Psalm of Gratitude

30 11 2012

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.

Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.

Shenandoah

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

(Note that the landscape art above is derived from a photograph in the public domain provided by the United States National Park Service.)





My Father’s Haiku

30 11 2012

Nature's reclamation

Homestead abandoned;

Roses grown wild remember

Love that once dwelt here.

yellow roses haiku

You may also want to read my short story entitled Morning Encounter, which is available as an e-book at Amazon.





Firefly Epiphany

29 11 2012

ghost willow lite

This is a flash-fiction fable excerpted from the author’s novel entitled No Shadow of Turning: A Sojourner’s Tale, which is available as an e-book at Amazon.  

Once upon a time, it was said that the Light shone in darkness, and that the darkness could not comprehend it. 

And there once came one, one so little yet so big as to be filled to overflowing with the lightning of Light, flying from daylight to darkness, from darkness to daylight.  She flew like a star hardly shooting.  She flashed like a star faint in the farthest expanse of the universe.  Yet she had the Sun’s light and right and might, and she had the Sun’s healing in her wings. 

Glowing, this one flew in.  In blackness of darkness, she flew around and came to light upon something barely gray.  Listening, she heard a dropping.  One dry dropping.  Then another.  And another something dropping dry. 

Firefly asked Willow, “Why do you weep?” 

Willow answered, “Look at me.  My branches are brittle.  My bark is bleeding.  I am broken, broken down and downcast.” 

Firefly, looking at the litter of bark and twigs below, asked, “Why, then, are you here?” 

Willow said, “Here is where I am.” 

“In this place?” Firefly asked.  “This is a cavern, a cave, a dungeon, a grave.” 

“But this is my place,” Willow insisted. 

“Your place is with the Sun,” said Firefly, “not without it.” 

Willow asked, “Nonsense!  I sense no Sun.” 

“In this, your place?  Of course not.  But you must sense the evidence of things not seen, the assurance of things foreseen.  You must see,” insisted Firefly.  “The white Sun makes the sky into seas of wind, makes the seas into mountains of clouds, and makes the clouds into fountains of water.” 

“I know nothing of seas or wind or clouds,” said Willow. 

“The Sun makes mountains like this into clouds of dust,” said Firefly.  “You do know something of dust.” 

“I know dust,” Willow agreed.  “From dust was I taken.  Dust I am.  To dust shall I return.” 

“The Sun knows dust.  There was a time when the Sun came to earth, and on one dreadful dusk He set deep into the dust,” Firefly said.  Then she added, “But then there came that one dawn that neither dust nor darkness, that neither pandemonium nor death could defeat: the Sun arose.” 

Firefly asked, “Do you know anything of water? And of the fountain of living water that can cause the flowing of rivers of living water from deep within?” 

“Within what?” Willow asked. 

“Within that which delights day and night.  There you can be planted by rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in season, and never withering.  There you can extend your roots by the stream, and have no fear when heat comes, no anxiety in time of drought.  Your leaves will be evergreen, and you will not cease to bear.” 

“But I am bare,” said Willow.  “I already do not cease being barren.”  

“So let the Sun come!” Firefly exclaimed. “The white Sun gives light, white light that becomes green growing upward and outward and onward, leaf upon leaf.  No need to be bare and barren. Ask yourself: where are your leaves?” 

“Where?” Willow asked.  “How about what? I know nothing of leaves.” 

“You can have leaves.  Leaf upon leaf, hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands.  You can, you may, you must have leaves verdant and vibrant and valiant, brilliant and jubilant and procreant.  Leaves, leaf upon leaf, high and lifted up: flying, lifting the very earth and flying high in the sky: flying in the white Sun’s light.  Flying, in the Light!” 

“I see no light!” Willow cried.  Willow wailed, “Whence?  Where?  Whither?” 

“Here,” said Firefly with that still, small voice enthusing her. 

“I know nothing of light!” Willow wept. 

And Firefly answered, “Look at me.” 

 

Those intrigued may wish to pursue the fable’s allusions to selected passages of the Holy Bible.  In order of appearance, they are as follows:

John 1:5-9

Malachi 4:2

Jude 12-13

Matthew 5:3-8

Matthew 11:27-30

Ecclesiastes 11:7

John 3:16-21

Hebrews 11:1-3

Genesis 3:19

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21

Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, 13-14

Ephesians 4:4-10

John 4:5-26

John 7:37-38

Isaiah  44:3-4

Isaiah 58:11

Jeremiah 2:13

Psalm 1:2-3

Jeremiah 17:7-8

John 8:12

1 Kings 19:11-13

Matthew 5:14-16





White Ash

29 11 2012

Image

Blonde leaves,

Yellow and gray

In the darkling mist,

Whisper in the Wind

Still and small,

Calm and cool.

