Reflecting on Treasure….

It’s a cool, clear morning on the last day of summer. The slanting sun casts long shadows across the lawn. The air is still and all the earth seems to pause. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Alexz, of Lake Brittle. This lake is the centerpiece of one of our county parks. When my daughter was a toddler, we would often stop at Lake Brittle on the way home, after I picked her up from daycare. I especially liked this time of year. The summer visitors were gone, and there was seldom a boat on the lake. We would wander along the shore looking for treasures, and listening to the insects sing as the evening approached. Then we would head home to make a simple supper, grilled cheese sandwiches or perhaps scrambled eggs. Her collected treasures would sit in a bowl as our centerpiece. Now my daughter is a senior in high school. Life is very hectic, full of class work and college applications. Our calendar seems more crowded than ever. So I am even more grateful for those quiet evenings by the lake, when sunlight softened as the summer ended and the leaves began to fall. Another small child recently reminded me of those simple treasures. A new family visited our church last Sunday, and the youngest son Gabriel sat on the aisle, smiling and happy to be in church. When the offering plate was passed, everyone noticed four acorns in with the checks and cash. Gabriel had placed those acorns in the plate before the service began. I don’t know about you, but I believe those acorns meant more to the Author of Creation than all the money combined. With a grateful heart, a small child offered his all his treasure to the Holy of Holies. We see today what was written in Isaiah long ago. ‘The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them’ (Isaiah 11:6) .Take time today to see the world through a child’s eyes, to hear with a child’s ears. Stop at a local park on the way home and wander, rather than walking or hiking. Allow your heart to guide you, to open your eyes to the wonders of creation. And remember, no matter how hectic life becomes, there is always a simple treasure waiting to be found. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Lake Brittle’ by Alexz Jade ©2012, used with her permission. To see more of her work, go to http://azjcphotography.tumblr.com/

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Reflecting on Depth….

It’s a cool, autumn morning. I’ve often thought September is the best kept secret in Virginia – the days are still warm, but not humid, with clear skies and plenty of fluffy, cumulus clouds. I recall cross country trips when we camped along the way, seeing sites that remain with me almost thirty years later. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my new friend Glenn, of a thermal pool in Yellowstone National Park. Everyone stops to see Old Faithful, dazzled by the geyser’s 100 foot plume. Folks stand around and chat, wait for the next burst of boiling water, then wander off, soon to be replaced by another crowd, and another. Few stop to view the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin, full of mesmerizing hot springs. While Old Faithful spews out its water under pressure, these pools quietly dazzle the eye and awaken the soul. A minute algae creates these vibrant colors, an organism that thrives at temperatures we could not begin to tolerate. It seems to me our faith can be a lot like these geysers and hot springs. In the beginning, we seek out mountain top experiences, returning home after a retreat full of energy and enthusiasm. We hang onto that sense of the beyond for as long as we can, but real life has a way of wearing us down. In time, we learn to cultivate and nurture our faith, attaining a more abiding sense of the Almighty in the every day. We learn to dig deeper, to delve into the recesses of our hearts and souls. We recognize our own limitations, and learn to lean on God, understanding that through our weakness we are made strong. Take time today to look beyond the drab colors of your daily routine, to open your heart and soul to the vibrant colors drawn by the Author of Creation. Allow the Alpha and Omega to guide you, to guard you, and yes, to heal you. Embrace the mystery of the beyond, and accept knowledge that is beyond facts, love that is beyond words. And remember, the Holy of Holies is crafting a beauty greater than you ever imagined possible, even when you’re up to your neck in boiling water. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Chromatic Pool’ by Glenn Nagel ©2012, used with her permission. To see more of Glenn’s work, go to http://www.nagelphotography.com/

Reflecting on Stone….

The days are getting shorter and the shadows are getting longer. The leaves are beginning to turn, and to fall. Soon our yard will be carpeted with leaves. So I was drawn to this amazing photo of a stone church by my friend Carole. I’m not sure if the leaves are turning, or if the sun is creating the orange tint at the top of the tree line. The vines are far past their prime, yet still cling to the stones. At first glance, this church seems to have lost its vitality. The roof is full of rust, the paint is chipped and fading. Yet in the windows, we still can see a reflection of abundant life. While people may have walked away, God abides in this holy place. My grandmother would say this place is ‘prayed up’, that the prayers of so many have soaked into the ground and even permeated the stones. Where others would see a disused building, she would see the prayers of many who have gone before us, and remain faithful, if not in this life then in the next. We pray to the Infinite and All Powerful, to a God that is, and was, and always will be. Even when we feel lost, when we feel as if our lives are simply drifting along, we remain firmly in the palm of God’s hand, enfolded in steadfast love, without beginning or end. Take time today to shake off the rust in your life, to let go of the withered vines, to cling fast to the stones that abide. Let prayer soak through you, allowing the Author of Creation to show you the path ahead. Trust that new life lies beneath the dreariness of this world, and claim the promise of resurrection life. Start here and now, with one step at a time, trusting that each day is an invitation to begin again. And always remember, we are far from alone, for we have God to lean on, full of strength and love. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Carole Buckwalter ©2011, used with her permission. To see more of Carole’s work, go to http://www.buckwalterphotography.com/

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