It was dark this morning when I started my walk. Cold, too, thanks to the clear sky. Venus, the brightest object in the morning sky at that point, glowed in the east. The planet accompanied me as I walked alone down the path.

As I walked through the tunnel of trees, I met my morning surprise. It dawned on me that in a few weeks, when the leaves pop out again, there would not be much chance of seeing anything noteworthy through the thick canopy. Yet, this morning, peeking around naked branches, Venus and I played our game of hide-and-seek, coaxing grins from me as I trudged on.  But, that wasn’t the surprise.

So there I was walking deep in my thoughts, deep in my prayers, alone, in the dark, surrounded by silence except for my mumbled prayers. Then, under the canopy of trees, nothing. 

Everything stopped. No praying. No more steps. Silent and frozen in place, I turned and looked to the east, speechless.

I don’t believe things happen by chance. I believe that even in ordinary everyday happenings there’s a plan, a purpose, a design by God. At times we can say, “Ah, that was a God thing.” Other times we’re left scratching our heads wondering.

This morning as I gazed at the rising waning crescent moon, I gasped. The moon’s beauty caught me by surprise. I was speechless. The slim, orange, lunar slice appeared huge on the horizon.  Balancing on one tip, the crescent was perfectly framed by the trees. I was in awe. I was at the right place at the right time to experience a remarkable celestial event.

Things happen for a purpose.  It was this unexpected, surprising bit of God’s handiwork this morning that reminded me that I don’t walk alone. He is always with me. Surely, today’s gift of unexpected delight.

“The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1


The following picture, taken with my phone, in limited light, with cold shaky hands doesn’t do justice to what I experienced. I thought I’d include it anyway.

An Advent Moon

This morning as I walked, the waning crescent moon winked in and out between spotty predawn clouds.  Maybe you saw it too.  It’s the same moon here as there.  A waning crescent.

The crescents are my favorite.  The flashy full phase is fine, too.  However, the delicate fine features of that tiny, frail sliver of light  make me smile.  That’s what I saw this morning.  I smiled.

That illuminated crescent is slowly going away though.  Each day it’s getting smaller and smaller, until one day, poof it will be gone!  No more moon.  At least that’s what it looks like.  

Yet, the moon is still there.  All of it.  Even during the crescents.  Look closely.  It’s all there, the complete sphere.  It’s just not terribly obvious sometimes. It takes some looking. 

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent.  Once again, for those who commemorate such things, it began a time of anticipation and preparation for the coming of the Savior, Jesus. The celebration culminates on Christmas Day.  Sadly, for many, after all the hoopla surrounding the holiday passes, our interest in the birth of the Christ Child and even the Christ Child himself wanes until one day, poof, it’s gone.

Here, on these cold, clear, crisp Michigan mornings, the beauty of the crescent moon presents itself.  And even though it’s light dims for a time, the moon is still all there.  The Good News of Christmas is, even though our faith may dim, the One whose birth we celebrate again, is always here.  That’s one of the names we know him by – Immanuel, God with us.

Today’s Gift.