Friday, January 8, 2016
I portaged along a rushing stream that emptied into a deep pool into the lake below. As I made my way I could hear my grandson talking to his dad. They were catching fish from the canoe at the edge of where the current slowed. There was something about their exchange that made me stop to listen. For a good while their voices carried across the water and up into the woods to where I came to rest. Their words joined the sounds of the wind blowing through the red pines that towered above us.
These weren’t just any words. They were the kind of words that in my memory now defined the trip. They spoke deeply of the very nature of how we form and nurture relationships.
The prophet Isaiah spoke words of great promise. They showed a way forward, filled with regard and delight: I have called you by name, you are mine... Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you. They weren’t just any words but ones that form a sense of belonging with an awareness of being God’s sons and daughters.
It’s usually during the early weeks of a new year, and in the season of Epiphany when I begin to plan my next wilderness canoe trip. I start pouring over the maps. Much of where I decide to go next is determined by where I have been on past trips, who will be going with me and just how challenging I want it to be. I have learned over the years that it’s the splendor, like voices across the waters that keep me coming back. Such moments cannot be planned. But they always seem to put the inconveniences of rain, wind and cold in their proper place.
The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was marked by his baptism and the voice from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” With such clarity and blessing Jesus began his work. Whenever we begin anew, the promise of our baptisms are there so we might trust the Spirit at work, leading, guiding and forever forming the persons we are called to be!
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters…
The voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.
– Psalm 29