It’s been a grey wet miserable November, so I thought this month I would stitch a sunset over hills, as a reminder of the following verse from the Psalms:

IMG 0515“I lift up my eyes to the mountains-
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.”
(Psalm 121:1-2)

As I have stitched, I’ve been pondering on where I choose to lift my eyes each day, to find help for the moment, as we all wait expectantly for a solution to the global crisis affecting each one of us.

Waiting doesn’t come easily to many of us, especially if we are used to being in control of things. So, how do you manage the waiting- without wasting the present moment?

Waiting Expectantly
I got to thinking that this season of Advent is also about expectant waiting, with God’s people simultaneously preparing for celebrating the wonder of the Nativity and hoping for the return of the Saviour in the Second Coming.

For me, the waiting through Covid ( or indeed, through any struggle), is made manageable by focussing on the day, trying to make the most of each moment, choosing to create a positive out of the negative situation, through simple everyday actions. I guess, it’s resonant with my “Savouring Simplicity” series, when I stitched a whole year of everyday experiences that had been pertinent to my wellbeing…

Henri Nouwen describes this as,

“active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.”
(from Bread for the Journey, p360)

Waiting Positively
For instance, at the beginning of the Covid crisis, and the advent of increased hand washing, I decided very early on that if I was going to be washing my hands so often, then I wanted it to be a pleasurable experience. I bought some handmade soap with a fragrance that I love and try to savour the washing process, rather than resent it. The feel of the warm water and the soap suds on my hands, the aroma of the perfume, a prayer of gratefulness for clean running water at the twist of a tap each time I clean my hands.

Another of my daily joys is eating porridge for breakfast. It’s such a simple food. A handful of oats, a measure of milk, and a spoonful of honey…nothing artificial, nothing added.

As I eat, the oats growing in the field come to mind, the cows ruminating in the field nearby, a clear bright sun in a blue sky, with bees buzzing around the summer flowers as they go about collecting pollen for the honey in the hive. Yes, it’s idyllic imaginings... but it is a way for me to recall gratefulness each day, for the food I have been given.

In the queues at the supermarket, as we wait to be admitted, I try to remember to pray for those in front and behind me, the staff outside in the cold weather, being grateful that I can shop at all when so many globally do not have that privilege.

IMG 0979 cropped etcThe simple joy of drinking tea is often underrated, too,  I think… the joy of sipping from a favourite mug, and a favourite brew whilst taking 5 minutes out from a work task can make all the difference to the next part of the day- savouring the taste and the smell, recalling the many stages of how those aromatic leaves reached my cup, and thinking of those many miles away who grew my tea on far away hillside plantations.

Like many, I am also relearning to receive the gifts of nature available so freely…the changing skies, the rain, dew on the grass, frost white over in an early morning, the complexity of a leaf, planting bulbs in expectation that Spring will come again…

Days of Despair
Don’t get me wrong, I like everyone else, have days of despair, but I try to tell myself that there is little I can do but enjoy the wonder of what I have…not bemoan what I don’t have…

Savouring Slowly
So perhaps this seasonal Advent waiting time could be approached in the same manner…savouring slowly all things with thankfulness.

Each day I am going to continue to try to positively “look to the mountains”, look to the skies…towards a Saviour who is bigger than I, and a God who holds the Universe (as broken as it is) in His hands.

I am reminded here, of this Christmas song... “Look to the skies, there’s a celebration…

Perhaps you know it?

DSC 0343 cropped enhanced“Look to The Skies, There’s A Celebration
Lift Up Your Heads, Join the Angel Song
For Our Creator Becomes Our Saviour
As A Baby Born!

…Light of Your Face, Come to Pierce Our Darkness
Joy of Your Heart Come to Chase Our Gloom
Star of The Morning, A New Day Dawning
…One Day in Power He Will Come Again
Swift Through the Skies He Will Burst with Splendour
On the Earth to Reign

…Jesus, I Bow at Your Manger Lowly
Now in My Life Let Your Will Be Done
Live in My Flesh by Your Spirit Holy
Till Your Kingdom Comes”

(words from: Look to the Skies, there’s a Celebration, by Graham Kendrick, 1984 Thankyou Music)

So, in the waiting times of Advent and beyond, I will look to the hills; look to the skies…
and ponder on all the extraordinary evidence before me in this everyday life that our God reigns over ALL things.



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