As early sunlight breaks over the trees at an Alabama state park, a light breeze begins to tickle the lake’s sleepy surface. A cardinal pair chirps nearby. The aroma of hot coffee wafting, I take my first sip slowly and begin to muse on God’s blessing of nature’s uncorrupted beauty,
shadows rippling over
Al W Gallia
A gentle voice I’ve heard so often in my mind reminds me again: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Jn 14:27
What’s on my mind this August 31st morning? As disastrous events continue to unfold around the world, I try to wash my mind of a sense of impending doom and rather focus on the goodness and love of people around the world. I am thankful for my faith in a loving, caring God who is my rock and, with my wife’s support, I am hopeful for the future. Faith and prayer are my shield against always circling fear and hopelessness.
Psalm 4: 7 Many say, “May we see better times! LORD, show us the light of your face!” 8 But you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound. 9 In peace I will lie down and fall asleep, for you alone, LORD, make me secure.
Nothing is more peaceful in the summer than a cypress swamp in the dead heat of day. The stillness is broken only by cicadas harmonizing, peepers chirping, and occasional egrets calling. Nature’s pungent perfume wafts on a random light breeze that gently moves a few lily pads. Sweat drips from my brow onto my camera. I love it! okay
It is the 2nd Lenten season during this worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, in which we are struggling to survive. Do we actually think that we can succeed, as ‘one nation under God’, without Him, by continuing to turn away from Him in our lives? I think not, as faith and prayer are the true way and God is the source of all love, goodness and hope.
Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the wasteland that enjoys no change of season, But stands in lava beds in the wilderness, a land, salty and uninhabited. Blessed are those who trust in the LORD; the LORD will be their trust. They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit. More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart, Giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds.
Occasionally I run across an article that sparks meaningful thoughts in my mind. After a year of social distancing (actually self-imposed isolation), my wife and I begin the latter part of our lives, our eighties, amidst worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, family and friends illnesses and deaths, economic turmoil, and civil unrest. It would be so easy for me to just fade back into the woodwork, waiting for some change that may not come, and die a slow death of mental dullness watching TV movies. But that is not me or my wife! Creativity has always been a big part of our lives in many varied ways.
For me, nature photography and haiku poetry have been my creative interests for many years. I realize how important such activities are for mental exercise and personal enjoyment. I also realize that continued pursuit of these activities requires certain physical adjustments that aging requires. Such changes were, at first, hard to accept but prayer, meditation, and trust in a loving God always light the way.
The first snowfall in a late autumn woodlands is a glorious sight! Almost a cleansing of the year’s trials and pains as translucent whiteness slowly overlays the remaining leaves, branches, and grasses.
Standing alone amidst this wonderland, I can only marvel at one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind: nature’s beauty. I hear only the faint, pervasive sounds of falling snow, and raising my face to heaven, say “thank you, Lord!”
Silence surrounds me except for the chirp of a flitting red cardinal. From the blue sky, February’s sun filters through the leafless cypress and tupelo trees, imprinting the still waters with a kaleidoscope of browns and blues. I drift silently along, feeling a cool breeze and breathing nature’s scent.
Christmas Season 2020. For me, a quiet time of reflection on the trials and tribulations this last year has heaped on the world, on us all. The ‘why?’ is the big question and the possibilities are many, including God’s retribution for the world’s turning away from him to purely random happenings in our complex world according to the ‘Chaos Theory’. Yet, while we humans struggle to understand the why and how of events, only Nature simply lives quietly with acceptance.
Whatever the cause (if any), we have an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities for the new year. We should put faith, love, prayer, empathy, understanding, and compromise back into our lives. And for me, the beauty and solitude of nature is the best place for a meditation with God/Jesus about my needed new outlook on life. As survivors of 2020, we still have so much to be thankful for, so let the loneliness of this Christmas season be a time for rekindling faith and trust in our loving God. Blessings and peace.