Would Jesus Like Easter Lilies?

04/16/14

Would Jesus like Easter lilies? Maybe. Maybe not. I mean, think about it–Easter lilies—those showy, scented, “look-at-me-flowers” are everything Jesus was not:

For he grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in appearance that we should desire him.”  Isaiah 53:2

Easter Lily

Easter Lily (Photo credit: photoholic1)

I find it ironic that the “large and in charge” Easter lily  represents Christ and his resurrection. How did this come to be?

According to legend, lilies sprouted in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s crucifixion—popping up from the sweat-soaked ground after his brutal bout of suffering.

From this legend, the multi-million dollar Easter lily business is believed to have grown. And this week those stately flowers will adorn the altars of thousands of churches, representing hope and purity.

Yet in keeping with his humility, I can’t help but think that Jesus would have preferred the more natural, unforced bloom of the humble Sand lily to that showman Easter Lily.

Each year, this elusive wildflower resurrects from battered soils for a brief appearance. I found the uncultivated, unfertilized and virtually unknown native Sand lily growing near Sisters, Oregon.

When pictured side by side, the differences between the lilies are striking:

Sand Lily

Sand Lily, Leucocrinum montanum

Easter lillies in June

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may be wondering if I’m suggesting we abolish the Easter lily tradition.  I’m not. That Easter lily wonderfully represents the grandeur of the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.

That said, I prefer the native Sand lily. Its subtle beauty and simplicity embodies all that Christ stood for.

My savior sought no attention, no accolades, no applause. He shunned the spotlight.

Instead, Christ lived selflessly—and died sacrificially. For you. And for me.

This Easter season, as we celebrate a time of renewal, may our lives blossom with the simple, understated  beauty of the Sand lily as we strive to grow daily in the grace of our glorious Lord.

Blessings to you and yours this Easter.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Why Bird Feet Don’t Freeze

04/09/14

Generally, I don’t envy the animal life. Constantly on the hunt for your next meal, searching for shelter in a storm and certainly the worst—standing in freezing cold water.

But early one frigid morning last week, with my own feet shivering in their wool socks, I watched this Great Blue Heron wade for breakfast in icy cold water.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

And I found myself wishing for his rete mirabile—(Latin for “wonderful net”)– a complex web of arteries and veins that serve as a natural heating pad  for bird feet.

Frances Wood of birdnote.org explains the details of this fascinating structure  as she answers the question why bird feet don’t freeze:

A miraculous adaptation called rete mirabile is responsible. This fine netlike pattern of arteries that carry warm blood from the bird’s heart is interwoven with the veins carrying cold blood from the feet and legs. This interweaving warms the cold blood in these veins before it reaches the bird’s heart. This system keeps the bird’s legs and feet warm, even without leggings and slippers.”

Once again, I stand amazed in the world of nature where details—right down to the natural heating coils in a wading bird’s skinny, scaly feet—are covered.

That’s so God.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Spring Migration

04/02/14

Spring has sprung—the migration has begun.

The fields of Eastern Oregon are alive with the sounds and sights of migration. Thousands of birds are en route from their wintering homes to their northern breeding grounds. This spectacle is one of the grand wonders of nature.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

A Birder's pot of Gold

A Birder’s pot of Gold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The farm-studded fields southeast of Burns sparkled with birds—Black-necked Stilts, Cinnamon Teal and Sandhill cranes. Even our national gem—the Bald Eagle appeared.

Those Greater Sandhill Cranes stole the show, however, as they strutted about courting prospective mates with jumps and bows center stage in a cattle field.

English: Sandhill Cranes in Yellowstone Nation...

Sandhill Cranes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scene changed on Malheur Lake as American White Pelicans staged a ballet on the water. In a harmony of movement, they swam in a perfect circle, dipping their bills in unison, scooping sustenance from the water.

American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans (Photo credit: Roger Smith)

But the most mesmerizing moment came when an enormous cloud of Snow & Ross’s geese rose from the fields and soared overhead. The air pulsated with thousands of beating wings and their plaintive call pierced the skies. Watch the display here:

Cloud of Geese

Standing under the goose canopy, dwarfed by the dramatic display I found myself giving thanks for these graceful creatures whose rhythm of migration reminds me that life itself is a journey.

Whether we are ascending peaks of joy or crawling through valleys of sorrow, we push onward as each of us participate in the pilgrimage mapped out for us:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7

I pray you enjoy the journey, my friend.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Spy-Hopping My Way to a Better Life

03/26/14

Nature doesn’t speak to me all at once. I’m okay with that.  Most days, I simply observe the wonder and savor the moment. The lessons, I’ve found, come later.

