PINWHEEL

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A pinwheel by definition is “a child’s toy consisting of a stick with colored vanes that twirl in the wind”. They can be found across the globe. Parades and birthday parties are among the most popular places to find them. They are whimsical, fascinating to watch, and just plain fun. Their simplicity is partly what makes them so enjoyable…they can be made from paper and plastic or we can buy one for a small amount of money. A simple rush of wind is all it takes to make them spin. Yet, they are still popular after centuries of playful use!

This is nature’s pinwheel. Actually, one of many such flowers with this type of configuration. This is a Vinca flower which grows from a vine and is actually a ground covering. Simple, but lovely. I am always amazed as I witness something from nature which has been copied or imitated by man. Think of planes and birds, for instance. One cannot escape the resemblance nor the actual physics of both.

We, as humans, strive to become more intelligent and better than the generation before. We are on a constant quest to develop technologies which advance whatever field they may be in. This is natural, I suppose, however, let us not forget who is the Original Designer of all that is beautiful…God. To imitate Him is the supreme compliment.

Let us not forget this fact in our hast to rush ahead to the next ‘discovery’ or ‘cure’. Man is always a step behind. This is better than not being in line at all, though. I certainly am grateful that He allows us to explore His creation for the betterment of mankind. Enjoy the simplicity as well as the complexity of this world we have been given to protect and magnify. And, guard against those who would manipulate His creation for evil intent.

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.

 

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.

To Everything There is a Season

To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn

And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant, and a time to reap

A time to kill, and a time to heal

A time to laugh, and a time to weep

To everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn

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Autumn is my favorite season for many reasons; amongst the greatest is the change in tree and shrub foliage. I love greens all summer long, and hate to see them turn to browns and greys in the winter, but before this occurs we are treated with a spectacle of color painted by nature herself. Consider the variety of vegetation coupled with an inexhaustible array of colors that man can mimic, but never duplicate in such exquisite beauty.

The words above are from a song made famous by a rock group called The Byrds in 1965. The lyrics are from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Pete Seeger, a singer-songwriter took these words and crafted this song which became an anti-Vietnam War song. The last verse says that peace is never too late.

It becomes obvious to me that these words are timeless in their meaning and interpretations according to the era they are read and pondered. We know not what is in store for any of us…only One has such knowledge. We can plan and prepare, discuss and implement, but we never really control most of the outcomes of our lives. Some will disagree, of course, and that’s okay. Each of us views life from different lenses. My perspective comes from several sources: my own experiences and seeing those of others, plus my reference point concerning all things-God.

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Change starts one leaf at a time, and before you know it, the whole tree is ablaze in color! May this season of your life be full of growth, peace and an abundance of blessings.

A B E

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Last week I made a visit to city hall in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. As I waited for the guards to let me in (I arrived early), I studied this bronze statue located near the base of the stairs which lead up to south entrance of this government building. Erected in 1937, the architecture of this building-with its motifs and decorative metal-can best be described as a late form of Art Deco. It stands opposite the main courthouse which consists of the same materials and style, but has a flair all it own.

The sun was slowly working its way upward as the statue was being illuminated from the east. The man sitting is Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States of America. The boy is his youngest son, Tad, who was adored by his father. Tad was twelve years old when his father was assassinated. The Lincolns had much personal tragedy in  their family. In addition to the trials within his own household, Abe, as he was affectionately called, lead our nation through the bloody Civil War (1861-1865) which cost both sides over 600,000 lives and double that amount wounded and maimed.

It is fitting to have the statue of this great man in front of a government building…the very government he sought to preserve as one entity over the course of those long, difficult war years. The stress had to be immense, but he persevered and kept the nation united. In addition, Abe was called the Great Emancipator as he pushed forth the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery-first in the District of Columbia, and then across our country. Almost four million indentured people of color were eventually liberated from the curse of slavery in America. The effect of this act was not immediate, but it did set the wheels of justice in motion. Although there is still much to do to bring equality to all people, this proclamation is a bedrock for generations to come.

I believe each of us is put on this earth for a reason. I don’t claim to know what those reasons are most of the time, but in Lincoln’s case, it seems obvious to me. If you study his life-how he overcame so many political defeats and personal tragedies-he still became the the president of the United States of America at a very precarious juncture in our history. His strong faith in God which is often downplayed, was the force that kept him from wavering when he should have fallen from exhaustion and remorse. His ability to keep America united and to began the end of slavery cannot be overstated. It appears that once he achieved these two victories, his life was ended by an assassin’s bullet. He paid dearly for the welfare of our country and what he deeply believed in.

We need another Abraham Lincoln. And we need him now.

Morning Glory !

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Among the dried stocks with ears of hardened feed corn climbs a lone Morning Glory vine with a single flower ready to bloom.

The living among the dead. A splash of color against the drabness of the crunchy husks.

The good earth and just enough rain to produce new life while the planted crop ceases to grow further.

The cycle of planting, growing and reaping will repeat itself only if the farmer performs his job of sowing every year. The growth is up to nature’s benevolence.

And, yet, as I gaze upon this Morning Glory inching its way up the stalk, there was no planting by man; this occurs only by nature as God has ordained.

Perhaps this vibrant flower and dying corn reveal the paradox we call life. From cradle to grave life is lived, and the cycle repeats.

When we thrive during the time allotted to each of us, bringing color into other’s lives, we  all benefit abundantly.

 

Please excuse the quality of this image as it was taken with my cell phone in bright daylight”

 

 

Provision

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“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”        Matthew 6:28-30