American Cemetery at Normandy

In our travels, we ventured several times to the UK.  The best trip was a combined land and cruise tour to the British Isles in 2000. We saw Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, the White Cliffs of Dover, Waterford and Dublin Ireland, Wales, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland (we attended the annual Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle)  and, just across the English Channel, made our first trip to Normandy. There is so much history and I just soaked it up.

My Favorite Cow – Orkney, Scotland

I loved everything we did and was emotionally slammed by everything we experienced, Why? In part, the impact of history and what men did so I could live freely. If you walk away from the American Cemetery at Normandy and are unaffected, you need to stop at the nearest ER for a pulse check because you are probably dead. You cannot go any distance at all without being touched by something from either the first or second world wars. All that stuff about “The Greatest Generation” – I believe it. 

Beyond that, honestly, I believe it was some historical, innate attachment to family from way way back. I was so at home, so at peace, so easy.  It goes without saying that my “bucket list” includes trips back to Scotland and Ireland and very specifically a trip to Northern Ireland (never visited) where my Dad’s family actually came from.  

You cannot travel in the UK without passing pastures filled with cows and sheep. I am certain that when the term “pastoral” was coined as a description for a peaceful place, the hills and valleys of Scotland, particularly, were the example.  When I think of flocks and herds, I think of “stupid sheep” (see and earlier blog entry on that topic) and Psalm 23 comes alive for me.

North Sea – Orkney Islands, Scotland

 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Cows and sheep grazing in Scotland

Last week, someone used Psalm 23 to paint a word picture I had never considered. It was a really terrible day. This person is a new friend and has an amazing witness and just “happened to be there” when I reached my limit to cope with a situation. 

He asked me, “In Psalm 23, what does God do for us?” I had to walk myself through the Psalm (out loud) and it hit me: “He preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”  Right there in the middle of the battle, God is there and providing for us beyond anything or any way we can imagine. He set the best possible white table cloth dinner table for us right in the middle of the battle and we can stop there, rest, be nourished, fully within His protection. He surrounds us with comfort – that hedge of protection we so need while we are fragile. That hedge is far stronger than the hedgerows that separate the pastures in the UK but serves the same purpose for us in that it keeps us from wandering away.

Cille at looking down the cliff at the North Sea

Here we go with another week tomorrow. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I know He does. My cup is full and running over. My joy will not be stolen.

He is Emmanuel, God with us.  I believe.