In Pursuit of Coolness

 

Weather2

Nothing profound from me today. It has been, is, and will continue to be hot. Please don’t see this as a complaint. I wouldn’t dare complain for fear it suddenly changes to unending rain! Instead, I’m trying to think of a positive side to hot sunshine.

It does bring on the flowers. I’ll say that for it.

Summer Peony

~

Summer Sun

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.

 Robert Louis Stevenson
(from - A Child’s Garden of Verses – 1885)

~

I remember reading that to my Grade One students a good many years ago. There are lots of good things to say about the sun, but I don’t do well in the heat and right now I need something cooling to distract me.

Water 1

Ahhh… yes, that helps.

Water 2

Oh, this is much better! Now I’m of a mind to go in search of a beach and some ice cubes — the perfect pursuit on a hot summer day. :)

What’s your best way of cooling down when it’s too hot to think, let alone write?

~  ~  ~

There will be a shelter
to give shade from the heat by day,
and refuge and protection
from the storm and the rain.

(Isaiah 4:6)

~

 

Watching and Waiting: a poem

You may be getting tired of my bear photos, but I’m hoping you’ll bear with me a little longer. (I honestly didn’t intend that to be a pun!) I’ve been taking part (after a fashion) in a book study being done by a group of us on Facebook, organized by Sandra Heska King. The book is MAKING MANIFEST: on Faith, Creativity and the Kingdom at Hand, by Dave Harrity. ‘Taking part’ is presumptuous… an over-statement. I’m barely auditing the participation of others, reading portions as I have time, skipping bits, or re-reading others that particularly appeal to me.

There is an exercise for each day, a prompt provided, meant to stimulate a response to the day’s chapter. Day #21 was about “Making New: Bear [or bare] yourself before the page, wait, be patient. Ask for something impossible. Come to the desk [or the yard] for renewal,” and we were asked to write a ten-line poem that features an animal.

It made me think of our recent visiting bear, waiting for her invisible cub to finish its nap, hidden away behind the greenery. Thus my ‘bearwatch’ poem was born.

I don’t write much poetry, but I believe the required spontaneous creativity has a spin-off effect on my other writing. How about you? Do you ever write poems? Do you prefer the tidy, measured, rhyming kind, or the more emotional free verse? If you’d like to try your hand at this exercise I’d love it if you’d add a poem in the comments section below. (I won’t critique yours if you don’t critique mine.) :)

~

 

WatchingBear

 

WATCHING AND WAITING

~

Patience stretches time

into moments undone

unseen

hidden in green

waiting while a babe restores.

We would do well to emulate

watch and wait

and be recreated

a child of God

in His endless time.

~

(Carol J. Garvin for the ‘Making Manifest’
book study group’s Day #21 exercise)

Disappointment… or not!

I should have known better. I’ve tried before to take shots of the moon with my ‘big girl’ camera, and despite its zoom capabilities, they’ve never quite managed to replicate what my eyes see. But Wednesday evening as we drove home from the church and discovered the moon rising low and large, I couldn’t resist trying again, using the only camera I had with me… my iPhone’s.

Full Moon

The resulting lunar blob is insignificant, barely more than a golden glow in the ebony night sky. And yet… and yet, when I get it uploaded to the computer, this view appeals to me almost more than the crisp orb of previous attempts. When I tilt my monitor, the focus becomes not so much on the moon, but on the moodiness it paints into the surrounding sky and landscape.

My initial disappointment has been replaced by the realization that the less-than-perfect can sometimes be of more value to me than that for which I intentionally strive.

My mother would have called such discoveries “happy accidents” but I think of them as God bumps — nudges in a better direction, perhaps intended to help me navigate the challenges of my writing journey. What I take away from this nudge is that perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be! Doing the best I can with what I have may well produce something far better than I could hope.

Have any happy accidents or God bumps occurred in your life lately?

~  ~  ~

 

Thoughts on Seeing and Believing

No writing analogy today, just some backyard ponderings…

Geese
In the stillness of early spring mornings I hear them — the Canada geese, returning to our marsh, honking in harsh duet. They aren’t the only noisy occupants of the marsh right now. The tiny Pacific Tree Frogs also make their presence known. At barely one inch in size, I rarely see them, but they sure do fill the air with their nighttime — and sometimes daytime — concerts.

Pacific Treefrog
In chorus together, the geese and frogs create quite the cacophony…

Amidst all the noise, I’m thinking about the words, “seeing is believing”. I don’t really need to see the geese or frogs to believe in their existence. They make their presence obvious. But when it comes to matters of faith, it’s not always easy to believe in something or Someone we cannot see. We want proof!

