Reflecting on Stardust….

Star Gazing by Tomasz HuczekWe are expecting a very cold, very clear night after another long day of snow. It’s been a brutal winter and I long for spring to arrive. So I was drawn to this magical photo by my friend Tomasz. I love the velvet green pastures and the winding road that leads us to the edge of a sleepy village. Without street lights to wash out the sky, the stars seem so bright that you could just reach up and grab a handful. The cedar of Lebanon shelters the home in the foreground, so much more prominent than anything man has placed in this scene. Yet even this vast and majestic tree cannot compete with our attention for the stars in the sky. Perhaps we yearn for the stars because we are made of stardust. Yes, literally made of stardust. It’s not a line from a poem or a fanciful notion. Every atom except hydrogen has been created through the nuclear fusion of the stars, stars that came into being at the creation of the universe and flung matter across the galaxies light years away. The early universe expanded after the Big Bang for only 3 seconds before it cooled to a state where subatomic particles assembled into atoms. Science and faith may be odds for some folks, but for me science fuels my awe and reverence for the Holy of Holies. The Creator gave us a beautiful and elegant universe where the tiniest of the tiny parallels the largest of the large, light that is both wave and particle, bodies that contain flesh and bone and soul. Is it any surprise that our bodies as God’s temples are made from stardust? Would anything less serve as a fitting vessel for the immanent God that dwells within us, as close as our breath yet as vast as the universe? Make time today to soak in the elegance and beauty of creation. Bundle up and venture out into the cold, clear night to gaze at the stars, to wonder at the majesty of creation, to humbly give thanks for our bodies and souls. Turn your eyes and your hearts to the source of simple blessings, warm homes, dry beds, full bellies. And always remember, when the vagaries of this life consume us, the night sky remains to remind us we are precious Children of God. Text by Connie Chintall ©2014, Photo entitled ‘Star Gazing’ by Tomasz Huczek ©2013, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/, or check out  the video “We are Stardust” – A Symphony of Science at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g4d-rnhuSg

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Reflecting on Separation….

Alamanos Sunset by Tomasz HuczekIt’s a cool, rainy morning, more like autumn than summer. Today is the day my daughter moves into her dorm at college, and we all begin the next chapter of our lives as a family together. I know of no other relationship where the goal is independence rather than increasing intimacy. So I was drawn to this haunting photo by my friend Tomasz, of a beautiful sunset beyond the cove. I love how the water and sky seem to be parts of the same whole, smooth and silky against the rocky shore. I can picture myself in his place, looking into the distance, at first seeing only the glory of the sunset, then glimpsing the tiny figure on the point. Up until today, we have talked and dreamed and reveled in the wonderful opportunities that await our precious daughter at university. Now all I can see is the distance this change will create, a change we have yet to fully comprehend. So I must remind myself that she is God’s child first, given to usas our daughter, to shepherd and help find the path the Holy of Holies has prepared for her. I must remember the Almighty, the God of angel armies, will send legions of warrior angels to guide and guard her, to bless and protect her. Most of all, I must remember to look beyond today, to the little that I can now see, to trust that rocky shore offers a long way home when she needs it. Yet that vision may be too small – more likely she will dive in and swim home, or even sprout wings and fly. Perhaps as a military family we meet today with more experience of separation, yet that experience does not prepare us for this separation. Today is a day to lean on the heart’s knowledge that prayer binds souls together in ways that time and distance cannot sever. The eye may perceive her from afar, but she will always be as close as my beating heart. Make time to savor the here and now, to store up a treasure trove of memories. Honor the children in your life for who they are, leaning on God’s strength and all encompassing power to grow into men and women with a passion for life and serving others. And always remember to hold them close, but not too close, making room for their path, rather than an extension of your own. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo entitled ‘Alamanos Sunset’ by Tomasz Huczek ©2012, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/

Reflecting on Then, and Now….

Over a year ago, I posted this photo by my friend Tomasz. I love his persistence and discipline, often photographing the same spot day after day. While the scene changes with thee weather and the seasons, another change is happening as well. Tomasz has gone from an good photographer to a truly outstanding photographer. I’m proud to say the world is beginning to take notice. Compare this photo from January 2012 to his most recent images at the link below. You’ll also get a chance to read an interview with Tomasz about his work.

http://www.7tutorials.com/uncovering-artists-through-windows-themes-tomasz-huczek

Photo by Tomasz Huczek ©2012, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/

Reflecting on Wholeness….

