Reflecting on Lace….

The sun has returned after a few days of overcast skies. Clouds did not bring rain, so the fields remain parched and dry. Yet while the crops wither, one hardy plant seems to thrive along the roadsides, Queen Anne’s Lace. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo by my friend Jeffrey Foltice, showing both open and closed blooms. When closed the bloom looks like a tiny bird’s nest, with thin green leaves that remind me of feathers. Once open, you find a delicate and intricate pattern of tiny flowers, overlapping and crowding one another, yet strong enough to withstand wind and rain. My grandmother loved this flower, frequently commenting that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places. Yet what one person calls a flower another might consider an invasive weed. This ‘flower’ is actually a European transplant, commonly called wild carrot. You can even eat the taproot, since the root is in fact a carrot. Folks even argue about the origin of the name, some saying the delicate bloom is named after an English monarch, others attributing the name to St Anne, the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. St Anne is the patron saint of lace makers and mothers, referred to as the ‘queen of heaven’. All this controversy and diversity of opinions was far from lost on my grandmother, my Nana. She passed on almost forty years ago, yet her legacy lives on. She taught me to think, to question, to dig deeply, especially what others take for shallow and straight forward. Perhaps this blog started then, driving along country roads with my Nana. I learned to take time looking at a matter from all sides, listening and learning, day by day, expecting my understanding to evolve over time, with new experiences and new friends. Take time today to seek the truth, from inside of your heart and from those around you. Soak in the simple beauty of nature, as you drive to work, looking out your office window, or in the corner of your garden. And always remember to listen carefully and thoughtfully to the oldest and youngest among us. You’d be surprised what you might learn. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ by Jeffrey Foltice ©2012, used with his permission, to see more of his work, go to http://photonatureblog.com/

Reflecting on Pursuit….

The weather has been oppressive, with soaring temperatures and sky high humidity. Walking the dog is a chore, so forget about any sort of yard work. We badly need to clean up after the storms, but that will have to wait for a milder day. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Jeffrey, of an insect on the back of an American Kestrel. I love the intricate patterns and beautiful colors of the bird’s feathers, contrasted against the bright green of the insect. This Kestrel is no bigger than a Mourning Dove, yet to the bug I’m sure he looks enormous. This insect has perservered, and is almost to the top of the bird’s head. Persistence is a quality I did not appreciate as a young woman. I think back to my time in the military, days of drilling in the Texas heat, exercises in the Nevada desert. We would do the same thing again and again, until the pattern was indelibly imprinted in our subconscious. We could replicate our work drunk, asleep or terrified out of our minds. I hated the process, but came to love the result. I learned that working hard and mastering a skill was worth the pain it took to acquire it. Have we lost this quest for accomplishment? It seems we have become an instant society, wanting more and more, and wanting it right now, thank you very much. The idea of working toward a long term goal is lost in the quest for instant gratification. We want happiness without the pursuit, victory without struggle, joy without pain. Happiness has been reduced to simple satisfaction. We no longer willing to seek long term accomplishments, learned from our mistakes and missteps over time. The joy of cooking, music, or exercise rides on the crest of short term disappointments and unwelcome discoveries. Take time today to consider a skill you desire more than you crave your current comforts. Begin to work toward a long term goal, to further your profession or a personal interest. Consider a past time that brings you joy, even while striving to improve. Reach beyond your usual boundaries, praying for the Holy Spirit to work through you in a new way, to breathe creativity into your life. And remember, when you become discouraged or frustrated, even the tiniest insect can climb the largest mountain one step at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Hiking the Kestrel Mountain’ by Jeffrey Foltice ©2012, used with his permission. To see more of his work, go to http://photonatureblog.com/

Reflecting on Faith….

It’s another rainy morning, a morning when that second cup of coffee is more of a necessity than a luxury. We need the rain after such a long dry spell, but it surely saps my motivation. So I was drawn to this amazing photo of a bald eagle by my new friend Jeffrey, capturing the moment just prior to flight. I love how the eagle proudly puffs up its chest, leaning forward beyond all reason. The sun lights up his wings, extended toward heaven, each feather distinct. The back is gracefully arched, the tail lifted. There are so many details to notice, yet all we really see is a stunning bird ready to defy gravity, to once again take flight. It seems to me that faith is a lot like this majestic bird. Rather than safely remaining on our perch, we must lean out of our comfort zone, into the wind, at the risk of falling face first. We must arch our backs, and look ahead. We must strain upward, asking for the Holy Spirit to empower us, rather than relying on our own strength and endurance. But most of all, we must believe. We must be willing to forge ahead, assured that God works for good in all things for those who love and obey Him. Take time today to let go of what is weighing you down, leaving your burdens at the foot of the cross. Trust that the Author of Creation, the same God that deigned to take human form, knows every corner of your heart and soul, and cares about every aspect of your life. Let the Holy of Holies soothe your soul and heal your heart, guiding and guarding you each step of the way. And remember, we all have days when we need to ask God to give us faith, praying ‘I believe, help my unbelief’ Mark 9:24

Text by Connie Chintall, ©2012,
Photo entitled ‘Eagle Flight’ by Jeffrey Foltice, ©2012, to see more of his work, go to http://photonatureblog.com/

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