Tag Archives: creation

10 Reasons to Smile–A Photo Essay

I heard someone once say that “art is a way of seeing.” I think learning how to pay attention is an art, too. There is so much remarkable beauty all around us, inside, outside all around, particularly here in the “upper lefthand corner” of the United States where I live. My bi-monthly newsletter talks about the ‘miraculous to mundane’ parts of our days, because that’s where we live. Here’s what I saw when I was looking.

I never tire of this view from our upstairs deck, the way the trees frame the clouds and the horizon. Even when I’m standing at the kitchen sink there’s a far away scene to fill my soul.

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The other day I purposefully took a crazy long way home from the grocery store (talk about mundane). But this made up for it, a tree-lined winding drive right off one our main highways. I literally stopped in the middle of the road and snapped this photo. Wouldn’t you?

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My friend Kimberlee and I were walking on a path around a lake in Seattle last week and stopped to photograph these mushrooms. One of the locals pointed out they’re s u p e r poisonous, like don’t even touch them poisonous unless you wash your hands afterwards. But they look like there should be gnomes or fairies hiding right next to them, don’t you think?

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This is beautyberry in my front yard after last week’s rain. Aptly named, yes? I love the purple against the green.

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These fuschia blossoms land on the stairs below the basket hanging on our deck. They looked like resting ballerinas to me. Sometimes there is remarkable, delicate beauty right at our feet.

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The colors in our backyard this time of year always catch me by surprise. The russet colored tree that’s aflame with reddish orange is a Japanese Stewartia. It blooms with white flowers in the summer, another happy surprise.

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I took this photo the other morning on my walk. I was captivated by the way the light shone between the trees, like Jesus might be coming right through the sky.

P_20181011_134337This is Greenlake in Seattle,which should be called Golden Pond, yes? Look at the mirrored reflection on the surface of the water. It looks like a painting.

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I remember a line in Laura Barkat’s book, God in the Yard–Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us, “smallness permits attention.”  I’m also reminded of a phrase from Seamus Heaney when I look at this photo about the “diamond absolutes.” Can you see the diamonds?

One more miracle in the middle of the mundane. I was walking through the Wal-Mart parking lot yesterday and looked up at this supernatural sight–a lake in the air? A feather in the sky? Only God. Only God.

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I’m so grateful every day for the beautiful place where I get to live. I’m grateful, too, for the way God has tuned my eyes to pay attention to miracles–big or small–from lakes to fuschia blossoms.

May He grant you one or two moments of glorious ‘aha!’s in your day today.

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Leafworks {a #poem}

IMG_20150327_173030229Like the bound bud in the almost

bloomed magnolia, there is life

ready to burst, tight secrets

on the God side buried within

these cool, bright days.

I’m waiting, watching, counting

the sleeps until a quiet

wonder world awakes. Amazed,

I waltz between the longest watch

from each dormant doorway,

through the chill and darkened

mornings to a heart like an open gate.

Ear cupped, poised for my next

birth, I linger for delivery

of the morning’s message–

free and God-breathed–

a silent, green unfurling.

——-

Autumn Seventeen {a #poem}

When did the hills 
gather this golden?
yesterday’s horizons
turn amber in waves?
I slept with green outside

my window and woke 

to topaz, russet, moving 

yellow, mellow against the sky.

-Jody Collins c. 2017

 

Begin Again {a #poem}

2015-10-09 07.06.05.jpgSeptember’s singular day arrives with the turning
of many pages, paper or otherwise. Limbs of another
rich and growing year branch upward, leading
to vistas bright and unknown. I climb, grateful
for handholds, eyes on the open, azure sky.
Did Eden’s first morning in that tree-filled glade
startle the couple awake, their eyes on a new dawn?
Burst with the gift of hope, that unknown need of a
fresh start? I say yes.
This new day, like that one, rich with possibilities
awaits as we journey. Now at a walk (or sometimes fly)
and fall, sure of a steady Hand to right us.
Our steps re-turned to the Kingdom, the sound
of that Voice birthed each day anew in the blazing
blue that calls towards home.
-Jody Lee Collins c. 2017

 

65 is Just a Number {a #poem}

P_20180222_085138-1068896429-1545607297305.jpgThere is no statute of limitations on vision.

