Standing outside in the pitch-darkness, listening to the coyotes howl at the 4:30 in the morning is an enlightening experience. The new pup isn’t quite potty-trained, thus Moriah and I have been spending some early mornings crunching through the snow in the yard, bracing ourselves as a bitter wind whips through the trees. I warm her little paws on the way back to the house, and utter a silent prayer for the homeless. These frigid mornings force me to count my blessings – a cozy house, solid shoes, and a warm winter coat, just to name a few. So many others have so little, and these cold and dark moments force me to consider their plight in light of my abundant blessings.
Staring at the starry night sky seems to magnify my insignificance before God. Night after night, as I stand out there holding a 15 pound pup on a leash, I can’t help but contemplate the transcendent majesty of God. The house is quiet and dark. Here I am, alone with my thoughts, and yet God is there. I wonder at His goodness in creating the beauty that is reflected by the snow, even under the cover of darkness. The snow shimmers like glitter as the moon beans dance across it. Even in this bitter chill, I can feel that God is present. As I stand there alone and cold, I feel God’s Almighty gaze upon the very shadow of my presence.
St. John of the Cross once said: “Our greatest need is to be silent before this great God…for the only language He hears is the language of love.” Here in the frigid blackness my soul seeks His Light. Ordinary meets extraordinary. Were I sleeping, (like any normal person) I would miss this opportunity for voiceless reflection. Other than the call of the coyotes, silence and meditation are pretty plentiful out here at 4:30 a.m. As I begin to count the blessings in my life, my thoughts and prayers turn to those whose lives are in need of HIs Grace. I feel His Love most abundantly when I ask for it on behalf of others.
The coyotes again howl, and Moriah seeks shelter between my feet. As I scoop up the pup and warm her tiny paws with my hands, I realize that God treats us likewise. When we are spiritually cold and in need of shelter, He lovingly reaches down, lifts us high, holds us close, and warms away the chill.
The Psalmist says it best:
O Lord, You search me and you know me,
You know my resting and my rising,
You discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
All my ways lie open to you.
Before ever a word is on my tongue
You know it, O Lord, through and through.
Behind and before you besiege me,
Your hand ever laid upon me.
Too wonderful for me this knowledge,
Too high beyond my reach.
O where can I go from Your Spirit,
Or where can I flee from Your face?
If I climb to the Heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the grave, you are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn
And dwell at the sea’s furthest end,
Even there Your hand would lead me.
Your right hand would hold me fast.
If I say: “Let the darkness hide me
And the light around me be night,”
Even darkness is not dark for You
And the night is as clear as day (Psalm 139: 1-18, 23-24).
May God grant you His warmth and His Light,
Ad Jesum per Mariam
It is so good to read about people engaged in such ordinary experiences who are led to contemplate the profound mystery of God. Makes me feel like I am not alone.
Thank you Fr. Jon for the kind and gracious words. I enjoy your blog immensely.
Beautiful Mary Anne!