Psalm 95 – The World is the Lord’s

Come, let us greatly rejoice in the Lord; Let us shout aloud to God our savior;  Let us come before His face with thanksgiving, And let us shout aloud to Him with psalms.  

For the Lord is a great God, A great King over all the gods;  For in His hand are the ends of the earth,

(Photo by Seth Bobosh)

And the heights of the mountains are His;  

For the sea is His, and He made it,

(Photo by Seth Bobosh)

And His hands formed the dry land.  

Come, let us worship and fall down before Him, And let us weep before the Lord who made us;  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture And the sheep of His hand.   (Psalm 95:1-7)

John Donne: All Times are God’s Seasons

John Donne writing in the 17th Century offers a wonderful reflection on seasons and time as related to God’s own love for His Creation. The version below was adapted to conform to 21st Century spellings and grammar.

“God made sun and moon to distinguish seasons, and day and night, and we cannot have the fruits of the earth but in their seasons.

But God made no decree to distinguish the seasons of his mercies.  In paradise, the fruits were ripe, the first minute, and in heaven it is always Autumn: his mercies are ever in their maturity.

We ask panem quotidianum, our daily bread, and God never says you should have come yesterday.  He never says you must [come] again tomorrow, but today if you will hear his voice, today he will hear you.

  If some king of the earth has so large an extent of dominion in north and south, as that he has winter and summer together in his dominions, so large an extent east and west as that he has day and night together in his dominions, much more has God mercy and judgment together.

He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light.   He can bring your summer out of winter, though you have no spring.

 Though in the ways of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, you have been benighted until now, winter and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied until now,

now God comes to  you, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of spring, but as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows, as the sheaves in harvest to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons. ” (LXXX Sermons; Sermon II)

The Sun – Serving God and Humans

“… 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.

People go out to their work
and to their labor until the evening.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

(Psalm 104:19-24)

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.

 

Look at the Birds Whom the Heavenly Father Feeds

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A Red-bellied Woodpecker lands kicking up some newly fallen snow.  A beautiful bird, I must say.

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According to Matthew 6:26, we are to consider the birds:   “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26)

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Having fed a little, the woodpecker takes off, true to the proverb.  He didn’t toil at all to cause the seed to grow, but he was able to feed on it.

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Lots of feathered friends join the feast.  The cardinal adds a little color.

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A Tufted Titmouse finds a seed, or maybe drops it for other birds who can’t hang on to the feeder, and wait below on the ground for the seeds to fall.  “… some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them”  (Matthew 13:4).

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The tiny Chickadees are usually first to arrive at the feeder.  Their chirping seems to be the all-clear signal for the other birds to follow.

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Feeding the birds allows me to imitate the Heavenly Father who also feeds them (Matthew 6:26)   I do it for the fun of it.  The Nuthatch can hold on even when up-side-down,

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All of the photos in this blog were taken from my bedroom window.  I put the birdfeeders out there to enjoy the birds.  The Hairy Woodpecker is a frequent visitor.  Though small, the other birds seem to give him lots of space.

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The snow doesn’t discourage visitors to the birdfeeder.  I on the other hand find myself more confined at home during such weather.  I continue my recovery from the spinal fusion surgery.  As mentioned several weeks ago, I no longer need a cane to walk, and the surgery has for the time being relieved the pain.  However, ice and snow put a freeze on my life and I avoid going out on it when possible.  I still have to wear my back brace, and have many activity restrictions.  The riskiest thing I do is picking up the camera to take photos from my window as the camera is near my weight lifting limit of 8 pounds.

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You can find the Bewick’s Wren other photos I’ve taken recently around my birdfeeders at Birdfeeder 12-2016  or  Birdfeeder 1-2017.

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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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Every Day Naturally I Praise the Lord

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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.

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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.

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I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.

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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.

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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.

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(select verses from Psalm 145)

At the Zoo – I Believe It’s True

“Somethin’ tells me it’s all happening at the zoo

I do believe it
I do believe it’s true”  

(Paul Simon, At the Zoo)

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.

Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant?

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!

A team of tulips

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.

A pride of lionesses

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.

A tuft of tulips

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.

 

 

A Perception of the Creator

For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator. 

(Wisdom of Solomon 13:5)

Some prognosticators have been predicting a beautiful autumn in our area.  Weather conditions were apparently just right this past spring and summer for an awesome display of autumn colors.

I took my camera out for a couple of walks in my neck of the woods and indeed the autumn display was an amazing array of colors.  Didn’t need to go very far at all to witness the beauty in creation.

I like to imagine God as artist enjoying adding all the color to the landscape.

In 1 Chronicles 16:33-36 we read these words:

Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Say also:
“Save us, O God of our salvation,
and gather and rescue us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
and glory in your praise.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.”

Isaiah the Prophet writes in 55:11-12:

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

The only sad part is that the peak color lasts such a very short time.  The winds and rains soon wash out and wash away the colors leaving us with a winter landscape.

You can find all my photos of this year’s  awesome autumn at Fr. Ted’s Photo Albums.

You can find links to other photoblogs I’ve posted at Fr. Ted’s Photoblogs.

Orchestrating Orchidaceae

I was asked once by a high school student how my spiritual life impacted my daily life or if it made any difference at all about how I see or experience the world.  Indeed, it has.  My interest in photography is an extension of what I believe.

Beauty and truth are the same reality: together they reveal the Creator.   If we take the time to appreciate beauty in the world around us, even in the delicate form of a tiny flower, we also experience the love with which the Creator shaped it.  This becomes obvious in an orchid show where each flower represents the intentional and patient care of its owner.   Humans devote great time and skills to produce one short-lived blossom.  God, the great horticulturalist, is the originator of all that beauty throughout history and throughout the world.   We realize beauty is love made manifest – it is the invisible God showing us signs of His tender love.

Each exquisite flower is a twinkle in the eye of the Creator.   When God planted the first garden, he no doubt found special delight in the how the Orchidaceae took seriously His command to multiply.

I know nothing of the names of these wonderful orchids, let alone how to propagate them. I’ve no green thumb, nor even the desire to raise them.   Shakespeare thought a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  Yet they speak to me – I’m awed by their comeliness in endless variety.   I have not been drawn to learn more about them, though their myriad shapes, colors, contours and scents make them . . . splendiferous!

The ones above are so alive, they appear to be in motion – a graceful dancer in festive costume.

And those above are like great winged bird in graceful flight, whose downward flap of the wings propels them across a lake.

Or perhaps like so many winged insects approaching a fruit tree beckoning to be pollinated.

Some folk are gifted with creating beauty through the variety of human arts – in color, sound, shape, motion, words, etc.  They take their talents and the resources of earth and offer it back in the form of grace and beauty.  Orthodox icons are theology in lines and colors.  Beauty and truth portray the same divine reality.   If we each created beauty every day, the world would be transfigured and transformed.  Some of us, like myself, are not so talented, so I do not create beauty, but perhaps can capture the beauty I see in God’s world all around me in a photograph.  My faith, my theology, compel me to do this.

Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed such as these.  Taking photos for me is an extension of my faith.  Faith propels me into the world of nature, and with eyes of faith I see these things I might ignore or momentarily admire.  Faith tells me to seek them out and to take the time to allow their resplendent, ethereal timelessness to enter into my soul.

All of the above photos were taken at the Cox Arboretum during the The Miami Valley Orchid Society Show, February 14-15, 2015.   You can view all of the photos I took at The 2015 Miami Valley Orchid Show.  You can find links to all my photoblogs at  Fr. Ted’s Photoblogs.