Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Woodpeckers and Winter Wallowing

Dear friends,

The woodpeckers were mad for the suet today.  David and I broke out the binoculars and spied on a male and female downy, and another species we couldn’t quite figure out from the bird book.  Preparing for the storm tomorrow, these avian wonders were determined to fill up on fat hardened from the grease of a long ago pan of hamburger. There was some chicken grease in there too, most likely, but we won’t tell them about that…cannibalism, you know…

I had to start practicing some ancient disciplines to keep from becoming depressed and joyless during the external and internal winter I am experiencing.  How easily I get stuck under circumstances.  I think it’s pretty common, (or maybe I’m the only Christian hacking my way through that dense forest), but there is a different way to live.  It’s going to take effort, though, because our natural man tends to live by what we perceive.  The Book points to another way to operate: “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  There are some practical things that help me to get out from under the cold, wet blanket of introspection.  When I actually do them.  They really are as old as the hills:

Read God’s word actively (my literary daughter taught me this “active reading” thing).  Pick a passage and go through it, underlining anything that even remotely has meaning to you.  Or, read it out loud, and then say what you read in your own words.  Is there a theme? A motif? (Reading through the Psalms since December, I have been underlining every time I see the word refuge.  It’s a lot). 

Make the thing bothering you the subject of your prayer.  Get it off your chest.  Then leave it alone, and move on to someone else’s trouble. 

Sing part of an old hymn all day long.  Today I had “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on the brain.

Eat soup.  (Well, that’s just me – it always makes me feel comforted).  Try the Progresso Vegetable Italiano.  Only 200 calories in the whole can.  I add half a can of water and a couple shots of Tabasco.  Of course, if you have homemade, all the better.

On that same note, some of my most miserable times in the winter have been a result of poor eating.  If you’re cold, the cure isn’t food. (Food, I must remind myself, is the remedy for hunger). To beat being chilly, get under a warm blanket or into a hot bath.  If you have time to eat, you have 15 minutes to snuggle in the covers with a good book till you warm up. 

Rejoice in something, for crying out loud!  There’s got to be one thing to be happy about.  I’m sure there are many more than one, but when you’re blue it’s hard to find them.  So just dig up one blessing and rejoice in the goodness of God.  For me today it was looking at woodpeckers with my baby boy.  Outstanding!  Praise God for those awe inspiring birdies. 

Move your body.  We are triune beings.  Our spirits are impacted by what we think about AND how we treat the temporary tent we’re occupying.  This machine was made to move!  If Smitty can get up at 5:30am and go to the gym, I can dance in front of the weather channel (a favorite TV choice for me and my sweet niece Nicole Belle).  Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, the huffing and puffing will do you’re a world of good.  Better yet, go outside and shovel a little.  Just a little.  If you look at the big snow picture, you’re libel to get all discouraged.  Take your life in small chunks.  A little shoveling.  A little reading.  A little snuggling under covers.  A little singing.  Go in the right direction on your pilgrim road, even if you can only go a little at a time.  And remember, the Great One is full of joy to share all day long.  How I love preaching to myself!!

This is not to say there isn’t a time to feel sad.  Sadness is part of the full range of human emotion.  But when we’re under a constant shadow, we lose our way.  The pilgrim road becomes gloom and doom.  And it wasn’t ever meant to be that.  Challenging, yes.  Difficult, yes.  But peppered with plenty of delight.  Some folks may even need medicine to help them over the top.  No matter.  God promises that “goodness and mercy” will follow His own “all the days of their life.”  Let’s see beyond our present pain to the glory of life with God.  Help me Jesus, to pursue this as vigorously as the dear downeys go after the suet.

I love you folks. 

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


PS  A special thanks to Mel and Phyllis for their “good things about winter” messages.  Both of you reflect light and hope like nobody’s business.  I’m not surprised you find the jewel buried in the snow!

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