A Time for Reflection

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A month into the new year which means we have eleven more months to go before we close out 2019 (simple math I can handle). Have you had or taken the time to reflect on just how fleeting time is? Age changes perspective, to be sure. Young usually means time is suspended while old views it running away from us. But, that’s not what I am getting at…not really, although this age thing may play into my point.

Reflection of ones’ self can be a tricky thing as we usually see our lives from a somewhat warped self-image. After all, we are looking in the mirror and may not see an accurate reflection of who and what we really are. Start with the present and with the understanding that the past certainly influences who you have become. But, don’t let that stop you from seeing who you are right now. An accurate gauge of yourself is invaluable in who and what you will become, what you will do and where you will go.

I have done a great deal of reflecting over the course of the past few months and have come to some conclusions which may be of some value to you. 1. Time stands still for no one so let’s make the best of what each day offers. 2. The past with all the pain, disappointments, betrayals, fractured relationships, illnesses, deaths, etc. must be be put to bed now or they will haunt you indefinitely. 3. Forgiveness is a much greater virtue to you than the forgiven cause they usually don’t even know your pain. 4. Uncomplicate your life. Get rid of all the debris-physical stuff and emotional baggage carried with us. 5. Have faith you can and will make better decisions from today going forward because you will be better equipped to make them. 6. Have faith in a Higher Being  (mine is Christ) who gives you the strength and courage to press on to a better tomorrow. 7. Enjoy today.

Nothing new here and I could have added a dozen more items to consider, but this is what I have been shown so I wanted to share it with you. Have a quality and joy-filled year and life !

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D A W N

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In less than ten minutes this weather beaten barn went from being in the shadows to being illuminated by the warm rays of the morning sun.

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And, ten minutes before this photo, the barn was in the dark. The lighting doesn’t change the condition of the structure, but it does help us to see it clearly.

That’s what Dawn does-it helps us to see life from a brighter perspective.

And what causes the light? The sun, of course…always on time, always illuminating and exposing what can’t be seen in the darkness.

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The sun creeps up on us like a car at dusk getting ready to top a hill. One can see a glow above the crest of the road, but it is not until the head lights come into view do we see what created that glow. It is at this moment we are illuminated.

In addition to illuminating and exposing, Dawn brightens and enlightens. Has it been awhile since you’ve witnessed a sunrise? If it has, may I suggest that you do so soon. And, if you have seen many Dawns, but don’t give them a second thought, perhaps pause for a moment and simply watch in awe how amazing this daily occurrence really is. Quite possibly you may become enlightened and illuminate someone else’s life. That’s well worth a few minutes of our time, and the benefits can’t be overstated.

Finally !

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Finally, we saw our first Cardinal make it to the bird feeder which contains a seed mix specifically for Cardinals and other songbirds. We have had a variety of small songbirds, constant visitations by several Blue Jays, and various neighborhood squirrels. They eat the most and have become emboldened with each visit to the feeder. The photo quality of this male Cardinal is not very good as he wouldn’t stay still and I couldn’t focus in time for a better image…they are very shy. The female was close by, but she didn’t come to the feeder. We have a pair of Morning Doves who have been getting closer and closer to the seeds each day. Yesterday, one of them finally made the plunge. Beautiful.

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As I witness these birds and squirrels move toward the feeder bowl, I see how much they are like people. Some are very bold and some very timid, while most are somewhere in between. And some, like our Robins, don’t like seed at all, but prefer worms and grubs. The Robins remind me of many folks who simply enjoy what they are used to rather than look for something more exotic.

There is an adage which states that, “Variety is the spice of life”. For many this is true, and yet for some the same routine, the same surroundings, the same friends, and games, etc. brings them just as much satisfaction.  Another adage states, “To each his own”, which opens up all sorts of options to living. Both adages have a certain degree of relevance, and both can be viewed as either favorable or not. It all depends on one’s outlook about life.

What lies beyond your front door depends on the scenery and your season of life. When young, the world is your domain, and while older the front lawn may be just as dynamic. This is a personal observation and is not a universal truth. For me, I derive satisfaction from both worlds. How about you?

Sky Torch

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Rather large for the Olympic Torch, and too small to actually hold the Sun, but here it is. A large water tower adjacent to a run of high voltage transmission lines. The cloud cover blanketed the sky, except for an area which allowed the sun’s brilliance to shine through.

Timing and location are critical to so many things in life including photography. Once I saw the morning glow from a totally different perspective, I drove to a spot that I was familiar with and waited for the sun to travel along its early morning path. This was the result.

