God Contains the Sea

Earth as seen on July 6, 2015 from a distance of one million miles by a NASA scientific camera

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.   (Genesis 1:9-10)

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.  (Psalms 33:6-7)


I placed the sand as the bound for the sea, a perpetual barrier which it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail, though they roar, they cannot pass over it.   (Jeremiah 5:22)

“Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?   (Job 38:8-11)


You have made heaven and earth with all their adornment. You have bound the sea with Your word of command.    (Prayer of Manessah)

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Picturing Psalm 104:16-22

Previous Post:  Psalm 104:11-15

The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly,

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

In them the birds build their nests;

the stork has its home in the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats;

the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.


You have made the moon to mark the seasons;

the sun knows its time for setting.

You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.

The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.

Next: Psalm 104:23-28

Picturing Psalm 104:11-15

Previous Post: Psalm 104:1-11

giving drink to every wild animal;

the wild asses quench their thirst.

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;

they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,

and plants for people to use,

to bring forth food from the earth,

and wine to gladden the human heart,

oil to make the face shine,

and bread to strengthen the human heart.

Next: Psalm 104:16-22

Picturing Psalm 104:1-10

Bless the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great.

You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.

You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,


you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,

fire and flame your ministers.
You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.

You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.

At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.

They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.

You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,

Next: Psalm 104:11-15

Unseasonably Springing

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We have had a cold spring in our area.  Winter has held on to the temperatures and brought us snow flurries, while the song birds are heralding spring in trees which are budding while flowers have appeared in fields and flower beds.

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So when the day seemed even remotely springlike, I took my camera and walked the paths at Cox Arboretum.   The weather may not be springing, but I tried to put a little spring in my walk.

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I did see my first caterpillar, ant and  (my favorite) bee of the season – welcome signs of spring.

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In the Orthodox Church we frequently pray for “seasonable weather” which perhaps in our modern minds shaped by media weather reports translates into average or normal weather, though in our hearts we want it to be at least fair weather, preferable good or nice.

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But there is an old Arab saying which has it that “All sun makes a desert.”  We need the rain, clouds and cool weather to make our gardens grow.

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“Unseasonably.”  This to me is a strange word in the vocabulary of media meteorologists.  In the middle of winter they might say on the coldest night of the year that it is “unseasonably cold.”  They seem to mean it is below average in temperature, but in what other season except for winter would we have those bone chilling temperatures?

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We seem to have had an unseasonably cold spring this year, though I don’t know if the weather data would affirm that or whether we have been well within what is normal for this time of the year.

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A little ditty, I remember from my youth:  “Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not, it’s not a matter of weather or not.  Whatever the weather, we’ll weather the weather, whether we like it or not.”   Searching on the Internet, I see that limerick has many avatars, none of them exactly as I remember it.

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You can find all of my photos from my walk at  2018-4-26 Cox Arboretum.   Despite the weather, the birds keep singing every morning.

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2017 A Few Favorites

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While most people published their favorites lists for 2017 weeks ago, I’m just now getting around to sharing a few of my favorites from among the photos  took in 2017.  Above:  nature itself shows us that creatures are competitive in survival.  No “Disneyfication” of nature.  I love watching the birds at the feeder in winter, but love is not the default mode for them.  They compete for survival.  Only humans are capable of the Christian love which takes us beyond our genes and self-preservatoin into the realm of free will and choice and love.  Self-denial turns out to be a key in what it is to be human.

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Even as the storm approached at sunset, I could see beauty in the world.  It was early spring and the leaves were not yet out.  There was a chill in the air – but the colors were eye catching.  I enjoyed the moment – literally the moment, for many things pass away quite quickly in life even when we feel they last for a long time.

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Spring comes and I am glad for it.  I am not a winter person.  Spring bursts forth with life and hues and scents, all speaking of life and the Creator.  I’ve paid far more attention to these details since having a camera.

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Sunrises and sunsets are stunningly wonderful to observe.  They can be awe inspiring, and yet because they are a daily occurrence, they seem invisibly mundane to so many.  No wonder the ancients felt dawn and dusk were hours of prayer.

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From the smallest of creatures comes great things.  We forget how dependent we are on insects for example to pollinate plants for our food.  We stomp on them for the fun of it, and otherwise ignore them thinking we could live without them.

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There are human wonders as well at which I marvel.  Humans have been gifted to do marvelous things through math, science, engineering, art and architecture.  We are capable of great works and of creating things not only pragmatic, but beautiful.

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And I often just enjoy whatever it is I am blessed to see on a given day.  Nothing special, and yet everything is special.  You can view all of my favorite 2017 photos at Fr. Ted’s 2017 Favorites.  Favorites don’t necessarily mean “best” –  they are personally the ones I enjoy the most.

Take Delight in All Things

Your own of Your own we offer to You on behalf of all things and for all things.” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)

… when You open Your hand, they are filled with good things.”  (Psalm 104:28)

“Take delight in all things that surround us.  All things teach us and lead us to God.  All things around us are droplets of the love of God –

both things animate and inanimate,

 

the plants and the animals,

the birds and the mountains,

the sea and the sunset and the starry sky.

They are little loves through which we attain to the great Love that is Christ.

Flowers, for example, have their own grace: they teach us with their fragrance and with their magnificence.  They speak to us of the love of God.

