Sunday, April 28, 2013

QOTM...*: James Lovell, Norman Cousins and God!

(*Quotes of the Month)

We learned a lot about the moon, but what we really learned was about the earth: the fact that from the distance of the moon you can put your hand up and hide it behind your thumb. Everything that you’ve ever known – your loved ones, your business, the problems of the earth itself – all behind your thumb; how insignificant we all really are, but then how fortunate to be able to enjoy loving here amongst the beauty of the earth itself.
~~ Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13

What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that man set foot on the moon but that they set eye on the earth.

~~ Norman Cousins, Journalist

A couple weeks ago I posted the iconic photo Earthrise in anticipation of Earth Day this past Monday. Hit the emboldened word to see my post about it, one of the most celebrated environmental photographs of all time. Though I typically only include Gail’s and my photography here in my blog, I chose to make an exception with that post.

In doing some simple research on the photo, however, I ran across some quotes relative to the Apollo moon mission that I thought I’d also enjoy sharing for my QOTM this time around. You see them above. Additionally, these have tempted me to share a second famous photo not by us, entitled The Blue Marble, and I 
yield to that temptation here!

The Blue Marble
The Blue Marble was taken nearly four years after Earthshine was snapped. It’s details? It was taken from a distance of 28,000 miles on December 7, 1972, by the crew of Apollo 17 on the way to the moon, the last of the Apollo missions. It was the first real time photo ever taken of the fully lighted, entire earth. Why the first with all the previous missions? Because the astronauts had the sun fully at their back for the first time. It was also the first photo of the Antarctic icecap, as it was the first time an Apollo capsule’s specific trajectory toward the moon allowed it to be seen in that manner. And as you can see, prominent also in the photo is Africa, Madagascar and the Saudi Peninsula. Click on the photo itself to the right to see the image in all its beauty.

John Muir, the American naturalist of whom I wrote in January, referred to the earth not as a blue marble but as a beautiful dewdrop among the stars. I like that, too.

I don’t know about you, but these famous photos make my heart beat a little faster, to see the earth as God sees it. So what does God have to say about it? How about some quotes from the Almighty?

Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.
~~ God, Isaiah 66:1

Or how about this one?

With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.
~~ God, Jeremiah 27:5

I am so glad it pleased God to give it to us. Finally, one more:

It’s a small world after all.
~~ God

Or was that one Walt Disney? Whichever, it still fits. God made it that way. Respond with me if you’d like:

Oh God, You Who have ordered this wondrous world, and Who know all things in earth and heaven: so fill our hearts with trust in You that by night and day, at all times and in all seasons, we may without fear commit all that we have and hope to be to Your never-failing love, for this life and the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Methodist Book of Worship)

~~ RGM, April 27, 2013

P.S. Next up next week? “From my Journal…”

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Blowin' in the Wind: A Prayer for Earth Day -- April 22, 2013

(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.)

With ongoing prayer also for those impacted this week by the tragedies in Boston and Texas, we proceed. Let us pray.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which, from our birth,
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of night:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

For the joy of human love –
Brother, sister, parent, child –
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

For Thy church that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

For Thyself, best Gift divine
To our race so freely giv’n,
For that great, great love of Thine,
Peace on earth and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!

These are lyrics, of course, to the old hymn For the Beauty of the Earth. First published in a book of poetry by Englishman F.S. Pierpoint in 1864, this hymn has always been one of my favorites because it was the first hymn I ever learned.

I was about seven years old. On a spring Saturday morning, my Mom had taken my older brothers and me to our church, Grace Covenant in Chicago; they were there to practice in a children’s choir made up of 4th-6th graders. I was in 2nd grade perhaps, there because I needed to be dragged along and not left home alone! Solitarily waiting in a pew in the vacant sanctuary, I listened to the kids in the choir loft singing from the old, green Covenant Hymnal. The song was being taught by rote by Janice, their ‘Trailblazers’ leader, and I began singing it with them from my seat. After a while Janice turned around to me and said, “Ricky, do you want to come up and sing with us?” It was a rich moment, the big kids glaring at me as I climbed up onto the chancel and into the loft, a place I had never been before. I sang the next day with them in church, proud as a peacock and the youngest kid in the choir by far.

“Ricky, do you want
to come up and sing
with us?”

In looking online for a recording to include here, I found a lovely and increasingly popular rendition set to a different hymn tune than the traditional tune named “Dix,” one by contemporary British composer John Rutter and often sung by boys’ or children’s choirs. Hit this link to hear it and to enjoy the accompanying photos. If you’re also interested in the traditional tune, here’s another good link, also accompanied with photography. Lastly, here is one more tune, of which I am not familiar, nicely sung by some kind of youth choir at Fourth Pres in Chicago. The prayer is worth praying multiple times, and, if you listen to all three, prepare to be blessed!

Finally, to this wonderful prayer for Earth Day I would add:
…And, Lord, let Your church, in ‘lifting holy hands above,’ not neglect to also put their hands, heads and hearts toward faithful and eager stewardship of Your creation, in all times, in all places, for Jesus’ sake, for Your creation’s sake, and for the sake of all You love, amen.

~~RGM, April 18, 2013 

(photography by Rick and Gail Mylander)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

POTM...*: Earthrise

(*Photo of the Month)

Typically, I would feature a photograph of Gail’s or my own in my POTM blog entry. But in anticipation of Earth Day coming up on April 22, I thought it appropriate to highlight here one of the most iconic images of Earth ever photographed. (I sure hope your first impression was not, “How did Rick or Gail get THAT perspective?!?”)

Considered by many one of the most significant environmental photos ever taken, Astronaut William Anders of the Apollo 8 NASA mission snapped it while in lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968, and it was given the title Earthrise. The Apollo 8 mission was the first manned voyage to orbit the moon, several missions preparatory to Apollo 11’s first manned moon landing in July of 1969. Anders was later quoted as saying, “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.”
The earth is the Lord’s
and everything in it.

It is my constant prayer and life’s work that all will also discover the earth’s Creator, the one Who’s ‘got the whole world in His hands.’  And then some…

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. (Psalm 24:1)

The heavens declare the gory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. (Psalm 19:1)

~~RGM, April 13, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

From My Journal: The Kill Site

There’s a fresh kill site in the field behind the house, just beyond the backyard fence. I’m not yet sure what the remains are, seeing it here from the bedroom window, possibly a flicker taken by a hawk or a mourning dove by an owl. The killer might even have been a coyote, but likely not, as there are too many feathers spread about, and a coyote would have simply wolfed it all down (a curious cross-species morphism).

It’s always a bit humbling to come upon a kill site. Whether a bird near a trail or a mammal in the woods, it arrests my attention and sobers me. Almost always I pause and muse what the struggle must have been like, and in subsequent hikes I often remember the spot, a shrine, as if hallowed by virtue of what took place there.

It was something momentous, something of great drama. But a kill site only? It may seem a one-way loss looking at the carnage left behind, yet in the grand scheme of things there is something equally significant about it for the perpetuation of life. It’s as much a life site as a kill site. A sacrifice was made, one for the benefit of the other. One surrenders, the other gains. One becomes the sustenance, the other is sustained. One submits, capitulates, loses, gives up, is emptied; the other prevails, triumphs, profits, is built up, filled. One is blessed, the other becomes the blessing.

St. Benedict Center, Schuyler NE
Death begets life. Sacrifice cedes to vitality.

Oh, sweet Golgotha, the kill site…

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. (Romans 5:8-9, NLT)

~~RGM, from an earlier journal entry,
 Adapted for Blog April 1, 2013