Cultivating an eye for mercies...


"I must try and cultivate an eye for life's mercies... 
And life, while it has its ugly swamps, its vile weeds, and its sharp thorns, 
has always its fair flowers to charm the eye with their beauty, or to fill the air with their fragrance..."
 Rev. John Flowers Serjeant, 1878

On a short drive through a wooded area yesterday morning, I spotted a bobcat kitten crouching in the grass on the side of the road, and I slowly brought the car to a stop to see what he would do. It was only seconds before he saw my car, turned around and jumped back into the thickets behind him. But even those few seconds were a gift.

The gifts are everywhere. Purple flowers that nourish little brown moths, and gossamer wings that sparkle in the sunlight over mucky ponds.

The cool, thick grass that soothes our bare feet on hot summer days and offers culinary pleasures to lip-smacking brown-eyed bunnies...

...while in the shade of the large oak tree, a mockingbird serenades with a charming melody that defies his drab appearance. Gifts, each one. Glimpses of mercy. Simple, every day gifts that offer reminders and assurances of mercies yet unseen where lives are bogged in swamps of hopelessness and tangled in weeds of brokenness.

Just turn on the news, or read the paper. Or maybe you don't even need to look beyond your own neighborhood.

Two men in the middle of their lives - or so we thought - left our community this week without goodbyes. Just like that.

They weren't celebrities - movies stars or music icons. No Hollywood Stars for these hard-working men unknown to most outside our rural community of teachers and farmers and loving people living quiet and ordinary lives.

They were husbands. Fathers. Friends. A grandfather of only one month and just days from the wedding of his only son. His weak heart (who knew) - apparently could beat no more. The other a life mired in brokenness (we knew) - a wound he could bear no more. Two unexpected funerals - two lives cut short. Two families we know and love devastated in just one week. Sharp thorns, indeed.

It is with spiritual eyes - cultivated in the soil of faith and nourished by His Word - that we can see God's mercies in the dark places where flowers do not grow and birds do not sing.
"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." ~ Isaiah 40:8