” Michael Bassey Johnson, Nigerian writer

In our part of the planet, people are watching the sea — or at least the sea as seen on The Weather Channel. Hurricane Florence is looming off America’s Southeast shore, a menacing threat to not only beloved coastal communities but places far inland, where already-saturated soils and heavy rains can turn lethal.

A conveyor belt of hurricanes and other rain makers is the new reality for a large part of America, including our home city. There are titans. Harvey. Irma. Maria. But, even wee Gordon soaked us to the bone in recent days. It’s true. What was left of the garden is now so bedraggled it will be cut back to over-winter height this weekend. I’m not sure the porch furnishings will ever dry out.

We are soggy. We will likely get soggier. Yet, God is still God.

He is the God who made butterflies and river otters. Yet, He is also the God who made great beasties with razor teeth and fierce claws. He is the God who made breezes that whisper pine-tinged secrets. Yet, He is the God who can lay whole forests flat.

In America, we prefer the God of butterflies and breezes. We largely pretend the God of grizzly bears and howling wind does not exist. Or that, if He does, it only takes louder, longer prayer to convince Him to abandon any path that would bring loss or even discomfort to our lives.

It is true there are many promises of God’s care for His people in the Bible. There are stories of miraculous deliverance — from wicked kings, from lions, from death itself. But, there is also acknowledgement after acknowledgement and vignette after vignette that suggest God is not as focused on our short-term comfort as we would like to believe. He is, rather, the ultimate man with a plan — watchful of believers, yet relentless in His pursuit of outcomes that have been in the works, well, forever.

Forever. We need to remember that when sea change overtakes us, even if it literally overflows us. As we are where we are geographically — in the track of endless rain in our particular case — we also are where we are in time, both as believers in particular and as humanity collectively.

We must keep in mind that God is God whether the leaves flutter or the sea roars. God is God whether His path leads to deliverance or the destruction of something we hold dear. God is God. And, God will never change. He is a shelter, an anchor, a solid rock. No short-term outcome can change that forever fact.

community, outdoors

My last straw?

“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.” Jimmy Carter, Christian, American president

Things started innocently enough. I did an interview with the teacher of an elementary school class that was asking local restaurant owners to call it quits on plastic straws — à la Starbucks. By the time the story was done, there were impassioned pleas from fifth graders, photos of a sea tortoise with a straw stuck up his nose and a casual-but-sudden decision on my part to stop using what a Southern cousin refers to as “sissy sticks.”

That’s right, I’m sipping like a big girl. Sort of.

Going strawless has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. First, this is Appalachia, not L.A. or even Seattle. Servers — just like cashiers confronted with a mound of canvas bags at the front of my grocery order — are generally confused. Some of them actually throw the refused straw in the garbage for some reason, making me wince. Those poor, poor turtles.

Some of the servers clearly wonder if I have, well, difficulties. It’s almost as if I have said, “Oh, don’t worry. I don’t need a fork. I’ll just eat my lunch right off the plate.” You laugh, but I can see that very thought in their eyes. It’s there, trust me.

There’s also the problem with ice. School being back in session and a sense of calm having fallen over the house, my mother and I did a massive refill-the-larders run this morning. We deserved that Mexican lunch. We really did. But, the ice nearly did me in. Without a straw, any iced beverage is liable to turn into an avalanche, spraying my face and shirt. And, it did.

Maybe I can’t sip like a big girl.

But, problems aside, I’m doing my best to stick to this last-straw thing. I’ve even checked with my favorite coffee place to make sure I can get iced coffee in one of their refillable travel mugs. It has a sippy spout, so I can see this actually working out. For me and for the turtles.