I posted this photo a few years ago and came across it again while searching for another image. It was taken during this time of year and it just drew me in. I hope you like it.

Almost

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This photograph is of Thursday morning’s sunrise. Or, should I say attempted sunrise? Shortly after I took a series of photos within a five minute period, the sun didn’t shine through the clouds the rest of the day.

However, I was hoping for a breakthrough of sorts as it has been rather dreary of late.

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For this photo, I zoomed in a bit closer. I liked the thin clouds intruding ever-so-faintly in front of the emerging sun…gentle waves of ethereal vapor.

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As can be seen, sunlight had no chance of illuminating our region…it seemed to simply fade away. We almost had a sunny day. We almost were warmed by the sun’s rays. We almost enjoyed the pleasantness which seems to attach itself to sunshine.

Almost can be encouraging or discouraging depending on perspective. In this case, I almost did not get the opportunity to view this short-lived image or shoot it with my Canon, but I did. I’ll take that as encouragement every time!

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.

Where Did The Wonder Go?

I wish I could take credit for the title and idea, but that honor goes to my pastor Nathan Miller who preached a superb message about losing the wonder, the awe about God as we age. For those who are interested, he referenced Mathew 13: 53-58   which is a short excerpt in the Bible where Jesus is preaching in his hometown. All who heard marveled at Jesus’ command of scripture, but they rejected him because he grew up among them and was familiar to them, therefore not accepting his message or ministry. In the end, Jesus said that a prophet is not honored in his home town. Of course, he was much more than a prophet which increased their rejection of the message, and ultimately him. I felt a tinge of remorse as I realized I often regard Christ through too familiar eyes.

Please hang with me as I share some thoughts about life using this theme. As much as this message applied to people’s relationship to God, it also applies to so many other critical aspects about our daily lives. Wonder can be defined as “a feeling of surprise mingled with  admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable“. The photos I will be sharing are of Elliot, my grandson, who is full of wonder. These images are cell phone shots taken impromptu, but I believe they get the point across as you watch Elliot in fullness of wonder. And yes, I don’t mind sharing him with you!

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It has been said that familiarity breeds contempt. I know that is harsh and not always the case, but there is a ring of truth to this statement. Familiarity also results in boredom and a withdrawal from what we once cherished. This is probably the most common result and occurs over time. It is seldom intentional. In fact, we don’t usually know we have reached this stage until we are either confronted by someone who remarks about our adjusted position about something or someone, or we have an epiphany of sorts and realize that what used to excite and engage us does so no longer. However, there is hope!

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Wonder is a beautiful thing! Whether we are experiencing something for the fist time or the hundredth, when we capture the essence of what it is that thrills us we become filled with awe and joy. The key in keeping ourselves from falling out of this mindset is rather simple, yet in reality so difficult to maintain.

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To view life through the eyes of a child is one such key to maintaining wonder for the sublime which surrounds us each day. I am not speaking of what some consider to be a foolish Pollyanna who blindly sees life through rose colored glasses. I am speaking of the Pollyanna who believes that good things will happen rather than bad, and remains optimistic even during adversity. To wake up each day with the expectation to simply enjoy each encounter and experience is a good start. Elliot is quite adept at this. I didn’t say perfect, though!

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Ah, but there is a battle raging all around us, as well as inside of us. There are so many enemies which seek to rob us of our joy and the wonder of life which God has so graciously given us. We fight pain and fatigue, money worries and relationship hassles, poor health and fear of death. Negativity and chaos bombards us from every outlet possible: social media, politics, war news, seeing poor sportsmanship, experiencing greed and corruption, and on and on. It seems for every positive there are three negatives. However, that is not reality, but what we are lead to believe is our reality. We must change our perspective and rise above the debris which has caused us to become bored and afraid. Circumstances may not change, but our mind and hearts can.

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We must strive to rid ourselves of cynicism, malice, bigotry, inflated egos, fear, exaggerated regrets, unrealistic expectations, and all that is unhealthy to our souls (it’s not the same for all of us-only you know what stirs your soul). Perspective is borne from hope and appreciation for what is rather than what we want. There is nothing wrong with desiring more or better things in our lives as long as we are balanced in seeking such. Wonder is not easy to maintain because life can be cruel and very hard at times. But, anything worthwhile takes effort. Personally, I want to expend my efforts as Elliot does. I want to train my mind to view each day as a gift just waiting to be opened! Yes, I am an adult and have adult responsibilities which I take seriously, but that shouldn’t prevent me from having the heart of a child. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these“.