Reflecting on Depth….

Tree of Life by Jeanne
The soil is tough to work in this part of Virginia. The clay and the rocks form a natural concrete, only softened by slow and steady rains. You garden on nature’s schedule rather than your own, outdoors in the damp and cool rather than on warm and sunny days. Add the century old oaks in our yard, and you find the soil a maze of roots and surprises. Yet there are days when my soul needs to be outside, too weary to bear another day behind a desk. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Jeanne, a friend who passed from this life last summer. A number of people have asked me why these posts have become more infrequent. In pondering Jeanne’s photo, I have found at least part of the answer. Jeanne’s work always challenges me to go deeper, to look beyond the obvious, to ponder the true meaning of her work. When does photography become art? For me, the answer lies in the emotions evoked by the work. Jeanne sent me this image in January 2013, and I am still uncertain I can find words that do justice to what this image means to me. I do know Jeanne has always tapped into the most vivid memories of my childhood, not memories of birthday parties or trips to the beach, but rather solitary memories of me exploring and attempting to understand the world around me. Trees have always fascinated me. Even as a child I can recall digging in the dirt, fascinated by the complexity and length of the roots. I have always had poor eyesight, so the tree most of you see eluded me. Until I got glasses, I thought we drew trees like a cloud because that is how we all saw trees until we got up close. Downed branches were the other way I ‘saw’ a tree. I loved to look at the way the branches divided, then divided again. Yet the branches had nothing on the roots. A mature tree has thousands of leaves, kilometers of roots and hundreds of thousands of root tips. So for every leaf there are a hundred root tips. What we see is only a small fraction of reality. Get up from your desk or sofa to take a walk today. Stop to count the leaves on a single branch. Consider how a hundred roots feed that single leaf. Give thanks for the roots that feed your soul, even the roots for the branches that have fallen away. And always remember, a leap of faith can be reduced to a baby step when we ponder the depth and breadth of nature. Text by Connie Chintall©2016, photo entitled ‘Tree of Life’ by Jeanne Mischo©2013, All Rights Reserved. To see more of Jeanne’s work, go to


Reflecting on Monsters….

Warnings abound as Hurricane Sandy approaches landfall, expected to bring heavy rains and gusting winds from Boston to Washington, DC. In the rolling hills of Virginia, we may even see our first snow. Some are calling this the ‘Frankenstorm’, perhaps because the worst weather may arrive on Halloween. So I was drawn to this amazing art by my friend Jeanne. There are so many layers of meaning in this one image that I hardly know where to start. Both the nautilus and the hurricane are spirals, yet she chose to place the big, scary image in the background. The storm is fades like a ghost while the nautilus takes center stage. Bernoulli called the shape of its shell the spira mirabilis, Latin for ‘miraculous spiral’. The nautilus is born with seven chambers, and grows a new chamber every lunar month. The creature rises by filling the chambers with gas and sinks by filling its chambers with water. Although the shell may appear fragile, a nautilus can withstand water pressures to depths of up to 650 meters, or about seven football fields, below the surface. By comparison, scuba divers can safely dive to only about 40 meters. We see this miraculous spiral again and again in nature, in the nerves of the human cornea, the patterns of sunflower seeds, the shape of a hurricane, the arms of a galaxy. Perhaps it is easier to embrace the tiny miracle, the shell we can grasp in our hands. It’s a whole different story when the same miracle reaches across states, or worst yet, across the void of space. We are tempted to turtle in, to succumb to fear, rather than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and trust in the Author of Creation. We limit ourselves to what we can see and hear alone, rather than considering the greater truth is often found when we work together. Take time today to ponder the miracle of creation. Look for the patterns that repeat again and again, in the most unexpected places. Share what you see with others, allowing them ot see the world through your eyes. Ask for their opinions before offering your own. Make space to sink and rise, to float above the mania that seems to pervade our days. And always remember, even the scariest monster, looming in our closet last night, may simply vanish like a shadow in the light of day. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Art entitled ‘Fossilized Nautilus Shell Spawning Hurricane (Chaos Theory)’ by Jeanne Mischo ©2012, to see more of her work, go to

Reflecting on Creation….

We are enjoying a bit of a break from the heat, with a nice breeze today. What we really need is rain. We have had a very dry summer in Virginia. So I was drawn to this photo of a dew drenched bee, taken by my friend David in the wee hours of the morning. David and his wife Carole spent all night taking photos, resulting in many truly amazing pictures. Yet the early morning photos caught my eye. Take a good look at this bee, at the intricate detail of his body and wings. The bee almost appears furry, with delicate wings that seem at odds with his sturdy body. Each part is uniquely formed to serve its function, as this tiny bee and the rest of his hive travel from flower to flower collecting nectar. While we continue to sleep, the world around us is vibrantly alive. We rest in the assurance that all shall be well with the world when we rise, that the earth continues to rotate on its axis, that the atmosphere we take in breathe by breathe is still in place, secured by gravity and a hundred other intricate and interwoven mechanisms of nature. All these things, both large and small, work together for our good. Our all powerful God, whether called Yahweh, or Allah, or whatever name you chose, offers us life, one breathe at a time. This sovereign God not only creates the largest of things, but also deigned to create this bee, one of the smallest of things. If our all powerful God can take the time to wantonly lavish such detail on a creature as small as a bee, what more can God do for each of us? Take time today to consider the sovereignty of God, and let go of what burdens your heart. Make room for the author of creation to craft a solution to what seems impossible, trusting that whatever you ask is but a little thing for the same Lord that conquered sin and death on the cross. Photo by David Buckwalter

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