I took a walk down to the edge of the lake this afternoon. Considering our house is only a matter of feet from said lake, that doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment. But it was the first time I have been out in the fresh air for any length of time since coming down with Covid two weeks ago.
We recently moved, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m still struggling to see this as my home. The house is great. It couldn’t suit our family better. But it’s the surroundings, the environment, the atmosphere that still feel so foreign. The wildlife has done its best to welcome me, sporting its beauty up and down the road and through our back and front yards — pheasants, deer, otters, innumerable squirrels, ducks, eagles, songbirds galore, and even a porcupine. But it’s not just the wildlife that gives this place a sense of wildness. Everything about it is rough and rugged. And I’m still having trouble embracing it. I miss the rolling green hills of my gentle island home. I miss the rich red soil of its potato fields and the fine white sand of its dunes. I miss the sunshine and the vibrant colours. Nova Scotia seems a little drab and wet and foggy and rocky. Its colour palette is right on trend with those grey tones that have been all the rage in home decorating in recent years.
Today was one of the rare sunny days. I sat on a boulder in the sunshine and waited while a few moments of my day unfolded. Our lake is fairly shallow so the least amount of wind stirs it up. The waves haphazardly splashed the rocks at the shoreline, every so often sending a spray as far up as where I sat. True to form, a little squirrel scampered by, pausing by my foot for just a moment to greet me nervously out of the corner of his eye. A pair of Canada geese flew by, in perfect synchrony, wing to wing, their long necks pointing the way to wherever they were hurrying.
Skinny spruces shivered above me in the breeze. The branches, with their light fingertips of new growth, really did look like hands clapping excitedly. It’s not just the “trees of the field” that do that, I guess (Isaiah 55:12). Apparently this joy can overtake trees by a lake too. Maybe they were catching a bit of the sky’s proclamation of the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). And what about these rocks? Are they “crying out” (Luke 19:40)? I suppose in a way, they are. They stand there so obtrusively. They’re not getting out of anybody’s way! They plant themselves solid and seem to say, “Look at me! Aren’t I something? I’ll still be here long after you’re not.” Their audacity is almost admirable. Even monstrous glaciers could do no more than scratch their surface.
Four years ago, on the rocky shores of another lake (the Sea of Galilee) I visited what is left of Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. There is a chapel there dedicated to the women of the Bible, women like Mary who found true wellness in Jesus. Its beautiful sanctuary is named Duc In Altum, a name that comes from Luke 5:4 where Jesus commanded the Apostle Peter to “put out into deep water”. The pulpit is actually in the shape of a fishing boat and stands in front of a wall of windows overlooking the very waters Peter launched into in faith and obedience.
Under the Duc In Altum chapel is another, more intimate worship space with a gorgeous mural on its curved walls. The painting zeroes in on a fingertip touching the hem of somebody’s robe. It’s the finger of the woman with the bleeding problem. When she quietly touched the bottom of Jesus’ garment, she was instantly delivered from the affliction that had tormented her for twelve long years. I bet she had a story to tell about that day for the rest of her life!
The day I visited that chapel in Magdala I had no idea the troubled water I was about to wade into. But having now come through it, I know that wholeness is always within reach when we encounter Jesus. It’s His dream for each of His daughters. And when I finally reached for Him with what little, fading faith I had, I discovered His faithfulness, in the deepest of water and stormiest of seas. God has done an extraordinary work of transformation in my life in recent years, pouring out one wave of unlikely grace after another. And I know He is calling me to share that grace with others. But it’s a sharing that will require a level of vulnerability I just don’t know how to prepare myself for. As much as I miss my gentle island, maybe the Lord knows that rugged Nova Scotia is what I really need right now.
Nova Scotia, I need your fortitude, your grit and guts, your determination, and your boldness. I need you to show me how to withstand the wind of a raging storm and still shiver in unabashed praise. I need you to teach me how to stand immovable, for all to see, despite my glacial scars, and not shy away from my calling in this season. Like Mary of Magdala said, “I have seen the Lord!” How could I keep quiet after all He’s done for me?
Be blessed today by this beautiful song inspired by Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus on Resurrection morning. May it inspire all of us to be brave as we speak of Christ and follow His call into deeper waters of faith and obedience.
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what he had said to her.John 20:18 CSB