The Least of Creatures

cardinal
I sit at the kitchen table, work,
And watch the birds.
I take a break and snap a picture.

The snow has come
And the birds have nothing to eat.

“Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly [Parent] feeds them.”
– Jesus, Matthew 6:26 (CEB)

Surrogate “heavenly Parent,”
I keep the feeders filled,
The water full,
Even for the birds I don’t care for as much.

What if it was so simple
To care for ALL those in need?
Bless all in need this day.
Bless all who mourn, who fear, who are in danger.
Guide me, that I may be your hands and heart in the world.

Repairers of the Breach

Image

“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.”
– Isaiah 58:12, The Message

Come, Spirit of Courage, creative Source of Healing. Amen.

A Certain Beauty

foggy trees
There is a certain beauty to a foggy morning. The trees framed in soft light against the sky.

The peony shut tight against the dampness and darkness of the morning.

peony

The mushroom cup holding a sip of dew.

mushroom

The dandelion seeds pulled together in dampness.

dandelion

The rose petal drooping with the weight of the morning dew drops.

rose

Look and see the beauty of a foggy morning.

Psalm for the Sunset

sunset
Sunset at Kayak Point

Let my whole being bless the LORD!
LORD my God, how fantastic you are!

You are clothed in glory and grandeur!
You wear light like a robe;
you open the skies like a curtain.

You build your lofty house on the waters;
you make the clouds your chariot,
going around on the wings of the wind. . . .

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God
while I’m still alive. . . .

Let my whole being bless the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

– Psalm 104:1-3, 33, 35 (Common English Bible)


A Walk at sunset — Kayak Point near Marysville, WA. Photo by Beth A. Richardson

Bird Friends at the Cabin

wren on top of box
Wren on top of wren box

Since late April I have enjoyed keeping an eye on the Cornel Lab of Ornithology’s the live web cam of the nest of a pair of Great Blue Herons. Thousands of us watched the fun as eggs were laid, chicks hatched, parents fed, babies grew and finally fledged in the last couple of weeks. But the live web cam didn’t hold a candle to the bird adventures I witnessed — in person — at our family cabin in Colorado.

At the cabin on the front porch, there’s a wren box that’s been there for years — probably built by Grandpa Tom Wilson. The Rock Wrens were feeding babies. All day long, they were catching and hauling bugs in to feed the babies. Anyone sitting on the front porch could watch the fun. You could hear the chirping of the chicks and when the mom or dad entered the bird box; the whole box rocked back and forth during the feeding. Then there was the singing of the wrens after feeding the babies. I also enjoyed the way the birds clean off their beaks on a branch after feeding the babies. It was wonderful entertainment.

Here’s a parent geting ready to slip into the box with a bug.

wren on the front of the box
Wren heading in to feed babies

One day as I sat on the front porch, I saw the cutest little flycatcher in the tree. (I think it was the Cordilleran Flycatcher, but I’m not sure.) At one point, it got a little bit too close to the wren box and there was a scuffle. Feathers flew all over the porch. I guess they were flycatcher feathers. So the little flycatcher settled into the tree on the other side of the cabin — outside the bathroom window.

I woke up at sunrise one morning and saw the little bird soaking in the early morning sunshine. Here is a photo I took through the bathroom window.

flycatcher
Flycatcher outside the bathroom window

 

The pictures through the glass were a bit fuzzy, so I took the screen out of the window to take a few more pictures. She or he wasn’t concerned about any of it and sat for me through the whole photo shoot.

flycatcher
Flycatcher with no screen or window in the way.

The Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were putting on a show from dawn to dusk. The male bird’s wings make a trilling noise when they fly, so it’s easy to keep up with them. While we were there, the males were courting. They fly straight up to a great height and then make a “U” shape down and up to the same height. The way the cabin sits on the side of the mountain, we were able to watch the mid-point of the display. It was quite impressive.

There was a little branch at the edge of the backyard that hangs out over the canyon. The branch was a favorite perch of the male hummingbird; he was able to keep an eye on his territory. I shot this photo of the hummingbird just as the sun was coming up. He was puffed out against the cool of the morning.

hummingbird
Male hummingbird keeping an eye on his territory

 

I’m thankful for the bird show. Grateful for birds, for the cabin, for the privilege of being there.

