I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV
As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.
For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.
- Playing the piano in solitude. In those desert times, if there's a piano available and I can be alone with it for a time, I come away refreshed. Sometimes I'll play hymns, sometimes it's other "church" music, sometimes it's classical pieces, sometimes it's something by Billy Joel, Elton John, or Paul Simon. Sometimes I'll sing along as I play...sometimes not. It all depends on the situation and the mood, but whatever I play is balm to my wounded soul. And I have to be alone. No feeling like I'm playing for an audience (even an audience of one), no needing to explain what I'm playing or why I'm playing it. Just me, the music, and God.
- "Baptizatus Sum." Years ago, as a "prop" during a sermon, Pastor Larry Meyer handed out half-sheets of heavy paper with that Latin phrase printed on them. Mine hangs in a bookshelf in my office, and is a reminder to me in my desert times that "I am baptized" and that God holds me, carries me, sustains me, forgives me, and has made me a new creature.
- Watching Kiddo sleep. I used to be an incredibly sound sleeper. Sweetie used to kid that once I found my sleeping position for the night, I never even moved until our alarm went off in the morning. That changed when Kiddo was born. If I get up with him in the middle of the night, I can still often get right back to sleep afterwards, but more and more my body's been keeping me awake one, two, sometimes three hours after spending 5 minutes settling him down. One plus to this phenomenon is that sometimes I'll just sit on his floor and watch him sleep. He's so at peace and innocent...it just gives me this strange combination of love and pride that just makes me want to burst. I know I don't have much longer that I'll be able to do that without it creeping him out (not too many 13 year old boys are keen on the idea of dad sitting on the floor watching them sleep), so I treasure these times now. Even if I'm tired as heck as a result during the day.
- Conversations with Sweetie. We love to talk. To each other. About anything and everything. Back when we were dating, before the days of kids and mortgages, we'd stay up until all hours of the morning just talking about stuff. We still do, but when the alarm's going to go off at 5:15 AM, a late night is 11:00, not 3 in the morning. She's my best friend, and it's so renewing just "hanging out" and talking.
- Reading. Put on some soft jazz or classical music in the background, grab a mug of coffee (if it's morning) or a glass of wine (if it's evening), settle into a comfy chair with good lighting, and just lose myself in a good book. The rest of the world melts away for a while, and I come away refreshed.