Some of the paintings I enjoy most are landscapes. Scenes like calm, peaceful, endless miles of ocean or turbulent, churning, white-capped waves amidst twenty foot swells. Or how about soft, rolling golden waves of four- to six-foot high tall grass prairie feeding hundreds of North American Bison or wild Mustangs. And we cannot forget endless vista of snow-topped peaks and shadowed valleys featuring the millions of Bristlecone Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce and Quaking Aspens reaching heavenward throughout the Rocky Mountains. Each one exposed. Naked. Raw.
And while I very much enjoy looking at such landscapes, I don’t want my life to emulate them. I hate getting caught feeling bare, unkempt, wild, or unfocused. I would rather appear calm, collected, on target, and put together to the watching world. Vulnerability is cute when it’s a commodity you are selectively choosing to give away. It’s painful when it takes you by surprise.
Our Heart & Soul Hospice patients and their families make lots of decisions. One of them is whether or not they’re going to let a Chaplain they’ve likely never met to enter their landscape. Whether their personal landscape is peace-filled, turbulent or filled with endless peaks and valleys, they allow people like me to walk in and share their experience. I try always not to take anyone by surprise. I want vulnerability to be something of their choosing. Life is raw and naked enough. They should be the ones choosing what and how to share their lives with me.
When others are facing a turbulent landscape brought by disease or death that they would rather keep to themselves or hide altogether, I do my best to treat each sharing as though it were a priceless gift. Why? Because that is what has been done for me. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
Our God is indeed a very present help when our world is seemingly out of our control. He is here today through the power of love to conquer sin, death, hell, and the grave. No enemy or disease can stand against Him. While we sometimes will give in to lesser thoughts, you and I need never live in fear or be afraid of the Almighty.
And He loves landscapes. He loves your landscape … not matter how calm or turbulent it might be. Being vulnerable to the Almighty releases the possibility for unmeasurable power, healing, hope, and freedom. Let Him enter your landscape and create within you a beauty this world has never yet enjoyed seeing!