The Anniversary

Brainard LakeThis is a repost from my article on Alive Now’s blog.

When the 9/11 attacks happened, I was in Colorado on vacation and away from television. We had scheduled a hike on that day and decided that since there wasn’t anything helpful we could do, a hike would be a perfect response — a sort of physical prayer. The images I remember from that day are mountains and water, fragile flowers and blue sky. It wasn’t until over a week later when we were finally able to fly home that I saw all the images of devastation. I’m grateful that pictures such as the one above are what I associate with that terrible day.

I know that anniversaries of tragedy are especially difficult. It’s been over 25 years since my mom died and I still feel the loss deep in my spirit when that date comes around every year. I cannot imagine the pain I would feel if her death was a part of such a gigantic national tragedy. I pray for those for whom this news event brings such deep pain.

This week’s gospel reading from the lectionary is Matthew 18:15-20. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who has wronged him. “Seven times?” And Jesus’ answer, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” And then Jesus goes on to tell a parable about settling accounts.

I’ve been thinking about this scripture falling on the anniversary of 9/11 and wondering what will be preached in churches this Sunday. (I’m grateful that I’m not having to prepare a sermon for such a difficult day!) I’m wondering what God is saying to me, to us, through this scripture and through this season of remembering. I’d like to invite you to take some time to pray the scripture using Alive Now’s Audio Lectio recording.

Here are a few random thoughts from me:

  • We are a broken and fragmented people. Our culture is divided to the point that we often jump — too quickly — to judgment, labeling, and condemning others rather than seeing them as human, vulnerable, children of God.
  • Forgiveness is our calling as Christians. It’s perfectly appropriate that we study and pray this scripture at this time.
  • Yes, we are called to forgive — over and over and over. But forgiveness is a very individual step, part of a process of healing and reconciliation. I cannot say to you, “It’s time for you to forgive.” Forgiveness is a gift given by God at the just the right point in a person’s healing process.
  • I wonder what Jesus would say to us today? to our national leaders? our faith leaders? to our children?

Share your thoughts. What does it mean to be people of faith in a post-9/11 world? What message is God giving you through this week’s Audio Lectio?

Related Resources


Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. Brainard Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Colorado.

Jack and Friends

JackI love Spring. I love pups. And I love taking pictures. Here are pictures from photo shoots this spring with Jack and his good buddies, Spec and Girlfriend.

It was Jack’s eyes that caught our attention when he was a tiny puppy. And when his eyebrows aren’t too long, you can still see them. Aren’t they the cutest eyes? He’s wearing his St. Patrick’s Day bandana in this photo.

 
 
Here’s Jack again in his lucky Irish bandana. I used one of The Pioneer Woman’s photoshop action to make this photo dramatic. Not that Jack needs any help with drama …Jack

 
 
In the middle of this photo shoot, some people walked by. Jack’s always alert and he jumped up to bark and growl and watch the people until they left “his” street. (See what I mean by drama?)Jack
 
 
Jack’s buddy, Spec, stays with us a couple of days a week. (He stays with us when Sandy, his human, is traveling.) Spec is 13 years old very wise. He’s also nearly deaf and doesn’t seem to mind Jack’s sonic bark. He’s a handsome guy.Spec
 
 
Spec is such a cute “little old man.” Here he is on the back porch. As I said, he can’t really hear. But he loves to be outside on the back porch, keeping watch and randomly barking. Bark! (“I’m in charge here!”) Bark! Bark! (“Is anyone out there?”) Bark! Bark! Bark! (“This is my porch!”)Spec
 
 
Girlfriend is the dog next door. Girlfriend is a miniature Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle mix). She was Jack’s first friend after we brought him home. He has great fun playing with her. I took these pictures of Girlfriend one night when the light was so perfect and the grass so green.Girlfriend
 
 
Girlfriend’s got a hurt knee, so she and Jack don’t get to play together very often. Jack’s pretty sad about it. When Jack arrived, he was smaller than her. She still can’t figure out how he got so big.Girlfriend
 
 

If you are still reading after all this canine photo love, thank you — and here’s one last picture of Jack. Did I mention that I love, love, love the Spring. And pups. And taking pictures.Jack