I drove into the sun this morning. First, the sky was yellow and it had a western facing rainbow (odd with no rain). As I drove I watched a glowing ball of super-energy rise from the horizon like Godzilla lifting out of the sea…all very dramatic. The sky colors turned into an intense red-orange canvas. Within five minutes the drama was over, the clouds evaporated away, and the horizon melded with the landscape in the foreground.. Amazing, isn’t it? Every morning, no matter where one is on this planet, the sun can be seen rising or setting. Okay, I’ll grant you that the sun moves horizontally at the extreme north and south polar regions, but who lives there anyway? Such a strange sight those horizontal sunsets.The thought occurred to me (yes, I really do have thoughts occasionally) that we live our lives in a vacuum so-to-speak. The air we breath is the same wherever you travel, except it may be purer in one local than another. The same holds true for water. Food is a bit more complicated as some types of vegetation can grow only in certain geographic regions so we don’t all enjoy the same cuisine, unless it is captured and brought to us or we visit where it is actually harvested. Shelter is another example of great variations; one can live in a hut on the Serengeti, in a tent on the sands of Arabia, in a brick house in New England or in a Chateau in France. Shelter is a necessary commodity for survival. So, in one simple, but profound way, we are all the same in that we need shelter, warmth in winter months, food and water. Safety and good health are wonderful things to have, as well, but not all are so fortunate.As the sun rises so it sets…each a unique print encased in God’s book, volume one, Sky Paintings. As the earth turns and the sunshine escapes for another night, our habits change due to darkness converging on us like a cloak thrown over our head. Artificial light tries to turn night into day, but it’s not the same. What is it about us humans that we are constantly trying to thwart the natural for the unnatural-all in the name of some sort of progress. What used to be accomplished only during the daytime is now an eighteen hour episode of busyness which accomplishes much-but who is to say how much is beneficial. So, as I began the day looking into the sun and planning what I must accomplish, I now view the end of the day from a different perspective…was it all worth it? Am I better off now than I was a dozen hours ago or am I simply spinning my mental, physical and emotional wheels-going nowhere? Or, perhaps I am whistling a tune of joy for having the privilege of experiencing another day. I want this to be the case.A rear view mirror offers a completely different perspective while traveling forward; we can see where we have come from. And we can sense if the trip was worth the fare. Let’s hope so, but if the feeling is that we somehow got ripped off, then it’s time to re-evaluate…and rest a while before we drive into the sun another day. To be still is as important as all the other commonalities that keep us alive…perhaps even more so.
Clinging is a rather fascinating word because it includes so many adaptations. Consider this photograph of a creeping vine steadily growing up and around this old wooden post…clinging to it like a cat who injects her claws in your flesh after an aerobic jump from chair to shoulder (I know this scenario well). Or, consider how a small child clings to his mom when he is uncomfortable in a particular situation-mom couldn’t pry the child off her with a crow bar. What about clinging to something for safety. Think of grabbing onto a rock wall as the ledge underneath you gives way. There is no chance you will release your grip until you secure firm footing, someone rescues you or you simply can’t hold on any longer. And then there are the endless objects which we cling to for security and the numerous people that we cling to for all manner of reasons. Our clinging isn’t limited to the tangible, but also includes concepts, theories and dreams.
Clinging: it denotes the positive as well as the negative. So, as I considered the vine clinging to the post I thought of things I cling to…or have clung to in the past. Wow, did that thought break open Pandora’s box. BTW, I don’t know Pandora, but she sure does get credited for many things! Perhaps you can relate to some of these examples.
I have clung to habits which seemingly provided security or comfort at the time, but I either outgrew them or became aware of what they really were…crutches. I have clung to other people in the hope that they would make me better or bigger somehow. This type of clinging usually ended up in disappointment. I have clung to ideas which shaped my outlook on life; some helped me grow and some didn’t. I have clung too tightly to a few I have loved which suffocated them and exhausted me. On the flip-side I have clung to values and principles which have positively guided me. And, I have clung to truths which have shaped my response to many of life’s uncertainties and challenges.