After a few days of rain I awoke yesterday to see footprints in the wet grass — two sets, one large and one tiny — evidence that our visitors of last week had meandered through the backyard once more. I didn’t happen to see them this time, but I have no doubt they were there.

Bear Tracks
After Easter when Jesus returned to his disciples, Thomas was as doubtful as we would probably have been. A dead man returning to life? Impossible! But Thomas’ doubt soon turned into belief and the reality of Jesus’ existence was acknowledged.

“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” [John 20:29] In fact, it is believing that leads to true seeing, and not the reverse. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1]

Three weeks after Easter I’m still in an Easter frame of mind, and in awe of this wondrous gift of faith.

~  ~  ~

Will it be survival of the fittest or of the most diligent seeker?

Nobody’s very happy about it. When a bear and her cub found their way into our back yard last week, I knew it was past time to put away the bird feeders for the summer. But you should see the looks I’ve been getting…

1-Junco

 

Jay

 

Flicker

 

Grosbeak

 

Thrush

Sorry guys, but this lunch counter is closed for the season. There’s lots of nibblies out there, but you’re going to have to find them for yourselves.

 

Squirrel
Ah, c’mon now, it’s not that bad. After all, the one who’s responsible for the sudden closure managed to find an acceptable alternative.

9-BearGrass

If there’s to be any kind of writing application in this, I’d say it has something to do with accepting that there’s no free lunch along the road to publication. We simply have to knuckle down and put in the work ourselves.

 ~

Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

Genesis 1:29-30

 

He has given food and provision to those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever and imprint it [on His mind].

Psalm 111: 5

~  ~  ~

 

Easter? So What?

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Some have returned to work today, while others are still enjoying one more day of a long weekend. I wonder how you spent your ‘holiday’. I imagine that depended on your interpretation of  its significance.

Ask Google for a definition of holiday, and you’ll get the following:

hol·i·day  ˈhäliˌdā/
noun

  • a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, also looks at the etymology and says:

  • “The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation….”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides additional information, first citing it as a holy day before moving on to various popular definitions.

About now I expect you’re thinking, “So what? Get to the point!”

IMG_0234I was away for part of the weekend, travelling a little over 800 km round trip to visit with family and friends. One of the highlights was being able to rendezvous with a granddaughter and her husband, to meet my seven-month-old great-granddaughter for the very first time. We drove there on Friday morning and drove home Saturday afternoon so we could be in church for the Easter service. It was that important to us.

One of the messages at Easter is that Jesus died to pay the price for a debt he didn’t owe. He died an unimaginably torturous death, overcoming death to rise again. And he did it all for me (and you). After a Maundy Thursday service, daughter Shari Green wrote a poem that makes it very personal:

“Bread and wine offered,
Remembrance of open arms
And a life given.
This much, O Lord, you love me?
This much, He whispered, and more.”

Shari Green

The “so what?” of Easter — one’s definition of it as a vacation or a holy day — depends on a personal response. Without one  Easter has no purpose… and can you fathom someone willingly submitting to such a death for no reason at all? Oh, how He loves you and me! (Listen: Only God/Praise & Harmony: a cappella worship)

Do I dare ask how you spent your holiday? Better still, will you dare to tell me? (And isn’t that a precious smile to travel 800 km for?)

~  ~  ~

The Message of the Cross

 

Wishing you a blessed Easter weekend!

.

Easter Corinthians

(Consider clicking on graphic to enlarge)

.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

~  ~  ~

March Madness #4: Writing as Magic or Ministry

We’re different, you and I. As readers, you may love to lose yourself in a richly told romance, while today I might prefer a faith-filled inspirational story, and tomorrow a mystery.

As writers, we choose our genres based on a particular level of comfort… telling stories that may be close to our hearts or based on our knowledge and experience, or our desire to master a challenge. How we get those stories out of our heads and onto the page is a unique process for each person. Why we do it and what we accomplish may be equally unique. For many there is an element of creative magic that is intoxicating.

“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life
as any other creative art.”

[Stephen King]
 

Bud

Those of us who are Christian writers sometimes question the validity of our calling to write if we’re drawn to produce secular instead of Christian fiction. We may think it’s frivolous to write something that doesn’t intend to convey an inspirational message, or at least a message of significance.

