6 Birds, One Horse, & a Prayer

Here again are some bird beauties, courtesy of my friend Jim.

Redwing Blackbird.
At the end of the Psalter, the writer penned this:

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6).

That’s not just good theology, not just wise counsel.

It is also a wise prayer for a world gone wrong, a world running headlong the wrong way.

Lord, hear this prayer.

Every Picture Tells a Story

Though my passion is words, though I love few things as much as a scintillating short story or a novel that makes me lose track of time, or a play that takes me to Elsinore or Thebes, it is hard to argue with the power of pictures.

Pictures can nearly bypass thought. They tend to go straight for the gut. Little to no effort is required to be entertained by colors, shapes, and immediacy. Books require time and sustained concentration.

Thanks to friends from Sunday school and elsewhere, below are stories in pictures that creation tells.

The bird pictures from Jim are amazing. Some others are simple road scenes from my many hours traveling back and forth. I think I like them because of the metaphor involved–the idea of a journey or pilgrimage. I was going somewhere. There was a point to it all, in other words. The road as metaphor will never pass away, I’d wager.

Another is of a pond nearby where I am throughout the week. I am a softie for water scenes–be they creeks, ponds, seas, rivers, etc.

To our group at church, I just want to say how much I appreciate you, the opportunity to be with you, learn with you, worship with you, walk with you, and grow. Faithfulness is all. Press on.

A Little Wrinkled Balloon

“I have a book. I’ve found it very helpful. Would you read it?” I asked him.


“Here you go,” I said, handing it to him. “I’ve found it helpful for folks to see where they fall.”

He took it. I watched his expression when I gave it to him. He seemed to scoff at the idea of learning. It was as if he had it all figured out. Or was it the possibilty that he was unwilling to change his mind even if the evidence demonstrated he was in error? I tried to let it go inside, but my gut told me I’d given him a book that would be tossed aside, perhaps not even perused.

Some time went by. In previous conversations, he had boasted to me that he was quite the reader. He had told me of the strong grades he earned in his high school days, and that he’d been in the advanced classes. So I thought I would ask him if he’d had a chance to read the little book.

“Well, did you have a chance to read that book?”

“I did,” he responded quickly. “It was quite short, so it did not take me long.”

“I see,” I said. “Well, where did you fall?”

“I guess I’m a nihilist,” he said.

“I see.” I let the silence hang for a moment.

Very often over the last few months, when he shared some of his life with me, he spoke of his family, his wife and children, where he grew up, etc. So I thought I’d press him a bit to see if he’d thought his worldview through.

“Nothingness philosophy, eh?” I asked.

“Well, I can undermine any value,” he said.

“Do you think if someone murdered your daughters, would that be wrong?” I asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t like it, but let me ask you a question,” he responded.

“You wouldn’t like it?” I said. “Why? Is that all? Just a preference? The murder of your daughters would not be objectively wrong?” I pressed. So I continued. “Wait. I want to be sure I understand your position. It would not be objectively wrong for someone to murder your children? Or rape them?”

“I would not like it,” he said.

“If someone stole your wallet, would you be upset?” I asked. “Or is everything just preferences?”

“I think that all values are subjective,” he said.

“That’s an interesting position to have for someone who cannot anchor values. You seem certain about that, like it’s objectively true, like it’s good, like it’s a good thing to be right, almost like there is a right, a good, a true,” I said. “Make sense?”

Someone came through the door and our conversation was interrupted.

I have thought about him a lot. He seems unwilling to bend.

One of the things that keeps running through my mind is that I believe he loves his wife and children. I think he would more than just prefer their remaining protected from evil. He lives as if he believes their provision and protection are good values in and of themselves.

Then the lyrics to one of my favorite songs kept running through my head. It’s a song by Paul Simon called “Crazy Love.” And some of the lines reminded me of the scenario described above:

Fat Charlie the Archangel
Sloped into the room
He said, “I have no opinion about this
And I have no opinion about that”
Sad as a lonely little wrinkled balloon
He said, “Well I don’t claim to be happy about this, boys
And I don’t seem to be happy about that”

In the song, the character of Charlie is just awash in nihilism. He’s sad and is soon to file for divorce. He just can’t seem to find the answers. He’s dead sure he has no opinions. But he files for divorce, as if he’s sure about that. Ironic for a nowhere man in his nowhere land.

He gave the book back to me, as if it had been less than useful to him. Seems he has all the answers he needs in his nihilism.

I’m going to listen to “Crazy Love” several times again, because I think Paul Simon was driving at something that can be missed. A little wrinkled balloon is a sad image. It’s almost like balloons were designed, but that would mean there was a designer, right? It would almost make you think that balloons were designed to fly, rather than be sad little wrinkled leavings on the floor, where they’d sure appear to be misplaced.

Low Pond Under Aurora

This morning my assistant and I were walking across a bridge to spend some time with Ranger instructors and take them some breakfast as they teach and mentor America’s future infantrymen.

I could not resist pausing to snap a picture.

I don’t know how men’s souls are not moved by water at dawn, by the smells of honeysuckle and jasmine, and the sounds of water fowl as they explode from the shallows.

It’s good to be, in my view, reminded of beauty and of stewardship and of why we do what we do.

An Evening at the Pond

I hope the short video links play. You may need to turn up the volume on your device. I don’t know the type of bird that flew over the pond solo, but he came down, appeared to scoop up water or shad, then went up high again. He was breathtaking to watch. Then a pair of ducks circled again and again, as the sun continued its descent. The fish were not biting (at least for me) but it was still a great evening on the pond.

Scenes from the Water

Got a few more hours in kayaking with the wifey. Cool day on the lake with cloulds rolling in. Saw some geese, turtles, herons, a family of ducks (but I was too slow my iPhone to snap a picture), lots of water, swallows, crows, and learned once again how water and sky are used to speak to the soul.

6 Birds (One Author)

These are from my friend Jim. He knows more about birds than I. He and I both share a love for how creation and creatures herald the Creator. Jim recognizes beauty when he sees it; he knows beauty’s Author.

Came Home Today

Was able to come home today. Met the family at one of our favorite Italian places for lunch. Enjoyed an assortment of ziti, wraps, and even a burger (good burgers at an Italian place, yes). And like the rest of their items, it was tasty.

Arrived at the homeplace afterwards. Played with the dogs. (You can see my old faithful buddy, Brewster, keeping watch. He’s an old man now, and gray, too, but he’s been a trooper and I already feel the nascent sadness of when I’ll have to say goodbye to him.)

I piddled outside in the yard. Picked up some limbs and pine cones that had fallen due to the winds.

The wifey washed off a couple of the kayaks where pollen had coated them yellow and green. Now they are ready for some time in the water tomorrow after Sunday school and worship.

We sat out back in a couple of beach chairs and listened to the winds blow through the trees.

We went down to the water to catch the gloaming. Swallows shot hither and yon. Canadian geese soared inches above the water, gliding with the wind, honking. The sounds carried on the winds. A solo mallard paddled near the marina.

It’s good to be home.