Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pictures

There's something tickling the back of my mind... something about place and home.  About transience and belonging.  About abiding in Christ no matter where I live...

If I ever get the tickle wrestled into articulation, no doubt it will appear here.  Meanwhile, the first stage of working it out looks like this.  Photographs.  Amateur ones.

These are the snapshots of a foreigner in Southern West Virginia who feels helpless to make this her home; whose anemic faith needs frequent assurances of God's providence in bringing her here; who wrote down this reluctant prayer: Give me a love for this place: a delight in its quirks, a humor concerning its faults, an eye for its beauties.

Graciously, He answers even reluctant prayers.

So these are also the pictures of one who, in certain quiet, grace-flooded moments, sees with true faith-eyes; who looks around and marks the mercies made new every morning, the skies declaring the glory, the mountains and hills breaking forth in shouts of joy, the trees clapping their hands—  And, paradoxically, the way this West Virginia beauty all foreshadows the New Creation and True Home brings peace and contentment in this place.

That probably made no sense, despite my nine—yes nine—revisions to this post in the last month.  Sigh.  All I'm really trying to say is: Here are some pictures of West Virginia.  : )
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I have a need
For cool, verdant spaces

Beneath the trees,
Secret empty places...
(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

One of the hardest parts of moving—for an introvert, anyway—is finding new quiet spots.  I'm extremely thankful for the one above.
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The flora of West Virginia is very different than Utah's, of course.  These new wildflowers are no substitute for whispering aspens and scarlet Indian paintbrush—but they are lovely, aren't they?  If you know their names, please teach me.
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This color, though!  "Not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."
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I arrived in time to watch West Virginia's state flower burst into a riot of pinks and purples across the hills. "Rhododendron" comes from the Greek for "rose tree"; they are common in Asia and are the national flower of Nepal.  I was not surprised to discover that bit of trivia: these exotic blooms look the part.  I'm already anticipating next spring.
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Yellow irises?  I had no idea such a delightful thing existed.  These reminded me of Wordsworth's ode to their cousin:
...A host of golden daffodils
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze...
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The New River flows north.  I still can't get my head around that.  But I do find the coal mining history around the New River Gorge fascinating and heartbreaking.  The land was used hard and the people were used hard; may the wounds of both know God's healing.
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Working at one's alma mater means that just about every spot on campus has years-old memories associated with it.  I walked up this hill to chapel approximately 250 times as a student.  The friends who walked beside me over a decade ago I have kept up with, for the most part.  They are spread hither and yon now.  Some have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.  Most are laboring well, serving God and fellow man with a daily faithfulness that makes me glad to think of them as I walk around campus.
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The pictures will keep coming.  I hope the words will, too.  Right now it's a struggle.  If you are a supporter of mine, know that I'm more grateful than ever for your faithful, giving heart despite my minimal communication in this season of transition.  I will be sending a prayer letter... soon.  Because the Creator of stunning rhododendrons and north-running rivers can be counted on to bring refreshment, peace, and creativity to an unsettled heart.