Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The lit bush

The lit bush

Alone in a city, with an evening to myself, I am wandering.

It is one of my favorite things to do, particularly when an assignment is done and I am filled with relief and satisfaction (not to mention an overpriced but delicious dinner).

Tonight, I am meandering through the streets of Atlanta. It is that time of day when the streets are crammed with cars and the scarce pedestrians are purposeful. Unlike them, I have nowhere to go tonight. The air is balmy. The light is lovely: glass buildings reflect each other and glow in the lengthening rays.

A tree-lined walk between two high-rises beckons me. I vaguely remember that I’ve walked this before, years ago, when I was new to my itinerant career. A hazy memory suggests that it leads to nothing, but I take it anyway. For this is what being carefree requires.

I find a half circle of benches, shiny, portioned with dividers to keep sleepers off. Sitting, I breathe a prayer of thanks: for the warmth, for the nascent green on the branches above me, for the elegance of the tower behind them, for the time to notice. I remain, delightfully alone, for a while. In the background I hear the rhythmic pounding of construction that must be winding down soon. But I am disturbed by neither man nor beats.

Before I leave, I get up and follow the path a little farther. It leads me to a hidden garden, with bushes ablaze with color. A beam of light chooses one spot for me to notice, like a hushed sharing of a secret. My heart surges with a cocktail of emotions that I have yet to name: gratitude, delight, surprise, even humor mingle. Is this some variation of wonder?

It is the celebration of a moment.

Only later do I find this poem by R.S. Thomas that captures what I feel.

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have to
possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Father, thank you for your presence in any given moment. We are so frivolous with those moments, discarding them like they’re a dime a dozen, when each one is a priceless pearl. You invite us to live in the present with you. Draw us into that present. Slow us down. Make us look for you and listen for you throughout each day.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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