milkweed and butterflies...

Yesterday was unusually refreshing.

I spent the better part of my day enjoying a rare sliver of time where I am suspended in between the worlds of seen and unseen. For whatever reason, my spirit was perky and poised making it so easy to discern between the real and the seemingly real. I was able to listen to someone share with a sharp's like the Spiderman movie where he could engage in that fight and see everything in slow motion while the other people was living in real time. It's like words would slow down and my heart could absorb them with honor. I felt alert to the Spirit's joy. I would be driving somewhere and all the sudden be "surprised by joy" as C.S. Lewis says. A warmth would move through my insides and I was exposed in the best way possible. The best way.

I spent some time with my girls after work over at Doug Olin's farm. We go there about twice a week to pet little kittens, feed hay to the horses, drive the four know, all the things that fast moving society has totally forgotten exists three hundred feet off the pavement. Virgin land is somewhat of a Edenic experience for me in this chapter of my story.

We picked a big bag of concord grapes together with the idea that we would make some "wine" that evening. We got home and made our way to the kitchen. I had this--what I thought was a--brilliant idea to put the grapes in large ziplock bag and let the girls stomp on them violently squeezing the lifeblood out of them. Unlike alot of my deranged notions, this one actually worked. When all was said and done, we had a whole pitcher of grape juice. I added some sugar and some water and "whalla", we had some wine from the Holdridgian Valley winery. I got out some fancy goblets and poured each of the girls a glass. We drank it and talked about how awesome it is to make things yourself instead of letting someone else do it for you. What a special moment that was with them.

After that, we went outside and I gathered some of the sticks left by my good friend Dave Gringhuis and made a whale of a bonfire. I've share before that fire holds a mystical place in my heart for some reason. I'm a pyro saved by grace. The girls played pretend out in the yard for a while as I played around in the fire pit. After about 15 minutes, I decided to play tag with them. I chased after them and if I caught them I would put them in the dungeon. They could tag the person to get them out. As fathers do, I let them free each other to keep the game alive. I was sweating like a stuck pig when all was said and was fun.

Yesterday was alive.

Today was alive in different ways.

I met with a buddy this morning serendipitously. His name is Doug. He stopped in on his way to somewhere. I'm glad he did. Our conversation led to some really amazing sort of shocked me honestly, because I did nothing to make it happen. Alot of times in ministry, I make a moment happen so I miss out on the "surprising joy" of the encounter while creating that for the other person. That's ok for the most part, but boy is it sweet when it happens to me every now and again. I felt alive upon his departure.

I went to lunch and on the way back, I stopped at my buddy, Dave Gringhuise's house. He is the aforementioned "wood fairy" that stealthily drops off wood a couple times a week to bless my heart and family. I never asked him to do it, he just does. I hadn't thanked him in a while, so I wanted to let him know how much that lifts my spirit when I look out my kitchen window and see stacks of wood by the fire. I say stacks of wood because he bundles the wood into roughly six piles according to size. The first little pile is the smallest of twigs and the next pile is bigger twigs. The next pile is an assortment of small sticks and the one next to that has larger sticks. The final two piles have larger chunks ranging from medium size to huge. You would have to see it to believe it. Suffice it to say, it's an act of kindness that shows love with a precision and care that is rare. "Care that is rare." I like that phrase.

"Care that is rare." That would describe my encounter with Dave today. I walked into his yard and he was mowing the lawn. He saw me, shut off the lawnmower, stood up and walked toward me with his hands extended making sounds of joy. He hugged me tight and we talked there for a while. We moved up toward his driveway and I thanked him for his secret ministry to my life that no one knows about but me. He shook off the encouragement like he always does saying something about "it being nothing." If he only knew how rare it is for people to care so.

I looked at a tree by the driveway and it had three pieces of duct tape hanging from a limb. At first, I didn't think anything off it, but as I stared at it, it caught my eye. I asked him what the tape was for and he said, "Oh, that's where I hang the flag if someone in the area is killed in an accident or if someone from our area dies in Iraq." He stated it like everyone does that. I just listened to him share how much it affects him when someone dies. His care for strangers just blew me away. I wondered why I was hanging up a flag or giving a second thought to real people who die in our neck off the woods. I wondered how Dave could care so much about such small and simple details that slip through the cracks of culture.

We walked toward his front lawn and he showed me the male and female muleberry trees that he was nurturing in his front yard. I noticed a patch of grass in the middle of his lawn that was unmowed and it had these huge weeds growing out of it. I wondered why he would leave it untouched. So I asked him. What came out of his mouth almost made me cry.

He nonchalantly shared how he heard that a certain breed of butterfly only laid their eggs on milkweed. He leaned down and tenderly tilted one of the milkweeds toward me. He said that milkweed doesn't grow everywhere, so he wanted to let them grow so the butterflys would have a place to lay their eggs. What resulted was a patch of overgrown weeds in the middle of his lawn...who does that? Who cares about a certain butterfly that much? Who cares about butterflies at all? Who would nurture a garden of weeds in the middle of their lawn so that Maybe, JUST MAYBE this particular butterfly would be delighted to find a place for her young. I was choking back tears.

He offered me venison that someone just gave him. He thought it was cool that this guy dropped it off, cause money was tight and he had given his last $41 to the Encounter church plant for a few bundles of shingles for their new church roof. All the while, the roof on his shed is in need of imminant repair. He said he would bring the venison over to my house tonight with another load of wood.

Only God can produce this kind of love in a human heart...I felt the brush of angel's wings today in Dave's yard....or maybe it was just Dave giving me a hug as I hopped into my truck and headed back to work for the afternoon.

I saw God today and He's beautiful.


Nancy Peacock said…
I've just read your last 3 entries all at once and that has left tears on my cheeks and a willingness to be more vulnerable and not too shy to leave a comment. I read your blog whenever you post, and I notice that not many people comment. I wanted to encourage you, letting you know how much pleasure I derive, and how much you challenge my life with your writing. Thank you for taking the time and energy to write. You have an unusual ability to combine great storytelling, spiritually challenging yet exciting content, a love for humankind AND a gift for writing. Thank you for sharing your life so vividly, honestly and effectively.
Jody said…
I, too, read and am moved each post you share. Seems that God speaks through you. And maybe this blog is like a 'weed patch in your frontlawn'...just sitting here waiting for the possibility of a butterfly to stop for a place of rest and renewal.
Thank you for caring so passionately. You see it in others- but I can see it in you.

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