Spring

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Soon, we will see the vibrant colors of Spring.

Soon, we will smell the fragrance of lilacs and all other blooming flowers.

Soon, we will feel the texture of lush leaves and delicate petals.

Soon, we will witness bees and butterflies pollinating, and birds propagating.

Soon, we will experience the full wonder of this season.

And, if we keep our eyes, ears and noses open to her transforming beauty, Spring offers treasures we cannot make nor buy, but simply enjoy for free.

Spring also offers her greatest gift…Resurrection.

May our hearts be open to all that is Spring.

 

S A P

 

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When I think of the term ‘bleeding heart’, I simply look at one of our Ponderosa pines we planted over 25 years ago in an environment which they weren’t meant to thrive in. The prolonged drought which ended about three years ago almost killed all of them. Today, many bleed sap. Sap covering trunk bark is usually a sign of a tree defending itself against invasive insects and fungus’s. Pruning also causes sap to occur to cover the wounded trunk and branches. Since these pines are mature and were weakened by the lack of water and extremely hot summer temperatures, they are unhealthy. At this stage in their lives, there is little that can be done to make them thrive again. They have already exceeded their life expectancy for our temperate zone. They are not native to Kansas and are more vibrant when located in cooler and higher altitude climates. Yet, they have survived. Speaking of survival, pine tree sap is an excellent wound salve and has other beneficial medicinal uses.

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It is wonderful how nature protects herself. From a strictly vision perspective, the bleeding sap looks like an abstract painting of sorts. All of this gooey, slowly dripping sap gives the pine a fighting chance to survive another year. Although their branches aren’t as full as when younger, and the ability to withstand drought and pestilence aren’t as good as they used to be, these out-of-place trees know a thing or two about life and stress. They adapt. The sap is like liquid artwork to me-gradually changing color and shape as time marches on. Although I know something is wrong, I can’t help but admire the ever changing covering of bark. Strange, perhaps, but also encouraging.

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So, why talk about sap? Because it reminds me of people…of me. The bark of a tree provides an outer protective shield much like people do with their words and actions. Get too close and the bark may scratch. If one could peel off or bore into the bark then the tree (person) becomes vulnerable to a host of problems. Since sap is created to protect the tree when the bark has been damaged (much like people respond to pain and injury as they reveal their emotions in a myriad of ways)  a protective balm is produced. People  will do almost anything to protect their souls from being injured further.

Often, we lash out against those who have injured us-and in the process create more harm to ourselves by striving to keep them away. Sometimes we curl-up emotionally and drive away those who care for us by simply closing them out. If we understand our condition and desire healing we are usually clueless as to where to find it. So, rather than produce sap, we humans look to other methods to bring about wholeness. Occasionally, we get it right and bounce back, but this is not easy and usually requires the aid from others.

There is something magnificent about the human spirit…each unique spirit God has given to mankind. We so much desire to be vibrant. We desperately want to be noticed. We vie for attention and when we don’t get it from where it should come from we do all sorts of silly things. We want to be understood, and appreciated simply for who we are. It doesn’t matter if we are fifteen, twenty-two, forty something, sixty or eighty-eight. We all crave the same thing-to be acknowledged…to be appreciated…to be recognized (with or without fanfare). Validation. We simply want to be acknowledged and valued.

So, we instinctively protect ourselves when our egos have been walked on or our ambition has been perceived as arrogance. Whether we are hurt, belittled, misunderstood, have been treated unjustly or are ignored we struggle to deal positively with what has been done to us (or perceived to have been done to us). Hence, sap. Just like these pine trees striving to live-we humans go through all sorts of mental, emotional and physical exercises to survive, as well. Being very complex beings, most of the time our self-protective actions are misunderstood or self-destructive. Quite often, our defense mechanisms return to a default position that only ourselves or a few others are even aware of. How sad. How true.

So, rather than end this post on a negative note, I choose to flip the record over and play a happier song. Sap is a good thing. Period. If God didn’t give each human the ability to produce ‘sap’ then we would be doomed to a life of pity…often self-pity. This statement is not to imply that some injuries are beyond our control to heal. However, each of us experiences a suppository of defensive mechanisms to deal with the pain; whether they be crushed egos, betrayals, personal attacks, mockery, physical deformities or a myriad of other conditions. We are resilient.

My God has stated that we are the Apple of His eye. In other words, the most vulnerable place in the human body is valued by the Creator in such a way that He loves us and desires to protect us. I admit that I am not an expert in this area. I know His love, yet fight to make things better by my  own will. The result is usually not so good. However, when I release all to Him, the result is one of inner healing which, in turn, results in outer blessings for others. To be human means to be a family. It doesn’t matter what one’s philosophy is, nor what religion, nor what influence one may have achieved. I wish there was equality among all people everywhere, but such is not the case. We all know this.

Let us become the Sap for the sake of others. Practice applying the balm of forgiveness, of understanding, of empathy, and sacrifice when it is called for. Go the extra mile as Jesus preached and surrender yourselves to the greater good…mankind. I speak to myself most of all. Do not despair, my friends, for there is a power far greater than our own which governs all things. In particular, this Power loves humans more than trees or sap. He loves each one of us simply because He chose to. You are wonderful.

 

Delicate

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Delicate is the flower of the Christmas Cactus. Christmas in March…how special is that!

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She appears different from multiple angles. Like all things…each view unique.