Clearly the mist

May not apprehend,

Cannot comprehend the

Coming shimmer, glimmer and

Gleam of this new autumn day.

Despite sight of ice and

Knowledge of night,

Light labors with Sky

Calling and christening,

Flaming and freeing,

Enchanting before winter’s chill.

A graceful blonde forever

Bright, white and beaming

Calm and cool:

Clearly.





For the Beauty of the Earth

29 11 2012

Philistine. Christians may yet think first of the people of some three thousand years ago who fought repeatedly with the Hebrews. Originally from Crete, they migrated to the southeast shore of the Mediterranean Sea and established five cities that waxed and waned for a millennium. They disappeared as an ethnic group at the time of the Maccabees, but the word derived from their existence—Palestine—remains to this day.

In the minds of the general populace, the word philistine (spelled without capitalization) denotes a person who is boorish or uncultured and proud of it.  More precisely, a philistine is one who for art would not care to give even five smooth stones from a stream. Evidently, unlike the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks, the original Philistines left no legacy of words or music, sculpture or architecture. Even the ancient Hebrews, who contributed little to the arts in general, nevertheless had great poets.

Here are a few lines from a great Hebrew: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Who is their Artist?

As it was written by another Hebrew, consider His heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars, which He has ordained. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork,” declares the psalmist.

What is to be our response?

“O give thanks unto the God of gods… O give thanks to the Lord of lords… to Him who alone doeth great wonders… to Him that by wisdom made the heavens… to Him that stretched out the earth above the waters… to Him that made great lights… the sun to rule by day…” The lovingkindness of this Artist endures forever.

And yet, what really is our response? Do we care? Or do we treat the art of the earth with the kind of giant contempt against God manifested by Goliath of Gath? Are we collaborators with those uncircumcised Philistines?

This has nothing to do with the worship of Gaea. It has everything to do with the worship of the Lord God.

This is not primarily about science, junk or otherwise. This is about art. (Note, however, that hard science’s improving perception of the anthropic principle provides plenty of reason to appreciate the Artisan’s creation of cosmos from chaos.)

Art. We may not know the difference between a fresco and a fresh coat of paint, chiaroscuro and charcoal, or rococo and hot cocoa. Even so, who among us would take a finger painting presented with pride by a child and use it to light a barbecue fire? Who among us would take a watercolor given with love by a grandchild and use it for toilet paper?

Now turn this around. Suppose you paint a picture of the lilies of the field, and it measures up to the best of Dürer and Michelangelo, of Caravaggio and Rembrandt, of Constable and Turner, of Monet and Van Gogh, of Homer and O’Keeffe. Even Solomon in all his wealth could not buy it from you. Instead, you give the painting to your children. What would you think if they cut it up to make illustrations for a seed catalogue? If they peeled it apart to obtain sample chips for a paint store? If they burned it to smelt the cadmium and titanium and other minerals from the pigments? If they tore it to pieces so they could puff spit wads at one another? To borrow a line from Saint James and King James, “these things ought not so to be.”

It is written: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NAU).

It is also written, several times: “The earth is the Lord’s.” (See Exodus 9:29, Deuteronomy 10:14, Psalm 24:1, and 1 Corinthians 10:26, 28.)

When God put mankind in the Garden of Eden, what was His intent? The King James Version of the account employs two words—dress and keep.

In the original Hebrew, dress means work. More specifically, it means to work for, to serve another, to serve the Lord as subjects of the Lord.

In the original Hebrew, keep has a range of meanings.  Observe, reserve, and preserve. Regard and guard. Care. Ward. Save. The word can even mean treasure and celebrate.

We are to dress and keep a garden. But what do we do?

We build our houses upon the sand of a beach or floodplain.  When the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat upon those houses, and when they thus fall, we require our taxpaying neighbors to rebuild them, and in the same place.  Then we want those neighbors to pay for projects to protect them, and at the expense of the environment, too.

We build our houses upon the sands of a desert.  We then require our farming and ranching neighbors to give up their land for water projects, and later give up their water rights so we may have green lawns we overload with fertilizers and pesticides, which in turn run off to despoil waterways and wetlands. We require other neighbors to strip mountains and fill valleys and foul the air so we may power gadgets, gizmos, and games.

To borrow a line from Saint John, “And there are also many other things… the which, if they should be written every one… even the world itself could not contain the books…” With regard to such carelessness and even contempt for ecology, what would Saint James say to it all?

Here are the bottom lines.

Reverence for God truly includes reverence for the beauty and goodness of His creation. Besides, the lives and livelihoods of our neighbors, who are also His creation and whom we are to love if we say we love God, depend on it.

 

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