Friday, February 26, 2010

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Yesterday, lectio divina drew me to an unexpected verse.  It came from my John Baillie book of prayers; a daily book that has been in my a.m. worship since late 2007.  This was the phrase  (not new but unexpectedly fresh) from Baillie's prayer -

" ever-present remembrance of the great traditions wherein I stand and the great cloud of witnesses which at all times surround me."

It was the last full day of our rest and restoration in Maui and as I felt the fresh ocean breeze through our open lanai doors, heard the surf and the birds greeting the sun of the day, my thoughts flew to the rich culture and native ancestry of the Hawaiian Islands.  Surely the DNA of Maui's ancestors is still present from the times they sat on this mountain side - then a deserted place of beauty with worshipers akin to me savoring their gods' creation. 
The landscape, of course, has changed.  The hilltop is no longer forested with solely indigenous plants, nor visited by tiny red and yellow birds - the birds of color almost extinct now, the hilltop dotted with a multitude of condos inhabited by modern "worshipers" perhaps involved more in idol-like worship than in praise and thanksgiving for this beautiful island.  I honored the ancient spirits in prayer for their courage and perseverance in finding and settling this place, and for both theirs and my worship of the awesomely beautiful creation washing over our souls; I also gave thanks for their presence in my personal prayer time.

Do you have physical sites in your life that bring awareness of the great cloud of witnesses to the forefront of your heart and mind?  Maybe even as you close your eyes and pray for their support you feel them now?  I'd love to hear about your special places..........

Photos Sunrise Sister - #1. Overlook at Honolua Bay #2.  Maui Blue Sky:)
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  1. Mesa Verde is one of the places I never forget, perhaps because the people who built into the sides of cliffs vanished for no known reason. They literally lived in the earth and of the earth and their dwellings looked out upon what can only be described as purely God's country.

  2. Agreed Maureen. We were there last summer.

  3. Maureen, I so agree with you. MV is almost magical as though a set designer had come in, set it up and then deserted. We know that didn't happen and it remains to be seen whether or not in years far beyond our lifetimes that someone will discover where these amazing people moved or spent their last days. Truly a place to be revered for its people, their ingenuity, their lives.

  4. i love where this post took you. i seem to find this kind of worship in settings that seem almost untouched by man - the beach at kino bay, mexico. i also am reminded of the 5000 year old tomb, "new grange" in ireland. to think of the commitment and engineering that took place even before the iron age is incredible... also as i think about the settlers in the u.s. who crossed mountains and rivers on foot, horseback or covered wagon. wow! i didn't think i had much to say about this topic. thanks for opening my eyes in a new way! mahalo! xoxoxo

  5. Oh my! I was going to write 'Mesa Verde' and then I saw Maureen's comment!

    I cried all the way up that amazing mountain the first time I visited. And the second time as well. The pain and the life force that are embedded in the walls of those canyons and even the ancient junipers.

    I also have that connection with Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Like the 'cloud of witnesses' are so present that they are palpable.

    Thanks for asking this important question...

    And may your journey home be peaceful and easy.

    Thank you!

  6. Somehow trees do that for me. They always look like people, watching, thinking, cheering or comforting.

  7. Lucy - I NEVER take a car trip toward either east or west that I don't think about the pioneers and what brave, maybe naive, but courageous people they were! Even the little bitty Blue Mountains of the WW Valley must have been daunting to see in the far off distance!

  8. Beth P. - I commented on Mesa Verde to Maureen and so agree with you about the mystery and sacredness of that place. Did they just lie down and die, did they all leave at the same time, were they killed by some strange airborne disease - when will their remains and where will their remains be found. I believe, probably not in our lifetime, but SOMEtime the mystery of MV will be made clear. One thing we know by just what is left - they were amazing people. "That" witnessing must wonder why we "clever ones" haven't figured out the mystery of their disappearance!
    Thanks for your reading and commenting:)

  9. LL - oh, the trees - Maui brings out the witnessing trees for me. THey bend with the wind, and whisper their secrets, and stand centuries unheralded and taken for granted. Yes, trees "do it" for me also:)

  10. Just want you to know you and your blog are mentioned in one of my posts today:

    A little bit of recognition. . .