Saturday, May 4, 2013

The significance of a life


I love this place.  It is near the water and there are hills.  When I lived nearby, I ran here weekly.  It was the place that I could always count on for God to show me something new.  Sometimes it was a thought or idea.  Other times it was some beautiful bit of nature, like a great blue heron or an eagle.  Still other times it was an overwhelming sense of calm and peace.

Today, I attended a women's retreat here as I do every year, and did my annual run on the dike.  I had read in the Bible the story of Jacob's dream when he dreamed of a stairway to heaven.  God told him that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, and that He would always watch over Jacob.  Jacob awakes and declares that this spot is holy and is the very gate of heaven.  He sets up a pillar in that spot to show the sacredness of that place.

Genesis 28:20, "Then Jacob made a vow, saying "if God will be with me and will watch over me on the journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house and of all that you give me, I will give you a tenth."

I'm not great at analyzing the Bible, but what struck me here is that Jacob is not only thankful and acknowledges the blessing that is coming to him; he is also honoring God in obedience by giving back to God 1/10th of what He has entrusted Jacob with.  Jacob erects a pillar, like an outward sign of recognition of the holiness of God and the blessings He gives.

I began to think about my life.  If I am to set up a pillar in my own life, thanking God for the places He has met me and my family, what might it look like?  Would it be a prayer out loud? Or outright exclamation at the beauty of God's creation?  Maybe the pillar can look like humbleness and a hand that points toward God and all He has done.  I can give 1/10th of my monetary earnings, but what else can I give?  It sounds so small.  Why should I be allowed to keep 9/10ths all to myself?  What will I do with that remainder?

 What places are like pillars in your life?  Where are your gateways to heaven and God's great blessing and presence in your life?

My run on the dike mingled with my thoughts about Jacob's story.  I sat out on the roots of this massive, fallen tree and thought of it just as that...a tree that still had much life to give, and I was inspired to write.  So I scribbled out a poem about these thoughts, and I share it below.

*****

Do you see this
tree?
this log
this tree?

When a human is dead
it is a body buried in the ground, rotten and gone,
soul with Christ,
a rock as a memory.

When a tree dies,
and remains,
somehow that shell
lives.
It points to the majesty
and heights it once
touched.

It feeds and
shelters
new creatures.
Just as when my
soul moves on
my words
my deeds
this pillar of
my life
will lead eyes somewhere.

Was my life a shelter,
a home,
a way of nourishing?
Did it
say Yes!
there is more?
There is an
infinite God
who cares about
ants and
ferns
and small
very loud birds.

Did this pillar stand
humbly in the
holy place
of God's creation
in gratitude
and
solemn
joy,
Holding very dearly
the responsibility
that comes
when one
has been
trusted with
Nine-tenths?