Natural World Category


Water

Water

One of the highlights of my week, pre-pandemic, was choir practice every Wednesday night. Not only did I enjoy singing with these beloveds, but also sharing our lives with one another through prayer, laughter, and familiar communing.

Thanks to the technical expertise of our choir director, Jeff, we have continued to meet on-line via Zoom and other social media platforms every week since stay-at-home guidelines were enacted. While we do not sing, we have continued to pray, laugh and fellowship. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices of my dear friends buoys my heart.

Recently, Jeff gave us the following “assignment” for our next virtual gathering:

“I want you to share a story, experience, or anything about how nature past or present that moved you or drew you closer to God. For example: Was there a time in your life when nature or something in nature spoke to you, moved you or ministered to you in some new way? Have you read something about nature recently that spoke to you? Is there a Bible verse or song about nature that speaks to you?”

Here is my response . . .

. . . water . . . more specifically bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, ponds, pools, and oceans.

From the time I was an infant and into adulthood swimming, playing, wading in these liquid lounges has immersed me in God’s presence.

Swimming for me feels like gliding through flowing sunshine where I feel the deepest sense of peace, calm and at-one-ment.

. . . my mother’s brother-in-law and sister—my favorite Aunt Bun–had a small trailer along the Shenandoah River near Charles Town, West Virginia, where family and friends gathered to enjoy the water and each other’s company.

. . . swimming lessons at the YMCA. During one lesson, the lifeguard/instructor jumped in to save me because I came very close to going under.

. . . my paternal grandfather poling a flat-bottomed fishing boat filled with his brood into the middle of the Potomac River near Williamsport, Maryland where we enjoyed cavorting in the cool flowing ripples. On one such occasion, as the story goes, my grandfather dropped me into the river and said, “Swim, you’re a Fridinger.”

. . . paternal family reunions at my Aunt’s house. Being a farmer, my Uncle had huge tractor inner tubes he placed in his relatively large pond. Standing and balancing on the slippery serpents proved to have hilarious results as one after another of my kin (and myself) awkwardly flopped into the water.

It was here that I learned how to squeeze my fists in such a way that water would spurt through like a jet stream.  This eventually led to contests to see who could squirt water the farthest. Granddad usually won.

. . . many, many trips to Ocean City, Maryland and near by Rehoboth, Delaware with my church youth group, parents, and in due course my own sons—well into their adulthood—a beach-going tradition they now carry on with their own families.

I could not and still cannot leave the sandy shores without standing at the ocean’s edge in the early morning stillness, reveling in awe at the vastness of the sea lapping at my feet.

. . . my father teaching his three grandsons how to swim in the Potomac River above Damn Number 5 outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia where he had bought a retirement home with river front property. A carpenter at heart, my father built a small dock which he ingeniously roped to the bank along with a short ramp from the shore to the jetty. Endless summer days were spent lazily frolicking, jumping, splashing, wading and floating.

I can still hear my sons saying, “Throw me off your shoulders, Granddad.” Taking turns, they would climb on his shoulders—my father would bounce up and down—going under water himself to get the necessary momentum—and releasing them in flight to their cannonball and belly-flop reentries.

Literally drenched and waterlogged, my memories are a fountain of God’s eternal presence wooing me into a deeper and ever-growing awareness of Her Truth, Beauty and Love.

In writing this, I was reminded of the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10: 38-42.

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

“There is need of only one thing,” or, the doing will take care of itself; just be . . .

Present . . . aware . . .

Awake.

Birds

Birds

Since Easter, it has become my habit to spend my early morning with the birds. While I am NOT a morning person, this new routine has become the best part of my day.

Most of the time, I am still in my pj’s-–coat, hat and boots, if it is chilly–when I join my feathered friends on the deck with my mug of hot tea. Their twittering calls make me feel as though they do not care what I look like; they are just glad I joined them.

In grateful solitude I watch and listen as the scene before me unfolds. Sometimes a squirrel or two will playfully scamper around the trees, a rooster will crow, or my neighbor’s chickens will scratch around their enclosure looking for a treat. I watch with fascination the way the birdies fly and land—remarkable! Enthralled, I close my eyes and listen to the enrapturing melodic harmonies.

