Monday, April 25, 2011
Where are the Clowns?, Internet Sphere
Love Topiary, London, England
A recent YouTube video clip illustrates the power of words that was created by an online company that uses words to enhance their customers’ web site content and get them noticed. It was based on “The Story of a Sign” by Alonso Alvarez Barreda. One of the first things that caught my attention was the fact that the clip had gone viral and had already been viewed over six and a half million times. An elderly man was sitting on a city square with an empty food can and simple cardboard sign that read “I’m blind. Please help”. He wasn’t getting much action from those passing by. Then a young woman in business attire stopped, wrote on the back of his sign and left. Soon, people were tossing lots of coins in the can. When the young woman returned, the blind man softly asked, “What’d you do to my sign”? She replied, “I wrote the same, only different words”. As she walked away the man thanked her and the camera slowly panned over to the new sign which read “It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it”. The final graphic read “Change your words. Change your world”.
I suppose most of us have lived long enough to understand the power of our words, especially those used in our day to day relationships with others. Kind words continue to echo long after they’re spoken. Words have the power to hurt and the power to heal. They have the power to demoralize and the power to inspire. They embrace the power to hate and the power to love. They have the power to teach lies and the power to instill eternal truth. And many times they are most potent when they are used judiciously or simply not spoken at all. It’s possible that the most powerful message we will ever deliver is the unspoken language of our life.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Beth & Kate, Kansas City, MO
We willingly give what we cannot keep
to help others gain what we cannot lose.
During our childhood we were exposed to lessons in giving and sharing through the stories of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. They left us good gifts of toys, money and chocolate eggs. Unfortunately, these behavioral models were all fiction and we eventually learned that the people we most trusted had actually lied to us about their existence. Fortunately we have other models, namely God’s only Son, who willingly gave his life to us. And it was those same trusted adults that shared His story with us as well. It’s good to realize that life can involve both whimsical characters as well as serious ones that can help to teach us such good life lessons as the joy of giving and the difference between fleeting material gifts and one that lasts for eternity.
"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
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Stained Dogwood, Jamestown, NC
Gold leafed Daffodil, Jamestown, NC
Sacremental Tulip Cup, Greensboro, NC
The circularity of life on so many levels has always been intriguing. Certainly one of the most obvious is the circular cycle of the changing seasons. King Solomon, the wisest and richest man who has ever lived, began his personal experience writings in Ecclesiastes stating that “everything is meaningless…the sun rises and the sun sets and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north: round and round it goes, ever turning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.” One of the basic tenants of teaching is to tell them once, then tell them again, and tell them one more time. The seasons hurry through their cycle each and every year we successfully cling to the surface of this planet as it completes one more trip around the sun. Do you suppose someone is trying very hard to make a point with us before we are ultimately placed beneath that surface?
Solomon begins chapter three with the observation that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”. Summer is the active season for growing; fall is the season for maturing and reaping; winter is the fallow season of dying. But spring, ah spring, is the season of renewal, resurrection, rebirth and hope! The dogwood displays pure white blooms with tinges of nail and blood stains on the outer edges of its petals. The daffodil bows reverently to reveal grace shining through its gold leafed petals. And the deep red tulip lifts its sacramental cup to the heavens in remembrance of the blood shed on a Calvary cross.
All of these miraculous wonders burst into our lives every spring to remind us of the hope for a meaningful life and the hope of rebirth available to all creation because of the cross and resurrection that occurred one spring season over two thousand years ago.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Mates Out to Lunch, Jamestown, NC
Loner, Jamestown, NC
I was running a few errands this Saturday morning and just happened to end up close to a favorite Mexican restaurant around lunch time, so I pulled into their parking lot and walked in to be greeted by the young hostess. “Just one?” she mindlessly queried and then led me to the last booth in the back of the dining area. “Got anything father back?” I asked. She didn’t get it and there was no point in explaining it. It has been almost three years since my wife of forty years succumbed to breast cancer. We almost always ate together, with the exceptions of lunch during work days and eating alone during travel times. I quickly calculated that we must have shared at least 30,000 meals together during our married life. Breaking bread together is one of the most common and effective human activities that facilitates bonding and relationships. And I understand that one of us must leave first and the other will eventually follow, but be left to respond to the ubiquitous question, “Just one”? Of course, there’s solace in knowing that we’re never “just one”, as our creator has promised that He is with us always. Perhaps the next time I’m eating out I’ll respond by saying “No, God is with me, so I guess that makes two—but we’ll need ‘just one’ menu please”.
Ironically, as I drove away from the restaurant, I passed a flock of resident Canadian geese that were also out to lunch in the common grounds between an apartment complex and the street. Remembering my youthful days in central Kansas hunting these giants of migratory waterfowl, I pulled into the complex and retrieved my handy digital camera from the glove box. Shooting a Canada was the ultimate prize back in those days. Now I could simply drive up to them and shoot at will with my camera, creating little or no interruption for the geese. I remembered one hunt years ago when we got lucky enough to crawl upon a flock of Canada’s feeding on fresh young shoots of winter wheat. We were close enough to drop one of the small flock after the sentry goose gave a quick head toss to reveal his conspicuous white chin band. It wasn’t until much later in life that I understood the meaning of the lone Canada that circled our little hunting band with our prize long after the other geese had departed the scene.
Canada geese are monogamous creations that mate and stay together all of their lives. If one is killed, the other may or may not find a new mate. They maintain tight family units and celebrate their social commitments to one another through a display of waving necks and loud honking called a triumph ceremony. This behavior is displayed after a victorious confrontation with other geese. Canada’s without triumph partners exhibit tell-tale movements. They can be seen swimming or walking with their necks angled forward as if looking for a lost mate or calling plaintively in flight. Biologists have observed triumph ceremonies when family members fly in to rejoin a feeding flock after being separated by space or time.
Fortunately for Canada geese and all of God’s other creatures, they go through each waking day without the slightest inkling or understanding of the inevitability and finality of death. Fortunately for us human beings, we understand, especially at this Easter season, that life doesn’t end with death. Our savior died for us and conquered death. There is no need for mates or reproduction in the spiritual realm--and there will be more than "just one" grand buffet with all of those soul mates that reunite in our triumph ceremony!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Easter Cross, Greensboro, NC
There is a legend that the Easter cross was fashioned from a once larger dogwood tree. Henceforth, the tree would no longer be capable of such a terrible use and it would grow slender and bent. Its blossoms would form a cross with nail rust and red stains on the outer edge of the petals. A crown of thorns in the center would complete the remembrance.