“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m thankful for the bird show. Grateful for birds, for the cabin, for the privilege of being there.
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?
I 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 …
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’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 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!”)
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’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.
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.
I just returned home from two weeks in Italy. I’m grateful for the opportunity and still processing everything I saw. Here’s the Top 10 according to me.
10. Olives — From olive oil to antipasto to the olive groves surrounding the places we stayed, olives were everpresent.
9. Clotheslines — Thank goodness for clotheslines — they add so much charm to the scenery of an Italian town.
8. Sculptors, artists, and artisans — Thank goodness for the sculptures and those who made them.
7. Cappuccino — Even I (not a coffee drinker) fell in love with Italian cappuccino. (My favorite bar in Vernazza put a smiley face on my morning drink.)
6. Siestas — Of all the Italian ways of life, this may be the one I’d most like to bring home.
5. Gelato — Of all the Italian ways of life, this may be the one I’d most like to bring home. 🙂
4. Church bells — from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. They reflected the rhythm of life — a rousing peal to wake up creation, quieter during siesta time, another rousing peal at 5:00 p.m., silencing after 10:00.
3. Symbols of faith — Icons, statues, reminders of faith were everywhere I turned. I’m always looking for signs of God’s presence. In Italy, the reminders were everywhere.
2. The evening light — the warm light of evening bathed the buildings with such beautiful color. I stopped each evening to watch the slow, beautiful progression of the sun.
1. Churches and candles — Nearly every church I entered had a place where I could light candles and pray for others.