Springing to Life

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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.

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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.

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Peonies are cultivated and have flowers that do last a short while.

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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.

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I was totally enamored by the color of the cones of the Weeping Blue Spruce above.

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Looking down on the Spring Larkspur it had a geodesic dome shape.

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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.

 

A Misty Fog

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“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)

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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.

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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.
(Sirach 24:3)

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.

Winter Snow

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.

Thinking About What Is True

St. Paul can write to the Philippians,

‘Whatever is true,

whatever is honorable,

whatever is just,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

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whatever is gracious,

if there is any excellence,

if there is anything worthy of praise,

think about these things’

(Phil. 4:8).

Because in thinking about these things, Paul says, our minds are on Jesus Christ. In the next chapter of the same letter he says, ‘Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true’ (Eph. 5:8-9, emphasis added).

Conversely,

anywhere there is deceit or distortion of truth;

where there is a degree of denial on however a deep a level;

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where we are dishonest- out of convenience or out of the need for power or gratification or out of misinformation or ignorance – or if we are ‘living a lie’;

there is a distance from Christ himself.”

(Peter Bouteneff, Sweeter Than Honey, p 33)

 

 

Autumn Leaves

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Maybe it is the season. Changing colors, reflect fading beauty.

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A touch of melancholy.  The color change, so welcomed by my eyes, also tells me of what will follow – the cold of winter winds, and dormant plants awaiting spring’s resurrection.

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Health issues continue for me in the autumn of my life.  I cannot get out to enjoy the spreading color change of fall.

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So I look out my window at home and see in my backyard the glory of autumn and also recognize what it signals about the year.

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Sadly, my ash tree, the last still standing on my property is succumbing to the ash borer.

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 It shaded my house so faithfully for so many summers.    Now it falls to sleep, perhaps for the last time.

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The leaves I photo may be the last this tree will produce.  And it is possible the ash tree  with its distinctive leaf colors will disappear from North America as even the spring won’t bring them back from their final dormition.

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3 Million Views

In 2008, I bought myself a camera and used it as an excuse to take walks.

I began photographing the things that attracted my attention.  I was a walk by shooter for sure.

In the 8 years since I got the camera took thousands of photos, just for the love of it.

I’ve posted all my photos at Fr. Ted’s Photos.  And many have been enjoying those photos besides me.

Photography helped me appreciate even more the beauty in God’s creation, and to be thankful for being able to see it.

Sometime earlier today my photos passed 3 million views.  I am truly grateful that so many others have been able to enjoy those photos.

I am not gifted enough to create beauty, but I try to capture it when I see it.

Because of health problems, I haven’t been out with the camera very much recently.  I tried my hand at coloring, trying again to capture beauty.

All of the photos in this blog came from my 2016 Favorites album.

I thank all my viewers and all those who have taken time to like some of the photos and to leave their comments.

God’s Love and Our Free Will

St. Ephrem the Syrian (4th C)  gives a wonderfully artistic metaphor to help us understand free will.  He says it would have been a whole lot easier for God if God had simply created us to obey Him – if God had created automatons or robots, rather than bestowing free will on humans.  God could have forced us to do His will, but God didn’t will that.  God created us to co-create with Him.  God gave us free will so that we might create beauty.  If God had forced us to do His will then we wouldn’t be in God’s image.  Instead of God “painting” our portraits as He determined, He gave us the gifts to beautifully create self-portraiture.  We get to choose the colors adorning our portraits, creating unique beauty which is the way to please God.

Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)
Christ is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15)

“For this is the Good One, who could have forced us

to please Him,

without any trouble to Himself; but instead He toiled

by every means

so that we might act pleasingly to Him of our free will,

that we might depict our beauty

with the colours that our own free will had gathered;

whereas, if He had adorned us, then we would have

resembled

a portrait that someone else had painted, adorning it

with his own colors.”

(Sebastian Brock, The Luminous Eye, p 61)

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful (2)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

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The purple headed mountains,
The river running by,

The sunset and the morning
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,

The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

Cecil Alexander wrote this hymn for children in 1848.

Previous Blog:  All Things Bright and Beautiful (1)

Next Blog:  All Things Bright and Beautiful (3)

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful (1)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,

Reflection of children on pond

All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,

He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,

He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

Cecil Alexander wrote this hymn for children in 1848.

Next:  All Things Bright and Beautiful (2)