Reflecting on Relentless….

Heading Home by Jeanne MischoI often find myself caught in my own little world. I miss the obvious because all I can see is what I already know. My mind fills in the answer before the question is asked. This photo really brings home that message. For a long time, all I saw was the veins of the eye. I worked on lasers in the military, so part of my annual physical was a photo of my eyes. Each year the powers that be had to determine if my eyes were still intact. The doctor would shine an awful light into my eyes then take the photo. My medical records contained writing on the right, and a photo of my eyes on the left. It seemed part and parcel of every doctor visit. Fortunately for me, my friend Jeanne took this amazing photo of a tree with the moon in the sky above. I can imagine her lying on the ground to get the proper perspective. I wonder if she used a flash, or if a street light has lent its glow. I love the depth and intricacy of the branches, the way the tree divides and then divides itself again. It seems the tree is inviting us into another world, a world of our imagination, a world separate from our earthbound reality. On this Maundy Thursday, we celebrate the humility of our Lord. Christ washes the feet of the disciples, despite the protests of Peter, despite everything we are and were and will be. God draws us in, again and again, relentlessly seeking communion. After countless rejections of his prophets and angels, God sends his own Son to reconcile us to him. God becomes man to be one with us, to experience all that this life offers. Make time today to step out of the comfortable. Let go of the familiar and let in the annoying, the perplexing, yes, even the startling. Hold open a space that makes room for growth and greater understanding. Lie down when you would rather stand up. Step aside when you would rather rush ahead. Look up and around rather than keeping your head down. And always remember, when we open our minds before we open our eyes, we embrace the relentless intimacy and endless possibility of our all loving God. Text by Connie Chintall ©2015. Photo entitled ‘Heading Home’ by Jeanne Mischo ©2013, to see more of her work, go to http://jeannemischo.wordpress.com/

Reflecting on the Center….

Being with Trees by Heidi Anne MorrisI sit in a chair that faces the window for my morning devotions. Our home is surrounded by trees, and I can view a large stand from that window. When there are no words for my prayers, I often feel the trees pray for me. Their roots penetrate into the strength of the earth, while their limbs reach for the heavens. So I was drawn to this haunting photo by my friend Heidi Anne, part of her ‘Being with Trees’ series. I love the muted colors and the delicate branches, enfolded in dense fog. All we can see is the trees – whatever lies beyond is shrouded in mystery. Lately my view has been a lot like this photo. Our morning fog has persisted throughout the day, making me wonder if we are living in England again, instead of Virginia. Yet perhaps I need to see that fog right now, to focus solely on what is in front of me, letting go of what lies beyond, trusting the God has hold of the rest. We are sorting through the mess left by the problems of a few weeks back, another medical test, another doctor appointment, another call to the insurance company. It’s easy to get lost in the details of life, to allow a totaled car or a nagging physical condition to steal your joy. So even when I’m overwhelmed, even when I’m so angry I can spit, I sit in that chair and look out on the trees. I pray the daily office of Morning Prayer aloud, until a word or phrase touches my heart and I fall silent. Then it’s just me and the trees. There are mornings when my feet feel rooted to the center of the earth, and my heart soars to the heavens. Other mornings are filled with silent tears, an aching heart, an angry groan. Then I notice that trees stand strong, swaying in the wind, reaching out to one another and to God. I recall others lift me in prayer, as I lift them in prayer. No matter what life brings, I am praying with all those who believe, united in the center, our roots inexplicably intertwined. Make time and space today for God. Seek out your center, letting go of what weighs down your heart. Pray for your own concerns and lift up the concerns of those you love, even those who annoy and trouble you. Believe in the prayer of others when you have no prayers of your own. And remember, no matter what life brings, when we make room for God, when we unite with all those who seek the Center, we find ourselves enfolded in go’o’d. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Being with Trees’, Heidi Anne Morris ©2012, used with her permission, voted one of Google’s Top Ten. To see more of her work, go to http://www.heidiannemorris.com/

Reflecting on Beyond….

