When Less Is More
Chill nights and fall rains
Leaves that trees have spent a season making
drop, one by one,
then, in a gust of wind, by hundreds—by thousands--
then they are gone.
Sprawling vines, succulent and thriving in summer warmth,
cower at the first touch of frost,
then sink into the earth from which they sprang.
Autumn pulls down the curtain of external things
and reveals what remains.
The trees have grown--
their skeletons are taller than they were a year ago.
Our young forest races toward maturity.
Pumpkins, once submerged in a green sea,
repose on the grass
like stranded driftwood on the beach
as summer-tide retreats and winter low approaches.
It is right
that this should be.
There is pleasure in the changing seasons,
rest from toil,
hearth and soup and cookies hot from the oven.
It is right
to see what would otherwise remain unseen,
to peer beneath the verdure to the fruit,
to see the purpose in rampant growth
of season well-spent.
It’s harder to appreciate
the reductions of life.
In moments when the curtain is pulled back
on the essence of our lives;
when a thousand exertions
quiver and drop like leaves
in an autumn breeze;
when we’re touched by the frost
of an unexpected grief
or the realization
of a long-awaited sorrow;
when, as the sun goes down, nagging questions persist,
when we’re out of time
and know it--
Then we see what we really are
and catch a glimpse of what God is after
in the course of our ordinary lives.
Reduced, we find out that God is in the business of exchanging
beauty for glory,
busyness for worship,
strength for dependence,
achievement for fruitfulness,
and wealth for treasure in the heavens.
It’s startling to see what God values,
to understand—to reckon with
the fact that He is after hearts,
not just heads,
that He cares more about fruit that remains,
than showy activities,
that He might be pleased to let the fulfillment
of our visions tarry,
if in waiting, we learn to wait on Him.
God’s proving ground—His reductions--
are a chance to see Him
and who we are in His sight--
not just to do--
to taste our less,
which is His more.
Father, thank You for less:
I would know Your courage to go on
when all my courage is spent,
when I’ve depleted my selfish resources . . .
I would know You
rather than just disconnected facts about You . . .
when my own way is obscured.
I would that my life
to a world needing to see more than a bunch of leaves.
Thus says the Lord:
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,
let not the mighty man boast in his might,
let not the rich man boast in his riches,
but let him who boasts boast in this,
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord who practices
and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight,
declares the Lord.”
Photos courtesy of Anna Robbins
© October 2011 by Robert G. Robbins
Standing in the Rain
There’s nothing like a cold all day shower to make you want a good, hot bath. After standing in cool fall rain for most of the day my first goal after work was getting warm.
It’s like this: my job that rainy day was cutting lumber on a saw that sits outside. In sunshine, you might get a tan, but in rain, you begin to rust.
My old red rain slicker shed much of the water from my head and torso—and distributed it to my jeans and socks. It wasn't long before even my gloves were saturated. I grew intensely cold and when I tried to pull my gloves off, I found I had lost much of the feeling in one of my fingertips.