Posted by: Phoebe | November 10, 2008

Musings About Being Outside

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We’ve had a stop-start fall here. It’s already November and we still have had crisp cool Fall days mixed with warm golden Indian-summer days. I’ve been especially happy to be outside, feeling the call of the year’s last warmth and greenness and the need for semi-solitude. This call to be outside is something I feel all year, though. I remember one day last summer when the music building was empty and sleepy, over-cold inside, but too-hot outside. I remember standing at one spot near the main doors, and looking down the long hall to the doors at the other end, then. at a right angle, down another hall to the stage-loading-door, which was open. I could glimpse the warm bright outside in both those directions, calling to me, reminding me that the building is not enclosed, but penetrated by the real thing-nature. And nature is penetrated by the realer thing-God.

There are many nooks and crannies outside the building that I like. There is a big Grandfather mulberry tree, with this little funny tree growing right under it, with its roots and trunk connected to the big tree. You would almost think the little tree is a parasite, except that it’s leaves are so green and it has it’s own strong little trunk, one that’s bent so you can actually sit on it under the little tree which is under the big tree. My friend Tara says that the two trees are happy together. I like to sit or lie under that tree and read my Bible.

In the summer it was cool in the shade and on the grass under that tree. I would look up through the healthy big leaves with sunlight shining through them. I guess that is the real invention of stained-glass: leaves that filter down green-sunshine. Clever, God! Around there are rose bushes, that have roses on and off all year when it’s warm enough. Sometimes the roses are kind of dried out and have lost their fragrance, but sometimes I hit a good one and I must inhale….inhale…. and aaahhh; sigh out. It always reminds me of one of the voice teachers teaching me to breathe by imagining “smelling the rose.” I wish I could always breathe like that. Now this tree and other mulberries are unwillingly starting to turn golden, and the result is that they look quite handsome. What a nice sense of style, to mix the green and the gold like that!

Then around the Grandfather tree are the cats. Our campus has feral cats, sleek and independent creatures that won’t let you touch them, but add a kind of homey feel to that corner of campus. And above is the sky, that reminds me that this world is not my home. I think there is nothing more beautiful than the southwestern sky. Often so blue… with so many varieties of clouds. And sunsets. God’s presence is never more awe-inspiring yet intimate to me than when I am able to sit and let him give me a sunset. It makes me feel little and at the same time immensely privileged.

I like it outside in those sunny times, but I also like it when it’s raining. I remember a time during the summer at night, when I sat under the eaves outside and listened to the thunder and smelled and smelled the rain. That’s a good thing about the desert: when the rain comes, it smells divine. I sat there praying for the people the building would contain when school opened again. It was good to be there reminded of God’s power in the thunder, and his grace in the rain.

Then there’s other times when it’s winter and it’s cold outside and a warm and cold inside. That’s when I enjoy my bike rides to school. A little nippy, but I feel so alive as I step inside the door, with rosy cheeks and blood rushing around inside me. I wish I could experience snow… but then, maybe not.

Grace. Usually my times outside are like little breathers. I try to turn my thoughts to God and sometimes as I enjoy the outside I feel a little guilty. How is it that I have this beautiful place, sunlight to warm me, and green to feed my eyes (remember, this is the desert), and music waiting for me inside? How little I really do think of my loving Father who gave it to me. …. Am I really honoring him day-by-day? With my future? …. As my places change, will He always bless me with peace and moments of grace? … Is it wrong of me to rely on nature to remind me of Him? …. These are good thoughts to think. Even as I feel undeserving, I remember that this is what a whiff of grace is: a spot of joy undeserved….. I re-submit myself to him and thank him for giving me reminders. After all, Jesus went alone outside to be near his Father. How good of Him to share with me these moments in His creation.

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