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Archive for the ‘Perspectives’ Category

clouds and reflections (1 of 1)What is it about the beach? Why does a feeling of peace seep into my entire being as I walk along the shore, coat zipped up against the wind?

gull over waves (1 of 1)

Perhaps it is the pounding of the surf, like the heartbeat of the ocean, secure and constant. Perhaps the open sands stretching out before me, fresh and clean from the outgoing tide. Or the calls of the soaring gulls echoing over my head. Or even the clouds, constantly changing and moving, giving a new perspective with each passing moment. Perhaps it is all of these with a little added magic that draws me in and fills me with joy.

dark beach clouds (1 of 1)My husband and I spent a couple of days at the beach recently, celebrating 40 years of marriage. Our hotel room overlooked the ocean, so its steady beat was ever-present. We were fortunate to have sunshine for a good portion of the visit and enjoyed several walks on the beach. Of course, beach weather can be fickle, and we did get caught in one downpour, thankful we had worn our raincoats when we ventured out into what was then sunshine and mostly clear skies.

bird tracks on beach (1 of 1)The shore has so many aspects, from the vastness of the ocean to the tiny details of pebbles and bird prints in the sand. It opens my eyes to wonder and my soul to God. Nature’s beauty is easy to see, but God’s glory is all around us, even in the most unlikely places—in the city, at work, in our everyday lives. Even in those bundles of contradiction we call people. I pray I can keep my eyes and soul open, wherever I find myself.people walking by water (1 of 1)

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snow in woods (1 of 1)

Are we ever satisfied with life as it is? It seems I am always looking forward to the next thing. At this time of year, I want spring to come. I’ve had enough of the cold, the early darkness, the slippery sidewalks. Then when spring comes, I look forward to summer—camping trips, visits to Pittsburgh to see the kids and grandkids, evening walks. However, summer gets too hot, and I complain and look forward to fall. And then, silly me, I wonder where the year has gone.

sun through branches (1 of 1)

Snow fell this week, very unusual in March in our part of Oregon. When I asked a friend if she was ready for spring like I was, she talked about what a blessing it was to sit by her window and watch the snow gently come down. This friend has suffered incredible grief and pain the past year, and yet she saw the snow as a blessing. She could enjoy the moment for what it was. I was both humbled and encouraged. Surely I, too, could savor the beauty without wishing the time away.

prints in snow (1 of 1)This morning we woke to more snow, a soft white covering over the usual dirt and mud. The sun broke through and made the whitened tree limbs sparkle. Rabbits had left their little trails across the yard. Sounds were muffled, except for the soft chiming of ice bits hitting the ground as they fell from the trees. I grabbed my camera and headed out. This might be the last snowfall of the season, and I needed to capture it. To soak up today’s beauty while it lasted—because today is where I live my life. And this moment is, indeed, a blessing.

snow on trees (1 of 1)

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rainbow (1 of 1)Have you ever taken a walk with a rainbow?

Yesterday my husband, Gary, and I went out for a late afternoon walk. The sky overhead was a gloomy, threatening gray. While our weather app said it wouldn’t rain, Gary brought his umbrella just in case. Not for him—he doesn’t mind walking in the rain—but for his fair-weather walking wife. And, as this is an Oregon winter, rain soon began to fall. He handed me the umbrella, and we strode on.over house (1 of 1)

Then, as the rain continued to come down, light burst through from the sinking sun, sparkling off the wet bushes and the growing puddles. I began scanning the skies. Where there is sunshine and rain, there ought to be a rainbow. Sure enough, one started growing in the northeastern sky. It grew brighter and brighter, and I kept pulling out my phone to snap photos. We hadn’t seen such a distinct rainbow for a long time. We could even see a paler double rainbow above the main one.

rainbow2 (1 of 1)“The pot of gold should be right over there,” Gary commented. Yes, one end of the rainbow was adding lines of color to a shrub across the road while the other end colored a tree behind a neighbor’s house. As we kept walking, the rainbow seemed to follow us, as rainbows do. It moved behind other houses, over fields, the elusive pot of gold shifting to different spots. And still the rain kept falling. For nearly half an hour, that colorful arc kept us company as we walked. Even the rain looked dazzling with rays of sunshine lighting it up.rain (1 of 1)

Then the rain slowed to a gradual stop, and the rainbow faded from the sky. We ended our walk, moods brightened by the fresh air and the beauty we had seen. And I wondered, how often have I missed the beauty of the rainbow because I was too busy concentrating on the gray skies and the rain? Rain and sunshine are so intertwined in life, and sometimes it may seem that the clouds will overwhelm us. But God’s light can break through even the darkest of clouds and reveal the beauty that is there, just waiting for our discovery.

