By Mark McRenyolds, A Rocha USA’s SoCal Project Director
As profoundly expressed in Dr. David Taylor’s entry, artists help us in seasons that don’t make sense. Entering this Advent season with acute aches and chronic longings, we’re drawn to the ready gifts offered by A Rocha Arts partners. Lyric expressions taken from recently-released works serve as a spring from which each week’s reflection flows. We begin.
Reader Instructions: please pick a random thought below. My hope is that “these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart will be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14), and in yours, O Reader. Please do read the words, but also feel free to read between the lines because the Lord has blessed the space that’s in between.
My wife and I share a house with two other people: that means I listen to the music of others. I walked into the kitchen recently and found one of our housemates listening to Christmas music – a full two weeks before Thanksgiving. My mind quickly raced to judge: “Christmas comes earlier every year!” Thankfully, I did not blurt out my unkind thoughts, and, as I did my business in the kitchen, the well-known words and tunes woke the hope of Christmas in me. Wow – it’s almost Christmas – when Jesus came! Jesus really is coming, but we live in that hopeful (and sometimes hard) in-between space blessed by his presence in Spirit.
The holiday season brings the short luxury of free time (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day) and induces introspective reflection in me. In that in-between space, my mind, so often tunnel-visioned on the work at hand, relaxes a bit, wanders about, and ponders the last year, while wondering about the New Year, for which I am hopeful. That in-between space is blessed.
How good it was to find fellow believers who deeply care about God’s creation – that was the gist of a recently-posted comment in A Rocha USA’s program Love Your Place. I have heard that comment before and so responded that I too have often felt awkward and lonely, in between Christians and conservationists, not accepted well by either camp, an oddity. Eventually, I realized that is right where I was supposed to be, that God had blessed me to be in that space in between.
Preparing for A Rocha’s Eco Church, I enrolled in a utility’s workshop on electricity and conservation. I was reminded of my high school and college physics classes: that we do not know exactly where an electron is at a given time, that electrons can move from low to high energy states, that matter is mostly space. In other words, at the atomic level, there’s a whole lot of space: almost all in between. Life is mostly in between, just as God made it, blessed it and called it good.
May this time of holydays create a holy space in your life, in-between times, full of watchful waiting for the coming of the hopes and dreams of all the years, our hope, Immanuel. He who is God with us, he who reconciled all things to God through his death on the cross (Col. 1:20). He became the in-between for us and the rest of creation.
Dr. Mark McReynolds is the director of the A Rocha USA’s SoCal project in Los Angeles, California. An avid birder, Mark has knowledge and experience in ornithology, conservation biology, environmental education, environmental theology, and ethics. He spent four years running a field station in at Jaguar Creek Ecolodge in Belize, five years in the Dominican Republic, and seven years directing the Environmental Science Program and teaching at Biola University. While teaching at the university level, he served on the A Rocha USA board. Mark has now stepped down from that 30,000ft. view and is working on the ground in his place to encourage Christians to care for God’s creation and conservationists to care for God. Learn more about Mark’s Wild and City Centers Vision here. Follow his work on Facebook @SoCalARocha and Instagram @socal_arocha