L'Abri Journals...ACGray

Oct 2004
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“How are we to discover the way of God and His will for our daily lives?  How are we to bring about the necessary amalgamation of spiritual truth and practical reality?  How can we broaden our vision and correct our view of the things that make up our lives, trying to see them as God sees them?  Of course, we must pray God to help us, we must study the Bible, and pay heed to the teaching of the Church and of the theologians.  But something more is needed….In my experience, the practice of written meditation can be a great help in bridging the gap between our two worlds, the spiritual and material… Written meditation does not take the place of either prayer or adoration, but it has its place as a practical aid to the integration of the riches of the spiritual life into our material lives.   

Dr. Paul Tournier,

The Adventure of Living.

Chalet L’Abri, October, 2004….acg        


          Remnants of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne blew through our valley in September and ushered in the first breaths of autumn.   Ivan’s aftermath fell several old pine trees on my neighbor’s property, improving my view of the magnificent Blue Ridge on the eastern horizon.   Now come the autumn colors, sweeping over our Massanutten ridge in measured cadence.  My dogwoods are burgundy, redbuds are purple, and oaks and tulip poplars are decked out in tangerines, oxblood, old leathers, and every color in between.  As autumn seeps in, the alchemy of life and death in all creation focus my thoughts and Tennyson’s lines hearken:

“The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains,

 -- Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?…

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet – Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”


          For the past several years I have made a ritual of picking up a few of the first fallen autumn leaves to scatter on my dining table.  Examining them up close, I note how wrinkled, mottled, and aged they look.  I think of them as having died and gone to leaf heaven prematurely, the results of having been crowded too much or having lived their lives with cares, disease, and responsibilities beyond measure….not unlike their human counterparts who die young for similar reasons or for not having been loved enough.  These thoughts come with remembrance of my brothers, sisters and friends whose lives were cut short too soon.  If leaves were given the same reasoning powers of people, I can imagine them grieving as they watch their counterparts fall to the ground, more gloriously arrayed, precious and appreciated in death than ever in life.   I believe there’s a life lesson here – to focus our appreciation and love on the best qualities of all we know in God’s world, to seek and find His unique imprint of beauty in all that lives, listening carefully and speaking to Him (and to each other) ‘Spirit with Spirit’– as Tennyson bids – and in so doing, discovering anew the majesty of His Kingdom and what it means to be fully alive.  

God doesn't come and go.  God lasts.  He's Creator of all you can see and imagine....He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strengths to dropouts....But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind. 
         from Eugene Peterson's translation of Isaiah 40:28-31.