Reflecting on Frost….

Sometimes life floats along, and all seems well with the world. We chase our dreams, get married, have babies, buy our first home. We feel as if life will last forever, that nothing can touch us, let alone hurt us. We win because it never occurs to us we could lose. Then one day, the phone rings, or a doctor calls us into the office, and cold grips our hearts. We find there is a mountain we can’t climb, an obstacle we can’t avoid. Frost clings to us and we learn we are no more resilient than a delicate flower. Leaves lose their shape and drape over our petals, rather than reaching for the sun. In this amazing photo, my friend Gailen caught the first frost, when the leaves fold but the blossoms remain steadfast. Yet there is a double meaning here. Asters are also known as frost flowers, and have long been considered enchanted. English myths tell us fairies slept under their petals after they closed at sunset. Asters are traditionally placed upon the graves of French soldiers as a symbol to represent a reversal of the outcome of their battles. In Victorian times, the aster became a symbol of patience or anticipation. This delicate, wild looking flower is a symbol of persistence. True strength is born out of tribulation, when we pick ourselves up and continue to believe when all else tells us to despair. We learn to truly enjoy each messy, frustrating moment, understanding all we can count on is our next breath. We accept the gift of abundant life, not perfect or neat, but messy, heartbreaking, amazing, hilarious, all at the same time. We allow ourselves to grief, to rejoice, to let go, to begin again. We trust that the sun will chase away the cold, and that this too shall pass. Make time today to enjoy what life brings your way. Stop to consider the miracles of creation that surround us all, the flowers, the birds, even the clouds in the sky. Thank God for these amazing bodies we walk around in, for the health that we so often take for granted. And remember to remain patient like the asters, even when the leaves around you droop. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Good Morning Asters’ by Gailen Mapes ©2012, used with his permission

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Reflecting on Humility….

It’s an unusually cool morning for June in Virginia. The door to the deck is open, allowing the cool air to filter into the house. I was thankful for my sweater as I enjoyed my second cup of coffee under cloudy skies. So I was drawn to this stunning photo by my friend Cecilia. She crossed a busy highway and knelt down to take this shot, offering us a vastly different perspective. From this angle, these flowers seem to defy gravity, unfolding above a narrow, delicate stem. Poppies are often planted along our major roads, a beautiful alternative to scraggly weeds. Yet we speed by without noticing, or just glimpse the vivid colors when delayed in traffic. How many of us are willing to take our some of our time, to pause to really see what is before us, to humble ourselves to kneel in the presence of God’s creation? Humility seems to have a bad rap these days. I often hear humility equated with low self esteem, as if to be humble means to lose rather than to win. Yet the Christian view of humility is more about self awareness and self acceptance. Charles Spurgeon defined humility as a right estimate of one’s self, so that a person sees himself in all his imperfection and insignificance, but also with a true regard for his abilities, resources and position. That right opinion of ourselves is God’s opinion of us, rather than our own. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this concept. There are days when I don’t want to let go of disappointment, or pain, or loss. I become ‘Pollyanna’ in my prayers, offering only the good and leaving out the bad. The only way I know to work through it is to pray, day in, and day out, opening my heart to God to allow healing light to enter in. Take time today to place your burdens at the foot of the cross. Let go of the idea that you know best, that you know all, that you need to be more perfect than you are to deserve God’s love. Confidently humble yourself, knowing that God loves each and every one of us for who we are, not who we pretend to be. Allow the Author of Creation to enfold you in love, a love without beginning or end, accepting you just as you are, warts and all. And remember, when we humble ourselves, we can defy gravity, floating above a narrow and delicate stem. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘The Low Down on Poppies’ by Cecilia Carr ©2012, used with her permission

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