Currently, I am clinging to the hope that the future will be brighter, better and more fulfilling. Perhaps such clinging may prove to be counter-productive, but I am hoping that is not the case. I strive to cling to the Old Rugged Cross, especially in times of trials and pain. This clinging is always beneficial, but too often lacks consistency. I am drawn to cling to that which I find familiar, helpful or distracting. Familiar clinging brings a sense of order and security. I would describe helpful clinging as anything which benefits the person without having poor side-effects. Clinging is such an easy way to cope with the difficulties of life. It really doesn’t matter what the distraction is as long as it works. Problem…distractions don’t last very long and must be repeated to keep one’s mind off the thing they want to avoid. So, we tend to cling onto these more and more. This type of clinging can often become destructive to the person and relationships.
Since clinging can be beneficial or harmful (my humble opinion), the outcome depends on what the object is that we cling to and the reason why we choose to cling. This is cause for serious self-evaluation from time-to-time. We don’t want to be too serious too often for that dynamic creates the opposite of clinging…namely fleeing. However, it is wise to pause once and again to consider what it is I am clinging to, and to ask oneself if it is healthy.
One of the most wonderful things to cling to isn’t an object, a relationship or even a concept. It is actually best described as a feeling, although it is also referred to as an expectation. The word which describes this feeling of expectation is hope, and without it we dry up and give up. Without hope, life becomes dull, boring, predictable, worthless, and simply undesirable. To the contrary, when one is full of hope life has purpose (no matter how difficult or tragic), more meaning, more wonder, and certainly more joy than a life void of it. To be without hope is to be filled with a sense of dread and impending doom. Such a tragic way to view and live life. But, alas, many do live this way.
So, here is a toast to living with hope. Hope that a loved one will come home from foreign soil. Hope that a relationship will mend. Hope that a loss won’t be the end of things. Hope that there is a God who really does care and is in control. Hope that He loves you and you find Him. Hope that the sun will rise tomorrow and birds will sing their joyful songs. Hope that babies will grow old. Hope that older adults don’t become children again. Hope that one will always have a friend or two to count on. Hope that nothing can destroy one’s integrity. Hope that children in impoverished nations will be fed, clothed, educated, treated with dignity and allowed to become responsible adults. Hope that wars will cease and hunger end. Hope that cancer will be beaten. Hope that life has more pluses than minus’. And the list goes on and on. There is enough hope to go around for everyone so give hope a try…even if you aren’t up to it. As the Apostle Paul so eloquently expressed in his famous chapter on love (1 Corinthians13), “These three remain: faith, hope and love”. For hope to be bookended by faith and love makes it a very important verb to live by. May we all experience the blessing of hope every day of our lives.
This beauty is a 1934 Teraplane KU Coupe made by the Hudson Automobile Company in the USA. Designed and built during the Great Depression, between 1932 to 1938, the company wanted to capture a larger segment of the auto market by capitalizing on the burgeoning aviation craze of the era. Even Amelia Earhart helped to introduce the Teraplane to the American public. It was also sold to other nations,Equipped with a six cylinder engine and hydraulic plus mechanical brake systems, the Teraplane was offered with a high output V8 which was favored by gangsters of that era because of its superior speed and acceleration.Hudson marketed this model under the name of Essex Teraplane in the effort to connect it to its well-known Essex sedan. They didn’t want to put too many embellishments into it so as to keep the price within reach of more car buyers, but she still featured some quality adornments.The rumble seat with foot pads to climb into it gave this model a distinctive appeal, as rumble seats were all the rage for a few years. The Teraplane was phased out after 1938, but during the early days of its debut, one of the sales slogans went like this, “On the sea that’s aquaplaning, in the air that’s aeroplaning, but on the land, in the traffic, on the hills, hot diggity dog, That’s Teraplaning!”. By today’s standards this is a pretty corny slogan, but it may have been effective in the early thirties.This is a rare automobile in any condition, however this baby is in pristine shape. I considered it a privilege to have come across her while I ate lunch in midtown and to have had the opportunity to shoot these photos-albeit with a cell phone. I hope you enjoy seeing them and appreciate a masterpiece on wheels.