Webbs (1 of 1)

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dogwood leaves (1 of 1)Fall has arrived, and change is in the air. The heat of summer has passed, and rain has watered the parched ground. Today the sun is shining. October clouds have cleared away, and the sky is bright blue. An autumn breeze blows through my hair as I walk out to the garden to see what is left.daad bean leaves (1 of 1)

A handful of pole beans. Half a dozen over-ripe ears of corn. Some good-sized almost-ripe tomatoes, along with a generous number of cherry tomatoes—Sweet 100 and Sun Gold. But the bush beans are gone, and the prolific zucchini is dying back. The pumpkins and winter squash have been harvested, and their vines lie brown and shriveled across the dirt. The garden is fading, as it always does this time of year.

grapes (1 of 1)Yet around the garden, golden leaves waft down from the maples. The dogwood is gradually turning from green to red. Brightly-colored leaves stand out against the blue sky. Grape vines still carry batches of purple fruit. There is much beauty in this time of dying. And also much ugliness in this time of beauty.

yellow maple leaf (1 of 1)

 

For every golden leaf there is a brown, broken one. For every purple grape there is a rotten zucchini. For every blue sky, the remembrance of pouring rain—and more to come. I could look down and focus on the mud, the dead leaves, the empty garden, or I could instead focus on the colorful leaves, the fleeting blue of the sky, the delicious fruits of the season. What will my choice be?

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Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein Castle

When I was in grade school, back in the Dark Ages, we would sometimes watch filmstrips about other countries. (Sorry to the younger people, who have never heard of a filmstrip. It is, basically, yesterday’s version of a Powerpoint presentation.) These filmstrips were in black and white. So were most of the pictures in our text books. Perhaps that is why, when I would think of another country, the pictures in my mind would be black and white. The only images I had of faraway places were those I saw in school or on television. (And television was black and white back then, too.)

Alpsee

Alpsee

DSC03530In May my husband and I traveled to Europe for the first time—specifically Germany and Austria. It was a wonderful time of seeing new places, as well as some very old places. Castles, palaces, even some Roman ruins. We tried different foods, walked on cobblestone streets, went on a boat on the Romantic Rhine, and had fun practicing our very basic German. And we met so many people of many different nationalities. Not all of them were the stereotypical blond-haired, blue-eyed Germanic people. There were people from all corners of the globe. We soaked in the experience as much as we could.

Heidelberg

Woman singing in Heidelberg

Those old black and white pictures in my head transformed themselves into living color. The blue of mountain lakes, bright green leaves trembling in the breeze, pale pink wild roses, multi-colored stained-glass windows of the cathedrals, gold-lined murals in the castles, a whole rainbow of colors. And a rainbow of skin tones that I found quite delightful.

Oberwesel

Oberwesel on the Rhine

I will never see Europe in the same way, because it has become real to me. I wish everyone had the ability to travel to other countries. Perhaps if they did, they would see the world with new eyes. Perhaps we would see that we are all amazing people—each unique with special gifts to offer the world. And all of us brothers and sisters under the skin.

Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg

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rising sunOur plane sat on the runway awaiting permission to take off. The eastern sky turned pale orange above the distant hills. Mt. Hood highlighted the skyline, silhouetted against the predawn glow. Slowly the sky grew lighter. A sliver of bright gold glinted above the hills for a moment, and then the burning sun rose, illuminating the scene, sending streams of light across the ground. A new day had dawned.

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As the plane soared high across the land, one new sight after another appeared below. Mountains icy with snow. Lakes sparkling in the sunlight. Scenes of such beauty that it compelled me to pull out my phone and snap photos. I felt like an eagle high above the earth seeing the hills and valleys in a new light—almost like I was looking through God’s eyes. So often I concentrate on the ugliness and hate in this land. From here all of that disappeared; all was fresh and new to my eyes, clean and pure.

2017-12-07 09.55.46This is a new year, awaiting our decisions, our actions, our emotions. And each day springs new from the hand of God. Will we grab it selfishly and use it for our own purposes, casting aside any who look or act different, ignoring our neighbors? Or will we accept it as a precious gift and treat it with gentleness and love? Will we take the hand of someone unfamiliar and try to see through their eyes? Perhaps we might catch a glimpse of a beauty we’ve never seen before. The choice is ours.2017-12-07 09.10.09

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Sunrise through treeThe early morning sun lit up the fog, giving the yard an unearthly aura. I should get out there with my camera, I thought. But I was still eating breakfast, and the grass was wet, and I was feeling lazy. Still, that light was amazing. I finally roused myself from my chair.

red leavesShoes and jacket on, camera dangling from my neck, I headed outside—only to find the dawn even more spectacular that it had appeared through the window. Dew sparkled on green grass. Leaves were lit up like stained glass windows, as light shone through them. The sun, shining through a tree, shot rays of light in all directions, like heavenly beams in the fog. I snapped picture after picture, forgetting all about my damp feet.

And to think I almost missed it! How much beauty have I missed because I was too comfortable to leave my warm house? How many unique experiences have I let pass me by because I was too fearful to change my safe routine or too set in my ways to step outside the little boxes I created for myself? God gives us so many chances to find beauty, to learn, to grow. But sometimes we need to step outside before we can find them.autumn maple leaf

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