I have hardly seen the mountains this week.
The haze startled me as I was driving to the church on Sunday morning. In the past couple of years, I have learned to judge air quality by how clearly I can see the Blue Ridge from Weyers Cave. In some spectacular days, the green of the trees and the off-white patches of scree positively jump. On many days, though, I find myself looking at mere shapes of the mountains ahead of me. In the spring this is often a sign of pollen, waiting to set my nose running and eyes watering. Occasionally though, it has been a sign of fires or burns taking place in the mountains around us.
This week though, it has been so bad, that the mountains, even their outlines, have been barely visible at all. The cause, apparently, is not local though. Instead, smoke from wildfires in the northwest is reported to be covering much of the United States. On Tuesday, I received a prayer request from Daniel Klayton, pastor of the Whitestone congregation in Washington state. He spoke of watching “huge plumes of fire, easily 30+ feet tall and just all over and down the mountainside” as he and his family stayed up all night, waiting for word if they had to evacuate.
The conditions that have led to these fires are not hard to imagine as we walk around our own lawns and feel the grass crunch under our feet. The rains that fuel our gardens and crops, not only make everything green. They also provide a resilience that can quench random sparks and slow the burn of flames rather than letting them rage out of control.
There is a reason also that Jesus referred to water regularly. Jesus knows how dry and irritable we can get when life gets hot and hard. Jesus knows how quickly a spark can set us off, when our spirits are dry and thirsty. So he calls to us, and invites to come to him and be refreshed. Jesus leads us to the still waters. (Psalm 23, John 10:11) He invites us to find refreshment in the waters of life. (John 7:37-38)
I have been reminded of this in our Tuesday evening Bible Studies. In the time of sharing, reflection, and prayer, I am finding Jesus ministering to my soul. I come out of each study time refreshed.
I hope that you are also finding spaces for Jesus to minister to you during these hot summer months. Sunday morning is a start, but an occasional scattered rainfall is only enough to keep the fields barely alive. We need more than that to flourish, and Jesus wants to give it to us. He wants us to be able to see all of his glory.
May God shower us in his love, and may we be willing to step out into the rain and open our arms and hearts to receive it.