Amathus ay Sunset by Tomasz HuczekThis life is full of twists and turns, unexpected joy and crushing sadness. We never know what awaits us, from day to day. A morning that begins with soaring promise can end in disaster; another morning that seems bleak beyond despair can end on top of the world. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Tomasz. His photos have been featured in previous posts, most often pictures of Kourion Beach. So I was intrigued by this photo of Amathus, one of the most ancient royal cities of Cyprus. In the midst of widespread devastation, we find a single, intact earthen jar, somehow enduring across all time. I have been struggling with an age old dilemma, why bad things happen to good people, to those who love and trust in the Lord God, and live upright and ethical lives. My prayers have been peppered with outright rage, bone crushing sadness and endless intercessions for a miracle. In many ways, these prayers resemble heated conversations with my family and closest friends. I lash out in anger, only to realize I’m not mad at them, but rather beyond frustrated with a situation I cannot control. I can vent my anger safely with those I love most, those who know me best, those who love me because of my faults, rather than in spite of them. So the psalms that begin in anger and end in praise and trust in God don’t seem so farfetched these days. I wrestle with how life has dealt such a cruel blow, as I cling to God’s mercy without beginning or end. Again and again, I turn away from the affliction that causes such anger, and give thanks for the healing that has been prepared. I question how this all can happen, while trusting that God has provided in ways I cannot begin to understand. Most of all, I cling to the blessed assurance that wholeness remains in this broken world, a wholeness born of steadfast love that was, and is, and always will be. Make time today to pour out your heart to the Almighty, the Architect of the Universe. You don’t need to hold back your anger – the Alpha and Omega is vast enough to bear it all. Leave your worldly concerns, the heaviest burdens of this broken life, in the palm of the Most High, and ask the All Merciful to draw you close to the Heart of All Hearts. And always remember, even when we are lost in great darkness, surrounded by brokenness we believe is beyond repair, our everlasting God remains in our midst, ready to bring us into the light and make us whole. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Tomasz Huczek ©2012, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/

Reflecting on Detachment….

It’s a cool, breezy spring morning. The sun is warm on my face, but the air is refreshing. I love taking a stroll on mornings like this, enjoying whatever God places in my path. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Tomas, of Aphrodite Rock in Cyprus. I love how the larger rock seems to float over the smaller rock, how the two are together, yet apart from the rest of the scene. I often find myself alone these days, after many years of finding myself constantly surrounded by others. My daughter will be a senior in high school next year, so my role is shifting. I do less and listen more. I need to keep in touch, but not hover. Like Aphrodite’s rock, contact remains, but it is a light touch, rather than a smothering presence. During this time of transition, I am finally learning the meaning of Christian detachment. I confess to being baffled by this concept for many years, often viewing detachment as something cold and impartial. How can anyone remain at arm’s length, yet still create real and permanent good? Yet when we draw our attention away from our fellow man, we make room for the loving touch of the Creator. We allow the Holy Spirit to drench our souls and soothe our hearts, to provide inspiration for the continuing effort to live a good and upright life. The second stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ comes to mind:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

Take time today to draw apart from the world, to spend time alone with your thought and prayers. Allow the Holy of Holies to guide your steps and guard your heart, showing you the path that has been prepared for you. Open your mind and soul to what God places in your path, even if it’s a turtle or a snail, seeking to learn from the bounty of God’s creation. And remember, even when life is discouraging and our efforts seem fruitless, we are making slow and steady progress in God’s time, not ours. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Tomasz Huczek ©2012, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/, poetry by Rudyard Kipling

Reflecting on Focus….

It’s a cold, clear morning after a week of snow and rain. The weather has been alternating between winter and spring, sometimes in the same day. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo of Kourion Beach in Cyprus taken by my new friend Tomasz. I love the contrast between the frothy surf at low tide and the storm clouds rolling in from the horizon. The blond boulders stand out against the dark pebbles and sand, echoing the shapes of the clouds above. Yet the surf seems serene while the clouds seem menacing. It can be difficult to focus on the peace that lies beneath our feet when storm clouds gather overhead. Each day offers a strange mixture of experiences, some pleasant, some awkward, some downright awful. We can choose to focus on the unpleasant, allowing disappointment to overshadow even the most delightful parts of our day. Or we can allow the delight to outshine even our most outrageous experiences. I know, saying it and doing it are two very different things. That’s true, if we simply seek a human solution. It’s only when we suspend judgment, and trust in the sovereignty of God, that we can see past the difficulties of life and open our hearts to give thanks. Take time today to focus on the simple blessings of life. Call a friend to just talk, or offer to help another in need. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with each breath in, and release anxiety with each breath out. And remember, when we see the world through a grateful heart, we find peace right beneath our feet. Photo by Tomasz Huczek, to see more of his photos, go to http://tomasz.cc/

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