A young tree stands amongst giants in the forest. Today she is only a couple years old, claiming her place in the shadows of her ancestors who tower over her. She aspires to be them one day. This young lady has already come to know the way of the forest. In this community, the largest and strongest are called to provide shelter amidst storms, and even support others as they fall. Every member of this unique family is equally welcome to partake in the fruit of the soil, and their roots all intertwine beneath the earth for added stability. Diversity is very much welcomed in this city of life, as every tree grows into its own – and yet shared – space. Even in their death, the older trees literally will every nutrient and resource of their being to those around them – as one final gift of life. And so, on this glorious morning, as light streams through the thickness and reflects off her tiny leaves, she dreams of generations to come, and those that she will someday sprout to new life herself.
Such are the ways of the forest. This is pure life as God has intended. All are welcome here. Gifts are shared here. The strong raise up the weak here. Death brings the possibility of resurrection and new life here. Generations slowly pass by, handing down the wisdom of adaptability amidst the changing seasons of life. The virtues of calm, peace and quiet are the norm on most days, with storms being viewed simply as opportunities for growth. God walks through these woods every morning and every night, smiling as the Spirit gently blows a shaping wind. All the while, a young tree grows, knowing that she too is one of God’s beloved, placed in this world with intention. Amen.
Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)

A Soul Is Calmed

On this bitter cold evening, just a sliver of the crescent moon is visible low in the midnight sky. What little light it reflects into the darkness glistens upon snow packs coated in a sheet of ice. Millions of individual snowflakes have been sewn together into one gloriously pure blanket! A strong wind rushes here and there, swirling through the scene. Tree limbs waver all about, as if dancing to the silence. Just a few feet away, a skunk comes sauntering out from under a community of evergreens seeking seed left by the birds of the day. She is such a uniquely beautiful creature. For a moment, she takes stock in my presence, studying me as I study her. I am far enough away that she quickly deems me to be no threat, and turns her attention to the feast at hand. This poor creature is cold and hungry. Only the two of us stand as witnesses of this moment in God’s creative presence.

I find myself both calmed and amused as I watch her and allow the breeze to run through me. God is here. God exists in the wind which has been released into our world from Divine lungs. God exists in the trees and this little creature who have been molded into being by Divine hands. God exists in the Divine light shining into the world from above. God exists in the Divine purity of snow and ice released from heavenly storehouse. It is exactly because I see God’s fingerprints in all of this that my soul is calmed. And so, with one last deep breath, I inhale all that is here into my being. This moment in God’s presence shall never be repeated exactly in this way, but neither will its refreshment be forgotten in my memory. Eat well little one. Good night trees…good night moon. Good night, Lord. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, IL)