Spending time in the presence of these acrobatic aviators brings peace to my soul and joy to my heart.

Yesterday morning, since it was raining, I sat under the deck in an area where I have a swing. As I made my way to my cozy corner, a Robin–who has built her nest in the rafters of the porch–flew away. She sat in the yard squawking for a bit. Once seated, I stayed as still as possible. Wary of her safety, she carefully made her way back to her home.

Socially distancing ourselves, we sat staring at each other having reached a cautious truce. She, imagining stranger danger hazards and I, visualizing a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

After a long silence, I dipped my head ever so slightly to take a sip of tea, and she once again flitted away. Not wanting to inconvenience her any further, I calmly left.

Jesus said: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:26-27

Let’s face it, there is much that one could worry about these days; but hasn’t that been true of every historical era? Even without a pandemic, cares and concerns can consume us; the only thing that changes is the object of our fears.

Jesus is telling us to turn our center of attention from that which is temporary to that which is eternal—God’s never ending, ever faithful, all-encompassing Love for you, for me, for everyone and everything!

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

The phrase above, “turn our center of attention,” made me think serendipitously of the song by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn”–a beautiful video link is provided below.

I will close with a poem entitled “My Psalm” by Mary Binstead which I found in one of my mother’s journal.

The Lord is my Friend;
He leads me into sweet gardens of contentment;
He bathes my feet in dew,
Fills my ears with the songs of birds—
My nostrils with the fragrance of flowers.

The Lord protects me;
He shades my head with the greenery of trees.
Gives the bright sun to warm me;
And He causes the rain to fall
That I might drink my full water.

The Lord has mercy.
He comforts me when my days
Are filled with sorrow.
He dries my tears with tenderness,
Until my sadness is gone.
My soul is filled with peace.

So with thanks unto my Lord,
Who guides my steps from birth to death,
I lift my eyes to Heaven;
And my heart is filled with love and joy,
Knowing that never will I stand alone.

Take care and be well . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM

Secret Room

Secret Room

Saturday was a hard day . . .

. . . lots of tears on and off throughout the day. No specific reason. Despite living a new normal due to the pandemic, all is well including my family and loved ones.

The best way I can describe it was like feeling the pain of the world; sensing a huge shift of energy and outpouring all over the world. The world’s tears seemed to flow in and through my consciousness without judgement, only allowing.

Chaim Bentorah in his book, Journey Into Silence, calls it “that special room in God’s heart, that quiet room, that weeping room.” On Saturday, I was “permitted to see the hearts He is holding in His hands, those hearts that He weeps over,” as Mr. Bentorah writes.

I went for a long walk, holding all in Her presence; praying in my Spirit language because English words just could not adequately express the knowing in my heart. This brought some measure of peace, but there was still weepiness. I concluded the day mindfully aware of the many broken, hurting and weary hearts worldwide. Thankfully, “The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain . . .” Psalm 34:18.

Sunday was a little better . . .

. . . just felt kind of wiped out; like I had surfed a huge wave of grief and was washed ashore exhausted. I listened on-line to several inspired messages from beloved Pastors which helped greatly, but mostly I was just plain tuckered out with little motivation or energy.

Then this morning . . .

. . . as intently as I burned with sadness on Saturday, I burned with almost the same intensity of gratitude and the joy of aliveness.

I was up early as I needed to go to Martins for a few groceries during the senior hour. Gratitude filled my heart as I watched employees stock shelves and negotiate social distancing in the store. Each employee I encountered received a “thank you for being here today” from me and one lovely gentleman told me to be careful. I thanked him and offered him the same. There was no pretense at all only kindness and love with each interaction.

Once home I sat in my office watching the birds play in the Japanese Maple that is just outside my window. This pretty little Finch sat perched on the highest, tiniest branch and sang a little concert. I was fascinated by how she stretched her neck upwards to twitter her melodies and then settled back down when quiet. What a gift to be granted the privilege to attend such a beautiful musical recital!

This too must be God’s heart.

Early Morning

Early Morning

Early Morning

( click on image to see in light box, off to close )
reflection

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

sunflowers butterfly opted

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Dedication

This web log is dedicated to my cousin, John, without whose technical expertise it would not exist and without whose encouragement I would not have thought I could share in this way.
Palette

Palette

Autumn is my favorite time of year!

