Reflecting on Eternal Life….

Drops-001 by Amin Baher
I wrote this post three years ago, after fervent prayer for healing and wholeness. Today is Easter, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead. So it seems fitting to harken back to answered prayers. Many of you joined me in those prayers, and the young friend we prayed for continues to do well. His physical challenges are many, yet his spirit is bouyant. Such joy in the midst of struggle is what we all seek in this life. Thank you for your prayers for him and his family.

May 9, 2013 – After rain and more rain, the sun is shining this morning. The yard and deck are coated with tree pollen and oak litter. Today the world seems yellow from top to bottom. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Amin, of a single drop suspended in the curl of a withered plant. I love how water takes so many different forms, and forgive the engineer in me, different optical properties. This single drop acts as a lens, capturing the world around it in a perfect, circular reflection. Even when withered, this tendril can support the gift of life, clean, clear water. As the rain drenched the earth this week, many have drenched a dear friend in earnest prayers for healing. When the world seemed withered and bare, and all earthly hope seemed in vain, the Holy of Holies brought back my young friend from the abyss. No, there was more to it than that. A great healing has taken place, a loosing of his soul from a disease even the best and brightest do not understand. Such illness can do far worse than ravage the body. Such illness can cripple the soul. This healing of the soul is what we pray for, first and foremost, the healing that we all need to weather the vagaries of this life, the blessed assurance our mortal span is but a single drop in the ocean of eternal life. At times our lives may be as hard as ice, or as evasive as steam, but we are all still flowing through the river of Creation. Make time today to loosen your soul from the moorings of this life, to turn your heart and your eyes and your ears to the Divine in each and every one of us. Let go of the idea that prayer needs a special place or time, or flowery words. Breathe out ‘Almighty’, breathe in your name. Let your breath, your very being become your prayer. And always remember to give thanks for the abundant life we are offered, moment by moment, one drop at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo entitled ‘A Single Drop’ by Amin Baher ©2012, All Rights Reserved

Reflecting on Gold….

Autumn can be a tough time for me. Most of our family members have passed on in this season, as if the waning summer corresponded to their waning life energies. I’m tempted to wallow in old grief, to feel a bit sorry for myself, to jump when the phone rings late at night. Then I’ll catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye, or hear an odd phrase that reminds me of a loved one. The happy memories come flooding back and I smile in spite of myself. So I was drawn to this amazing image by my friend Gemma, entitled ‘Living with Gold in the Heart’. She started with a photograph, then worked with the image, adding texture and adjusting the colors and contrast. Some would argue the result is not art. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really care what it’s called, except to say it’s beautiful. Perhaps grief is a lot like this artwork. We start with a stark reality, a deep wound, a searing loss. Perhaps the end of life was far from pretty or noble, even full of pain and suffering. Perhaps death was a relief, both for the person who passed away and their loved ones. We simply need to sleep, to heal, to process what we have endured, and what it means to begin again. We need time to find out who we are now, without someone who was so integral to our identities. Time goes by and we believe we are past the sorrow, until a birthday or anniversary arrives. Worse yet, we creep up on the year after the death, or the year after that. Yet in the midst of all this, there are moments of pure joy, reminders of the happy times. For me, it was a television commercial about Publisher’s Clearinghouse. My father must have returned every sweepstakes entry he ever received in the mail. He meticulously sifted through the envelope, making sure all the stickers were applied just so. Then he would watch out the window to be sure the envelope made it into the mailbox, certain the flag was up to notify the postman his important mail was inside. So as the anniversary of his death approaches, I am given a gentle reminder of who he was, and how he affected our lives. Take time today to give thanks for those who love you, not for what you have or how much you make, but because of who you are, warts and all. Cling to the true treasure of this life, opening your heart to others, accepting them for who they are, here and now. Cultivate joy in your life, even in the midst of grief and sorrow. Spend time with the happy memories, until you see those last, fleeting moments of a long life as simply an afterthought. And always remember, there only one treasure we can take with us, the gold that lives in our hearts. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Beautiful art by Gemma Costa, entitled ‘Live with Gold in the Heart’ ©2012, used with her permission.

Reflecting on Toy Trains….

It’s a quiet Saturday morning, with a hint of snow in the air. The slate grey sky is banded by icy clouds, reflecting the winter sun. So I was drawn to this amazing picture of a toy train by my friend Jeanne. I love the vibrant colors and the size of the train next to the trees. When I was a small child, we had a beautiful toy train set. In those days, we asked for trains the way children these days ask for an iPod or laptop. We weren’t done decorating for Christmas until the train set was up and running. The adults may have focused on the tree, but all we saw was the train. Jeanne has drawn a child’s perspective – every else pales by comparison, no matter how colorful, no matter how bright. Perhaps the magic of the train set was offering a new perspective. We lived near train tracks and often would wave to the locomotive engineer, or train driver, as the train slowly crept through our neighborhood. Even at a snail’s pace, the train seemed huge, too big to take in all at one time. The toy train gave us a chance to see the big picture, from above, all at once. Take time today to step back and look at an overwhelming concern from all sides. Pray to see through God’s eyes and hear through God’s ears, to forge a solution that is good for all concerned, for the long haul, rather than settling for a quick fix at the expense of others. And remember, it may take more than one trip around to find the right answer. Art entitled ‘Toy Train’ by Jeanne Mischo

Reflecting on Presence….

The sticky summer heat is back with a vengeance. The pleasant break in the weather lasted long enough for us to enjoy last weekend, but now it is everything we expect for July in Virginia. So I was drawn to this photo of my dear friend Marge’s silly goats. A few times a day, Marge opens the gate and the goats roam around the pool. On this day, the goats decided lounging around the pool was more like it. When we visit Marge, we often sit in the living room and watch the goats through a wall of windows. The goats are very amusing, often jumping around and playing games with one another. Yet when it is hot like today, even the goats settle down and relax by the pool. When my daughter Tori was a toddler, we would often go to the pool after I picked her up from daycare. We seldom stayed more than an hour, but that hour made all the difference in the world. If my husband Mark wasn’t traveling, he would pick up fried chicken and meet us there. We would have a simple picnic, lounging by the pool like the goats. When Mark and I both worked full time, our leave was often consumed by childcare responsibilities. We seldom took much vacation, so these few hours by the pool became a sort of vacation. We took time to enjoy each other and relax, rather than rush onto the next item on our never ending list of things to do. So perhaps these goats are not so silly after all. To be present to the joy and beauty that surrounds you is to dip you toe into the vastness of eternity. Take time today to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones and the simple pleasures surrounding you. Don’t wait until you can get away to take a vacation. Enjoy what life has to offer, here and now. Photo by Marge Rumbaugh

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