Five months ago, when we first transplanted our family of eight from the Midwest to our new home in the Pacific Northwest, we would see deer families seeming to play tag in our field many days. Tag! It was such a surprise. And, gorgeous Stellar Jays, five or six at a time, would flock to and seem to be playing hide-n-seek in the magnolia trees.
It didn’t occur to me right then that seeing this playfulness in the field and the trees would become a part of me. But the seeing was like a revelation I’d been waiting my whole life for, I just hadn’t known it yet. I would have used to have been afraid to tell you these things. Afraid you’d think I was really only talking about myself…
I had only known the muted toned (though loud) midwestern and eastern Blue Jay before coming here. To see the brilliant blue of the Stellar Jay felt, to me, like seeing a giant tropical bird. I had no reference, nothing to relate this bold color on bird wing to.
Then, as the weather cooled, came the eagles. Yes, Bald Eagles, two and three at a time would scream overhead and sit in the trees above our home. Now, most days we see flocks of ravens playing in the morning mist over the river. Have you ever seen large groups of ravens? I hadn’t. It felt strange, and powerful.
When the rains began in the latter part of last year and the river began its rise from the falls rushing down the mountains, for a few days the river looked brown and muddy. Then, after the flooding, with each passing day it seemed to become clearer and with a more vivid aquamarine than I knew (experiencially) existed outside of “colored fountains” in the cities we’ve lived in.
Of course this water though, shone with clarity, vibrancy, a crystalline quality, not dyed and regurgitated, no…this river is continually new, unfailingly rolling and crashing on. It’s entirely amazing. Yet to be honest, four months in, I began to feel myself get busy and already begin to forget the fresh wonder waiting outside the door.
Shortly, thankfully, the swift and severe changes in atmosphere here caught my attention again. For instance, a few days ago, and for a couple of weeks really, we’ve been in our jackets—not winter coats. Then, we woke to this wonderland.
See what I mean about catching my attention? It was like waking up inside of a Christmas card, glitter included.
On the frozen days, from the top of the hill, the river looks a cool light grey. Once we’re up close though the color is deeper, darker. Like a mood ring swinging, it seems to change it’s mood every few days. Bewildering, and inviting us to listen closer.
Last night I was reading Richard Wurmbrand, a man who had more time than most of us to listen closer, spending fourteen unjust years in communist prisons for living crystalline and flowing (cutting) like the river with truth, even when it meant certain punishment. He wrote,
“Many believers are sad because they feel they cannot pray much. If that is the case and no words come during your time of prayer, keep silent. Perhaps the Lord does not wish to have words. Do not lakes and forests speak to the human soul, though they have no mouth?
Contemplate the beauty of His holiness and meditate on His mercy and loving-kindness. What counts in prayer is above all the state of the heart.” -The Oracles of God
When we drove over the forested mountains to the Pacific Ocean for the first time it was like coming out of a storybook, with a foreign reality mixed in as we passed Tsunami-Safe-Area road signs pointing the opposite direction. Suddenly, and I mean truly unexpectedly, the trees cleared completely and sky met water in one, long, all-the-way-to-tomorrow, view.
It didn’t occur to me right then that seeing the sea was like seeing me. But seeing the sea helped me know myself better. I would have used to have been afraid to tell you that. Afraid you’d think I was really only talking about myself…
But, it helped me know—you—better. It helped me know my husband more. It lifted my head in wide-eyed-wonder over my kids bickering in the back seat.
That’s the treasure in so much of this to me. This traveling, this seeing that we and our kids are getting to do—I want them to see and hear outwardly as a reference point of what is true inwardly. I want to see too.
“Emerging from such an hour of prayer, you will be able to sing, whatever others may think, ‘I am a rose of Sharon’…; ‘I am lovely’…; ‘I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made’….” -Richard Wurmbrand
I want them to know the rich and bright blue of the Stellar Jay. I want them to know the crystalline beauty that comes after the mud, that comes after the first flow down the mountains in the latter rain of the year’s cycle. I want them to know the power of a community in flight, the delight of playing in mist, the wonder of waiting on the power of creation—not just what we ourselves can create. I want them to be inspired the way that word was originally used—to be imparted truth to.
I want them to rise to see that bald white head soaring over theirs, because something in me knows that they, being able to discern this, will be helped in knowing when and how to rise when the white head worthy of standing for walks into their room. I want them to know the vast ocean, so they can visualize—even a little—the vastness of the Spirit of God, within them, woven by, taught by, spoken-to by, near-by. Creator.
I want them to know the life of the wind as it fills our lungs verses the stagnant air of staying indoors too long. I want them to know the reason for that, to stand in awe of that, to stand in awe of Creator.
I want them to come into contact with the roaring quiet of the wilderness, so that they can be OK when their own quiet roars too. I know they’ll need it, because I do.
So, I’m gonna do what I can to be sure they know I do too. I’m not gonna hide it. Though it would be easier to act like I don’t…need… There’s no ‘easy’ that’ll ever be able to compare to standing out in the quiet in black night and looking up to see the glitter got spilled up over our heads too. It’s sparkling all around us. Amen.
Hi, I’m Raynna Myers. I’m an author, photographer, homeschooling mom to six children, and wife, learning how to see. This is where I share the journey.
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Find my book of prayers Pray, Like a Woman in Labor on Amazon.
Dedicating this essay to my parents, Ray and Donna Hill, who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this month and who took me for many hikes through the woods. Thanks Mom and Dad. “I love you bigger than the trees.”