Reflecting on Generosity of Spirit….

nothing but flowers by RabiriusThe younger generation amazes and baffles me. I love the time I spend with my daughter and younger friends and relatives. Intense memories of my younger days awaken to delight and disturb me. Like this amazing digital art by my friend Rabirius, I recall running full speed ahead, missing more flowers than I paused to stop and smell. The twenties are a difficult time, a time when we all seek identity and purpose. Most of all, we set the trajectory for the rest of our lives. Small course corrections can make huge differences later on, so it can be difficult to understand how much to help and how much to just listen. I must admit I am not good at this sort of thing on my own. It is so easy to swoop in and take charge, to flatten out all obstacles, to impose my version of right and wrong. Yet if I open myself up, if I truly listen, I soon learn how different the world is now than the world of my youth. Opportunities abound that I could not even begin to imagine, opportunities to soar and opportunities to crash and burn. Yes, the stakes are high, but the highest stakes lie in the decision making itself. My daughter and her contemporaries must live with their decisions, walk their own paths, discover their own ways of making a difference in the world. So I hold open a space to allow the excitement and pain and confusion to flow. I wait then wait again before I ask a question. I open more than my mind. I open my heart and soul. That monumental effort takes a generosity of spirit than I am unable to offer on my own. That openness is the fruit of consistent and faithful prayer, lifting up their concerns on a regular basis, praying for understanding and enlightenment for their path ahead. Sometimes than generosity means stepping aside because I am not the right person for this junction in the road. I can be generous because opening the circle does not diminish me, it enlarges me. The circle grows as their path, not mine, takes us all to amazing places and allows dreams to become reality. Most of all, that generosity overflows in unexpected ways, opening up new beginnings in people and places thought long past healing or renewal. Make time to pray for those you love, even if your relationship is strained or difficult. Pray for their concerns, their path ahead, their way to make a difference. Let go of expectations to open up your heart and mind and soul. Most of all, let God weave our paths together, enfolding us in the greatest circle of all. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, photo entitled ‘Nothing but Flowers’ by Rabirius©2016-2017, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more of his work, go to https://rabirius.me/

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Reflecting on Color….

Alaska Range by Bill WildBright winter sunshine can be deceiving. I long for warmer days and am easily tricked into believing spring has already arrived. Instead it is as cold as ever, with more storms on the way. So I was drawn to this photo entitled ‘Alaskan Range’, brought to my attention by my cousin Bill. Bill and I both joined the Air Force at the same time, thirty five years ago. I was posted to Nevada while he was sent to Alaska, a place that has been his home ever since. Vibrant color is not how I picture Alaska. I expect to see ice and snow everywhere, instead of just on the mountain range. Perhaps the distant snow makes the colors jump out, refusing to be ignored. This morning I am enjoying the bright, over the top, colors. I am well rested and relaxed. Yet there are days when these same bright colors seem to exhaust me, offering more than I can take in. Rather than feeling included, part of the scene, I feel intruded upon, almost assaulted. I can feel the same way about social situations. There are times when I thrive on social interaction, and others when I would prefer to be alone, curled up in front of the fire with a good book. Where is the tipping point between inclusion and intrusion? When does reaching out becomes trespassing? Perhaps the answer varies from person to person, and day to day. Difficult circumstances can lead one person to seek the company of others, while another prefers to be alone. We must listen with all of our being, with our hearts, and souls and minds, to know what to say, or whether to say anything at all. We want to do something, to fix the problem, to get past the awkwardness. Yet often all we need is someone to sit with us, to simply be with us. Make time today to practice holy listening, to let go of your need to be in the foreground. Pray for the Holy Comforter to guide your words, your actions and, most of all, your timing. Simply be there for another, and let go of everything but the here and now. And always remember, when we respond to the true needs of others, less becomes more than enough. Text by Connie Chintall ©2015, Photo entitled ‘Alaskan Range’,  All Rights Reserved

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 Appearances….

The morning has been calm and quiet, with grey skies and dampness in the air. I suspect there is a storm on the way, but it hasn’t arrived yet.  So I was drawn to this amazing photo of an old blue tractor taken by my friend Carole.  I love the contrast between the bright blue paint, the brown rust and red primer. We live in a rural county where old farm equipment like this tractor is a common sight.  You would think this tractor is on its last legs, yet more often than you might think, the engine is still good.  Perhaps the farmers are hoping the tractor will give up the ghost and pass away, to make room for a shiny new model. The tractor seems to defy them, year after year, persisting beyond all reason. We take so much stock in outward appearances, passing judgment on others based on how they look.  If we don’t like what we see, we don’t bother to look any further. Who knows what we might find if we stopped and looked beyond the obvious? One of the extended care facilities in our area displays photographs of the residents from their youth. While the nurses check to see if it is a good time to visit, you are left to ponder these pictures. If the person’s eyes are clearly visible, you can quickly tell who you are looking at. The nurses find visitors and residents both enjoy their time together because of these photos. Visitors see the residents in a new light, and often ask questions about the photos, only to hear stories of days gone by. Take time today to look beyond the obvious, to suspend judgment until you get to know the person inside. Pray to see through God’s eyes and hear through God’s ears, to be fully present to those you encounter.  And remember the surface may be rusted, but inside, the engine is still going strong. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011, used with her permission


Reflecting on Color….

It’s brilliant, sunny autumn morning. The leaves remaining on the trees are alive with color, simply vibrant in the early morning light. So I was drawn to this photo by my friend Carole, entitled ‘Autumn on Fire’. I love the contrast between the dangling branch, full of yellow and orange leaves, and the green fields in the background. The colors seem to jump out at you, refusing to be ignored. This morning I am enjoying the bright, over the top, colors. I am well rested, taking advantage of the extra hour of sleep after daylight savings time. Yet there are days when these same bright colors seem to exhaust me, offering more than I can take in. Rather than feeling included, part of the scene, I feel intruded upon, almost assaulted. I can feel the same way about social situations. There are times when I thrive on social interaction, and others when I would prefer to be alone, curled up in front of the fire with a good book. Where is the tipping point between inclusion and intrusion? When does reaching out becomes trespassing? Perhaps the answer varies from person to person, and day to day. Difficult circumstances can lead one person to seek the company of others, while another prefers to be alone. We must listen with all of our being, with our hearts, and souls and minds, to know what to say, or whether to say anything at all. We want to do something, to fix the problem, to get past the awkwardness. Yet often all we need is someone to sit with us, to simply be with us. Take time today to practice holy listening, to let go of your need to be in the foreground. Pray to hear with God’s ears, to see with God’s eyes, to feel with God’s heart. Simply be there for another, and let go of everything but the here and now. And remember to look beyond the colorful leaves to the beautiful green fields, waiting silently in the background. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011, used with permission

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