Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
--Psalm 104 (NIV)
Creation is not the work of an angry, resentful god, who broods over human failing and plans sweet eternal hell fire in retaliation. We too often expect the Creator to be like us at our very worst -- petty, cruel, vengeful, punishing on a whim for short term satisfaction. We turn away, because He allows suffering, lets the wicked prosper, etc. We do not consider the heartbreak of a benevolent Creator, witnessing his beloved creation laid to waste. Creation is natural law in action. Reversals of natural law have consequences; they do not happen on a whim. So, the Creative principle of the universe moves alone over the waters, and perhaps images of the First Day shimmer there in memory.
The psalmist captures the wonder and amazement of the natural world; he looks into creation and sees the splendor of a world freshly made.
The perfection and the balance.
The wonder and the joy.
On Sunday, the urge to be on the water was overwhelming. I have restrictions now; I do not swing my canoe into the water and paddle at will. I cannot even lift a canoe or maneuver it now. All those summers on the lake burn in memory: I feel the freedom, the lazy draw and pull of the paddle in the lake at sunset, the dogs alert and watching, the ducklings trailing home to the creek, the beaver churning back and forth in the cove. And then, I hear the loons raise their own psalm, their hymn of praise for a remembered perfection, for a time when the earth was in balance.
The memory of my world freshly made compels me to the water.
I have built a simple frame for my battered kayak; I slide it into the back of my vehicle without lifting. I make my way to the river and let the kayak slide in. My life is slower, yes, but when I am on the water, the pain lifts, the weakness dissipates. I am free.
On Sunday I followed the meanders of our narrow river through the marshes, swallows rising all around me. The May fly were just rising. Around the bend there was a rush of feathers and a pair of Mallards burst into the air. I trailed behind a brilliant white Common Eider, his dark trim a haze as he finally took flight, his mate suddenly there and rising beside him.
The trees hung over the water more nobly, the dry marsh grass whispered more reverently, and I was transported back to the days on the lakeshore writing, simply writing because it filled my being with joy. I wrote in those times in watercolor.
Later I wrote in oil, the shoreline still strong in my blood but tempered by the struggles of the dying. In my loft, staring into the woodlot, my fingers scrambled to put down the story that rose before me.
And then it stopped.
Today, the shoreline sings in my being again. My story is new again. I will write because it delights me to celebrate a world clothed in splendor and majesty.
I am not a psalmist; my words do not ring of eternity. Yet, I will raise my words in my own small way.
I believe the Psalmist was the first canoer of shorelines.