Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cold New England Winters Make for Warm Hearts

I’m in the Manchester, New Hampshire airport, returning from a beautiful weekend in Vermont. I spent it with 60 women from Valley Bible Church, offering my Wide Open Spaces of God retreat. We were surrounded by the most picturesque landscape!

I learned some things from these warm and generous women.

I learned that there are mostly “real” Christians in New England. This area of our country has become so secularized, that if you are a Christian you stand out as the minority.

I learned that you don’t want to die in the winter in this part of New England. Because of the long winters and frozen ground, if you die in the winter, you will have to wait to be buried until the spring. (That was a new one for me!)

I learned that a number of the folks in these parts don’t have electricity—at least not from an electric company. Some of their homes are on dirt roads and they use a generator.

I learned that, though New Englanders are often described as cool and aloof, these women were some of the warmest I have ever met.

I learned that they are hearty women; they handle the cold, are outdoorsy, comfortable with themselves and very down to earth.

I thoroughly enjoyed being invited into this community, watching them love on each other, warmly engage and support each other. They seemed to treasure their faith and their companionship because they know they belong to a small, precious contingency of Christ-followers.

The harsh elements of winter and the challenge of being a Christian minority haven’t worn them thin, but rather strengthened their resolve to live deeply with God and one another in this rugged and romantic New England landscape.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Grand, Grand Canyon

January 15, 2005: The Grand, Grand Canyon

We pressed through the narrow road before us like a mole nuzzling its way through a tunnel some other creature had made. I leaned forward, my blind eyes groping, straining to catch a glimpse of the unknown. Through the parked cars, pavement, rocks and scrubby trees I caught sight of her. She emerged, seemingly, out of nowhere: A vast, cavernous, indescribable monument. The grand, Grand Canyon.

Before I was cognizant of what was happening, a sob broke loose. Emotion erupted in me from somewhere deep. I fought it for a moment, feeling silly, self-conscious at my reaction. But it was no use. Not even a full view of her—but a glimpse—was enough to expunge deep, sweltering emotion. I grabbed David's arm and squeezed it. My heart spilled out through gushing tears. Throbs of anguish, pain, relief and gratefulness swelled up at seeing a picture that captured God’s former words to me. "I'm bigger than all of this."

We took a narrow, designated path to the rim. There before me stood a replica of what I sensed God is like: wide, open, enormous and unfathomable. The view before me captured God’s consolation to me. He is bigger than all of this! Yes, and here is proof.

As we began our trek around the south rim, the wonder of her bigness and the intricacies of her complexion hypnotized me. Pocked and worn, creviced and rounded, her facial expression told a very old story. The texture was subtle, yet so variegated that I never tired of exploring her beautiful face.

I moved closer to the edge and found her deep bowels drawing me down into her. I wanted to consume her and be consumed by her. I was drawn down into her depths, comforted by the bigness of her outstretched arms, smitten by the enormity of her heart. I took deep, deep breaths, trying to inhale her goodness and beauty and magnificence. I wanted to swallow all that I could take in. I wanted to digest it with each gulp of air, each long exhale.
I wanted her bigness in me to settle my heart and calm it, to bring the message of God’s enormity home to me. My heart ached for trust to swell up and overtake the enemies of my soul that made me feel lost, small and alone; rejected and forgotten; diminished and discarded. I longed for resurrection—breath returning to my faith and quickening it.

“Oh, grand, Grand Canyon. You tell a story: An ancient story of wind and rain and snow and ice. A story of a maker who dreamed of you and fashioned you with the forces of his power. A maker who enjoyed your beauty as he considered you and sculpted you over centuries of time.”

“Oh, grand, Grand Canyon, I am yours. Fill me with your openness and wideness. Feed me from the goodness of your beauty and the freedom of your magnificent space. Teach me everything you know about your maker. Help me know him through you. Be my passage into His wide open spaces.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

The baby has arrived!

On Wednesday, the FedEx truck stopped in front of our house. The driver backed in and unloaded my baby--100 copies of my new book, The Wide Open Spaces of God. I wasn't expecting it to arrive until September. The surprise delivery was reminiscent of becoming a new mom. I had the instant urge to check it over and make sure all the parts were there; to marvel at it and take it all in. I snuck off to read the introduction, just to know how I felt, if it was ok for this baby to be out in public. I am glad to say that I was reassured. I'm looking forward to others seeing my baby and sharing what that is like for them. So, welcome to Peregrine Journey--a place where you can talk about your meanderings with God through these wide open spaces of life.

Warmly, Beth Booram