Aug 18 2013

“Singing Skies and Dancing Waters”

_CES0180While being driven around the North Cascades last week my traveling companion, Michael Boone, played for me some of his favorite music.  At one point he played an old John Denver song I don’t remember hearing before.  I immediately fell in love with it.  I liked the melody a lot but it was the words that really affected me.  By all appearances the song seems to be written with God in mind and how Denver at one point in his life came to experience God in singing skies and dancing waters, laughing children growing old, and in the heart and in the spirit, and in the truth when it is told.”

_CES0352In the middle of the song he seems to allude to a time when he did not feel God’s presence and how he came to sense it once again.  Here are the words: “My life became shady, and I grew afraid, and I needed to find my way home.  I just couldn’t see you, I thought that I’d lost you; I never felt so much alone.  Are you still with me?   Somehow in reason, I lost sight of seasons;  I’m growin’ out, growin’ in.  Sometimes in evenings, when daylight was needed I thought I’d never see you again.  Are you still with me?  Are you still with me?”  It is here that God answers him: “I’m with you in singing skies and dancing waters, laughing children growing old; and in the heart and in the spirit, and in the truth when it is told.”

At the end of the song Denver looks to the future and sings, “If my faith should falter and I should forsake you, and find myself turning away, will you still be there?   Will you still be there?”  Once again God answers him, “I’ll be there in singing skies and dancing waters, laughing children growing old.  And in the heart and in the spirit and in the truth when it is told.”

_CES0928I love the way the song is put together.  It is a very honest reminder that things we learn at one point in life may be forgotten and the lesson needs to be repeated.  It also seems to be an admission of the struggle that is universal in the faith journey.  We believe something now but will we believe it tomorrow?  Will we need to learn all over again, and come to accept once more, truths from the past?

Destruction Falls 526I appreciate John Denver’s reminder that among the places God can be found is in “singing skies and dancing waters.”  That has certainly been my experience.   I have felt God’s presence in the beauty of His Creation innumerable times.  There have, however, also been times in my life when God has not seemed near.  I bet that is true for you as well.  When those lonely and painful times come it is nice to be reminded that God is present in very visible and visceral ways through nature.  And if, for some reason, we worry about whether God will be there for us down the road it might not be a bad idea to pull up this song and hear God say once again, “I’ll be there in singing skies and dancing waters, laughing children growing old.  And in the heart and in the spirit and in the truth when it is told.”

Thank you, John Denver!

–Chuck

(I took all of the images above in Washington State’s North Cascades.)


Aug 14 2013

A Visit to Living Waters

_CES1078This past weekend I had a chance to spend some time alone at a wilderness cabin in the foothills of the North Cascades. The cabin, built along the lines of the one Thoreau constructed at Walden Pond, is placed in a beautiful setting on an eighty acre piece of property.  Although not totally devoid of outside noise it is a quiet place, a place where elk, bear and cougars roam.  Near the cabin is a lake where beavers maintain a dam and various ducks find a home.  I am a person who enjoys both wilderness settings and being alone but I will admit that even with the animals around the isolation of the cabin was a bit unnerving at first.  Still, I was glad to be there and to have a chance to study, pray, and photograph. It did not take me long at all to begin to sense the presence of God in this place.

_CES1167There are a variety of reasons why I sensed God’s presence at this location.  The primary reason is obvious to regular readers of this blog; the Bible clearly notes that God reveals Himself in nature and beauty.  There is another reason however.  The cabin and land is owned by Michael and Elizabeth Boone.  They call the place Living Waters and have dedicated it to God and His service.  They have prayed extensively over the land and share it periodically with others in the hope that their guests might experience God’s nearness in this special place.  For them, and those who visit it, Living Waters is holy ground.  I find it exciting and inspirational that people like the Boones will set aside a piece of property for a purpose like this.  Church camps have existed for years but it would be great if more individuals could or would do the same.

_CES7389One of the lessons I was reminded of while at Living Waters is how the Scriptures can come alive in a unique way when read in a natural setting.  Sunday morning I read through the Book of John and there were a number of passages that seemed to stand out simply due to where I sat.  One such passage, appropriately enough, was Jesus’ promise of “streams of living water” to those who believe in him. (7:37)  I also happened to read Psalm 50 while there.  This psalm begins with the words, “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken, and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.”  The idea of God summoning the earth seemed something very special in that particular setting.  Later in the psalm God says “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle of a thousand hills.  I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine…  For the world is Mine, and all it contains.” It was a powerful reminder that the various animals I had seen (including the rabbit shown here) and heard there all belonged to God.  I didn’t know the names of the birds I was seeing on the lake but God did.  I have no doubt that the words I read that day would not have meant quite the same to me had I been sitting at home.  Reading the Bible outdoors is something we should all attempt to do more often.

CES_1062Toward the end of Psalm 50 you’ll find the words, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the most high.”  In that wilderness setting I could not help but offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  I was literally surrounded by the beauty of God’s Creation and felt His presence near; my heart swelled with gratitude.  It seemed that I could hardly walk around outside without offering a word of thanks to God for the beauty and wonders of His Creation. Something tells me that this is what God intended from the beginning of time.  The Creation is there constantly beckoning us to offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One who brought it all into existence.  I hope we’ll learn to pay attention to Creation’s call and give God the gratitude He is due.

–Chuck

(All of the images shown here were taken this past weekend at Living Waters. A huge thanks goes to the Boones and R120 for making my visit possible!)