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Lovely Bird

22 May

An eternal question: Is that true? Are you telling me the truth? Are you genuine? Truth. Truth is the foundation of relationships and societies. We are led to believe by very ancient sources that truth is the foundation for life. And yet in our politics, in the market place we don’t mind bending the truth, or even telling the lie in order to make personal gain.

Isn’t that a lovely bird in the photo above? I just happened to be in the right place when he flew in. Yes, what a pose. And the colors are striking. It’s a very fine photo, if you ask me. In my yard? Well, no. I didn’t take it there. While walking in the neighborhood? Ahh, no. Okay…truth be told. I took a picture of my television screen. He’s a bird on TV. He’s a bogus bird and I have to tell you the truth. I could make up a story about how I captured this photo and I could give you all the details, but that wouldn’t be true, would it.

You and I are offered the opportunity almost every day tell that “little white lie”, the one that really doesn’t matter. But truth does matter. It matters a lot. I believe that Jesus became such a threat to the Jewish religious leaders and to the Roman government that they had to get rid of him. Jesus told the truth in the face of lies and when he named the lie for what it was, he became an intolerable threat. Speaking truth can be costly, but to deny truth is to create chaos.

I still say the little bird is brilliant, even if the photo is a phony. And that’s no lie.

Watching Water

15 May

What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. There is so much in our world that distracts us from the basic, the simple. Complexity confuses. What you see is one smart bird. He knows that sitting quietly on the stone fountain and watching the droplets of water fall, one by one, then in long silver strings, is relaxing, refreshing and renewing. Smart birds make time to watch the water fall. Then they can rise with Strength in their wings. Then they can fly. Smart birds know that, and they do it.

End Of The Road

9 May

It looks like the end of the road. No place to go. No options. But look carefully. Maybe there is a possibility. Maybe there is a turn that appears when we actually reach the apparent dead-end. Don’t throw in the towel too early. Stay alert. Sometimes it’s this way in a spiritual journey, too. When the obstacle looms large or the way seems dark, when old ways don’t make sense anymore and you long for a new word to feed a dry spirit, be alert to the unseen, the unexpected. A moment in time, a person, an event, a casual conversation and there it is! The road just turns, it doesn’t end. The journey continues! Did you see the sign? “New wine just ahead!”

A Transformed Symbol

6 May

It really wasn’t the stories and parables Jesus told that undermined the Roman Empire. Infuriated, maybe, but not undermined. And it wasn’t the miracles or healings. Those things got the Roman Emperor’s attention. But it was reported that other healers roamed the countryside. No, Jesus beat them at their own game. He disarmed the Empire’s greatest weapon. He brought power against power and his was stronger. The most terrifying instrument the Romans possessed was the cross, on which thousands of people lost their lives. These death instruments lined the Roman roads as a reminder to the average citizen to behave and do exactly as the Romans ordered. What better slap in the face than for Jesus to show the Romans how impotent they were, that their hold of terror had been broken. Jesus trusted himself and his God and he broke a Roman cross like a twig. He said that an alternative Kingdom existed, what he called The Kingdom of God, and he proved it. Life to death to life. Along the Via Dolorosa, up the hill, on the cross, in the tomb…and then the revealing of life in a way unimaginable. Resurrected life.

For the Romans, crosses were the end of the line. For Jesus, the cross was a vehicle to victory for a new way of being. He gave himself to a power greater than himself. And the world has never been the same since. Thanks be to God for life. We are people of a new Kingdom, but it doesn’t belong to the Romans.

Rest Well!

4 May

What a beautiful way to end the day! As darkness falls over the land and the setting sun splashes one more stroke of orange on the sky canvas, we look back over the hours and sort through all the events and experiences of the day. Kindness extended and received. A helping hand given. A word of encouragement spoken. It has been a good day. And what will tomorrow bring? Can we know?

Rest in the comfort of love tonight; abide in the Presence; trust that the darkness will give way once again to the light of morning and that your eyes will open to behold the glory.

Rest well.
Fear not.
Trust.
Tomorrow will come as a gift.

Beautiful Earth

30 Apr
For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
this, our hymn of grateful praise.

Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1864)

Yes!

The Anchor Holds

28 Apr

Sound the bell slowly
there is no urgency
hurry and rush do not exist.

drink the cup deliberately
savor the richness that rises
from depths and intensity.

Life’s fabric is worn thin
once vibrant colors blend
run together into muted puddles.

the ship is buffeted by
inevitable winds, expected
but uninvited. Almost friends.

And through it all the anchor holds
steady and sure. It holds. A toast
to last things and first things.
Drain the glass.

Thank You

25 Apr

When the sunlight is just right,
when the haze has wrapped the
mountains in a soft gray cloth,
when the pale green palo verdes
put on their yellow dresses,
when the wind sits still and
doesn’t rearrange the scenery,
and when I turn a corner and
see this…I have to stop on the
side of the road and just be in
the moment of mysterious beauty.

Have you noticed, too? I’ll bet you
said “Thank You”, didn’t you? The
inherent response to sacred reality.

Thank you.

Follow The Path

22 Apr

It’s always good to catch your breath when you walk or hike a trail. Or, ride a bike along the wonderful Tucson bike pathway system. Pausing is even better when you can find a beautiful resting spot like the one provided by this friendly Palo Verde tree. But the pathway beckons. Discovery happens when you follow The Path, not when you lounge in the shade. The pathway I follow, the way of Jesus in his life and teachings, is not always as straight and smooth as this one, but it contains great things yet to discover, and plenty of opportunities to experience creation’s creative power. So, rest when you need to…but stay on the path. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. Lifetime and more. Blessings to you as the sun rises on this quiet Friday morning.

In Profile

21 Apr

I wonder how many flower photographs I’ve taken over the years. As I look at a folder about to burst from so many beautiful flowers, it dawns on me that I am a full-face photographer. Smile! Look at the camera! Click, and the lovely flower is captured, straight on. But I think I will add to those “open wide, say aaaaaah” shots some profiles because that perspective tells a different story. There is beauty still, but of a different sort…the colors vary, the support system is revealed, branches and leaves make the flower even more attractive. I just need to remind myself to change perspective once in a while, look at things from a different direction.

Works with people, too. The old saying: “Never judge a book by its cover” makes sense here. If all you want is a colorful book for display or decoration, then the cover alone will do. But it’s the story between the covers that counts. People are so multi-dimensional, so diverse in life experience, beliefs, personal opinions and attitudes and to miss those characteristics is to miss the real person. A word of advice and a word of caution: be a good listener; don’t do all the talking. Affirm and appreciate differences; be open to diversity. Be grateful for your friend’s willingness to share; hold it all gently. Caution: the risk in changing perspective is that the new perspective might change you. I think truth or insight are revealed when I dare to open my certainty to possibility. I think, too, that’s the way the Spirit works. That’s one of the important things I hear from the Risen One, that’s what he taught in his life. Look at the world from a different direction, try the new, don’t just shoot pictures of flowers from one direction because a different beauty is in the profile.

Just something to think about as the sun comes up on a Thursday morning. Thanks be to Christ who leads us to the fullness of life.