Take the morning three weeks ago when I delighted in the presence of Humpback whales. While scanning the Hawaiian horizon at sunrise, I spied an active pod just off shore. The whales cavorted just beyond the surf with blows, tail slaps and spy hops.  Mesmerized by the dramatic display, I tucked the memory away.

Sanc0606

During  the confusion of last week (When God is Silent, What then?) I recalled the soothing memory of that  cetacean sunrise. And God blessed me with some insights about life from the spy-hopping behavior of a whale. [Read more...]

When God is Silent–What then?

03/19/14

It may seem a bit childish, but I don’t like it when bad things happen to good people. So this week when one of the finest and fittest people I know suffered a stroke, I got angry.

I had quite the conversation (one-sided) with God. It started out as a neat little prayer. Then I questioned him. And please forgive me, I think I even lectured him. Yet God was silent.

Now if my behavior bothers you, don’t worry–it bothered me too. I labeled myself a hypocrite.  I’m the author of the book Unwrapping Wonder:  Finding Hope in the Gift of Nature, yet  I teetered on the edge of hopelessness.

You need a time out, I chided myself, Get outside. So I hiked the river. I prayed in the forest. I pleaded with God. Psalm 19 declares that “the skies proclaim the work of his hands…day after day they pour forth speech,” yet I was deaf to his wonders.

And God remained silent. [Read more...]

Lessons from a Chicken

03/12/14

This is a bit embarrassing. In typical tourist fashion, I snapped some photos of regular old barnyard chickens on the wild island of Kauai this week.

I couldn’t help myself. This hen and her chicks demonstrated Psalm 91:4:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under is wings you will find refuge…”

Vulnerable little chicks

Vulnerable little chicks 

Chicks seek their mother for cover…

And under her wings take refuge…

Safe from all alarm (notice all the little feet!)

Safe from all alarm (notice all the little feet!)

 

Sometimes God can teach us lessons in the most common sight–if we pay attention.

In times of stress, may we remember that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

His wings are all I need.

How to Bring Wonder to Life

03/05/14

A moment of Wonder is a source of spiritual growth.” Richard Louve

If we lose contact with nature, we lose a rich opportunity to encounter wonder and connect with our Creator.

Both children and adults need moments of wonder.

English: Orange blossom and oranges. Taken by ...

Orange blossom and oranges. Ellen Levy Finch Wikipedia.

Watch this powerful video–then step outside and breathe wonder. And thank God for this rich opportunity.

Why we Need Nature

One of my childhood “wondrous nature moments” occurred in an orange grove at full blossom. I stood in rapt attention, lost in the heavenly scent.

What’s your unforgettable moment in nature?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Searching for Safe Haven?

02/26/14

The tail end of winter finds me seeking the promise of spring. So with the weather forecast calling for a balmy 48 degree high, I headed for the respite of the high desert to absorb the sun’s rays—and contemplate life under the boughs of a tree.

Just east of Bend, Oregon, I hiked among Western Juniper trees—which carpet about 8 million acres of semi-arid land in the Northwest. The pungent, woody fragrance of this tree calms me and conjures up scenes the Wild West and simpler times.

Stand of Western Juniper

Stand of Western Juniper

[Read more...]

Wonder Workshops

02/19/14

This week I’m in Coeur d’Alene teaching Wonder Workshops at the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s regional gathering.

What are Wonder Workshops?

Wonder Workshops  are classes that allow participants to engage in hands-on nature exploration designed to awaken heart, mind and soul to the wonder of creation–and give praise to the Creator.  The goal is to cultivate a deeper relationship with the Creator, while restoring a sense of wonder to our often over scheduled lives.

Here are a few pictures of some of the events of the week:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I spent the afternoon sharing the wonders of nature in the exhibit hall. People were awed by the beauty and detail seen in the wing of a butterfly when viewed under the microscope.

 

We studied the diversity of leaf and seed types.

We studied the diversity of leaf and seed types.

We explored the wonder of a feather.

We explored the wonder of a feather.

And we even took time to play:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some comments from my participants:

“I loved being reminded to enjoy the everyday beauty of nature and connect with the Creator.”

“I learned to pay attention to the gift of creation that surrounds me everyday.”

“I never knew ten minutes staring at a strawberry could be so much fun. I saw things I never noticed before.”

People were awestruck by creation–and in awe of the Creator–which could not have pleased me more.

Contact me for more information on how to bring a Wonder Workshop to your church or camp.

Blessings! Now go wonder :)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Walking Life: Making Tracks that Last

02/12/14

Last week I ventured to New Mexico to celebrate my sister’s birthday. My days were filled with slow walks on snow lined paths.

I admit, it felt strange to have the complete freedom to wander about freely with no pressing deadlines. It was theraputic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Henry David Thoreau said this of walking:

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is of taking walks–who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country.”

Described me perfectly. Until… [Read more...]

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Twitter