The morning and evening skies have been glorious lately, making the changeable weather almost tolerable. I may not know what to wear, but I know I need to look up, to look beyond where I am here and now. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Gemma, entitled ‘The Stand’. I love how the picture is framed in the foreground, perhaps by trees or a doorway. The mist lends a mysterious mood to the scene while the sun seeks to rise above the dense clouds. How often are our lives like this scene? Perhaps we are too preoccupied with the day to day to look beyond our current circumstances, or too content or comfortable to consider the possibility of change. We put out heads down and soldier on, oblivious to the beauty just outside our window. Or perhaps our lives become shrouded in mist, devoid of color and light. One day follows another, filled to overflowing with ‘to do’ lists that never get done. Yet even when we cannot see the way ahead, God has prepared a path for us. Take time today to look beyond the mundane, to consider where you are and where you are heading. Listen to friends and family, who may be able to discern the path ahead, to see the forest when you can only see the trees. And remember, it’s always easier to look up, to look beyond, when we simply stop, and stand. Photo by Gemma Costa, entitled ‘The Stand’

Reflecting on Presence….

This morning I spent longer than usual outdoors, waiting for the school bus with my five year old friend Patrick. It’s delightful to see the world through his eyes, and allow myself to be a child again. So I was drawn to this stunning photo, part of a series called ‘Being with Trees’ by my new friend Heidi Anne. I love the colors of the sky as the sun filters through the trees. The branches remind me of feathers, delicate and lacey. This morning the sun was rising behind us as we stood near the road. Patrick wanted to throw rocks, and it would have been so easy to simply say no. Instead, I said yes and made a game out of it. We both turned around to face away from the road, and into the sun. While Patrick returned gravel lost in the lawn back onto the driveway, I took into the beautiful view. I don’t know about you, but being present is challenging. There are days when the cares and concerns of this life clamor for my attention, pulling me this way and that. I can so easily convince myself to rush from one task to another, hoping for a few quiet moments at the end of the day. Then there are days like today, when I find those quiet moments in the midst of the most mundane errands. A child doesn’t need scheduled activities or expensive toys – a few pieces of gravel can easily become a delightful matching game. The quiet we so vainly seek may be found in the joyful noise of a child, fully present to what life brings each moment, each and every day. Take time today to seek quiet contemplation amidst the busy-ness of life. Notice the sky and scenery, or perhaps the faces of those around you, allowing their voices to meld together and blend into the background. Seek to be present to all that life brings your way, without judgment as to what is or is not important. And remember, sometimes all it takes to be present is to say yes, and turn around. Photo by Heidi Anne Morris, used with her permission, to see more of her photos, visit http://www.redbubble.com/people/heidiannemorris

Reflecting on Sway….

It’s a bright, blustery morning, and this is the view out of my office window. Our home is surrounded by hundred year old oaks, swaying and dancing in the wind. On days like today, I am always surprised at how much motion is possible for such thick and mighty trees. Toward the end of my father’s life, he was frightened by the trees moving like this, and would sometimes ask us to draw the blinds. We would have to reassure him like you would a small child, letting him know he was safe and sound. We are careful to fell dangerous trees before the winter sets in, so we are as safe as possible. Yet we never really know what life may bring. Times change, our health may fail, we may even lose loved ones in the flash of an eye. Simply the stresses of day to day living may be enough to grind us down. We must take time to stretch toward the light and drive our roots deep into the ground. Then when the swift winds of change seek to topple us over, we can remain strong. Take time today to dance with the wind, to pull yourself up into the light. Root your feet firmly on the ground, drawing from the core of your being, your beliefs and values. And remember to sway with the wind, because to weather the worst storms, we must be flexible to be strong. Photo by Connie Chintall, with video of swaying trees at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4FEcpsoH24&feature=youtu.be

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