Early each morning for nearly four years I have walked around our neighborhood with Connor, our greyhound. It is, most days, a most wondrous time. Connor is, by others’ observation as well as mine, an amazing animal that lives to enjoy relating to anything that moves, but especially humans. His walks are most complete when he is able to cross paths with one or more established or new friends. And if there’s another dog to meet or enjoy, he’s doubly happy. He makes a habit of leaning heavily into those whom he most appreciates.
The mystery of my bond with this creature I am charged to care for seems a vital connection to what once was and what one day will again be. Both Connor and I are fulfilled and reflect the glory of our Creator in these moments together.
Walking in the early hours of each day is an invitation to be present in a way that the noise and activities of the day tend to challenge. The quiet, peacefulness that morning’s first light offers is a breathtaking experience.
I hear more. I see more. I feel more. I process more of life. I laugh more. I cry more. I sing more.I pray more.
Connor and I are surrounded by the music of creation, a symphony to the Creator that is new every morning. When we’re quiet, creation cries out a continuous song of wonder. And I join that symphony most mornings, voicing the wonder of participating in the song.
- When morning gilds the skies…
- Morning by morning, new mercies I see
- And he walks with me and he talks with me…
- Holy, Holy, Holy…
Then there are mornings that are marked by a moment of breathtaking beauty that literally stops me in my tracks and excites my soul. And though I’ve come to walk in anticipation of these moments, they always come with an element of surprise. It’s as if a veil is lifted and creation’s song becomes much richer and powerful. I’ve been stopped by
- the beauty of a dark, moonlight-less morning
- the deafening quiet of creation at rest
- the powerful light of a full moon in the crystal-clear darkness of the morning
- the shimmering stars that form the familiar constellations of my childhood
- the hushed sounds of gently falling snow
- the mystery of dense fog hanging in the air – the muted colors and sounds
- the colors in the sunrises – colors beyond the scope of any human artists’ palette
- the clouds that are beyond my imagination
- the red fox, coyote, bobcat, and deer that have walked along side us or crossed our path
- the polyphony of creation’s song – squirrels, birds, dogs, crickets, turkeys, owls, deer, and other yet-to-be-identified creatures
It is in these moments that I experience a perfect storm of sorts, where mysteriously all my hope and desire are exposed. And in the expansiveness of that moment they are met by Him who is Beauty, the object of all my hope and desire. And I can almost hear the very rocks crying out around us.
When was the last time you were stopped by Beauty?
The golden morning sunlight descends in the trees and on the houses of our neighborhood like the stage curtain at the close of an act; it signals an ending, but that is overshadowed by its signaling a beginning.
These words formed on my lips as I walked with Connor one early morning this week, and I began to understand what I hadn’t found words for since the start of the week.
The week was all about beginnings.
I began the new season of my career when I walked into the offices of Thomas Nelson, slowing only slightly as I waved while passing the receptionist’s desk on the way to my desk. Two visitors were at the desk signing in, so the “Sir!” that echoed from ten feet behind me just made me smile as I continued my confident stride. But when I heard a louder, much more authoritative “Excuse me, sir! Where are you going?” I stopped mid-stride. I’m not even sure my thoughts had caught up with my immediate reaction; it seemed to take a second or two to think maybe I was the target of the receptionist’s assertive inquiry.
I turned and found myself mumbling somewhat feebly about being a new employee and heading to my office, to which the receptionist replied “You will stop here every day to sign in and get a guest badge until you have your official employee badge.” I don’t remember what I said after that, but it was some variation of “Yes, ma’am” as I returned to the desk to sign in and receive my badge. This was a most-fitting way for the adventure to begin, and I’ve laughed about it each day since.
It was a week of embracing beginnings. New people. New surroundings. New responsibilities. New schedules. New commutes. New products. New relationships with former colleagues. New energy and enthusiasm. New stories to tell. New knowledge to assimilate. And so much more.
Exciting beginnings emerge like a treasure from a chest of good endings, and I’m so excited about the days ahead!
Friday marked the close of my 30-year career in the music industry. It was a day I had set in motion two weeks earlier when I resigned from my position with Integrity Media. The weeks were filled with thoughts, memories, and feelings that I did my best to embrace as they came, especially the sadness of leaving a company and the company of dear friends in the process.
Here’s what the day included.
- Doing some final clean-up of files on my computer
- Finishing work on some requests that came in at the last minute
- Packing out the remaining personal items
- Sending out farewell messages to both my Integrity Media and Provident-Integrity Distribution colleagues
- Making the final tour of the office, accompanied by Connor, to say goodbye to the distribution team (oh, did I mention I took Connor to the office for the day? I sort of figured the worst that could happen would be they’d kick us out, and that just didn’t seem like such a bad scenario on my last day.)
- Turning in the key card and office key – the final ceremonial act acknowledging I’d no longer be able to pass the front desk without an approved chaperone (and without Connor)
And so it was finished. After arriving home I checked my E-mail and was able to read a number of very kind messages from colleagues who had replied to the message I’d sent out earlier. And while basking in the warmth of those kind words, it happened.
I knew it would, but I hadn’t anticipated when, and it was quite a shock. My BlackBerry beeped and vibrated in protest of a sudden communication problem with the server in Mobile. Huh? Already? I hadn’t really thought about how quickly the crack IT department in Mobile would shut me out of the system, but they’d done their job efficiently and effectively, as they always have when I’ve required their help.
The sudden feeling of finality immediately reminded of something I’d witnessed years earlier. Shortly after being hired by Word in 1981, I traveled to Waco, Texas, for my inaugural visit to the home office. The morning I arrived there was laughter echoing around the offices over something that had happened before I arrived. The previous day had been the final day of employment for the head of A&R, and when he had returned to empty out his office that morning, his parking space had already been re-painted with a new name. His dramatic reaction when he saw it stirred laughter all around the office. (Contrary to what he suspected, the painter had been scheduled to freshen the paint on the spots for weeks. The timing was coincidental, but of course no one bothered to tell him that.)
So there I was at 6:00 p.m., a mere hour since the official end of the business day, and I’d discovered my parking spot had already been repainted. Hmm. That felt like real finality. This was the day it ended.