They scatter their fragrance and their beauty on sinners and on the righteous.”  (Elder Porphyrios, WOUNDED BY LOVE, p 218)

Peregrinating in Late Autumn

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him.  (Deuteronomy 13:4)

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I do so appreciate God’s creation, and the chance to walk in it.  Because of my spinal stenosis, I consider walking a gift.  After three spinal fusions, even the doctor thinks my walking is a miracle.  Many of us avoid walking as much as possible – take the car, find the closest parking spot.  Walking is a joyfully eucharistic experience for me.  Quite literally, I can’t do it enough.

For you have snatched me from death,

kept my feet from stumbling,

That I may walk before God

in the light of the living. 

(Psalm 56:14)

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These days I stick to the level paths.  Neuropathy from the stenosis and surgeries makes all walking an adventure.  It limits where I can go, but I still can enjoy the unexpected in creation.  The above two photos are actually reflections in pond water.   Scenes reflected in water are, to me, artistry of a mystical kind.  The artist is God, reflecting on creation and maybe enjoying His creation as much as I do His natural art.

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In the tangle of branches, relieved of their leaves, a female cardinal is hidden, as is the God who created them all.  Sometimes we get glimpses of those mysteries normally hidden from our eyes.  If we cultivate the eyes of our heart, we sense the world in a totally different way.

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Also hidden is an old wooden fence – once it set a boundary, but long since has been abandoned.  Nature reclaims its territory.  Both sides of the fence are now the same as they were before it was constructed.  We spend a great deal of time and energy in our lifetime to set up fences some made of wood, or even barbed wire, but others are social and many are psychological.  They too will pass away when the earth reclaims us.    Maybe that tells us we put way too much energy building things that will quickly pass away, and will be of no value to us or others in this world or the world to come.   The field is naturally full of lessons for life.

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It has been a fairly mild and warm autumn for us so far this year.  Many people commented that they thought it also was not a colorful fall season.  The earth tone hues were there, but the vibrant colors of the leaves were missing.  In any case autumn is a season of colors passing away.  It is a reminder that life itself is fragile and fleeting.

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I saw this goose stretching its wings.  Perhaps, evolution in process as it already has its bipedal stance.  Or maybe the goose was conjuring up an orchestra to sing praise to the Creator.  Or, like me, just enjoying the day, taking a walk.

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One evening, I observed the sun, partially hidden behind some clouds with leafless trees in front of them.  It really did look to me like Japanese art.  Simple and natural.  Perhaps missing the crowned crane.  Nature can transport the perceptive viewer to anywhere in the world.  God gives the sun and the rain equally to all.

Life moves on, and if we are able we keep walking.  Autumn and evening are harbingers for those who are aware of their age.  But, neither represents the end, but only a temporary, but necessary stage leading to new life.  There is a beauty in them which is both fading, and calling to mind the unfading Light of Christ.

 

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For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)

Early Autumn

You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.  (Psalms 104:19)

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The first day of fall 2017 came on September 22.   The Autumnal Equinox marks the beginning of autumn with there being approximately the same amount of daylight and nighttime darkness.  We have been in a dry spell with unseasonably warm temperatures.  So far the color change has been slow in coming.  Though I do see brown, dry leaves on the ground, the trees are still mostly green with color only slowly appearing among the leaves.

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Daniel said:
“Blessed be the name of God from age to age,
for wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons…
(Daniel 2:20-21)  

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I really do enjoy fall weather – the passing of high humidity days brings a drier warmth and pleasing breezes.  I love to see the colors of the leaves as they mark the passing of the seasons.  They are a harbinger of winter but I enjoy their current beauty, not what they are pointing to.

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For both we and our words are in his hand,
as are all understanding and skill in crafts.
For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists,
to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements;
the beginning and end and middle of times,
the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons,
the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars…  (Wisdom of Solomon 7:16)

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I walk in the woods, enjoying God’s creation and the changing nature of the world.  I have lived through more than half of century watching summer end replaced by autumn’s tones.  It is always the same and yet each season is new and wonderful.

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Being God’s Guest in Oregon

 

O LORD, how lovely it is to be your guest. Breeze full of scents, mountains reaching to the skies, waters like a boundless mirror, reflecting the sun’s golden rays and the scudding clouds.

All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing the depths of your tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of your love.

Blessed are you, O mother earth, O reflected loveliness of the land where beauty grows not old, and where rings out the cry: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! You have brought me into life as if into an enchanted paradise.

We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, with the birds singing in the azure heights. We have listened to the soothing murmur of the forest and the melodious music of the streams.

We have tasted fruit of fine flavor and the sweet-scented honey. We can live very well on your earth. It is a pleasure to be your guest. Glory to You for the feast-day of life.

Glory to You for the perfume of lilies and roses. Glory to You for each different taste of berry and fruit. Glory to You for the sparkling silver of early morning dew.

Glory to You for the joy of dawn’s awakening. Glory to You for the new life each day brings. Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

(Akathist: “Glory to God for All Things”, Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Kindle Location 2581-2592)

All the above photos were taken in Oregon when I visited there in August.  You can find all of my photos about my vacation there at  Oregon August 2017. (The Mt. St. Helen photos in the collection are from the state of Washington).  You can also view the photos I favorited at Oregon 2017 Favorites.

My traveling companions, picturesque or picaresque?