Category Archives: Thoughts & Reading

Anticipating a sunflower

For the several years my husband has planted sunflower seeds in the spring, they have come up tall and strong by the onset of summer in all their Sunflower Yellow glory. Ours are now forming flowers in their still-green stage. Their stalks are straight, tall, strong, and prickly.

I was trying to recall who wrote a poem with a refrain, “And I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder,” and came up with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in whose poetry I lost interest while I was still in high school. I Googled the quote anyway, and it seems lots of people have used it, and it wasn’t expressly clear whether Ferlinghetti was the first.

Whoever wrote this line, it enters my mind when I await the bloom of sunflowers, and other wondrous and beautiful bounties with which our Creator blesses us, for nothing we have done.

A sunflower begins its complex process of blooming: it will undergo   metamorphoses from verdant to gold, and prickles to petals.
“I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder.”

Another fitting line: “Death is the mother of beauty.” (from Wallace Stevens’s poem, Sunday Morning).

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Filed under Creation, Gardens, Nature, Photos, Reflections, Seasons, Thoughts & Reading

Of ground hogs and Gadarenes

It hasn’t been good, pushing myself to follow news that ultimately leaves me in the Slough of Despond, gulping for air. (If you are unfamiliar with the venue, it is detailed in The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan.)

Last night, to waylay the effects of the gloomy articles, I decided I would check out the ground hog situation today. I had planned to drive to an arterial bounded by fields where I have often seen ground hogs. Unlike prairie dogs, who sensibly hibernate through the winter until they receive nature’s all-clear signal, ground hogs quasi-hibernate, emerging at various times to test the readiness of winter’s departure. At 9:30 this morning it was still only 16° and foggy. Forget it. I’m more the prairie dog type.

I skipped the news. I thought of Legion, the Gadarene man chronicled in Luke 8:26-38. He was afflicted with demons and quite miserable. Christ came to the man, and of course apprehended his misery. The Lord sent the demons out of the man and into a herd of swine, who promptly ran maniacally over a cliff and perished. The man was grateful. But the owners of the swine were not grateful; they were rueful over their loss of their pigs. They wanted Christ to depart from their territory because they could perceive Him only as a vessel of misfortune. The grateful man whom Christ delivered from the demons became an evangelist.

I don’t need to keep testing the waters of the Slough of Despond; it’s good to be aware of what’s going on, but not to the point of toxic exposure and unhelpful grief. Lord, give me a heart that is more like Legion’s.

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee.

27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.

28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!”

29 For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.

30 Jesus asked him, saying, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

32 Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them.

33 Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned.

34 When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.

35 Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.

36 They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.

37 Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.

38 Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.

— New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Action & Being, Faith, News, Politics & Elections, Thoughts & Reading

Nothing if not thematic

I have a thematic world view. I view events, behaviors, objects, thoughts, and media according to themes. I think of concepts and things in terms of the thematic context I see them as presenting. I consider myself a thematicist.

Some hours ago, I believed I had coined the word “thematicist.” I was incredulous that the word was not to be found either in our 1928 or 1974 Webster’s dictionaries. I Googled the word to see whether it was in any lexicon anywhere. Several uses of the word came up in various books, as well as the blog of another blogger who also wondered whether he had coined the word.

I like to detect and analyze themes in what I read. I enjoy photography, particularly when I find something thematic in the subject (frequently my cat’s face). I don’t draw well, but I have a charm bracelet and a collection of interchangeable charms that I change frequently and arrange according to a particular theme. (Presently featured is “meteorological vicissitudes in silver.”)

Themes anchor us. But themes can also be like the “things” of which Yeats writes in his poem The Second Coming–“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. . .”

When my themes of How Things Should Be implode, I mourn and pine for them. When my themes give me a sense of true integration, I am given cheer and peace of mind. I might, for instance, see a flock of pelicans on the river, or in flight on their migration. This is a thematic event; the theme of God’s perfect ordering of all Creation is presented to my desponding self, formerly frustrated over some stupid political event as remote from my control as an errant missile off trajectory in space.

And so I remain a thematicist. And my snowman gets to jangle on my wrist, right next to my palm tree.

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Perturbations and trembling

jeffersons-monticello

Jefferson’s Monticello

As the wired world knows, it’s time for Americans to change Presidents again. Some election years are simply more distasteful than others. I find this particular one a bit more revolting than most, but things settle, and our worst expectations seldom come to pass.

My attempt at glibness notwithstanding, I can’t stop myself from invoking (or obsessing on?) Thomas Jefferson’s words:

“Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  (1785)

Truly. But I also reflect on what we as a nation have survived. God is just, and God is also gracious; and his grace is as matchless as it is undeserved.

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Thoughtful logic from disparate thinkers

I intend to vote this year, but not for President. Yes, voting for our national leader is a privilege; but when I believe that no virtuous choice is possible, I decline to make a choice that will result in an earnest need for repentance.

I find support for my position from two very different thinkers, having read extensively from the work of both. The first is a Christian; the other is an atheist. Both arrive at the same conclusion concerning good and evil, although they have some significant disparities as to what constitutes good and evil.

“Of two evils, choose neither.”—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“The lesser of two evils is evil.”–Ayn Rand
(Rand also cited “the evil of two lessers.”)

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Despite it all. . .

However many times I have read this before, I was particularly stirred as I read Psalm 17 last night, especially the last verse; I think it invoked the “floods, fire, famine, rape, and war” motif that my high school World History teacher always used to describe trying times, especially current politics. Far more significantly, the verse provides dimension to the promise God will unfailingly keep.

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
–Psalm 17:15

(New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

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A sequel to the Parable of the Trees

I recently published a post titled “Are all of our Presidents going to be brambles,” citing Jotham’s parable in the Book of Judges, about trees who declined to rule over the other trees because they had higher and better callings–all except for the brambles, who had nothing better to do but rule.

Near the end of his reign, David succinctly and beautifully describes who should rule:

The God of Israel said,
The Rock of Israel spoke to me:
‘He who rules over men must be just,
Ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises,
A morning without clouds,
Like the tender grass springing out of the earth,
By clear shining after rain.’ — 2 Samuel 23:3-4 

New King James Version (NKJV). Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“He who rules” to whom David refers in v. 3 is not running in the upcoming Presidential election–nor is anyone  even remotely close.

Sigh.

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