Monday, March 25, 2013

Weathered, Heathered & Feathered

Oh the glories of Spring! 

April hath put a spirit of
youth in everything. 
~William Shakespeare

Here in the Pacific NW the Cherry Blossoms are pregnant with promise; so pregnant (at nearly 10 suntimeters) that one can almost hear their labored groaning in the birthing of their blooms.  In the adjacent ward are Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Lilacs and such.  All of them, and many more besides are represented in my backyard ~ a daily reminder, if not proof positive that life follows death.       

In the valley nearby, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths & primroses have come alive, ready to grace beds, baskets & pots.  Gawking is free.

Spring here doesn't necessarily herald the arrival of sunshine or warm days, but it certainly does herald the end of a long, dark, oft-grey Winter.  Unlike other regions of the country, Spring doesn't burst forth in these parts.  It slowly meanders.  It leaves me tempted to put away my socks & heavy coats; to drag out my summer attire & set out the chaise lounges.  But ... I've lived here long enough to know NOT to fall prey to that particular notion.  Truly warm weather isn't due for many weeks yet.  Some say there's no such thing here. 

If we had no winter, the spring
would not be so pleasant;
if we did not sometimes taste
of adversity, prosperity would not
be so welcome. 
~Anne Bradstreet
This morning, while out conducting my early morning ritual of walking I couldn't help but notice the brilliance of the the Purple Heather.  Talk about glorious!  It's at its most spectacular best right now.  For a brief moment I was again walking the moors of Northern Scotland, where just last Fall I fell in love with moss and heather.  Have I mentioned that Scotland has a way of making a bog a resort destination? 

And then there's the birdsong.  For several days now, the tweets (the REAL deal, not that stuff one gathers via Twitter) are melodic.  The Robins have returned, as have numerous other bird varieties - Flickers & Crossbills, Sparrows & Grosbeaks.  There's a virtual confab at the bird feeders!

Today, as with so many bygone days, I am amazed at the power of Spring.  New beginnings.  Tender shoots.  Lovely blooms.  Lush life.  Scented breezes.  Busy creatures. 

I do believe this classroom called Spring is my favorite.  I needn't try very hard or look too far to find evidence of God's sovereignty, beauty & amazing grace. 

Neither man nor chance thought up all this syncopated beauty.

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you. 
Which of all these does not know that the
hand of the LORD has done this? 
~ Job 12:7-9

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Untroubled Surface

Waiting upon God is necessary in order
to see Him, to have a vision of Him.
The time element in vision is essential.
Our hearts are like a sensitive
photographer's plate; and in order to
have God revealed there,
we must sit at His feet a long time.
The troubled surface of a lake
will not reflect an object.
~ Dr. Pardington, Streams in the Desert

Object lessons.  I love them & I hate them.

I grew up around lakes.  Lots of them.  My family enjoyed Sunday afternoon picnics at Clear Lake ~ a picturesque pool beneath Mt. Rainier's gaze.  We also enjoyed Wapato Lake ~ a smallish water body closer to home that is known for its ducks & its rhododendron-lined shores.  And sometimes we made our way to Lake Surprise, where sunny summer days could be wiled away in childish delight, and where a high dive taunted the faint of heart.  That would be me.

None of this makes me an expert on Lake-isms (if even there is such a thing), but it is to say I know just enough about lakes to shout "Amen!" to Dr. Pardington's wisdom above. 

A troubled surface will not reflect much of anything.  Worse, a troubled surface often means that yucky stuff has been stirred up below it ~ sometimes visible; sometimes not.  Loch Ness comes to mind.  Resting on a peat bed & normally dark anyway, a troubled surface means thick, murky waters churn into something akin to Borsch ~ the sort in which monsters love to reside.

Quiet.  Calm.  Restful.  Tranquil.  Expectant.  Focused.  Clear.  Amazing what is reflected in a lake, or a life such as this.  It's not denial of which I speak (God knows I've tried my share of such), but of a blessed, calm assurance in spite of whatever it is that stirs the surface & the depths of a heart, and that is content to wait upon the Lord anyway. 

It's up to me.

“Let your beauty not be external - the braiding of hair and wearing
of gold jewelry or fine clothes - but the inner person of the heart,
the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit,
which is precious in the God’s sight.”
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Roots & Shoots

A number of years ago I began digging around my ancestral roots.  It began with a modicum of interest; one that was sparked by old pictures & family lore.  At some point that spark burst into a veritable inferno, and I've been climbing along various branches of my Family Tree ever since. 

Now, with some 5,140 ancestors identified, the roots & shoots of said tree look decidedly Scots/Irish.  Shamrocks frame my dreams.

The green of my father's DNA is associated with clans like  McFadden, Breslin, Kelly, McAleer/McClare, Campbell & Boyle.  The hue continues on mother's side, with the O'Neals, McDaniels/McDonoughs & Doyles.  Some limbs stretch far, far back to as long ago as 500 A.D. 

I would be remiss to ignore the seemingly lessor sprigs that are associated with my family's British, German & Norwegian heritage.  Those ethnicities aren't as volumnous, but I value them all the same. 

With St. Patrick's Day on the weekend's horizon, I am again pondering those emerald green boughs and all the people that populate them.  Lords & ladies, paupers & peasants, scoundrels & scamps, Catholics & Protestants (and Atheists), adventurers & naturalists.  What a collection!

I am also remembering ~ vividly & fondly ~ the days & nights we spent in Ireland last Fall.  A piece of that land is forever planted in my heart, where much of my heritage has rooted well.

"The longest road out is the shortest road home."
~ An Irish Saying


Monday, March 4, 2013

What Lies Beneath?

What lies beneath? 

Sounds like an opening teaser to a creepy movie, doesn't it?  Come to think of it, I believe there is just such a title out there. 

This week I was saddened to hear the story about the man in Florida who was dramatically swallowed by a sink hole beneath his bedroom.  Fast asleep & unawares, the earth's gaping maw opened up wide & deep (some say over 100 feet) to claim him.  In a split second he was gone.  All rescue attempts failed.

I have thought about that nightmare story since first learning of the tragedy.  It's chilling.  The spiritual implications are profound.

The opening salvo of the referenced website (below) reads: 

"Sinkholes are part of the slow, natural process of erosion
in Florida’s limestone terrain that occur over thousands of years.
These common geologic phenomena generally occur where the
limestone is within a few hundred feet of the land’s surface."
  • A slow, common phenomenon.
  • Erosion.  Just beneath the surface. 
  • Seeping water & toxic formations of carbon dioxide and decay.
  • Hazardous migration of water; destroying much of the area(s) around it.
Apparently these natural occurences cannot be prevented, but they can be avoided.  There are actually warning signs that might well save lives if heeded.  Such a big "if".

It all sounds so familiar.

Today I wonder at the sin(k) holes in and/or near my life.  What might be lurking there ~ just beneath the surface ~ ready to swallow me when I least expect it? 

Am I guarding my own heart as instructed?

Make no mistake:  my intention is not inclined towards fear-mongering.  Rather, it's an object lesson in life.  Call it "World Studies", if you will. 

Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
because you know that the family of believers
throughout the world is undergoing
the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you
to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.   
~ 1 Peter 5:8-11 

LINK:  How Sinkholes are Formed