Reflecting on Vision….

Eye of the Trees by Steve Ullenius, All Rights ReservedIt’s been a tense morning, home with a sick child. I’m waiting to hear back from the doctor, concerned as always that my daughter’s asthma complicates what would be a simple stomach bug for others. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Steve. This image of winter trees was taken using a fish eye lens. I can imagine Steve lying on the cold ground until he got the optimal perspective. But what really drew my interest was his comment about this photo. Steve said the trees look like the retina, so I began to ponder what we mean by the word vision. Our ability to perceive our surroundings is a complicated and nuanced gift. Those of us blessed with good vision often take it for granted, and can fail to understand the struggles of those with poor eyesight. I recall one of the first arguments my husband and I had after we married. He had moved my eyeglasses, and I was unable to locate them. I needed to wear my glasses to find my glasses. Yet what I found the most frustrating about the situation was how little he appreciated my plight. So I asked him to wear my glasses. He was astounded by how blurry the world seemed. I replied that what he saw was my world without my glasses. He needed to see the world through my eyes to understand my perspective. Like Steve’s photo, that took a bit of discomfort, but the view was well worth it. Make time today to give thanks for your ability to soak in the beauty of your surroundings. Recall the smile of a small child, or the bulbs pushing up through the soil. Consider the world through the lens of another, someone with more expertise or experience, someone who lacks what you take for granted, someone who yearns for more but is uncertain where to start. And always remember, when the wintery trees begin to block the view, all you need to do is look up. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Fisheye Winter Trees’ by Steve Ullenius, All Rights Reserved

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 Mist….

It’s a wet, grey day. The rain seems to be cycling through, alternating between drenching and a fine mist. Everything is shrouded in light fog, forcing you to look closely to see anything at all. So I was drawn to this photo of electrical towers by my friend David. I love how the base of the towers can be seen more clearly than the top. The part that is grounded is within easy reach, while we must take time to see the part that reaches for the sky. How often do we settle for what we can readily attain, without making the effort to dig deeper? The dishes and clothes need washing, the bills need paying, not to mention our work outside the home. We convince ourselves we are too tired to bother, that there isn’t time for anything else. Yet we can find time for the computer, or games on our phone, or the television. We tune out instead of plugging in to the true power source. Our God is vast beyond imagining, sovereign over all creation, more powerful than our meager efforts combined. When I first went to see Sister Louise, my spiritual director for many years, I complained about how everything was out of control, how there simply were not enough hours in the day. Gently, persistently, she encouraged me to pray, not using flowery words or a prescribed routine, but by simply emptying my mind to make room for God. On the next visit, I explained the best I could do was two minutes of silence. Twenty years later, I am still encouraged by her reply, ‘That is an eternity to God. The Almighty can do a lot with 120 seconds’. Take time today to be still and rest in God’s love. Plug into the true power source by unplugging from the busy-ness of life. And remember, whatever time you give, no matter how brief, is an eternity to God. Photo entitled ‘Vaporous’ by David Buckwalter

Reflecting on Vision….

It’s a wet morning, with the distant view shrouded in mist and fog. I found myself focusing on the last of the leaves, spiraling downward in the wind and rain. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my friend David. Just like this morning, only the leaf in the foreground is in focus. The background is obscured, a blur of radiant color. How often do we hear ‘don’t miss the forest for the trees’? How can we focus on a single leaf if we are cautioned against looking at the whole tree? My grandmother used to say fog was a blanket God used to cover the world, a call to let go of the bigger picture and turn inward. On days like today, she would move more deliberately, slowing her pace and pausing to drink in the here and now. We become so accustomed to looking ahead, to worrying about the next ten items on our ‘to do’ list, that we lose sight of today. Perhaps we are reluctant to turn inward, concerned there are too many skeletons waiting for us there. It’s easier to rush around, to keep busy, to lose ourselves in a false sense of accomplishment. It’s better to leave the depths of our souls lost in the shadows. It’s all simply more than we can handle. Yet true healing involves one step at a time. If we trust a healing has been prepared for us, we also must believe that healing is custom made for us. The human way calls us to take on too much, all at once. The divine way is patient, measured, persistent. The same God that is, and was, and always will be, offers a healing that is more than we can imagine or hope for. Take time today to pause and appreciate the simple things in life, a hot cup of tea, a wet stone, the last leaves of autumn. Allow what you see to turn your vision inward. Plunge the depths of your soul, allowing the Holy Spirit to shed light into the dark corners of your heart. And remember God is taking care of the forest, so you can focus on one leaf at a time. Photo by David Buckwalter © 2011, used with permission

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