My old eyes register a darting messenger of
God’s blatant, creative joy. Watch the winged
creation hover in a web of air.
Spy a sleuthing intruder
snap-tapping its way
across the wood, tunneling
away and down the outside stairs.

No expiration (yet) for hearing,
cataloguing birdvoice and the
chipclacking of breakfast
at the feeder, the squeaking
insistence at the fountain.

Teach me to number my days, Lord,
to register the ways your wind
ruffles the tablecloth in the morning’s
gentle breeze, how cool, shortened
shadows signal this sea change
of a season rippling towards
quieter times.

May I live this calendar daily,
not ticking days toward the end
but aware and alive and about your
business, not counting lost hours, but
living into your addition, subtraction
multiplication, division, the only
math that matters.
c. Jody Lee Collins 2017

A (Very) Long Obedience in the Same Direction

I’ve been been making time lately to re-read my journals–sort of taking inventory of God’s words to me as I read His Word throughout the past year during my quiet time.

First of all, it’s very encouraging.  To look back over the year I can see that many of the God-thoughts I wrote down have come to pass. Joy and miracle. Yay.

As I read I couldn’t help noticing the repeated theme of obedience. I read Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” last year, his study of the Songs/Psalms of Ascent.

God was speaking to me over and over again about this subject using this book. Yes, God usually has to repeat something to me over the course of many months to make sure I’m getting it.

Lately I have struggled with falling into discouragment about my behaviours, attitudes and actions, particularly with those whom I love.

“Be more gentle here, Jody.  Watch your tone of voice….” Ack–I often fail miserably.
But God, but God……..the Holy Spirit reminds me.  His mercies are new every morning. Exclamation point.
Thank GOODNESS for Jesus’ reminder in Matthew Chapter 6, that ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’.
In other words, “Take each day as a fresh start from me, and don’t be burdened down by the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘but I didn’ts’.” 

I wrote this in my journal:

We cannot let ourselves be held captive to the disastrous ways we’ve failed
and let that dictate our tomorrows. Our tomorrows belong to God and rest on
His power and provision, not my performance.

Peterson talks extensively about failures and obedience when he discusses Psalm 132 in “Long Obedience..”
This Psalm is full of ‘remembers’, the Psalmist reminding God about his promises to King David.

“God, based on the history of what you’ve done for us, we’re planning on a future restoration of your kingdom and your temple, a place where you can dwell. We know you’ll come through.” (my paraphrase).
Peterson continues, “The traveler/psalmist is not…”reveling in the past for its own sake , but a traveler using what he knows of the past to get to where he is going–to God.”
“The past is not,” Peterson says, “for the person of faith, a restored historical site that we tour when we are on vacation; it is a field that we plow and harrow and plant and fertilize and work for a harvest.”
“If we define the nature of our lives by the mistake of the moment (oh God, I make so many!) or the defeat of the hour or the boredom of the day, we will define it wrongly.
We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth;
we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and a goal.”
“What we require is obedience–the strength to stand and the willingness to leap,and the sense to know when to do which. Which is exactly what we get when an accurate memory of God’s ways is combined with a lively hope in his promises.” (LOSD, pp. 169-171).

My journal notes continue, “just like a treehouse in a tree: the tree is firmly planted–solid in the strength of the tree and its roots. And when you climb up high in the branches into the treetops, you can see the view.”

Next time I see a treehouse, I’m going to remember that….Roots in the past reminding me of God’s faithfulness,
a vision from on high of the future He has planned for me.

Tree photo, New Orleans, LA, jlc, April 2012