Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. — Psalm 139:14
For two days at the cabin, it poured rain. Having the luxury of an indoor bathroom, and plenty of food, my brother and I stayed dry and well-fed. Occasionally we dashed out to get more firewood from the pile. The rest of the time we listened to the drum of rain on the thin roof. The picture windows gave a perfect view of a ceaseless downpour, and not much else.
On the third day the skies cleared. The lake came into view, utterly still. Water dripped onto a forest floor of leaves and needles, and the humus they were becoming. All quiet: birds and beasts still stayed sheltered.
I suggested taking out the canoe. At the edge of the lake we turned it over; a cloud of mosquitos flew up. My brother spun on his heel and headed for the cabin, double-time. I promised the bugs wouldn’t chase us onto the water; he warily returned.
The lake stayed mirror-like, except for the V of our wake and whorls left by our paddles. Suddenly a loon surfaced. With a whispered consultation, we dared one stroke and drifted. The bird was so familiar, but this was the first time I was close enough to see her checkered back and the glint of her red eye without binoculars. When we became too neighborly for comfort, she soundlessly dove.
Everything that led to that moment, made that moment: the shared days of shelter from the rain, the clearing sky, the pesky mosquitos, the pregnant stillness of water and woods, the breath-catching encounter with one of God’s great vocalists. No souls were saved, no movements advanced. But a great wide wonder remains resident in my heart, as long as the haunting memory remains.
Praise to you, Creator, for the sudden revelation of beauty in a moment crafted from the many moments before. Praise to you, for allowing us a shared witness of creation’s tremulous liveliness. Amen.
John A. Nelson is the Pastor of the Niantic Community Church (UCC/UMC) in Niantic, Connecticut.