Natural World Category


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.

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.

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!