BEAUTY WITHIN THE BEAST – A LESSON IN CONTENTMENT
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God. (Psalm 42:1)
The rain puddles on what is already a dark, gray and grim skyline. Industrial plume around this town is thick enough to rain specks of oil on our office windows and cars, and probably into our lungs too. Most days I question if it’s worth the half-decent pay to drive here and do this job just to pay the bills at this time.
My work office is located on a street with a rail station next to us. Behind that are a smoke-puffing oil refinery and a sister lube plant divided by a busy heavy tanker driven road. This is my daily work scenery. The only outside view of beauty is a small patch of woods in the back of our warehouse fence , a few office plants in devoted co-workers’ desks and a small triangle of lawn on our street.
My motivation can be as dismal as the surroundings on some days, requiring daily prayer for a speck of beauty, life and hope. One day it was answered.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
In that small thicket of trees in the back of our warehouse lives a family of deer. Sometimes we get to see them. One day in early spring I saw the family of six on the small triangle patch of grass next to the railroad station. Some young fawns had roamed in between the rail cars. Curiosity appeased, the parents and fawns came back together to feed on the few blades of green grass on that small acre of grass by our office door.
A few saw me and watched, wondering if I would be a threat to them. We watched each other as they munched. The smoke-stack plumes continued. Jets from the nearby airport catapulted into the air and over the smoke, a big noisy oil truck drove by the refinery, then the train whistle blew. Yet, they seemed oblivious to the ugliness around them and signaled to each other it’s time to move on. The six of them walked away toward the thicket, not alarmed by the noise and waste around them.
Am I bothered by this stench we all call progress more than they are, or are the deer simply and blissfully ignorant? Where do they drink fresh water while people in my office have to get bottled water shipped in regularly to drink cleaner water? Are they breathing in that refinery smoke and smelling the wasted land and atmosphere we all call industry? Or do they make the best of what they have? They don’t seem aware of the dangers around them, only satisfied that they had food.
14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; (Psalm 104:14)
Why can’t I feel like that? It’s a struggle for me to be content some days. Yet, I got what I asked for – a job. He never promised it would be in lush gardens or without hard work, but I just have to be content like the deer and still seek Him, even now. And look forward to something else in the future, striving to endure while I’m here and be a Light.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1Cor 2:9-10)
Observing the deer did help for a little while. I long to see them again, meanwhile, I have noticed that the field of tall bland grass has become riddled with wildflowers. Yes, even here in the middle of industry and waste.
Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (song of songs 2:12)
There is still beauty in the bleak when we look for it. It isn’t always as we envision it, but sometimes it is simpler and better, a taste of what will be.
My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord. (Psalm 104:34)