Sunday, September 27, 2015
Loaves and Fish Mosaic, Tabgha, Israel
The disciples were so impressed with the miracle of Jesus feeding a multitude of five thousand with a young boy’s five barley loaves and two small preserved fish that it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. We’ll never know exactly what happened on that grassy plain near the Sea of Galilee, but it was miraculous! Jesus was demonstrating to all of us how to share our generosity and showing us that “Little is much when God is in it!”
I was excited to arrive with our group at the Church of the Loaves and Fish early on a cool February morning, but we had to wait outside as other pilgrim groups were already inside the small sanctuary. Groups were also gathered outside on the veranda singing impromptu hymns, some in foreign languages.
Our group was finally able to enter the church and experience a simple stone alter over a large rock outcropping, that tradition says Jesus used to bless the young boy’s offering. We all silently paused awhile in this spiritual place and then began to disperse outside to make room for others. Because visiting this location was one of my primary reasons for making this long journey, I lingered behind to study the ancient mosaic of two fish and four loaves in front of the alter. When we later asked about the missing fifth loaf, we were given a very beautiful answer; “We are still receiving it”. After all, even Jesus referred to himself as “the bread of life”!
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Lookin' Left, High Point, NC
(With apologies to Yogi)
• Ninety percent of golf is played on over 7,000 yards of heavenly green grasses. The other half is played on hell’s half acre.
• OK, we’ll determine the first tee order alphabetically by height.
• When you come to a fork in the cart path, take it.
• You can’t think and hit the golf ball at the same time.
• Nobody plays that golf course anymore. It’s too crowded.
• A nickel Bingo point ain’t worth a dime anymore.
• Hitting a provisional shot into the hazard is déjà vu all over again!
• Even if you’re lying five off the green on a par five, just remember that it ain’t over ‘till it’s over.
• If golfers don’t call for a tee time at your golf course, how are you gonna stop them?
• I usually play a four-hour round of golf from 1 to 6.
• I don’t play much winter golf ‘cause of my 50 degree rule and it gets late early out there.
• I practice putting by pairing off three golf balls at different distances.
• Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t scoring.
• You can observe a lot by watching how the pros throw their putter into a lake.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Fallen Feather, Jamestown, NC
Wanderlust for the Hero's Journey
I’ve had a wanderlust with automobiles since I was just a kid growing up in central Kansas. My uncle drove up in a new dark navy Olds Rocket 88 one day and I immediately recognized that this sculpted Adonis on wheels was the perfect fusion of art and engineering. I couldn’t wait for the day when I could drive a car and begin the Hero’s Journey. In the meantime, I probably added a hundred miles or so to the family car driving it up and down our driveway. Since then, I’ve easily logged well over a million miles behind the wheel of these modern chariots.
My friend and I made a daring escape away from the driveway and around the block in our sleepy neighborhood one sunny afternoon. As luck would have it, a friendly policeman noticed the probability that the driver of my dad’s car was sitting on a pillow to see over the dashboard. He pulled us over and asked if I had a driver’s license. I’m pretty sure that he already knew the answer. Fortunately, I was contrite enough and he was forgiving enough to follow us back into my parent’s driveway with my assurance that I wouldn’t venture out again until I was old enough to have a license—and no longer needed a pillow!
One of the milestones of my life was the day my father helped to finance my first automobile. It wasn’t the convertible that I had coveted, but it was a Ford Victoria hardtop that I quickly began to customize. The convertible with a teenager behind the wheel would have been trouble anyway. Ironically, I recently paid more for a lawnmower than that first car that sparked a lifelong love affair with these machines! A car has always represented more than basic transportation for me. I’ve owned a variety of automobiles since then and I’ve always taken pleasure in detailing them on a cool Saturday morning in the fall. There’s nothing like driving a car that’s been cleaned and shined on a bright fall weekend day. I swear that they have more energy—just like a kid or pet dog that has just emerged from a bath!
This September Saturday morning was no different than many others. The air was cool, the sun was shining and only a slight breeze stirred the trees. I was putting the finishing touches of a liquid shine on the hood of my car. The metallic surface was reflecting the blue Carolina sky like a clear Blue Ridge Mountain lake. And then a very petite and fragile feather drifted ever so silently out of the sky and landed ever so softly right in front of me. As you may know, feathers are a sacred universal symbol of flight, serving as messengers between this mortal world and the other side of the thin veil. Their primary message is that “all is well.” And on a glorious fall morning in September, how could life be anything else?
Monday, September 14, 2015
Touch of Fall, Jamestown, NC
Receding green chlorophyll begins to reveal true colors
at the tip of a lone Maple leaf.
It's been said that one's true character is revealed
when all those around withdraw leaving the person alone.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Sunflower Golden Spiral, Greensboro, NC
Beauty is a mystery in its knowing, but yet we know it when we see it. It exhibits itself in the golden spirals of a sunflower’s seed arrangement, the florets of a daisy, the bracts of a pine cone and the branches of a tree. These Fibonacci numbering sequences are nature’s mathematical order in the universe all around us. Mathematical proportions that are pleasing to the human eye were discovered ages ago by the Greeks and Egyptians in the form of the Golden Means, the Golden Sections, the Golden Proportion and the Golden Ratio. They are subliminally evident in our observations of the Greek Parthenon, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and “Mona Lisa” and the pyramids.
Fibonacci numbers have been called the Fingerprint of God that is hidden throughout nature and man’s creations. They certainly belie randomness. In fact, the Golden Ratio is seen in the proportions of the sections of a human finger. We have 8 fingers in total, 5 digits on each hand, 3 bones in each finger, 2 bones in a thumb and 1 thumb on each hand. The ratio between the forearm and the hand is the Golden Ratio. There is a beautiful Golden Proportion related to the width of the white in our eyes and the distance between our eyes.
It’s been said that if you look into the face of a flower, you look into the face of God. And it would seem that when you look into the face of a sunflower, you look into the beautifully patterned order of all creation that shows the way into the Language of God in the form of spiraling DNA double helix strands.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Fellowship Meal, Sea of Galilee, Israel
Philip Yancey in his book on Vanishing Grace relates the results of a survey in which Americans were asked what words they would most like to hear. The first choice was predictable; “I love you”. We were made in the image of a God who is defined by love for all creation, including all of us. He wants us to thrive and we need to look no further than the cross to understand the depths of that love.
The second choice was “I forgive you.” In an act of moral justice and unconditional love God became flesh and blood to offer himself as a sacrifice of radical grace so that we could be forgiven, no matter what we may have done in our life.
Finally, a rather surprising third choice of words Americans would most like to hear was “Supper’s ready!” Our God is a relational divine presence as witnessed in the triune godhead at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River near the Sea of Galilee. We humans enjoy fellowship around the dinner table and enjoy each other’s company. Jesus constantly engaged others around meals and feasts including his first miracle at a wedding feast, feeding the 5,000 and of course, his last supper has been immortalized! And our natural response to the blessings we receive in life is to offer ourselves as willing clay vessel dispensers of God’s grace to a world thirsty for love, forgiveness and fellowship.