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Sunday, October 15, 2017

River of Grace

I went down to the river to pray and fellowship with Jesus today hoping for refreshment - hoping for clarity of mind and a return to peace and joy with Him. It is typical from me to do this when I feel discouraged and lonely. When the Lord is teaching me something that is difficult for me to grasp. When He wants me to surrender and place all of my trust in Him.  Each time, He never fails to deliver and I am left realizing that I need to meet Him more often.  Meet Him in His Creation where He is always right there waiting for me.  He is always there.  I just have to be willing to go. Yes, I have quite times with Him daily, but there is something special about going to meet Him in His Creation. It is where I am away from it all; away from the phone, away from the noise, away from the distractions of this world. It is only me and His music – the sound of the river crashing gently over the rocks; even the buzzing of the mosquito in my ear. Through His Creation He speaks to me. He speaks to me when I choose to listen.

As I ate my sandwich, watching the river flow, I found myself studying the leaves – leaves of varying color. October in Gatlinburg is a beautiful sight. One leaf in particular caught my eye. A rust orange one with purple speckles – a maple leaf, I believe.  It had found itself corned between some rocks off to the side of the current.  Resting; protected from the rushing water.  I studied the surroundings of the leaf; thinking of a friend who might like to have it.  I noticed several profound things - a tree growing out of the side of the bank; its roots exposed and clinging to the rocks and soil around it. How can a living thing grow out of a rock saturated ground? Then, the soil had eroded out from under a large rock to create a small cavern-like nook which housed a multitude of various smooth stones.

In the midst of the smooth stones, I spotted a foreigner – a small piece of glass that had been worn smooth by the flowing river and passage of time.  Who knows how long it took for the water to sculpt that piece of glass.  I looked at the piece of glass and the Lord said to me, “That’s you.  Once a broken shard of glass, sharp and unrefined – dangerous to the touch – who was plunged into my flowing river of grace to soften all your sharp edges.”  That wearing away and journey to becoming smooth is a long one. Sometimes painful. Sometimes scary.  I think it must take a lifetime.  But, He said, “Do not fear because you will be made smooth. Smooth by my grace. That's a promise.” A single tear flowed down my cheek.  So very small a stream compared to His river.  That tear came from a place of gratitude, reassurance, and hope for I know that His River flows  over me daily and it will never run dry.  Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.
Shard of Glass found in the Little Pigeon River, Gatlinburg, TN

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Grandmommy's Feather Pillows

The soft clean sheets engulfed my smooth 9 year old legs as they entered my Grandmommy’s bed after my nighttime bath with pink Dove soap on a warm summer’s night in July.  My head hit the soft feather pillow and I scooted in as close to Grandmommy as I possibly could.  I felt safe to be near her in her silky night gown.  After we were settled, she began to tell me her stories.  “These are feather pillows she would say.  They were made from the feathers in Momma’s feather bed. I wouldn’t have any other pillow but a feather pillow,” she would say.  “Whoo, there ain’t nothing like them.  When I was a little girl we didn’t have anything but feather pillows and my Momma got them from our geese.”  She would raise her head up and down and move it around as she spoke as if she had some sort of nervous habit – the pillow conforming back and forth to her head. I didn’t really think anything about it because that’s just what Grandmommy did when she was talking.  I just laid there and listened to her stories that she would tell.  It was our nightly ritual. I learned about the camp meetings that she would go to at the church when she was a little girl.  I learned about the time she burned 2 chocolate pies during the WWII sugar ration; and how she dumped them out in the woods to hide the fact that she had wasted the sugar by burning the pies.  I learned about a side of Frog Jump that I couldn’t experience, but one that I could imagine.  I could imagine it because I was familiar with the place myself.
The comfort of Grandmommy’s pillow next to my side, with her head in it is gone.  A transient moment in my life, defines a memory that remains permanently etched in my mind.  Yet, while the memory remains, the trust that was put into my Grandmommy’s presence in my life slowly begins to fade away as Grandmommy, 87, now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  She is no longer near me and I learn that the trust that was placed in my Grandmommy’s company will soon be gone.  The pillows in The Weight of Glory, symbolize a moment of rest; a moment of no fear and complete trust.  The pillow; cast in concrete though freezes a moment in time and captures it permanent.  I trust that the pillow will not change.  It is captured just the way it is.  To last forever.
Cast Concrete Pillows from the Installation, The Weight of Glory, 2017