Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul

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The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul. – Psalm 23

A walk in the park:

dsc_2725Monday morning, our grandson David – the newly minted five-year-old – marched happily into school while the rest of us made our way to Maymont Park in Richmond. It was a warm, sun-soaked day, and the pictures (captured by my Nikon DSLR) look entirely different from the iPhone 5 images taken on the September excursion with my aunt and uncle (click here for those photos).

The beginnings of fall color only offered a hint of the glory to come (I’ll have to return in November); but the trees were beautiful, the Japanese gardens were delightful, and Naomi’s family is, as always, photogenic.

Unconscious Meditation:

dsc_2647-1For me, wandering slowly through these beautiful gardens was a kind of spiritual meditation. I didn’t formally engage in prayer or contemplation, but serenity accompanied me as a constant undercurrent, integrating God’s presence through the experience as an unstated truth.

Of course, one could argue that the fact of God is always an integral part of any experience, acknowledged or not, believer, agnostic, or atheist. But I have come to appreciate the fact that it is different when we have chosen faith, when we learn to consciously rest in God, when we intentionally walk with God, when we cultivate that relationship. Then, even when we are not necessarily thinking spiritually, we are living spiritually, and the apprehension of divinity resides so close to the surface that it colors everything we experience.

So God was speaking to me as I watched Beks walk along, holding her grandmother’s hand; God was nurturing me when I looked through the lens of my camera and caught a moment of natural harmony; God was filling my heart with love when I focused my telephoto on Craig, Naomi, and Beks, crossing the stepping stones; God was smiling, God was refreshing me, God was reminding me – is reminding me – that life is fundamentally good.

Be Still and Know:

dsc_2698This is a constant refrain I tend to sing, but we still forget so easily – so willfully. God wants us to cultivate stillness as a routine part of our lives of faith.

How can we pray if we have not first quieted our minds? How can we grow in the knowledge of God if we fail to take the time to listen? How can we be renewed, refreshed, and restored if we constantly immerse ourselves in noise, and rush, and clutter?

Quiet your souls, friends. Stop. Stop wherever you are, and repeat these words slowly and deliberately:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me… Psalm 23

Quiet your souls. Be still, and know that God is God. Allow yourself to be filled up with the peace that passes human understanding. Give God the space and the time to refresh your soul….

– DEREK

(click on one picture, then enjoy 20 slides:)

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