My childhood was spent in the country, just at the bend of a cavity-filled gravel road and flanked by pastures and paddocks. Front yards weren’t made to be manicured because acres were able to be roamed. Fence posts and platte lines didn’t matter much, as borders were more like open doors to further fields. And I could most often be found tucked into one of those farther away places.
Those fields loved forts and I made plenty within shafts of wheat and upon a tattered, well-traveled blanket. If I placed the blanket just right upon durum strands stretched over a little patch of earth for my cause, the still standing crops would bend slightly enough to offer me shade while wielding a window to the generous blue sky above.
Ever accompanying me into these spots were book and spiral, with pen secured in the spun silver binding. I read, wrote and wondered in these secret spots. Each moment nestled inside was a bit like being a needle in a hay stack, hard to find, but Heaven-held.
Between walls and behind closed doors there was much that didn’t make sense. But beneath wispy clouds and within wind’s breath, all was before me to comprehend. The girl that didn’t add up inside fell right into place cradled in creation. Welcome always awaited me and that hospitality unfolded much in me. A table was set again and again for communions: bright sky, birdsong and breeze the elements.
The sky surrendered to my spirit songs and the earth gave way to my tender tears. And I knew, without a doubt, I belonged to more than I could see and to every experience I had in spaces made sacred and moments made holy, by Elohim.
As I think of welcome in these days, I recall a story from the oral tradition of the history we are sprung from.
Abraham and Sarah lived in Beer-Sheba, a garden in a desert. Beyond it were barren hills and sandy wastelands. The sight of their generous grounds must have been a welcome sight for sore eyes and heavy hearts. As he planted the great garden, Abraham included a palm tree, which grew to be a beacon. Visitors and strangers seemed drawn beneath its branches. Most often, Abraham would rush out to paused travelers, ready to receive them as host and hope, as spread branches shielded occupants from wind and sun. But it is said, that if one tucked near the trunk worshipped idols, the branches would lift and the shade would shift away from the wayfarer. If such as this occurred, Abraham would make his way toward tree and traveler with a special kindness.
Broken bread was offered. A bare heart was given. Nothing was withheld. Abraham would share stories of how he was able to prepare a feast for one passing by. He would tell how he and Sarah were always readied for one to come and sit because of the One who provided for them. As Abraham shared, tree branches bent towards the weary wanderer, a sigh and sign that this one was covered. A prodigal heart now knew someone waited for them with something good.
Abraham and Sarah, with laden trays and candles aglow, were first lines in the narrative of Heaven’s hospitality. He is always ready. He ever waits. He doesn’t leave. He never lies.
A few lines down in the story, the wilderness would welcome freshly freed, that they would not live captive but captivated. What wonders met them! A radiant fire, pillared for their nearness. A weighty cloud, covering and carrying. Flakes of light that filled and nourished. Waterfalls from crying rocks, quenching all their cares.
I remember well my girlhood wilderness welcomes. There were times I carried other gods in with me, as I tried to save self and vowed never again where He had never before. I didn’t notice if in those moments the shafts of grain stood taut from ground and took shade with them. What I will always note is that Elohim came running, covering my multitude of things with love, refining my fears into hopes, nourishing me with tangible truths and satiating me with perfect peace. Elohim came, delighting me in every way, until I could find my way once more, all the way to Him, though He was never far.
There are many in this sun-baked world with parched hearts and cracking souls, in desperate need of pulsing pillars, compassed clouds, fulfilling flakes and rushing rocks. They need to be called close, held holy, fed flourishing and drink drenched. Worry can wield wonder when one recognizes its need in another.
We were each created with provisions of such power. When we surrender them freely, shade surrounds and someone sits at His feet and our hearts. Long enough to listen. Long enough for love.