Reflecting on Surprises….

We were surprised by over 24 hours of wintery mix this weekend, leaving behind a cold, wet mess. Snow before Thanksgiving is unusual here in Virginia, let alone prior to Halloween. So I was drawn to this photo of Knoebel’s Amusement Park in Elysburg, PA, taken by my cousin Diane. Everything is covered with ice and snow, even the rides in the background. Imagine how cold those metal rides would be and you’ll know why the place is deserted. Everyone is holed up at home, curled up in a blanket with a book, unless they need to battle the hordes for the last loaf of bread or roll of toilet paper. I don’t know about you, but I am not the biggest fan of surprises. Sometimes not knowing what will happen is fun, but more often, it turns out like this freak snowstorm. What we thought would be fun ends up being a sloppy mess. No matter how much planning we do in advance, a detail is forgotten, or the secret is inadvertently revealed. Worst yet, the surprise may remain a secret through extraordinary methods, causing hard feelings and unintentional consequences. What was meant to be a treat turns into a mean spirited trick. Yet there are also times when we are surprised despite the best efforts to be prepared. Throughout the ages, the scripture abounds with prophecies about the Messiah. Again and again, Christ explained his impending death to the disciples, those closest to him. Yet none were prepared for the crucifixion. Perhaps they simply chose not to listen, preferring to believe things would stay the same if they ignored what Jesus was saying. By disregarding the bad news, they also missed the Good News. In the end, the disciples were surprised by Christ’s death, and unprepared for the Resurrection. Take time today to really listen to what others are saying. Resist the temptation to cut the conversation short, or to disregard news you would rather not hear. Look for the good news buried beneath the bad, or a way to make a difference in your life or the lives of those close to you. And remember, even if your pumpkins are covered in snow, there’s a lot of pumpkin and only a little snow. Photo by Diane Brooks Myers

Reflecting on Purple Haze….

The sun is a welcome sight after far too many days of grey, wet weather. The mornings are cool, and the afternoons are warm, leaving everyone to wonder what to wear. So I was drawn to this beautiful picture of a field taken by my cousin Diane. I love the purple haze, a marriage of the tips of the weeds with the morning dew. Even the weeds are wearing autumn garb, sporting the rich colors of the harvest season. Purple is a wardrobe staple for me, a color I wear year round. Wearing purple makes me feel special, lightening my mood and quickening my step. Yet in nature, purple is often a harbinger of turning inward, a warning of cooler days and longer nights. Soon the fields will fade to a dull brown, and frost will replace the morning dew. At first glance, it seems everything is dying away. Yet new life exists amidst the decay. Even as the trees shed their leaves we see the buds of next year’s growth. The winter snows will slowly drench the roots below ground. What was is past, making room for what is and what will be. Take time today to turn inward, to take stock of your heart and soul. Consider what needs to be left behind, allowed to wither away, to make room for new growth. Look for ways to nurture new beginnings, or ways to recreate the here and now. Let your spirit guide you to an unlikely pairing, like the purple haze, and allow the unexpected beauty to soothe your soul. Photo by Diane Brooks Myers

Reflecting on Forgiveness….

There is a cool breeze this morning and a few leaves have already changed colors. As I walked the dog this morning, I could smell autumn arriving. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my cousin Diane. She is busy canning pickles, proudly displayed on tea towels in her country kitchen. As children, we would help with the canning. Our mothers would can all sorts of produce, tomatoes, green beans, apples, pears and of course, pickles. The kitchen would look like something out of a dream, with our mothers lost in the steam. Both have passed on, so perhaps it is that image that remains, a misty memory of days gone by. To preserve food, we must boil it or soak it in salt water. We subject the fragile vegetables to intense heat or overly salty water to prevent rot and prolong the fruits of our harvest. It seems that strong relationships are a lot like these pickles and canned vegetables. We must pluck out the offenses to preserve the relationship. We must trust that relationship to bear the burden of truth, to speak to one another in love. It takes time and patience to learn how to get along. We may not be aware of how our behavior affects those we love. Yet we may hurt one another just the same. To cling to resentment is to build a wall between us and those we love. Better to explain what is wrong and draw closer together. Take time today to understand how you affect those closest to you. If someone you love reveals an uncomfortable truth, thank them for trusting in your relationship, then seek to understand how to get along. Admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness for your offense, and forgive when others offend you. Perhaps there will be a few boiling points, or things will get saltier than you like, but you will enjoy the fruits of your harvest all winter long. Photo by Diane Brooks Myers

Reflecting on Discernment….

The heat has returned with a vengeance today. At nine this morning, it is already as hot as yesterday afternoon. I can’t imagine doing much of anything outside, let alone working. So I was drawn to this photo of an iron forger taken by my cousin Diane. Jerry creates wrought iron that is both beautiful and incredibly strong. He is slowly twisting a piece of iron, keeping a respectful distance from fire hot enough to soften metal. Even though he stands off to one side to avoid the blast of heat from the forge, the glow of the fire still illuminates him. At first, you may think he is only using one hand, but if you look more closely, his whole body is alert and involved in his work. So I am reminded of my favorite hymn, ‘Humbly I Adore Thee’. During the many moves we made while Mark and I served in the military, our first task was always to find a new church home. Over the years, the ‘right’ church was always playing that hymn the Sunday we visited. The lyrics remind us that our conception of the Most Holy is only a glimpse of the glory to be revealed when we meet our Maker face to face. In our mortal life, our vision and hearing is limited, our understanding of the infinite God only finite. Like the iron forger, we stand off to one side, illuminated by the fire of the Holy Spirit, but not consumed by its flames. As mere mortals, we are unable to discern or understand what is best for us, especially when we are in the middle of stressful circumstances or relationships. Yet even a glimpse of the immortal can make all the difference in the world. Take time today to allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to light the path that has been prepared for you, trusting that the Most High knows and sees all. Photo by Diane Brooks Myers

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