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)

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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.

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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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)

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.

Behold the Beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4)

I saw the sun rising above the horizon, framed between the earth and the thick cloud bank.  I was reminded that the sun is not affected by events on earth, no matter how wide spread they are.  It steadily shines, even when we can’t see it.

And the delicacy and intricacies of the different flowers cause me to marvel at the diversity in nature, and beauty which like quantum activity requires there to be an observer.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder even though the observer doesn’t create the beauty.

I stop to admire the glories of God in the small things of this earth.  It is worth stopping to note God is discovered in the details.

And my favorite insect, the bees are back to engage in life-giving behavior.  In this, they do God’s will and reveal God to us.

Flowers and bees, together they form a symbiotic relationship that speaks to us humans of our relationships both with creation and with God.  We need both for life.

 

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.

 

 

Welcoming Spring

The vernal equinox reminds us that the seasons are in constant motion, time for a change.

The clouds of spring water the earth which blossoms with new life.

Like the seasons, the flowers break into our world and then pass away, as do all things.

Even fading beauty uplifts the heart and delights the eye, giving hope that always there will be something that arises even from the dead of winter.

The scents, sounds and sights of spring may draw our minds to Paradise, yet there, since fruit was in season and in abundance, it must have been more like an eternal summer or fall.

 

Here, we can praise God for beauty springs eternal, as does hope.

 

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.