I can scarcely imagine a cathedral more magnificent, or one more conducive to fellowship with the Maker of heaven and earth. Fiery-red sumacs form a natural vestibule into this holy place. Their branches, thick and low-lying, rightly compel a pilgrim to bow when entering. Inside, white-barked birches and crimson-leafed maples spire upward, directing the mortal gaze heavenward in thanksgiving and adoration.
A gentle wind rustles the leaves overhead. The first October frost has come, like some secret Michelangelo to his Sistine Chapel, bequeathing a ceiling which dazzles with a living palette of color. Somewhere out of sight a solemn crow calls the service to order, and a chorus of song-birds suddenly appears in the cantilevered choir lofts of the forest’s lower branches. A nearby oak, 60 feet tall and probably 500 years old, puts me in creaturely perspective.
I am visiting my mother and stepfather in southern Ohio. Their farm includes a pond well-stocked with fish. The fields, now leased to a sod-grower, resemble a manicured golf course. The old farmhouse, built shortly after the Civil War, is remodeled with decking, rock garden and patio. Surrounding the back fields on three sides are these marvelous woods. Here I have come for solitude, and for communion with the Creator.
“Will I ever be able to live amid such beauty?” I ask the Father. My soul aches to do so. I was reared in such a place, as were my ancestors for the 275 years I have been able to trace. The New Earth will surely include forests — even the Great City is built around the Tree of Life. Is this too much to ask?
I wait in silence for an answer. It seems to come in the sentence which next flashes to mind. “You do — today.” Those three simple words trigger more reflection. “What a gift!” I exclaim. “God has given me ‘today’ — and I am able to praise him here in these woods!” Too soon, it is time to return to the house. The sun shines through the variegated leaves as I prepare to exit this cathedral not built by man. Certainly this is the reality which stained-glass windows attempt to reproduce.
My heart is at peace. God has given me “today.” My task and pleasure is to use it to his glory. A lifetime, however long or short, consists only of “today,” and another “today,” and as many “today’s” as God sees fit to apportion. It is all we have. It is enough.