I am on retreat at a friend’s cabin on one of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, a lake that is about 2 by 3 miles in size. It’s a small cabin, built 125 years ago, and has a screened in porch that overlooks the lake. The porch is one of my favorite places to be, sitting on the rocking chair, watching the light change and dance on the water, the leaves blow in the breeze, hearing the birds chirping and the loons calling. It is an easy place to just be, surrounded by God’s presence in the most elemental way.
From here each evening we would watch the light fade across the lake, the trees drain of color, and the water slowly disappearing into the night. But one evening we decided to take a sunset ride out on the water. We loaded onto the pontoon boat and set off from the dock, enjoying the coolness of the evening. I was looking forward on the boat, facing the same direction as the view from the cabin, ESE, when I heard an exclamation from my boat mates. “Wow!” I turned to see what they were looking at and behind me was a breathtaking sunset beginning to happen. While the sky ahead of me was pretty with pale blues and greys, the sky behind me was filled with yellow and orange and purple splendor, scattered across the clouds. It was so beautiful, ever changing with deepening colors and sunset awe. We prayed from the boat that evening, filled with the glory of creation surrounding us as we rocked gently on the waves.
As I reflected on this I wondered how much I miss out on. Sometimes I feel like I am so focused on the direction I am headed in that I miss the beauty that is all around me… changing and sometimes even more dazzling that where I am heading. At other times I am stuck on the shore, not knowing that if I just get on the boat and push off I will see a whole different point of view. And still other times I resist looking behind me, missing out on the beauty available in what has come before. It reminded me how much I need to turn and step out in courage and look at many possibilities and directions and options to take in all the beauty and goodness surrounding me.
It reminds me of some lines from the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness….
And for all this nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.
May we soak in the grandeur of God, turning to see it in full glory, and then turn in our lives to see the full glory in them too.