I expected such

I knew it would be beautiful.

There was late night music. Horse hairs caressed the strings pulled musically taut across the hollow, ornate box. He played and played and I heard every note … rich and delicious, mellow and soft. I asked, “What is the name of that song?” Brian replied …. “Oh, just something that I made up as I played.” I’m outwardly amazed …
but not inwardly surprised.
I expected as much from this weekend.
I could feel it coming.

We rose early the next morn, while the moon still hung firmly in its place, high and bright against the deep blue sky, stars twinkling … still and quiet, the air moist and chilled.

We listen to tunes as we drive. My heart leaps with joy as I hear the words “strife strikes … spring swaps snow for leaves” … an alliteration using strife, new life and leaves … I feel God’s presence. He even warms me with lyrics wafting through speakers as we travel along. *swoon*

In preparing for the trip, I knew I would hear new music that I would want for my own. I expected it … and watched for it. I came home to download my own copy of “Sigh No More” by Mumford and Sons.

We watch the sun rise as we drive and arrive at the parking area flooded with narrow beams of daylight filtering through the canopy. We prepare to follow the guys to the rock’s base. They gather belongings and ready their gear. I am excited at the thought of watching them
walk the incline of a rock.

The guys go ahead.

Sarah and I linger on the trail
taking photos
and soaking in God as we climb and converse.

The leaves are just beginning their turning. Green is everywhere with puddles of burgundy here and there. The bright splashes of ochre are interspersed. The mountain is blanked with color … but is not yet brilliant and intense. But, our conversation is …
intense
in a warm and wonderful way.

We talk about James, who was the first to know Sarah. James was a very close friend to her brother before Sarah and James met or she and I met.  We talk about Glory, her moving home, her boyfriend and mothering. We delve into Joy and the intricacies of the dramatic female child. And that is our starting point ….
music, Stone and Jet, fear, authors, chapters and subjects of books …. waterfalls, chemistry (Brian and Richard are both chem majors at UGA), gardening and accountability … all are topics that we cover. Our conversation spins and twirls throughout the day like the first leaves of fall
in a whirlwind
circling across the ground
as they travel.
They are colorful, crisp and full of sweetness.

But, I expected this … this richness and digging. I desire it … long for it … yearn.

We reach the base of the rock to find the guy’s are readying to head up. There are several ahead of them who will keep them moving a little slower than if they were climbing unhindered. The wind whips around us and Sarah and I know there is at least some added to risk in the wind’s strong presence. It is cooler than we expected this morn. This … I did not expect.

I love Brian’s shoes. They’re leather climbing shoes … comfortable, strong and fitted. The bottoms are rubber to clutch the rock. Putting on these shoes gives him better grip and great flexibility.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

They fascinate me and I think of all of parallels … them climbing the face of this Rock, gripping tight for dear life, with the wind strong like a moving Spirit reminding them to cry out for strength and balance … and requiring them to hold on even more firmly … carefully  … intently … with focus. They seem unconcerned for the wind. I ponder it.

They begin their ascent and we watch for a bit. As they travel higher, Sarah and I decide to turn away. We don’t really want to watch them climb out of sight. We make our way to another trail. We will meet them later in the day …
we will be refreshed
and the boys will be exhausted.

We make our way to find a splendid spot for lunch.

We eat and snap photos.

We watch two women on a photo shoot wearing very small bikinis and high-heeled shoes in the chill of fall and our conversation turns to emptiness, beauty and society.  Where will those photos land, we wonder. Will a man, one day, be led to lustful thoughts that harm his spirit
and relationships in his life
…. with mother …. daughter …. wife …. lover ….
because these women are willing to bare their skin?
How does this happen … this emptiness ..
this need to offer more than we should
to those that we ought not
in return for a false affirmation
that leaves us barren and broken?
How? 

We make our way to a waterfall
crowded with people
also searching for beauty.
We stay there a while
and I offer to read.
I have brought Frederick along in my backpack. My friend, Sarah Nightingale, has confessed she has never read this book. I brought it along to tell the story
of hunting, gathering and collecting for winter.
It’s a wonderful thing to share this with her.
She listens and enjoys, as I expected she would.

The afternoon wears away
as our dialogue continues.
Tears have filled my eyes to the brim
just barely tipping over the edge
and spilling to my shirt
repeatedly
as God showed me His glory,
spoke to me through Sarah
and drew me close.
I found my spirit moved with joy,
my heart filled with conviction
and my soul stirred with gratitude
time and again.

We head back to the parking area to wait for the boys and wander just a bit. We find ourselves looking out over a valley that leads to rock that Richard and Brian climbed. To point out perspective, do you see that quartz vein/white stripe towards the base of the rock, on the right third of the photo? It runs at a 45° from left to right? That is the same stripe that you see just above Brian’s head if you scroll up a several photographs.

With all of my fulfilled expectations throughout the weekend,
somehow this sighting threw me completely off guard.

I was surprised at the size of this rock. It looked mammoth to me from the base,
but seeing the entire rock at a distance
was frankly … overwhelming.
It reminded me of the fact that
God sees the whole picture.
What a gift that He doesn’t show us everything to come in our future.
He doesn’t reveal the hills to climb
or the valleys in between …
lest we become discouraged
because we would not believe
that we embody the strength
to make it to the top.
And truly, we don’t … or, at least, I don’t. He is my strength.
Nor does He reveal the opulent gifts that He may bestow …
lest we become impatient waiting for the richness our blessing.
I know certainly that I would.

I am so thankful for His companionship in my life …
His direction, strength and undergirding …
His presence like a compass, guiding me along.
And I am thankful that I cannot see all of what is ahead.
Give me this day, my daily bread ….

As I drove home on Sunday, my thoughts kept turning back to “expectations.”
I left home expecting to experience a closeness with God
and I did.

I find myself challenged to question whether I live all of my days in this way. Do I look for Him every moment? Do I experience His presence and leading throughout my weeks? Do I invite Him, search for Him, look for His leading?  And do I expect Him to show up?

Oh, that my life would be a fulfillment
of my own expectation
that He be in the midst of every decision,
that He would direct each pivot
and He would guide each step.
And I pray that my desire would be
deep, authentic and constant …
new each day.

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