It has been pretty chilly in this part of the world lately. We had some warmer days in February! Above a wild Dwarf Iris. Outstandingly beautiful.
Above, another view of the Dwarf Iris. A marvelous wild flower, which like many flowers can be viewed for only a short time before the flowers disappear. Generally in the Bible the flower is a symbol of fading or temporary beauty.
Peonies are cultivated and have flowers that do last a short while.
The center of the Peony – the purpose of flowers is to produce seeds, not just beauty. We cultivate flowers for their colors, shapes and fragrances. In nature those attributes are needed more to attract pollinators.
I was totally enamored by the color of the cones of the Weeping Blue Spruce above.
Looking down on the Spring Larkspur it had a geodesic dome shape.
Dogwoods were still in bloom the day I did my short walk at the Cox Arboretum. You can see all my photos at Cox Arboretum, April 2017.
“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. . . . and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. (Jeremiah 51:15-16)
The Prophet Jeremiah tells us that it is the same God who created the universe who makes fog appear on earth. Yesterday morning was one of the foggiest days I’ve seen for a long time – perhaps a sign that God the Creator is still at work on earth. A combination of a warm winter day with lots of moisture in the ground produced the dense misty fog. It made it a difficult drive – for one could only see about half a block ahead.
It did remind me of the second creation account in the book of Genesis where a mist came up from the earth just before God created the first human.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground— then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:4-7)
In the Wisdom of Sirach, there is an interesting interpretation of the above Genesis passage, for the mist turns out to be Wisdom who says:
“I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth like a mist.
You can see all the photos I took in the morning fog at Foggy Morning 2-20-2017. The weather pattern may repeat itself again later this week so we may have more heavy, dense fog. It would be great if it were the Wisdom of God.
I am now a little past one month since my spinal fusion surgery, and thanks to God and to everyone’s prayers, my recovery is going well. Even the surgeon expressed amazement that considering three spinal fusions, not only can I walk, but I walk without a cane, and the pain that led me to do the surgery is virtually gone. No pain, no cane.
For those who watch a certain HBO series, “Winter is coming,” has particular meaning. It has meaning in our world as well. A surprise snow storm dropped almost 5 inches of snow on us, catching even the meteorologists by surprise. Just a little ways north of us and south of us, they did not catch the snow. I was planning to drive my car for the first time since surgery, but got grounded for fear of the wintery conditions.
It also brought to mind a couple of lines from the Akathist, “Glory to God for All Things.”
What sort of praise can I give You? I have never heard the song of the Cherubim, a joy reserved for the spirits above. But I know the praises that nature sings to You. In winter, I have beheld how silently in the moonlight the whole earth offers You prayer, clad in its white mantle of snow, sparkling like diamonds.
You are the Source of Life, the Destroyer of Death. By the light of the moon, nightingales sing, and the valleys and hills lie like wedding garments, white as snow. All the earth is Your promised bride awaiting her spotless husband.
You can see all of the photos which I took from my front and back porch at 1st Snow of December 2016. I didn’t even dare walk (with or without a cane!) on the ice and snow. For the first time in months, I took a few photos to capture the beauty.
For the Lord of all will not stand in awe of anyone, or show deference to greatness; because he himself made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike.
Is our God too small?
“Too” can mean in English, “also.” So yes, our God is too small. As Solomon says God created the great and the small and is not more impressed with the great than the small. God’s love is a constant in the universe, even for the tiniest of things. Nothing is too small for God and everything is also small for the Creator of all.
One of the effects of the several surgeries, cancer and chemo which I have experienced over the past two years is that my world has shrunk in many ways. Obviously planet earth has not grown smaller, but the part of it in which I participate has decreased in size. I go on photo safaris very seldom these days. When on those rare occasions I do go, it seldom is beyond the county I reside in. And I tend to be paying attention to the small things.
I am not as steady as I used to be so getting macro photos becomes trickier as I don’t haul along a tripod. But I do so appreciate and enjoy what I am able to see. God makes things so beautiful – even that which is close and tiny.
I thought I would celebrate the little, the tiny and the small in this blog, giving thanks to God for all things. It is amazing how small things can so attract one’s attention or jump into one’s vision. Especially true if one is being attentive to the little things in life – if one has the eyes to see, the tiniest things can be captivating and even fill one’s eyes.
“Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
than great treasure and trouble with it.”(Proverbs 15:16)
“… one who despises small things will fail little by little.” (Sirach 19:1)
“The bee is small among flying creatures,
but what it produces is the best of sweet things.” (Sirach 11:3)
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.” (Revelation 19:5)
People ask me frequently if I’m doing “better.” I always have to consider how to answer that. A “little.” For God takes thought for the small. The doctors only speak about coping and managing, not so much about better and worse. A scale of one to ten. “Better” for me is a moment not the direction in which things are headed. So I can always enjoy the moment – a little.
I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.
All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, And Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, And talk of Your power, To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
It is not to the eyes of God that things made by Him afford pleasure, nor is His approbation of beautiful objects such as it is with us; but, beauty is that which is brought to perfection according to the principle of art and which contributes to the usefulness of its end. He, therefore, who proposed to Himself a clear aim for His works, having recourse to His own artistic principles, approved them individually as fulfilling His aim.” (St Basil, The Fathers of the Church: Exegetic Homilies, p 53)
According to St. Basil, the goodness or beauty of anything is determined by its original purpose in God’s creation or plan. The more perfectly something fulfills God’s original intention for it determines whether God sees it as good/beautiful. God, not being a creature like us, does not have physical eyes, so God does not “see” things as we do. God “sees” things in terms of their fulfilling the aim He originally had for the object. This is why God sees even our spiritual struggles as good and beautiful – as even if we struggle, we are moving toward being human as God intended us to be.
St. Basil says God is an artist following the artistic principle that values creating things which serve a purpose. Beauty is thus related to purpose, to truth. It is not purely subjective, but can be measured. Everything which God created is purposeful, even if we do not know the purpose.
In this thinking, we can come to understand how scientists in revealing the purpose of anything in the universe are helping us to interpret and see the true beauty of God’s creation!
And, as the purpose of each created thing is understood, as each mystery is fathomed, we also are learning about the Creator. God is being made known through His creation. One thing which continues to amaze is the depth and mystery of God as Creator.
The elephants wanted to play hide and seek. But they aren’t very good at it.
So you have to pretend you are playing with them. It’s just for fun anyway and the elephants don’t even notice you are pretending to play.
It calls to mind a poem that I was supposed to memorize when I was in elementary school: Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards.
One little girl (no doubt being a papagayo herself and imitating the question she is asked constantly) in her playground voice kept asking the elephant: “Are you having fun in there?”
Actually, my trip to the Cincinnati Zoo was just therapeutic for me. Trying to regain any stamina and desire to do something. Since the lung cancer surgery and chemo, energy levels have been low and I have a hard time making myself to get out and do anything. So once again the camera helps with the motivation a little, to go on a photo safari at the zoo.
We may in fact experience reality, and know it truly, but it just might not be the entire picture. Wisdom. We can know the truth, but it may be about only a small part of reality and the much bigger picture is beyond what we can see or know.
The crab apples and many other trees are starting to blossom. In so many ways, fireworks remind me of tree blossoms – a temporary beauty which explodes upon the scene, giving color to the sky. Nature does it so much more quietly than humans, and with a much nicer fragrance!
Looking back through the years, I can see from my Flickr webpage how much more frequently I used to take my camera out and go for a walk somewhere.
Cancer and chemo have taken their toll on me, but life goes on as the unfolding tulips reveal. The colors are all the show to my eye, but those colors aren’t the main business of the tulips – the species is more interested in its survival but like so many flowers they do it in such a spectacularly beautiful way.
The big cats remain a favorite animal of mine. I did get to see the cheetah on a chase. The Cincinnati Zoo’s new cheetah run and Africa exhibit are worth seeing.
The above photo for some reason to me seemed like a picture post card. Just needs to have AFRICA emblazoned across the photo.
The big cats are just beautiful and carry themselves so majestically – at least when they bother to get up. Cat nature seems to involve a lot of sleeping.
I didn’t go look at the insect exhibit, but this tulip’s anthers reminded me of a spider. Beauty, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder.
You can see all the photos I took on the photo safari at My Zoo Safari.