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?

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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.

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.

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)

 

Vicarious Living

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I mentioned in a previous blog that I don’t get out as much these days for health reasons.

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So I have to rely on seeing the world through other people’s eyes or lenses.

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Fortunately my son, Seth, has been traveling the country and sharing his photos with me.

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He’s much more adventuresome than I.

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You can see all his photos at my son’s photography.  Hope you enjoy his photography and travels as much as I do.

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I would say he is a better photographer than I am, but I’ll say it is because he has a better camera.

 

 

 

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.

 

2015 in Favorite Photos

This blog contains some of my photos which I took in 2015 and which are favorites of mine.

One wedding reminded me of a life time – of memories and maturation.   Of what is no more and of what will be.  Members who I baptized as babies are now coming to be married in the church.

A Japanese Koto

Photography can give you a new perspective on life – both seeing things in a new way as well as seeing new things.   Beauty is real, inspiring, true.

Photography sometimes opens doors to things I would never have seen – even if I was looking at them.  Photography focuses our eyesight.

For health reasons, I was far less ambulatory in 2015 than in past years, and so did a lot less photography.

The above photo resulted from being confined to home following a lung resection and chemotherapy.  I was staying at home and took up coloring to pass the time.

Flowers remain a favorite subject for my photography.  I’ve come to appreciate the delicate and complex intricacies of their shapes, colors, sizes and textures.  They also tell a truth about life – natural beauty is fleeting.  So imbibe deeply when you encounter it, for it reveals change at the speed of light.

And bees continue to fascinate me, as photography has made me see them as I never did before.   I realize how important the tiniest of things are to a good life.  We live doing a balancing act with the rest of the environment – competing and being compatible.

Favorites are personal and not an objective category.  Reasons for a photo being a favorite may have nothing to do with being a “best” photo.  The image may conjure up memories or emotions which others won’t see.  Photographs, like Scripture, like the quantum universe, require an observer to interpret them and to interact with them for full effect.

I thought my parishioner Daryl’s icon of St. Ephraim was one of the best he’s ever done.  There is a dynamic quality to it that brings to life this saint whose writings inspire me so much.

A street scene in Washington, DC – neighbors and neighborhoods mean different things depending where you live.

You can view all of the photos I picked as my favorites for the year at Fr. Ted’s Favorite Photos 2015.

“He who stands in awe of God searches for the divine principles that God has implanted in creation; the lover of truth finds them.”  (Thalassios the Libyan, THE PHILOKALIA, Kindle Location 21415-17)

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