It’s an attitude that can spill over into other daily activities and even our careers. However, I truly believe that any task done with passion that attempts to bring beauty, help or healing, is a calling… a legitimate form of ministry. At first glance some writing may appear only to entertain but will still have a purpose — providing a brief escape from the mundane, or showing how characters overcome difficulties and solve life problems.

It’s not so much what we do but the attitude we have towards doing it, that determines whether our work is self-indulgent or a ministry/calling.

How do you view your work, whether it’s writing or any other regular pursuit during these thirty days of March Madness? Is it a calling, a satisfying hobby, or simply something you do because you’ve become caught up in the routine of doing it?

~

We’re on the brink of our last week of March Madness.  Are you ready to push ahead and make the best use of these final days?

As a bit of encouragement I’d like to give away another prize from our huge prize arsenal today! Today’s winner is…

Nicole Luiken!

Congratulations! Stop by our goal-setting post, and choose your prize from those still listed. Email Denise at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with your choice and we’ll get it out to you as soon as possible.

And if you didn’t win, there are still LOTS of great prizes to be won. Winners are chosen from participants who comment at the daily check-in blog locations, so keep checking in each day. Tomorrow’s check-in is at Angelina Hansen‘s blog at  http://yascribe.blogspot.com

~  ~  ~

Repetition: Reinforcing or Boring?

BlogBlankYesterday my husband brought in a pussywillow branch he had discovered on his daily walk with the dog. I was ecstatic! Yes, he brings me one almost every year, but I never tire of seeing this early hint of springtime in the wings.

Pussywillows

I regularly rejoice about pussywillows. (If you doubt it, I can point you to a number of previous posts such as this one, and this one, too.) I’m not exactly sure what their attraction is. They aren’t nearly as pretty as unfurling pink-tinged Helleborus buds  or  petite Snowdrops with their nodding white heads. I suspect it has something to do with the contradictory nature of their silken hardiness. It probably helps that since my childhood and beyond, they have never failed to appear with their springtime promise, despite late season snowfalls such as we had yesterday. You’d think I’d grow accustomed to their annual appearance instead of going on and on about it, but I never do. (I’ll stop now, before you start muttering about how boring I am.)

Repetition has its uses. For the child constantly reminded to ‘stop, look and listen’ before crossing a street, it can get boring, but the repetition hammers the message home and helps keep him safe on the way to school. For choir members who don’t read music, many repetitions of a new song eventually cement the melody and harmony into a cohesive unit… a creation suitable for performance.

Repetition reveals old things in a new light, and it provides emphasis. At my writers’ group yesterday I was reminded that I often need to hear the same message, and read the same advice multiple times but from different sources, before I finally ‘get it’.

Writers also know there are no new plots — nothing that hasn’t been written about before — so we keep producing new stories by putting our unique spin on the same old themes.

The reappearing pussywillow? I suppose it’s a visible reminder of God’s endless promises…

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter,
day and night, shall not cease.”

[Genesis 8:22]

“… His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

[Lamentations 3:23]

How have you experienced repetition? Has it been a positive or a negative?

~  ~  ~

My Bird Watching and ‘The Great Backyard Bird Count’

You’ve heard of activities that lack excitement being compared to watching paint dry, right? So would you put counting birds in the same category?

robinbutton_enI’m not an avid birdwatcher, but I enjoy seeing the ones that flit through our trees or stop at the bird feeder throughout the day to snatch a few nutty morsels. As a member of a Facebook Backyard Bird Watchers group I was urged to participate in the annual global bird count hosted by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The Great Backyard Bird Count begins today.

Juncos 2

Dark-eyed “Oregon” Junco

I’m not expecting any appearances of rare species to report. There won’t even be a particularly large quantity of birds to add to my tally sheet. Just the average everyday visitors, stopping by for their daily snacks. There haven’t been a lot this winter, but I’ll record what I see.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll learn as much from watching birds as I would from watching people. (See Monday’s post for that discussion.) But there is value in today’s pursuit.

The news release says, “Bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14–17, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings…. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.”

Since moving to this rural area I’ve kept a page in the back of my journal where I list the species that have dropped in during the passing seasons, either in the backyard or at the marsh. When I reviewed it, I was surprised to discover there have been thirty-seven different ones! I have photos of several, but not all. Maybe that should be a future project. It’s not as if I don’t have enough projects on the go. I’m not a serious birdwatcher, either. Still, these little feathered creatures fascinate me. Why else would I bother to count them?

What’s your favourite kind of bird? Do you enjoy watching them and do you encourage them to visit your yard by putting out suet and seeds?

~

“Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.”

Psalm 104:12

~  ~  ~