Reflecting on Vision….

Eye of the Trees by Steve Ullenius, All Rights ReservedIt’s been a tense morning, home with a sick child. I’m waiting to hear back from the doctor, concerned as always that my daughter’s asthma complicates what would be a simple stomach bug for others. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Steve. This image of winter trees was taken using a fish eye lens. I can imagine Steve lying on the cold ground until he got the optimal perspective. But what really drew my interest was his comment about this photo. Steve said the trees look like the retina, so I began to ponder what we mean by the word vision. Our ability to perceive our surroundings is a complicated and nuanced gift. Those of us blessed with good vision often take it for granted, and can fail to understand the struggles of those with poor eyesight. I recall one of the first arguments my husband and I had after we married. He had moved my eyeglasses, and I was unable to locate them. I needed to wear my glasses to find my glasses. Yet what I found the most frustrating about the situation was how little he appreciated my plight. So I asked him to wear my glasses. He was astounded by how blurry the world seemed. I replied that what he saw was my world without my glasses. He needed to see the world through my eyes to understand my perspective. Like Steve’s photo, that took a bit of discomfort, but the view was well worth it. Make time today to give thanks for your ability to soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Recall the smile of a small child, or the bulbs pushing up through the soil. Consider the world through the lens of another, someone with more expertise or experience, someone who lacks what you take for granted, someone who yearns for more but is uncertain where to start. And always remember, when the wintery trees begin to block the view, all you need to do is look up. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Fisheye Winter Trees’ by Steve Ullenius, All Rights Reserved

Reflecting on Love….

The Cloud of Hearts by The Sofi's WorldWe awoke to find a light dusting of snow, just enough to be pretty, not enough to be a nuisance. By my second cup of coffee, the snow had begun to melt. Now it feels like spring, although I’m sure it will be as cold as winter by nightfall. This time of year it’s hard to know what to expect. So I was drawn to this creative artwork by my new friend Sofi. Hearts are an obvious choice for Valentine’s Day, but the arrangement of the hearts is what caught my eye. I love how the hearts are piled onto one another, forming a cloud of love. Consider those you hold most dear in this life. How did you meet each other? Did a mutual friend or family member introduce you? Or were you drawn together by a common interest or activity? Perhaps you both attended the same church, or worked together. As you learned more about one another, you found you had more in common and the relationship grew. Then life brought along its inevitable changes. We grow closer when our circumstances are the same, and often drift apart when our circumstances differ. Like the weather, the time we spend with one another can blow hot and cold. Yet we all know a loved one who is always there for us, no matter how long it’s been since we spoke, or how many miles may separate us. We can always pick up where we left off, and continue as if it was just yesterday. That bond is like a favorite book, or our most comfortable article of clothing, familiar and soothing no matter how long it’s been. It seems to me such a strong bond is built on the hearts of many, hearts that taught us to care for ourselves and one another, hearts that live through us even when the physical heart has long since departed. Like Sofi’s art, our lives are built on a cloud of love. Make time today to reach out to those who taught you the meaning of love. Open your heart, and your mind and your soul. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, trusting in God to fill in the gaps when your words and efforts fall short. Truly and deeply listen, especially when what you hear is uncomfortable or annoying. Accept what you hear with gratitude, for only the deepest trust allows such openness. And always remember, no matter what this life brings, the Holy Comforter is only a heartbeat away, waiting to ‘heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds’ with the balm of abiding and steadfast love. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Quote from Psalm 147:3, Art entitled ‘The Cloud of Hearts’ by The Sofi’s World ©2012, All Rights Reserved. To see more of Sofi’s work, go to http://thesofisworld.com/

Reflecting on Snails….

Snail #2 by Gemma CostaThe grey skies and bleak mornings sap my energy this time of year. I even stop bothering with a ‘to do’ list, since I can’t seem to work off more than I add each day. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo by my friend Gemma of a curious snail. I love how the eye stalks are in focus, while the rest of the snail and the background are a bit blurred. The snail finds its way mostly with the shorter tentacles, reaching out to test the way ahead before proceeding, while the eyes offer a view from higher up. I first really looked at snails when I was a young officer stationed in Los Angeles. I was living in a small duplex, with sorely neglected roses all along the house. As I began to trim them back, I found more and more snails. I disturbed their habitat so they invaded mine. I couldn’t park in the driveway without running over snails, or walk across the porch without stepping on snails. The neighbors told me to put down snail bait to get rid of them, but somehow that just seemed all wrong. In fact, a lot was wrong with my life then, as my first marriage was falling apart at the seams. Sometimes I would sit on the porch praying for a way out, a way to heal what was broken, or I would be simply lost in sorrow and dismay. Then I would look up and see the snail that seemed to be going nowhere had actually made progress. It may sound weird, but those snails gave me hope, that no matter what happened, God had a plan. That plan might take a lot longer than I hoped it would, but there was a plan for me, a plan created by an Almighty and All Merciful God. Make time today to really look at what God places in your path. Let go of your usual expectations, resist the temptation to judge, and simply soak in the reminder that God is in charge. Become lost in the beauty of nature, or find the beauty in what others find a nuisance. Trust the Author of Creation who was, and is, and always will be. And remember, you can get there if a snail can, as long as you look up to find the way ahead. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Gemma Costa ©2012

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