Reflecting on the Crest….

It’s a sweltering hot day, one better spent indoors if you have air conditioning, or on the water if you have access to a boat. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by a good friend of a building wave, far from shore. I love how the water looks all the more blue against the golden sky, with wisps of fog up against the shoreline. I owned a small sail boat in years gone by. I loved to watch the water and the sky, adjusting my path to the currents and winds. Perhaps those sailing experiences colored my view of this building wave, until a recent surgery forced me to contemplate my own mortality. I began to ponder how this life relates to eternal life, and what it means to pass on. Then last week an old and dear friend passed away, after over 90 years of abundant life, a life of service to others. Our current experiences are all we know, all we can fully grasp in the flesh. Who among us does not strive to leave a mark, to make a difference, to leave a lasting legacy that extends beyond the grave? There is no one who can offer their experiences of eternal life. Any notion we have of what happens after death is pure speculation, limited by definition. Perhaps this mortal life is simply the crest of a building wave. If God is infinite, all powerful, steadfast love without beginning or end, then this eternal life must be beyond all imagining. Yet I also wonder if the eternal life is here and now. When we let go of the past and the future, when we enter into the here and now, we accept the gift of eternal life, the present. Take time today to celebrate life, to open your heart, to begin again. Stretch beyond what you know, or believe you are capable of achieving. Offer your insights and encouragement to those who share your interests. Build one another up in love, adjusting your path to the winds and currents of one another’s lives. And always remember, although this life will end, love never dies. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012

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Reflecting on the Pit….

It’s a quiet, peaceful morning, still cool from last night’s rain. I woke early and took a leisurely walk around the yard with our dog. It’s funny how the same view can appear so different over time, or perhaps the view is the same and it’s me that’s different. Like my beautiful yard, this amazing art by my friend Jeanne seems to defy simple explanation. I have been pondering this work for quite awhile, slowly letting go of the analytical and opening up the emotional. The common thread through my contemplations has been the Pit, so often mentioned in the Psalms. I must admit struggling with how this glorious and beautiful work could evoke the image of the Pit. There have been times in my life when the Pit has been all I could see. There was no way out, no past or future, only the present pain. I lost sight of God, but not before I lost sight of the Godly people in my life. I believe the Psalmist speaks of depression, of despair, of hopelessness. You give up on life and in so doing lose your life. Does it really matter if you physically perish once the Pit has swallowed you up? Perhaps you have suffered from depression, or know someone who has. You may be able to look up, to see the vastness above, while another seems only to see the narrowness of their current situation. We are meant to live in community, to be there for one another, to hold each other up in prayer. When we are caught in the Pit, others can see beyond the pain, slowly bring joy back into our lives, turn our eyes back toward God. Take time today to reach out to others, to hold them in your heart, to pray for their concerns. Let go of judgment, simple solutions, expected outcomes. Simply be there for someone else, or ask another to be there for you. Trust that a healing has been prepared, in God’s time, not our own. And remember through it all the words of the Psalm 40:1-3,

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the Pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the LORD.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Art entitled ‘Vortex’ by Jeanne Mischo ©2012, used with her permission, to see more of her work, go to http://jeannemischo.wordpress.com/

Reflecting on Rapport….

It’s a quiet, lazy morning, with my daughter off to camp and my husband at work. I’m enjoying a second cup of coffee, pondering what to do with a day at home alone. I do enjoy time apart, but can’t imagine being on my own for long. So I was drawn to this amazing photo of my young friend Kellen, taken by her father Scott. Kellen has a gift with animals, a natural ease, a connection that goes beyond words. On a recent trip to Ireland, she sat down on a rock wall and these two horses came over to greet her. Scott took a whole series of photos, capturing the unfolding scene. Yet it was this photo that caught my eye. Kellen seems lost in the moment, at one with the horses. There is a zen quality about her posture and attitude, an ability to simply stop and immerse herself in the moment. The rapport between Kellen and the horses is palpable. It almost jumps out of the photo. Sometimes rapport is instant – we meet someone and feel we have known them our whole lives. More often, rapport is developed over time, our sympathies aligning as we know one another better and better. Perhaps we have weathered a crisis together, or forged a partnership working toward a difficult goal. While others were squabbling and tearing each other down, we worked seamlessly together, placing the mission before our personal satisfaction. Yet often the most powerful partnerships involve the most dissimilar pairings. The union takes on a life of its own, and takes us places beyond what we could hope for or begin to imagine. Take time today to look and listen to those placed in your life, perhaps even someone that annoys you. Let go of what you expect a new friend to look like, whether young or old, male or female, human or animal. Let God lead your heart and guide your soul. Pray to see one another through God’s eyes, and to hear one another through God’s ears. Allow room for the Holy Spirit to build a bridge between you, to form a new creation. And remember, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to embrace the dissimilar, together we can become so much more than the sum of our parts. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Scott Levinson

Reflecting on Pursuit….

The weather has been oppressive, with soaring temperatures and sky high humidity. Walking the dog is a chore, so forget about any sort of yard work. We badly need to clean up after the storms, but that will have to wait for a milder day. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Jeffrey, of an insect on the back of an American Kestrel. I love the intricate patterns and beautiful colors of the bird’s feathers, contrasted against the bright green of the insect. This Kestrel is no bigger than a Mourning Dove, yet to the bug I’m sure he looks enormous. This insect has perservered, and is almost to the top of the bird’s head. Persistence is a quality I did not appreciate as a young woman. I think back to my time in the military, days of drilling in the Texas heat, exercises in the Nevada desert. We would do the same thing again and again, until the pattern was indelibly imprinted in our subconscious. We could replicate our work drunk, asleep or terrified out of our minds. I hated the process, but came to love the result. I learned that working hard and mastering a skill was worth the pain it took to acquire it. Have we lost this quest for accomplishment? It seems we have become an instant society, wanting more and more, and wanting it right now, thank you very much. The idea of working toward a long term goal is lost in the quest for instant gratification. We want happiness without the pursuit, victory without struggle, joy without pain. Happiness has been reduced to simple satisfaction. We no longer willing to seek long term accomplishments, learned from our mistakes and missteps over time. The joy of cooking, music, or exercise rides on the crest of short term disappointments and unwelcome discoveries. Take time today to consider a skill you desire more than you crave your current comforts. Begin to work toward a long term goal, to further your profession or a personal interest. Consider a past time that brings you joy, even while striving to improve. Reach beyond your usual boundaries, praying for the Holy Spirit to work through you in a new way, to breathe creativity into your life. And remember, when you become discouraged or frustrated, even the tiniest insect can climb the largest mountain one step at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Hiking the Kestrel Mountain’ by Jeffrey Foltice ©2012, used with his permission. To see more of his work, go to http://photonatureblog.com/

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