Reflecting on Security….

Falling by Alexz JadeI’m enjoying a slow morning after way too many hectic days. The trees are beginning to leaf out, and the bulbs are blooming, yet it seems difficult to trust that spring is really here. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Alexz. I love her position, one foot trailing behind the other, her face turned toward the ground rushing up to meet her, one hand seeking to brace the impact of the fall. A lifetime ago I tried skydiving. I had always wondered what it would be like to jump. In fact, I feared high places, not because of the height, but because of my desire to jump. The real thing was more euphoric and more terrifying than I had ever imagined. After the chute deployed, there was the strangest sense of peace. I expected to hear wind rushing by me, but there was complete silence. I was in awe, amazed at how far I could see, at how secure I felt in the gear. Then I heard shouting and saw the ground screaming toward me. I crouched just in time to land safely, barely missing a nasty looking cactus. The reality of the jump had banished any fantasy about leaping off a tall building or sharp cliff. Yes, I had jumped and survived, but it took training and good gear, even the folks on the ground to help as I landed. It seems to me that security is a lot like that moment just before you hit the ground. You have done everything possible to minimize risk, yet there is always a chance something can go wrong. When you least expect it, someone is willing to take it to another level. Perhaps they lash out in anger, shattering the dreams of those around them because all they know is nightmares. Our security is always after the fact, addressing yesterday’s breach. And that security comes at a great cost. What do we gain, and what do we lose, when our schools look more like prisons than places to learn and dream? Shall we focus on the few who chose to harm others, or the many that rush to help, even at their own peril? The mathematics of tragedy has been distorted, with far too many news stories on the one or few that choose to pick up a gun or plant a bomb, while the many who quietly do good are ignored. What would our newscast look like if there was one news story for each person that sought to help another? Make time today to focus on the invisible heroes in your lives. Turn off the news and take a good, hard look at what is going on around you. Say thank you to the teacher who should give up, but does not, the mother who wipes away a child’s tears when her own heart is aching, the driver who stops to help another when he is already running late. Practice random acts of kindness, believe in the good of the world, turn away from a sense of false security. And always remember, all it takes to make the world a better place, is for each of us to reach out to one another in love, one thought, one prayer, one action, at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo entitled ‘Falling’ by Alexz Jade ©2013, All Rights Reserved. To see more of her work, go to http://alexzandrajade.tumblr.com/

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/

Reflecting on Distraction….

The leaves are beginning to turn and the ground is losing its green hue, even in the midst of so much rain. The air has an earthy smell, of damp soil and decay. Yet there is so much life if you look for it. So I was drawn to this photo of a young deer by my friend Alexz. The deer is headed in one direction as it gazes back in another direction. The meadow grass is almost as tall as its back, blending in with the deer’s coloring. Without a careful look, it would be easy to miss this deer. How often are we heading in one direction while looking in another? Or thinking about everything except what we are doing right now? We leave home without something we badly need during the day. There can be times when we are so distracted we leave behind something essential, like a passport when departing on an overseas trip. We can become curt and impatient with others, through no fault of their own. We are simply frustrated that we allowed ourselves to become distracted. Psalm 42 begins with the image of a deer, saying our souls yearn for the Lord in the same way the deer longs for cool, clear water. The psalmist is downcast, he longs for the Lord because he has lost his sense of purpose, his true north. He fondly recalls days spent in the House of the Lord, full of joy and contentment. He calls out to God, asking for direction, putting his hope in the Lord. Take time today to focus on what is truly important to you. Don’t get ahead of yourself, just complete what you need to do right now. Write down what needs to be done later, and let go of it until then. Sanctify your work, making all you do a form of prayer, allowing the cool, clear water of God to flow through you and direct you. And even when you aren’t looking where you’re going, you know God is. Photo by Alexz Jade

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