Sunday, March 31, 2013

QOTM...*: St. Paul

(*Quote of the month)

The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being held back. God reins it in until both creation and all creatures are ready, and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens...

~~ St. Paul, Romans 8:19-21, Holy Bible

Much is said of Easter as it relates to the new creation. But what of Easter as it relates to the old? In seasonal realities, obviously, spring is full of the rebirthing of life, both vegetable and animal, so it becomes a fitting time for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. This we know. But does the old creation know something more of what is to come? It seems so. Though I usually use my quote of the month to highlight a great saying from a naturalist, I cannot resist going to the Bible this great Holy Week.

You see here the words of St. Paul, speaking under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit. Though the Apostle himself is not well-known as a naturalist, one can certainly say that the Holy Spirit is: it was the Spirit of God Who hovered, even incubated, over the chaos before God brought created order and beauty into being. (See Genesis 1:1-5.)

J.B. Phillips translated Paul's text this way, that creation 'waits on tiptoe' to see the fulfillment of what God has in store as the result of Christ's loving, redeeming work. So, hallelujah! Christ is risen! It's not just about us. It's about all of creation!

Be Blessed this Day of Days,
RGM, Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blowin' in the Wind: "Hallelujahs" by Chris Rice

(Blowin’ in the Wind is a regular feature on my blog consisting of an assortment of nature writings – hymns, songs, prayers, scriptures, poems or other things – pieces I may not have written but that inspire me. I trust they will do the same for you.)

Hallelujahs has been around for awhile, yet it never ceases to stop me in my tracks and turn my praise upward. I am not sure when Chris Rice wrote it, but it was first released on his album Deep Enough to Dream in early 1997. I first became acquainted with it when a good friend of my daughter Kate, Natalie, sang it so beautifully as a prelude for Kate's wedding. Since then, another of our daughters, Sarah, has recorded it and given it to Gail and me as a gift; Sarah also sang it at my mother's funeral last year. To say the least, it has become special to us for personal reasons.

...God looked over all he had made,
and he saw that it was very good!
(Genesis 1:31, NLT)

But the lyrics have a simple poignancy that I think most lovers of creation will appreciate. It reminds me of one of the very earliest verses in the Bible, Genesis 1:31, "Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day." If you would like to listen to the song while considering the lyrics below, hit this link and it will take you to a nicely done slideshow on YouTube.

          Hallelujahs, by Chris Rice

          A purple sky to close the day...

          I wade the surf where dolphins play.
          The taste of salt, the dance of waves,
          And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

          A lightning flash, my pounding heart,

          A breaching whale, a shooting star
          Give testimony that You are.
          And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

          Oh, praise him, all His mighty works.

          There is no language where you can't be heard.
          Your song goes out to all the earth:
          "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!"

          Oh, cratered moon and sparrow's wings,

          Oh, thunder's boom and Saturn's rings,
          Unveil our Father as you sing;
          And my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

          Oh, praise him, all His mighty works.
          There is no language where you can't be heard.
          Your song goes out to all the earth:
          "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!"

          The pulse of life within my wrist,

          A fallen snow, a rising mist...
          There is no higher praise than this.
          And my soul wells up.
          Oh, my soul wells up.
          Yes, my soul wells up with hallelujahs.

          Oh, praise him, all His mighty works.
          There is no language where you can't be heard.
          Your song goes out to all the earth:
          "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
          Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!"
~~RGM, March 21, 2013

P.S. Next up next week? Quote of the Month...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

POTM...*: A Bloom for the Season

(*Photo of the Month)

It’s called a Pasqueflower, a lovely of the high plains, mountain states and north.

Among the very first wildflowers of spring here in the foothills of Colorado, pasqueflowers sometimes even push up through light snowcover. And though I haven’t seen one yet this year, I took this photo in very early spring some time back. As a cold weather flower, they tend to stay close to the ground, about six inches tall, and often can be found as in this photo in drier, rocky areas that hold the warmth of the late winter sun.

Sometimes confused with tulips, it’s also called the Prairie Crocus, May Day Flower, and appropriately, Easter Flower: those of you who perceive the etymology of words might have guessed the latter. Pasque comes from paschal: ‘of, or relating to, Easter or Passover.’ Picking up on the symbolism within the Jewish celebration of Passover, where a lamb’s blood protected the Hebrew people from the ravages of death (see Exodus 12), Jesus, in 1 Corinthians 5:7, is referred to as our Passover, or paschal, lamb. Though there are other flowers also associated with the blood of Christ (the Rose and Bleeding Heart among them), the Pasqueflower is associated with Easter by the timing of the season.

And so, with those redeemed of Christ throughout nearly one and a half millennia, we pray:
     O Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
     O Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, grant us Your peace.

 O Lamb of God, Who takes
away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.

Interestingly, though the plant is full of toxins, its derivatives can be used medicinally for birthing/labor issues and certain vision impairments. These uses offer all kinds of possibilities for further spiritual symbolisms, connecting Easter life to our circumstances, if we wanted to go that route.

Finally, kudos to the State of South Dakota and the Canadian Province of Manitoba, both of which had the creative presence of mind to name the Pasqueflower their state/provincial bloom, though known there by different names.

~~RGM, March 14, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

From My Journal: A Turning

The calendar says it’s still February. By any estimation in the Northern Hemisphere, that means there’s still nearly a month of winter remaining before the equinox. And yet there it was this afternoon: a small, humble, purple flower in bloom up on one of the Ridgeline Open Space trails. It was barely noticeable in the drabness of the season’s faded browns and grays, but it was there, one of those low-to-the-ground jobs that would look more at home above treeline in summer or in some tundra setting. I guess that’s appropriate. But still, this is forty degrees latitude after all, and that trail has got to be about sixty-three hundred feet elevation, not the most conducive environment for a February bloom.

It’s a sign, though, a symbol of a turning. And except for a small flock of robins we’ve noticed in the back yard, which can have as much to do with strong winds as seasonal change, it’s the first sign, a harbinger, a portent… The winter has been long, the ground cold, lakes frozen (“…earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone…”); this first flower is welcome. The turning has begun.

I can't specifically recall what exact flower it was, but
this might have been it, an oxytrope (not my photo)
How I need such a thing,
a sign of the turning.

How I need such a thing, a sign of the turning. More than at any other time of the seasons, I need it as winter proceeds. It gives me hope for myriad wildflowers to come, and for long, warm evenings without a sweatshirt, firm and dry trails, late sunsets, baseball, picnics in the mountain high places, and the other satisfactions of the summer. But I find I sometimes need a sign of the turning as faith proceeds as well – a herald, a precursor -- that what, or rather Who, I have placed faith in is trustworthy, that this long winter of mortal torpidity, too, shall turn.

Jesus said it was a wicked and adulterous generation that demanded a sign. (See it). And the Epistle writer insists that God is a rewarder of the kind of faith that is sure of things it only hopes for, certain of things it cannot see. (See it.)

Well, I’m not demanding a sign. But I’ll sure take it when it’s offered.

~~RGM, from an earlier journal entry,
Adapted for Blog March 8, 2013

P.S. Fast-forward to tonight, March 8 of 2013: I heard a spotted towhee's call this evening, the first of the season, a sound of summer. It will hold me in my reverie even in spite of the forecasted ten to fifteen inches of snow and blizzard warnings out for tomorrow here in Denver.