Of Sunsets and Moonrises

Isn’t life interesting?

My life is…even in the backwoods of the Ozarks with the Ancient Ones.

Interesting, I mean.

Every day is an adventure with new discoveries or challenges or growth or sorrow or opportunity.

Some people think my life is “on hold” while I’m here. It isn’t. Life is happening. Like time and the ocean’s tide…it cannot be held back. I know this. I feel this.

Can’t believe I’ve been here for over 2 years now. I haven’t moved here. I still consider home to be…well…home. But I’ve realized in the last couple of weeks that after years of hating Arkansas and saying that I never want to live here, I am actually putting down some roots. Actually beginning not just to appreciate…but dare I say….enjoy this place?

I’m not at all comfortable with these heart discoveries. I still view my time here as very temporary, and tearing up roots sounds painful. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to have another place to miss. I don’t want to be conflicted.

Doesn’t that sound cold? But it’s true.

I realize that it is spring. The chiggers aren’t out yet. Don’t take those last paragraphs too seriously. I will most likely be back to “normal” in a couple of weeks when I’m overly hot and outrageously itchy. But I have surprised myself. And now I’m even confessing on this blog for all to see.

I wonder how many of you realize how huge that is?

I served fish at my third annual fish fry here at the volunteer fire department. As I stood there working with the other women of the auxiliary and greeting people as they came down the line, I felt so happy to be part of this community…connected to these amazing people and characters who make me smile and warm my heart by making me feel loved and accepted and appreciated, or just by being themselves. So interesting.

Spring is gorgeously in bloom all around. The dogwoods thrill me. They are so quiet and pure and unassuming….yet brilliant. Lilacs, forsythia, quince, wisteria, daffodils, crocuses, peach blossoms, apple blossoms, pear blossoms…wow.

And green is back.

How I longed for green through February and March. That was another surprise to me. I’m an autumn/winter girl. Spring is lovely, but just leads to summer’s heat and bugs. Yet I found myself anxious for spring to arrive as never before. That had a lot to do with my garden. Yes…my garden. For the first time I really planted a garden, with the help of our neighbor and friend. He doesn’t know much about gardening either…so we’re learning together. And I’m so excited. Can’t wait to start serving up produce grown in our very own back yard!

The evenings have been especially lovely around here lately. They seem to have some special call for me. I cannot be inside. When I am inside, I feel like I’m missing out on a gift…an incredibly lovely gift.  So I go for walks or putter around the garden, or sit down at the lake and breathe and ponder. I don’t want to waste a single sunset. Ever again.

Which brings me to my story…

A few nights ago, I walked down to the water and watched the sun set in all it’s warmth and wonder. It had been a long week and I realized how exhausted I was by conflicted emotions, draining relationships and physical labor.  As I walked back up the hill, I saw the huge, cold, pure white fullness of the moon above the horizon in the opposite direction, and stood in awe as the whippoorwill’s song was punctuated by my grateful, humbled, beating heart.

The next night I took my camera with me to take some shots of the dogwoods in the woods as I waited for sunset time to come. I felt a tug to go up a nearby nob, but quickly shook the notion, since I wanted to be down at the lake to see the fire and water gloriousness.

But wait….what about the moon rise? I wanted to see the moon rise too…that brilliant, cool purity that I had seen the night before.

I found out that sunset and moonrise were going to be about 5 minutes apart. Since the moon was going to appear over the hills behind me, and the sun would sink well below at the water’s edge, I knew I couldn’t see both.

“Stick with the original plan, Sage. Just go down.”

I started down the road that led to the lake. Then I stopped.

“But I want to see the moonrise. That beautiful, beautiful full moon!”

“Sunset…all that warmth and color and reflection on the water.”

“But the moon is part of me!”

I was standing in the middle of the road. Frozen from motion. Exhausted. Conflicted. Ridiculously indecisive. Suddenly this had become so much more than where I was supposed to be in five minutes.

The sunset is warm and familiar and what I had planned. I knew what my goal was when I left the house. It was all so clear. I wanted to see the very last colors of the day’s end.  But the desire to see the moonrise was so strong and unexpected. It was the beginning of the light of the night. And it was going to be beautiful.

Tears slid down my cheeks.

What in the world?!?! I was standing. In the middle of the road. At the top of the lane to the lake. Crying. And completely unable to make a decision about what direction to take.

Sunset or moonrise? Sunset or moonrise? Sunset or moonrise?

“Sage….if you stand here two more minutes you’ll miss both…and then you’ll have something to cry about!”

Guess what I did? I prayed. As if this was a life changing decision.

“Yahweh, what should I do? Where do you want me to go? What is Your plan?”

And I felt the answer…”Go up. To the high places.”

I looked down the road toward the lake. Suddenly it seemed so dark and lonely. I knew I couldn’t go there.

“Go up.”

“But there are SO many reasons not to go up.”

“Go up.”

So I did. Fast. Almost frantically. My time was running out. But if I could make it to the top of the nob, maybe I could see both the sunset AND the moonrise…and that would be perfect! “Wow, God…what a great idea!”

But even as I thought that, I felt deep inside that this wasn’t about seeing the sunset or the moonrise. Words like “refuge” and “strong tower” and “high places” swirled around my head as the path to the top curved around the hill.

I was breathless and sweaty when I made it to the top. But that’s okay, cause if I’d had any breath it would have been taken by the view anyway. It was amazing. My words, and even these pictures don’t do it justice at all. I could see so much of this winding river of a lake from up there. And hills, and trees and sky and loveliness in every direction.

And clouds. Clouds in a circle around the horizon…blocking the sunset and the moonrise both.

But it didn’t matter. Not in the least tiny bit. Being up there I was above the sunset. Above the moonrise. I had found a Refuge…my Strong Tower. Up on the High Places. I was on my knees in praise. I was standing with my hands lifted in prayer. I had an overwhelming peace and felt the all-surrounding presence of my Father’s love. Close. Comforting. Real. Vastly real.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul.”

It didn’t matter about sunsets or moonrises or Arkansas or Oklahoma or Iceland or Timbuktu. Gently, lovingly I was reminded that God is my strength and my portion. That my life is His and that my main desire is to live fully for Him…wherever He wants me for as long as He sends me. I don’t need to be anxious. I don’t need to hold back. I don’t need to be jealous of my heart. It’s His. He is my satisfaction and my joy.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul.”

I stayed till almost dark. It was a mountain top experience I didn’t want to end. But my Father wasn’t done showing me His love. Just as I came to the road off the hill, a full, orange, warm moon showed itself through the clouds. Tears of gratitude blurred the first few lightening bugs I saw, but suddenly my path was lined with hundreds of them. I have never seen so many at one time. Ever. And they lit my way for the half mile walk back to the house. The whippoorwill song was punctuated by coyotes yipping and howling. The air was soft and fragrant.

“Father of mercies, Lord of all comfort, Lover of my soul…thank you.”

PS. The moon and firefly pictures are ridiculous, I know. I apologize. Really need to learn to use my camera in low light. But I had to post them anyway. I just had to.