I am of the opinion that nature produces the most breathtaking artistry known to man. And, flowers are near the top of the list when it comes to sheer variety and beauty. I am also of the opinion that I am most fortunate to enjoy every facet of God’s creation. Not everyone is so lucky.
If I couldn’t see this yellow flower, then perhaps I could touch it. But if I couldn’t feel it, then maybe I could smell its fragrance. If I couldn’t detect it by smell, then someone would have to describe it to me. Should I know only silence then I would be in a real pickle. I can think of one solution to this dilemma; a kind person would have to pick this flower from the base of its stem and gently brush the bloom across my face. Once I know it exists in softness and glorious fragility, the kind individual would put it in a vase for others to experience. Just because I couldn’t fully comprehend or enjoy the presence of a fresh flower doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. So, go ahead, inhale, feel the unopened blooms, touch the stamen, admire the form and color of this blossom and be so bold as to taste a droplet of water clinging to the chiffon petals..
Then, plant a seed or bulb for the next sojourner to enjoy. Natural beauty is too precious not to share and celebrate. And, should you come across another who is limited by physical or mental disabilities, be creative and share a portion of the art that surrounds (or is in) all of us, especially the art of a kind and compassionate soul.
How can something as simple as a zinnia be so wonderfully magnificent?
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to this song in 1831. It later became known as America and was one of several national anthems for a short while. The melody came from Thomas Arne of England where the tune was created for the queen. In 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famously inspired speech, I Have A Dream, wherein he reminded us to let freedom ring amidst a backdrop of racial inequality and segregation. Dr. King eventually paid the ultimate price for the freedom he dreamed about. So have many others.
There is a saying that goes like this, ” Freedom is a luxury not everyone can afford “. In America we state our freedoms as rights and not privileges of the few. How blessed we are to enjoy such liberties. We are free to worship, vote, protest, write whatever we want, say whatever we want, and pretty much do whatever we want (within reason and the context of the law). We are free to think, to achieve, and simply to be.
Thomas Campbell reminds us of the cost of liberty when he wrote, ” The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree “. Since the birth of our nation to the present, Americans have shed their blood for freedom’s sake…for you and for me. Whether you hop in your car on a whim and drive across the great expanse to see the waves crash against the shoreline or sit in a lawn chair sipping a glass of iced tea after you just mowed the grass of your own lawn-these are fruits of freedom we seldom consider as such. But they are fruits of the most precious kind because they involve a personal sense of well-being that oppression can never provide. We enjoy what others have fought for.
So, as we celebrate this Fourth of July, our Independence Day, let us pause and consider the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our benefit. Generations past, present and future are all recipients of other’s heroic deeds. Whether on the home front or the front lines, sacrifices have been, and are being made. We can all do little things to express our gratitude for the defenders of our liberties: hug a vet, shake the hand of a soldier, assist those left behind, encourage the distressed.
Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is a quote from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10, which states, Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof . May we be so bold to proclaim and defend our freedoms, for future generations are depending on us to do so until they can take up the mantel. Sometimes this means going to war. It also means to fight for our constitutional rights which are periodically attacked from forces within. One thing is certain; anyone who has been deprived of personal freedoms cherishes them. They will fight to keep them, and not simply for themselves, but for the sake of their neighbors, as well. Defenders of freedom aren’t selfish.
Let freedom ring loud and clear…I like the sound of that. It reminds me of WW II movies when towns were liberated from a sinister enemy and the church bells would ring and ring in celebration of regaining lost freedom. I thank God for living in a country where freedoms abound. If you do not know such liberty, may you find freedom from above where no enemy can steal your soul even though you may not be allowed to speak your heart. Let freedom ring!