Monday, July 16, 2007

The Unseen

It was the small white clouds of insects hovering over the meadow that prompted my musings about the seen and the unseen world. I did not have much on my mind as I walked and at the time was primarily paying attention to the antics of anxious avian parents bent on protecting their young from various actual and imagined threats. Along that short stretch of road there are a number of nesting families of yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, grey catbirds, Eastern kingbirds, brown thrashers, northern mockingbirds, robins, orchard orioles, willow flycatchers, song sparrows, and some I am forgetting at the moment. With all those families sharing the same quarter mile there are bound to be squabbles and territorial defenses from time to time and it makes for interesting observation. Sometimes it is nice not to think but only to watch. Today however, because of those insect clouds, my attention was drawn away from the obvious and towards the less evident. I went from being merely an observer to becoming a seeker.

I believe that as we go about living our day to day lives, there is an unseen spiritual world just out of our sight and everyday awareness. Most of the time I do not think much about it, I’m sorry to say, dwelling instead upon the tangible and the visible. I am easily distracted and sometimes forget that God lives as an eternal presence, as an unseen participant in my life and the life of the world around me. Sometimes I need to be reminded and He chooses well the tools He uses to bring my mind back around to Him. Today it was the mysterious insects hovering over the fields. They seemed to be floating in the air as mist and were only visible when the light was just right and the eye was in just the right position to see them. It was as if God left a hint to look for Him in unexpected times and places and I found myself wondering in what other manner He might have left similar reminders. I began actively looking for that which I would have missed if I had not been paying attention. I came upon a stand of Queen Anne’s Lace and noted the single tiny dark floret in the center of the flower head, surrounded by all the white ones. I found evidence of a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in a partially eaten sassafras leaf, though the caterpillar was nowhere to be seen. I thought about all those maddeningly successful weeds that appear in my garden, though I have never seen the seeds from which they have sprouted. It was as if God were pointing out the fact that He is always present, whether we are aware and attuned to him or not.

It is human nature to be drawn to mysteries and children are not the only ones who enjoy looking for the next clue or piece of the puzzle. I think that God sometimes tailors His dealings with us according to those tendencies in order to draw us through our natural curiosities and wonderings. He whispers to us, sometimes in the wind or in the call of the geese, sometimes in a hymn or lines from His Word. He invites our questions, our challenges, our unbelief. He bids us come and search and although He may seem to have hidden, I believe He awaits just the right moment to reveal Himself. At least that was my experience today. I began my walk primarily attentive to the here and now and to the mundane tasks and concerns of everyday life. I ended it attentive to the unseen world of God’s care and the mystery of His involvement in the world around me. I will forget again and He will remind me, as He has so often in the past. My remembering God does not depend on my faulty memory nor on my determination to keep Him in mind. It depends on His gracious willingness to leave me reminders of Himself and to point me towards those reminders. What I do with them is up to me.

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