Natural World Category


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.

Let’s Dance

Let’s Dance

Then David danced and spun around with abandon before ADONAI, wearing a linen ritual vest. So, David and all the house of Isra’el brought up the ark of ADONAI with shouting and the sound of the shofar. (2 Samuel 6:14-15)

Dancing . . .

Today was a gorgeous day—cottony, cumulous clouds glided across the azure firmament . . . tree branches and leaves pirouetting with the gentle, rhythmic breeze . . . birds darting . . . wildlife prancing . . . insects flitting.

As I walked, my imagination stretched beyond Earth’s fragile atmosphere to our solar system with the planets gracefully spinning like ballet dancers on pointe as they whirl in splendor around the sun; and even farther as endless galaxies traipse upon the vastness of precious emptiness.

All creation seems to be dancing “with abandon before ADONAI” Her maker . . . the Universe dancing with Herself . . . Wow!

I love to dance . . . from dancing by myself in the living room of my childhood home, to dancing with my young sons in the family room of their childhood home, and now with my granddaughter in the play room of her childhood home . . . joyful, spontaneous, carefree, whimsical dancing.

In a text exchange with my cousin discussing my difficulty with “good-byes” he responded with,

“I try to hold hellos and goodbyes as one whole movement, sort of like a larger context in which comings and goings become a dance of engagement.”

. . . a dance of engagement . . . a thought-provoking assertion.

All of us on this blessed cosmic oasis . . . engaged in dance with each other and our Maker. Not only do we get to, but I believe we are called to this hallowed trip-the-light-fantastic betrothal.

All the interactions in one person’s lifetime from birth to death–family, friends, colleagues and strangers–a dance of engagement.

Can you hear the rhythm . . . the Heartbeat of Agape Love with Kindness, Truth, and Grace harmoniously carrying the melody?

If not, what’s stopping you?

As the ark of ADONAI entered the City of David, Mikhal the daughter of Sha’ul, watching from the window, saw King David leaping and spinning before ADONAI; and she was filled with contempt for him. (Verse 16)

I’m sure there are many theological explanations why David’s own wife, Mikhal, would not dance, beyond what I offer here.

Perhaps she felt a sense of entitlement and pride being a King’s daughter and a King’s wife. Maybe she resented being passed back and forth as a pawn for peace between the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel (her father, King Saul had given her in marriage to another man in David’s absence). David had other wives by this time, so feeling jealous would not have been an unreasonable response; some false belief prevented her from joining in the jig of a lifetime.

Whatever it is, let it go

     . . . let it fall away

          . . . embrace the eternal now

               . . . take a step of faith and

                    . . . Dance.

I’ll join you!

Hope

Hope

. . . then there are the mornings like today, while still intensely grateful for all my blessings, my heart seemed caught in a vice of agony over situations and circumstances that seem completely hopeless.

Like the heartbreak my cousin is enduring caring for her mother, my aunt, who has Alzheimer’s . . . any of the hundreds of thousands of people who have or are currently putting their own lives on hold to care for loved ones . . . my heart aches for you.

Or the senselessness of littering . . . it has been almost 50 years since the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign of the 1970’s with the commercial of the Native American crying over a polluted earth and there are still people who do not respect our precious planet?  Really? What the frack?!

Or the idiocy of state legislatures that cannot and will not pass sensible and well-deserved legislation to ensure the financial security of teachers for the health and well-being of future generations. Come on people! You greedily line your pockets with money without regard to the long-term consequences of your insensitivity and ignorance. This not only breaks my heart but blows my mind as well.

I could go on, the list appears unending, but I think you get the drift . . .

I long for the day Isaiah describes in chapter 65 verse 17 of the Hebrew Bible:

For, Look! I create new heavens and a new earth; past things will not be remembered, they will no more come to mind.

Until then, what?

I was walking the track at a local high school, head hanging, pondering the musings of my heart when I noticed a dandelion growing out of a crack in the pavement. I love dandelions; it is completely unfair that they are labeled as weeds and that so much money is spent on chemicals to rid yards of this symbol of hope.

Yes, hope–for if you have ever experienced a young child plucking one from the earth and handing it to you with the joy of innocence and wonder on his or her face, you know what I mean.  Or perhaps you remember making a wish while blowing dandelion seeds and watching them being wistfully carried away with the wind.

On this particular dandelion were two minute insects engaged in pollination. I snapped a bunch of pictures because I was awestruck. Here were these infinitesimal creatures going about their business, doing what they were designed to do, living in the moment without worry or fear.

That’s it, then, every day, each moment—as difficult as it may be—choose hope . . . “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners with hope!” (Zechariah 9:12) . . . do what you were called to do, living without worry or fear, and serve others in Charity and Grace.

. . . in other words, be a Dandelion!

Rebirth

Rebirth

On the north side of my former house, hanging from the outside of the porch were five planters with geraniums; three red, two pink.  During the spring and summer months I watered them and picked off the dead heads, as my mother called them, and dead leaves—a meditative process for me more than anything because I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to gardening.  I just jump in and hope for the best because I enjoy watching plants grow. 

However, one week, despite my TLC, the plants seemed to be dying.  They became scraggly and really looked like they were on their way out.  I considered uprooting them and putting the pots away for the season.  For whatever reason, I decided to let them be. 

There’s a line in the movie “Jurassic Park” where one of the scientists says “life finds a way.”  Life found a way because after a week or more of inattention on my part, the geraniums once again began to bloom, colors as vibrant as ever.  After that rebirth, I returned to meditatively pruning, but with an even greater appreciation for the miracle of Life.

Obsession

Obsession

I am obsessed with sunflowers! 

All varieties, all colors, all heights, I love them all.  I am especially fond of The American Giant variety, ones that grow up to 16 feet tall with flowers that can be 10 inches or more across, and have huge leaves, with stems that are bigger around than the trunk of a small tree.  They are astonishing!  Simply unbelievable!  I have been known to take picture after picture after picture after picture (and on and on) of them.  I’m not sure the word “obsessive” can fully describe my sunflower fascination. 

This year I was fortunate to have four of the ten American Giants planted grow in my garden and they didn’t disappoint, each growing to at least 12 feet with ginormous heads.  Every day, twice a day, morning and evening, I tended them.  As they grew, I watched with intrigue how their heads followed the sun as it made its journey across the sky. 

One flower in particular really fooled me because I thought the bloom was not going to be big at all, in fact it really looked rather puny as it was forming.  Awkward doesn’t begin to describe a twelve-foot stalk with a three to four-inch bloom formation.  She fooled me. 

I guess that’s one of the many things that delight me about sunflowers—anticipation and surprise.  In an instant gratification culture, the sunflower is in no hurry to give its prize instantaneously—and it is well worth the wait. 

Hope, another quality I like about sunflowers.  In a parable, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.  (Matthew 13:31).   Sunflower seeds, my mustard seeds, a promise of hope, my simple interpretation. 

There is a lovely hymn called Hymn of Promise by Natalie Sleeth that gets to the heart of my sunflower passion.

In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed, an apple tree,
In cocoons a hidden promise, butterflies will soon be free,
In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody,
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me,
From the past will come the future, what it holds a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning, in our time infinity,
In our doubt there is believing, in our life eternity,
In our death a resurrection, at the last a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.