I love harvest reds, golden yellows and pumpkin oranges that appear as the waning chlorophyll finishes its job for the season. Then the leaves begin to fall and give way to a skyline highlighted by chocolate browns, burnished bronzes and dull silvers against a backdrop of mossy-green pines, azure skies and the tawny tans of harvested corn fields.

All of these hues and tones arouse my Taurus earthiness. Even as the tapestry of colors herald the beginning of a deep cyclical slumber, I am feeling vibrantly alive as if the Master Artist has created all of this just for me.

On my way to church recently it was as if the painting was being created right before my eyes—like a three-dimensional, interactive work of art in which I played a dynamic role.

A light fog hugged the rolling hills and hollows like a down comforter on a warm, toasty bed. Sunshine glimmered through the water vapor producing pulsating columns of sunbeams.

As I crested a hill, four large black birds gently swooped down just above and in front of me in precision formation. Their leisurely flapping seemed to pull my truck along like a Roman chariot through brilliant murkiness. After a short while, they gently broke free of the reins and calmly—almost as if in slow motion—swept up and away in balletic unity.

With their departure, the magical moment ended but left a feeling of Oneness in my being . . .

. . . the Creator and Created as One.

Our lives are the palette of colors and our actions are the brushstrokes coeval—synchronous– with, in, and through God.

This aesthetic knowing is something my Yoga teacher, Lisha, intuitively celebrates with each class she teaches. Leading her yogis through contemplative poses, our energy is meditatively yoked inspiring a harmonious pictorial of grace and peace.

What hues of prismatic light and what brushstrokes are you using in this universally creative process?

Whether it is singing or dancing or painting . . . whatever the creative process . . . we are more than labels, we are a Community of One.

Song

Song

One of the great blessings of my life is singing in the choir of the church I attend.

There is something very special about being with a group of people that love to sing. Although we hope we sound good, the quality of the performance is not our primary concern. Ultimately, we long to praise our Creator with the joyful blending of our voices.

Singing . . .

. . . was on my mind and heart as I walked this morning.

As I listened, I heard soprano songbirds in the chirping and twittering, followed by the alto caws of a crow and the kikirikí of several roosters in the neighborhood. A train rumbled nearby with a tenor-quality Doppler effect. No bass as I meandered, but I thought back to the previous night’s rain storm and the deep thunder rolls that seemed to echo forever like a timpani etude.

Not too long ago, my pastor used the term EGR in his message.

I do not know the origin of this acronym, but an EGR is a person that may rub you the wrong way, get on your nerves, be irritating. Interacting with them may feel and sound like a cacophony of screeching brakes followed by the inevitable clanging crash and bash . . . nothing at all like the harmonies of a pleasing ditty.

EGR . . . Extra Grace Required . . .

Aren’t we all an EGR to someone at some time?  I know more often than not my own attitudes prevent me from humming harmoniously with others . . . seems as if David knew this too . . .

Shout for joy to ADONAI, all the earth!  Serve ADONAI with gladness.  Enter his presence with joyful singing.  Psalm 100: 1-2  Another translation says: Make a joyful noise . . .

In living this life, what are the qualities of a lilting aria, an Extra Grace Required ballad?

What if we treated everyone with whom we come in contact daily . . .

. . . with the patience we have for those with a “Student Driver” sign on their vehicle, or give as generously as we do when there has been a natural disaster? How about treating everyone with the care and sacrifice of a Registered Nurse in an intensive care unit, or if we loved everyone with the sympathy and compassion we have for the bereaved? These are just a few of the lines in life’s EGR choral composition.

In other words . . . (Excerpt from I Wish I could Speak Like Music by Hafiz)

I wish I could speak like music.

I wish I could put the swaying splendor
Of the fields into words

So that you could hold Truth
Against your body
And dance . . .

I wish I could speak like divine music.

I want to give you the sublime rhythms
Of this earth and the sky’s limbs

As they joyously spin and surrender
Surrender
Against God’s Luminous breath.

Even if you do not believe in God . . . even if you don’t sing well . . . it does not hurt to at least join in . . . maybe that is where the “Extra” Grace is heard . . . if you are attentively attuned.