Reflecting on Fathers….

While the heat of the summer has arrived, the humidity is thankfully absent. I’m thankful we have such a beautiful day to celebrate our fathers. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Heidi Anne, of a small child walking with her Dad. I love how her hair is caught in the wind, how small and relaxed she appears. The father is wearing business clothes, and perhaps that’s what reminded me of my father. Daddy seldom wore anything other than long pants, and usually wore a tie. The only times I recall when he didn’t wear a tie were long summer days spent on Burlington Island, enjoying the cool breeze even on the hottest of days. Daddy would pack up the John boat with all manner of supplies, whatever my sisters and I thought we ‘needed’ for the day. We would fire up the Sears motor and head across the Delaware, landing between the two islands where we could safely swim. Sometimes we would wander off into the woods, or search for the soft, white clay that gathered in pockets beneath the shallow water. My sister loved that clay, and we brought home more of it than you can begin to imagine. One day, there was too much for one trip. Daddy took my Mom and sisters over, returning for me and the gear. On the way back, we hit something under the water and damaged the motor beyond repair. Daddy and I rowed back, side by side. I realize now how difficult that must have been. He was vastly stronger than I was, and had to adjust his stroke to mine. Yet he knew it was better to keep me occupied than to allow me to fret and feel helpless. Daddy was there for me, even if it meant taking twice as long to get there. And best of all, he laughed about the whole mess, from wrecking the motor to our hapless paddling home. Take time today to let your father know what he means to you, to remember a time when an accident turned into an adventure. Thank your father for the lessons you have learned from him, for the part he has played in the person you have grow to be. Honor him today by sharing a special memory, a silly story, or a favorite photo. And remember, even if your father has passed on, that while life may end, love never dies. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘One Life, One Love” by Heidi Anne Morris ©2012, used with her permission, to see more of her work, visit http://www.redbubble.com/people/heidiannemorris

Reflecting on Prayer….

School is out and I am thankful for quiet mornings, a chance to slow down rather than rush off. The days have been cool and clear, with picture perfect skies. There seem to be birds everywhere, birds you can hear singing even when you can’t see them. So I was drawn to this extraordinary photo by my friend Gailen, of two birds perched in a tree. You couldn’t ask for more of a contrast between these two birds. One seems to be angry, shouting at the other, with more than its open beak can hold. Yet what really got my attention was the other bird’s reaction. Rather than slinking away or hiding, the second bird is leaning forward, carefully listening to every word, regardless of the volume or tone of voice. How often do we shout out what we want, insisting that every detail is just so? We demand rather than ask, shut down rather than opening up, talk rather than listening. How we interact with others often carries over into how we offer our prayers to God. We scream to be heard, imagining God is so far away, or simply not listening. We expect God to slink off and hide, offering a human reaction to our anger and disappointment. Yet God is right there with us, as close as our next breath. God is vast beyond our imagining, powerful beyond belief. No matter how we feel or what we say, God can handle it, from you, from me, from all seven billion of us at the same time. Take time today to talk to God, without concern about your tone of voice or the words you use. Let go of what weighs down your soul and burdens your heart, trusting the Holy of Holies to comfort and guide you. Hang in there and work though it, like the Psalmist, starting out in a shout, then ending in song. And remember, through it all, God is eagerly listening, leaning toward you to hear every word. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘I’m Listening’ by Gailen Mapes ©2012, used with his permission

Reflecting on Humility….

It’s an unusually cool morning for June in Virginia. The door to the deck is open, allowing the cool air to filter into the house. I was thankful for my sweater as I enjoyed my second cup of coffee under cloudy skies. So I was drawn to this stunning photo by my friend Cecilia. She crossed a busy highway and knelt down to take this shot, offering us a vastly different perspective. From this angle, these flowers seem to defy gravity, unfolding above a narrow, delicate stem. Poppies are often planted along our major roads, a beautiful alternative to scraggly weeds. Yet we speed by without noticing, or just glimpse the vivid colors when delayed in traffic. How many of us are willing to take our some of our time, to pause to really see what is before us, to humble ourselves to kneel in the presence of God’s creation? Humility seems to have a bad rap these days. I often hear humility equated with low self esteem, as if to be humble means to lose rather than to win. Yet the Christian view of humility is more about self awareness and self acceptance. Charles Spurgeon defined humility as a right estimate of one’s self, so that a person sees himself in all his imperfection and insignificance, but also with a true regard for his abilities, resources and position. That right opinion of ourselves is God’s opinion of us, rather than our own. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this concept. There are days when I don’t want to let go of disappointment, or pain, or loss. I become ‘Pollyanna’ in my prayers, offering only the good and leaving out the bad. The only way I know to work through it is to pray, day in, and day out, opening my heart to God to allow healing light to enter in. Take time today to place your burdens at the foot of the cross. Let go of the idea that you know best, that you know all, that you need to be more perfect than you are to deserve God’s love. Confidently humble yourself, knowing that God loves each and every one of us for who we are, not who we pretend to be. Allow the Author of Creation to enfold you in love, a love without beginning or end, accepting you just as you are, warts and all. And remember, when we humble ourselves, we can defy gravity, floating above a narrow and delicate stem. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘The Low Down on Poppies’ by Cecilia Carr ©2012, used with her permission

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