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Background affects the flower’s statement. As does that of people. Similarities?

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Add a touch of blue sky and a bit more green. She could be mistaken for a different flower.

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Sporting a brilliant pistil surrounded by soft, brush-like stamen. Simply beautiful.

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Only a few flowers at the moment. Hopefully, more to come. Thanks for joining me! And thanks to Cheryl for fostering such a lovely plant.

Thermal

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The black is cold. The purple is cool. The yellow is warm. The white is almost hot.

The numbers in Celsius are temperatures measured by the camera.

The figure is Carson, our Westie, laying on the couch. He made a perfect example of thermal imaging with an infra-red, high resolution camera.

I just purchased such a camera for a multitude of reasons which will become clear in the not-to-distant future. Until then, think of all the possibilities a camera like this-under the guidance of an knowledgeable thermographer-can do.

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This is a shot of me aiming the camera into a mirror which reflected back the thermal image.

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And, this is early sunrise from our deck. The sun reveals its true color of warmth.

Something different since I didn’t feel inspired to write much. Comments are welcome!

 

Valentine Song (sort of)

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If the sun refuse to shine, I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.

Kind woman I give you my all, Kind woman, nothing more.

Little drops of rain whisper on the pane, tears of love lost in the days gone by. My love is strong, with you there is no wrong, together we shall go until we die. My, my, my. An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look…see.

And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles. Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.

Happiness, no more be sad, happiness…I’m glad. If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.

 

Song by Led Zeppelin, 1969, entitled, ‘Thank You’

Lyrics by Robert Plant & Jimmy Page

Flower arrangement (home grown plants) by Cheryl

 

 

Paradox ?

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I must admit from the start that this is an unusual post for me. True, I have submitted several posts about Carson over the past two years, but today is different. Obviously, I am (Cheryl is, too) crazy about this canine. At the same time he is a great source of occasional irritation…love him anyway.

The Paradox for which I titled this post may not be so much a paradox, but a simple reality.

We adopted Carson after he was a breeder dog in a puppy mill in Nebraska. There are these wonderful people who keep distressed dogs until they find a new owner. And, there are organizations which give folks like us the opportunity to see such dogs who need a home. In our case it is called Little White Rescue (we were interviewed before acceptance to bringing Carson home). So it should be.

We were told he was about three or so years old, but time has shown us that he was more likely six years old. Today, Carson is close to ten years…not a big deal for most dogs. However, he is 95% deaf, is developing cataracts so he cannot see that well, and has a terrible hacking cough as a result of an attack by a pit bull several years earlier. His trachea is collapsing so he has to take steroids more often than we like.

Now, for what I entitled as a paradox may simply be a matter of the circle of life, so-to-speak. Our two grandchildren are spending the night with us! Elliot is almost three and half years and Audrie seventeen months young. How fun, is right! I might add, exhausting, too. They are pure joy.

So, I walked today with an aging pupdog (as I call him) who may not be around much longer, and will engage with two very special children for the next twenty-four hours or so. The wonderful thing is that Carson has accepted the kiddos while they have learned to like and interact with a mammal of a different species. They really seem to like him. To watch their encounters together is priceless.

Well, there it is…my paradox of sorts (but not really). I simply love them all and want them to remain with us forever. We have had other animals we wish the same for, as well.

I am comforted by the words I read in my Bible which go like this, ” The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6.

So, I am encouraged that there shall be a reunion in Heaven with man and his beloved animals. This is not meant to be a theology lesson, but a point of hope for future blessings to abound. Thank you for reading and contemplating that which may be.

L A Y E R S

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Sunrise, Lenexa, Kansas, USA, at approximately 7:30 am or 0730 hours, January 31st.

Walked to my car from the health club after a workout and this is what I witnessed.

The actual sunrise was much more outstanding than my photograph, especially as it changed colors and shapes by the second.

After downloading this image to the computer, the layering seemed to magnify itself.

So, I thought about layers. We sometimes hear that certain things are only skin deep. At other times we hear that some things are buried so deep they can’t be found.

The reality is that when it comes to life, most everything that lives has layers: whether it be physical, emotional, mental or anywhere outside these realms. Life is complex.

I would like to limit this post to humans. We are fragile, yet flexible. We are strong, yet weak. Courageous, yet cowardly. Compassionate, yet cruel. Kind, yet mean. We are amazing. We are a mystery.

Like an onion which has a layer of silky skin upon juicy layers of zesty fruit, we can peel away and come to the heart of this vegetable without really understanding its uniqueness. We simply take for granted that is how all onions are and so be it. Like them or not. I venture to say that people are similar to onions in that we possess a complexity of layers.

We are not single cell organisms like some bacteria, but complex in every discernible way. This complexity is patterned after the Creator of the universe. Appreciate the commonness as well as the uniqueness.

If you can relate, I am so tired of the charade that is taking place in our world-especially in America. So many are divided. So many are angry and critical. So many are giving up. And, so many feel lost. This doesn’t even cover the majority of our world who don’t have a clue as to what I just stated-they are simply trying to survive. Can you imagine that…existing each day merely to make it to the next?

So, I return to the topic of layers. Explore the diversity, the uniqueness, the amazing in others, and in yourself. This may take some time as you peel away each layer, but discovery awaits. But, please, do not forget to explore the oneness we all have as human beings created in the image of God. May we all experience, and exercise, more peace and patience each day. The world needs it, you need it, and I definitely need it, as well.