Reflecting on Beyond….

The morning and evening skies have been glorious lately, making the changeable weather almost tolerable. I may not know what to wear, but I know I need to look up, to look beyond where I am here and now. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Gemma, entitled ‘The Stand’. I love how the picture is framed in the foreground, perhaps by trees or a doorway. The mist lends a mysterious mood to the scene while the sun seeks to rise above the dense clouds. How often are our lives like this scene? Perhaps we are too preoccupied with the day to day to look beyond our current circumstances, or too content or comfortable to consider the possibility of change. We put out heads down and soldier on, oblivious to the beauty just outside our window. Or perhaps our lives become shrouded in mist, devoid of color and light. One day follows another, filled to overflowing with ‘to do’ lists that never get done. Yet even when we cannot see the way ahead, God has prepared a path for us. Take time today to look beyond the mundane, to consider where you are and where you are heading. Listen to friends and family, who may be able to discern the path ahead, to see the forest when you can only see the trees. And remember, it’s always easier to look up, to look beyond, when we simply stop, and stand. Photo by Gemma Costa, entitled ‘The Stand’


Reflecting on Rhythm….

The March wind is roaring outside my office window. It’s what Winnie the Pooh would call a blustery day. Even the majestic oaks are dancing in the wind, yet it’s the tiny branches of our poplar that caught my eye. So I was drawn to this magical photograph by my friend Luis, part of his series called ‘The Secret Life of Plants’. I am always amazing at how plants can be incredibly strong, yet still remain supple. Even the tiniest branches sway in their own peculiar rhythm, twisting and turning in response to the wind. We must let go of the specifics to detect this rhythm, looking at the same branch over time, until each particular image blurs together. At first, it may seem we have lost more than we gain, until patterns begin to emerge. We notice the graceful arch of a single branch is echoed in the scene all around us, the curve of the treetops reminds us of the shapes of passing clouds, the same colors appear all around us, popping up in the most unexpected places. The same Creator who blessed us with life calls out to us through the bounty and blessings of nature. Whatever name you give the Author of the Universe, whatever faith tradition you call your own, we all recognize the unity of our world. The same shapes and rhythms sing across the galaxy, from the tiny subatomic particles being discovered each day, to the far reaches of outer space. Take time today to see and hear the rhythm of creation. Pause to soak in the beauty of a single bloom, or to gaze at the stars. Listen to the sound of water splashing on rocks, or birds singing in the trees. And remember when we let go of our human perception, when it all begins to blur together, the rhythm of the Almighty will shine through, showing us more beauty than we ever can imagine. Photo by Luis Gonzalez, part of a series called ‘The Secret Life of Plants’

Reflecting on Decisions….

The weather has been unseasonably warm. It feels more like the beginning of summer, rather than the beginning of spring. I spent a lovely afternoon on the deck, watching a pair of hawks in our backyard, and listening to them call to one another. At first I thought our red tailed hawks had returned, until I noticed the markings were different. Once again, we have been graced with a pair of hawks, but this time they are sharp skinned hawks. So I was drawn to this amazing photo, capturing the majestic features of this beautiful bird, taken by my good friend Ryan. Hawks are stunning creatures, regal in a way humans seek, and fail, to mimic. I am always stunned by their alertness and patience, as they scan the fields for prey. After remaining perched and almost motionless for longer than you can imagine, they gracefully and decisively leap into the air to swoop down on their prey. We have even seen hawks grasp copperhead snakes, barely touching down before flying off with their conquest. It’s little wonder that American Indians consider the hawk a powerful reminder to be alert and aware, a totem to view your path ahead with careful consideration. Perhaps you are like me, struggling with the careful consideration part, failing to look before you leap. Or perhaps you struggle with making decisions at all, concerned you’ve missed something and will take the wrong path. Take time today to learn from the hawk, pausing to be ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ ~ Psalm 46:10. Let go of the need to know everything, trusting the Holy Spirit to fill in the gaps. Let go of your own agenda, allowing matters to unfold in God’s time, not yours. And remember, when we take time to see through the eyes of the Most High, we’ll know when to gracefully and decisively forge ahead, following the path our God has prepared for us to walk in. Photo entitled ‘Sharp Skinned Hawk’ by Ryan Wick

Reflecting on Heart….

An unseasonably warm day is more than welcome, less than a week after snow flurries. While we may be baffled by the weather, the birds are beyond thrilled. This morning a chorus of birds greeted me, singing their hearts out. So I was drawn to this amazing artwork by my friend Jeanne. I love how she combined an accurate anatomical image of the heart with images of nature. The two toned background emphasizes the left and right sides of the heart, which seems like a vase on top of a table. Our hearts are often taken for granted, despite giving us life one beat at a time, despite holding the longings and desires of this life. We go about our days without giving it a second thought. We expect our heart to work for us, day in day out, both in a physical and emotional sense. Yet without taking time to fill our hearts and nourish our souls, we find our lives, and our hearts, like an empty vase. We can become so overwhelmed by the busy-ness of life, relying on logic and reason to sort out our days, that we can allow haste to run roughshod over our own feelings and the feelings of others. Perhaps that hectic pace hurts us more than we know, damaging us in ways that only surface years later. Take time today to fill your heart with love and compassion. Allow the Holy Spirit to drench your soul, to slow your steps, to bind you together with those you love. Invite the Author of Life to sanctify all of your efforts, creating a chorus of both reason and emotion. And remember, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever’ ~ Psalm 73:26. Art entitled ‘Sacred Heart’ ©2012, by Jeanne Mischo, used with her permission

Reflecting on Promise….

It’s a glorious morning, and our yard is filled with all sorts of bulbs beginning to bloom. Yet I was drawn to my orchid in the garden window, with a single blossom beginning to unfold. I love how you can glimpse the intricate detail of the petals, barely open to view. Just yesterday this bloom was tightly closed. It seems we are offered a living history of creation, simply by scanning the blooms along a single branch. I love this orchid, but waiting for the blooms to open is an exercise in patience. There are times when a branch may appear barren, doomed to never bloom again. Then one morning we will awaken to discover tiny nodes, almost invisible to the eye. These nodes slowly grow into what looks like a dark nut, solid and hard. In time, the outline of a flower appears, slowly turning green. Then one morning, we are greeted by an emerging bloom. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. The colors are vibrant and deeply dramatic. Best of all, the blooms last and last, at times seeming to defy gravity. God’s promises are a lot like an orchid’s blooms. There can be days when we are uncertain what the future may hold, when we despair that God is even there. We may allow setbacks to drain us of hope, allow facts to deflate our faith, allow earthly concerns to draw our attention away from the divine. Little by little, we can box ourselves in, slowly losing the path that has been prepared for us. Yet we must remember God’s promises unfold in God’s time, not ours. Take time today to ponder reminders of God’s promises. Pause to look at the beginnings of new life, emerging all around you. Consider part of your life you thought was barren, trusting the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into dried bones. Know that God is always faithful, even when we are far from faithful. And remember to be patient, as the reward is always worth the wait, seeming to defy gravity and lasting longer than we can ever imagine. Photo by Connie Chintall

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 975 other subscribers