Manna Meditations

quiet …

Manna Meditations, Day 2

Blue Ridge Parkway. Black ribbon of road:

I let the car swoop and dive through the curves, trying not to look at the vistas.

The views: it’s why people come here, you know. There are overlooks every few miles where you can pull your car off the road and stand in awe. The valleys unroll before you, cloudswept, for fifty miles or more.

But this is not what I have come for.

There was a time in my life when I feared winter. It closed over me every year like a black curtain, walling off the light. Suddenly I’d find myself in a small dark room, with a darker presence hunching in the corner.

In those winters, all I could see was ugliness. Shade after shade of dark.

But now, I stop at the overlooks and scuff around in the weeds, my soul flooded with wonder.

I am not looking at the vistas. I’m looking at tufts of long winter grass, waving like soft pale feathers against the sky. I’m marveling at the still-brilliant green of the moss. Finding elegant lines, cracked into boulders, or water-carved into soil.

Something has changed in me. That I have eyes to see all this?  I call it Miracle.

On an overlook, my iPhone dies, so I cannot take more photos. That’s all right, I think. I breathe in the frozen air, and with it, the initimacy of this moment… just the mountains, the Maker, and me. I walk down the slope, looking toward Poages Mill. Stretch out a hand and clutch a frozen stalk of frost-killed Daisy Fleabane, its once-white petals now crystallized into tiny copper stars. A constellation in miniature. And suddenly I am overcome by the idea that this dry dead stalk is just as lovely as the flower in full bloom.

Yes.

Yes.

A different kind of beauty. Subtle as a whisper. Pale as winter light.

God, I think, give me new eyes and ears, out here in the quiet.

I climb the hill to the car. Fire the engine. I trace the Parkway back the way I’ve come, not looking at the peaks, but listening to the wind around the car as I swish and swerve down the spine of the mountain.

Quiet.

Quiet.

Ah, Lord. Sometimes your voice is nothing but a whisper… And it is good

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Manna Meditations

into the woods…

Manna Meditations, Day 1

I walk into the woods, looking for the Maker.

It has been a long time.

Today the path is tiger-striped with hard gold light, the long shadows of trees falling in bars over the ridge. The air is so cold you can feel it taking up space in your lungs, feel the ice of it in your nose when you breathe.

I am listening for the voice of the Maker, and I am looking for Beauty.

Beauty: this is my daily bread. And lately, I’m believing that in this season, the bread is more like manna… Manna, a mystery of a gift, dropped in the wilderness where I might find it.

So I follow the trail of breadcrumbs up the ridge line, winding my way up staircases of rock, ladders of fallen limbs. I walk slow, stopping every twenty yards or so to bend low and look … to photograph the trembling skeleton of a fallen leaf, or white veins tracing through old boulders. The light is so hard and so solid that it catches in everything, outlining every pebble and snatch of pinestraw, throwing every fallen feather into bas-relief…

Manna…

And I am thinking…


There was a time (hear me) when I fancied myself a creator. A maker of beauty. A crafter of lovely words, lovely lines. And maybe I *was* that… maybe one day I’ll be that again.

But for now, in this season, I am here in the woods, wanting to make … nothing.

I am here not to make, but to find.

I am a wandering pilgrim, finding the promised land right here, in this wilderness of small things. I don’t call myself Planter, or Reaper … I’m Forager. Finder. Collector of breadcrumbs, of broken bits of beauty.

And this is its own kind of feast – believe me.

And so, for the next 40 days – six days a week, with a sabbath rest for good measure – you’ll find me here, in quiet meditation on my daily Manna. I’ll share small bits of loveliness I never made, but merely discovered along the path.

Wherever I’m going, I know there is goodness here… Maybe you’ll come, too.

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Everyday Wonder

The Star … & the Stardust on the Sidewalk

This is how it happens:  we drive up Mill Mountain, the Xterra snaking a black ribbon of road through the green.  

At top, there’s the Star.

We have two special friends from DC with us, visiting for the weekend, and we know that no trip to our little city is complete without at least ten minutes on the Star Overlook, leaning on the rails, taking in the view and snapping photographs. 

So that’s what we do.

We stand there gaping at the view:  range after range of blue hills disappearing into the distance, smudged and softened into cloud.

We gape at the Roanoke Star, too:  that big neon contraption that glows white in the night, seen for miles and miles.

After we’re done happily gaping, I take all the usual photos that one takes at the Star.  Like this:  

 

And this:  

 

And then we head back down the trail to where our cars our parked.

But just before we get there, I stop right in the middle of the sidewalk.  My eye is caught by a single clean circle grooved in the pavement — inexplicably round as a dinner plate, perfect and precise.  The light catches in the grass nearby, and I think:  this.

My husband makes a joke about the way I’m dawdling behind, taking photos of leaves on the sidewalk.  And I’m okay with that — being the girl who lags behind, finding beauty in damp asphalt, dry leaves and bits of green.

Because as much as I love my little city and its great-big beautiful star (and I do) … I love this shot the most:        

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Happy seeing, friends.  Hope your eyes are open to all sorts of ordinary wonder today. ❤

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