Through the dedicated efforts of a group of Union County citizens, the Mt Emily Recreation Area was purchased from timber/property company Boise. Whereas most folks use it in the spring, summer, winter months, the area offers excellent winter recreation. Meg and I have enjoyed snow shoeing here. Recently, several days of snow were followed by very cold weather and blue skies. The snow hung heavily on the pine and fir branches, creating a proverbial winter wonderland.
I took these pictures yesterday morning, but I like them as a way to end the old year and begin the new one. The sliver moon pictures were taken at early sunrise and the remainder were taken at sunset, after spending the afternoon cross country skiing up at Anthony Lake with Marshal, Jasmine, and Chung.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the Lord’s glory shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David. And you will recognize him by this sign: you will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
How wonderful to be “overwhelmed with joy,” as the prophet Isaiah writes. This is the season to be overwhelmed with joy as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ who came to live with us and for us, “God and sinners reconciled.” Yet we do need to be reminded continually, as the angels have told us, “do not be afraid…nothing is impossible with God.” We are surrounded, always, by this most incredible and joyful assurance!
“Joy and sadness are as close to each other as the splendid colored leaves of a New England fall to the soberness of barren trees. When you touch the hand of a returning friend, you already know that he or she will have to leave again. When you are moved by the quiet vastness of a sun colored ocean, you miss the friend who cannot see the same. Joy and sadness are born at the same time, both arising from such deep places in your heart that you can’t find words to capture your complex emotions.
“But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched by a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy that no one can take away from us.” Henri Nouwen
“I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my many moments of distrust and doubt. They are there and will be every time I turn my eyes, ears or hands away from you. Please, Lord, keep calling me back to you, by day and by night, in joy and in sadness, during moments of success and moments of failure. Never let me leave you. I know you walk with me. Help me walk with you today, tomorrow and always.” Henri Nouwen
In today’s “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald Chambers writes, “We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute.”