Music: Harmony With God

St. John Climacus, remarked that true beauty is never profane:  ‘When we hear singing,’ he said, ‘let us be moved with love towards God; for those who love God are touched with a holy joy, a divine emotion and a tenderness which brings them to tears when they listen to beautiful harmony, whether the songs are profane or spiritual’ (The Ladder, 15th step).”  (Olivier Clement, On Human Being, p. 105-106)

As we rejoice in the “Akathist: Glory to God for All Things” –

In the wondrous blending of sounds, it is Your call we hear.

In the harmony of many voices, in the sublime beauty of music,

in the glory of the works of great composers, You lead us to the threshold of paradise to come, and to the choirs of angels.

All true beauty has the power to draw the soul towards You and make it sing in ecstasy: Alleluia!

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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Appearance is Deceiving

For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

“Furthermore, we have given ourselves a very serious problem our ancient ancestors did not have. In our own time, in which we jog and diet and generally believe that there must be an intimate connection between virtue, physical beauty, health and a person’s worth, we make outcasts of those among us who do not measure up: the old, the fat, the young but unattractive, the handicapped. That we have discovered that there is no real physical basis for believing in a ‘body-soul dualism’ provides us with a reason to value people in terms of what they look like and what they are able to do physically. Our churches are as guilty of this amazing confusion as any other group. This is a theology of ‘wholeness’ that benefits the strong and ignores the weak. It certainly stands in opposition to the Christian way of life … (Roberta C. Bondi, To Love as God Loves, p. 65)

St. John the Forerunner

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.

All Things Bright and Beautiful (3)

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

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

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,

The rushes by the water,
To gather every day.

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell

How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

Cecil Alexander wrote this hymn for children in 1848.

Previous Blogs:  All Things Bright and Beautiful (1)   and  All Things Bright and Beautiful (2)

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.

Sequoia National Park by Seth Bobosh

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)

 

Is Our God Too Small?

 

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.

(Solomon 6:7)

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.