Sunlight shafts illuminating ethereal mists of a thundering mountain stream; a 6-point whitetail buck stealthily crouching in a thicket to avoid detection; me silently crouching to avoid detection as a black bear saunters by 😟 😟 😟 . . . Nature’s soul stirring wonders to embrace wandering through the Great Smoky Mountains.
“The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Pal, my childhood German Shepard; Goliath, my massive St. Bernard; Brandy, a gorgeous Golden Retriever; and Lobo, my latest ‘man’s-best-friend’ German Shepard; I’ve enjoyed having a faithful furry buddy by my side. Snow-birding complicates transporting pets, and consequently I’ve been without a canine companion for some time.
Here in the Great Smoky Mountains, Mother Nature has graciously lent me one of hers. Wiley the coyote regularly patrols our property. He’s maintenance free! . . . no vet visits – licenses – flea collars – or Pet-Smart dog food required.
However, he does have a couple significant issues . . . he doesn’t like to be petted, and doesn’t play well other forest denizens . . . he eats them! . . . wonder if he’d enjoy a road runner dog toy? 😊
It’s estimated 8 billion grains of sand would fill 8,000 cups and weigh 2 ½ tons. Recently, while I was counting sheep snuggled against my pillow, a group of obviously wide-awake researchers at the University of Hawaii estimated there are seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion (7.5 x 1018 ) grains of sand on earth . . . that’s Big!
but . . .
When you consider that all the grains of sand in the world are dwarfed by the number of stars in the universe . . . that’s astronomically Big!
but . . .
In his book Spectrums, science writer David Blatner states this mind-boggling number of ‘twinkle-twinkles’ in the universe is quickly matched by thenumber of molecules in just 10 drops of water . . . that’s unfathomably Small! . . . or . . . Big???
Blattner aptly states “…we can’t handle the biggitude…” This minuscule mortal can’t handle either the ‘biggitude’ or ‘smallitude’ of Creation,
but . . . I know who can . . .
The Architect of each grain of sand . . . ‘twinkle-twinkle’ . . . and molecule of water.
Soooooo . . . I contentedly fall asleep each night snuggled against my pillow counting sheep knowing, among the 8 billion people I share this planet with, this littlest one is His biggest favorite . . .
PS – so are you, and each one of the other, 7,999,000,000,000 souls He knows by name.
“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou are mindful of him, and the Son of man, that Thou hast visited him?”
Flying has always fascinated me. As a child (some claim I still am 😊), the adventures of Sky King, a WWII aviator turned Arizona rancher, kept me glued to our family’s state-of-the-art, oval, 13” black and white TV.
My time in the USMC as an aircraft electrician heightened my flying passion, and early in my teaching career I began taking flying lessons to become a pilot. Eddie, a young, nerves-of-steel flight instructor became my newly revived, in-the-flesh, Sky King. I’ll never forget his calming words of reassurance after my initial, erratic, 3-bounce landing,
“Every landing is a controlled crash.Let’s go around and try that again Fred.”
One blue-bird day, anxiously waiting for my pre-solo flight lesson with Eddie, his dad and flight training school owner approached me with tears in his eyes,
“You need to go home Fred.”
On a helicopter training flight with a major network journalist the tail rotor malfunctioned. Eddie and his student tragically perished.
Returning home, I shared the sad news with my wife. Her prudent words sealed my pilot aspirations,
“Fred, we have four young children. No more flight training.”
Other than another ‘Eddie’ flying me to my favorite mountain’s base camp (pics) a few years ago, my only solo flight has been a sky dive . . . personally exhilarating, but not exactly inspirational to others.
David Gibbs is a lawyer, founder and president of the Christian Law Association, and a pastor. This 8 minute You Tube video is to his truly inspirational, white-knuckle, Alaskan life ‘flight story’. May it inspire you as it has me to always listen to the Voice of your Flight Instructor on your ‘flight’ through life.
Today a friend posted on their blog (gratefuladdict) the note below.
Someone . . . prompted by love’s pure compassion . . . placed this note on the van windshield a homeless person was living in.
This note simultaneously blessed and convicted me . . . blessed, aware of my undeserved abundance . . . convicted, how I often ‘lose sight’ of the destitution of ‘others’ less fortunate . . . ‘others’ who, just like myself, Jesus literally ‘loved to death’ some 2,000 years ago . . . and will continue to throughout eternity.
There are no ‘others’ in Jesus’ sight, and my ‘love vision’ needs to focus less on being me, and more on being like Him.
Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!
“For when I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” … “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Way back when I was a ‘wee’ one and dinosaurs roamed the earth😊, America was generally a ‘We’ society. Not perfect for sure, but an ambiance of respectful cooperation, collaborative resolution, and unified patriotism prevailed.
Sadly, today’s American finds itself embroiled in a polarized “I’m right! – You’re wrong!”, violently combative, angrily divided ‘Me’ society. I grieve for this divisive ‘legacy’ we’re passing on to our children to navigate.
Such were my gloomy thoughts this morning before going outside for some ‘forest bathing’ therapy in Nature’s peaceful solitude.
Today’s session was on Harmony, taught by four leaves serenely floating on the pond’s surface . . . they silently sang a refrain from a childhood Sunday School song from long ago . . .
“…red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight…”
I continue to pray America will return to peaceful harmony Nature portrays; the “…one nation, under God, indivisible…” our founding fathers envisioned for us to be; and God has promised . . . If . . .
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Living in the forest demands continual interaction with the ever-changing dynamics of its trees . . . they die and fall down . . . often in areas that require their removal.
Our driveway seems to be a tree favorite life’s end destination. One edge of it precipitously skirts the edge of a ravine that has my wife hugging the other side, and makes Billy goats quiver.
During the past year a tree across the ravine has developed an increasing lean reaching across the driveway. It portends an eventual fall that would necessitate chainsaw action to exit our abode down in the ‘holler’ over the ‘crick’. A proactive remedy was in order.
I inadvertently let my remedy slip out as my wife was headed out the door for town. Ever the adrenaline junkie like myself 😊, she offered supportive encouragement,
“If this is the last time I see you alive, it’s been fun.”
Armed with my trusty little chainsaw I trudged across the ravine. Notching the potentially problematic leaning tree, I confidently made the back-cut which would cause it to fall ‘perfectly’ clear of the driveway among its forest companions
TIMBER! . . . Murphy’s First Law of Tree Felling took effect – Standing trees seldom fall where they’re supposed to.
The thick rhododendrons encircling the leaning tree sadistically diverted it’s fall ‘perfectly’ across a huge hemlock that had fallen years ago spanning the ravine. My proactive single tree felling had suddenly become a two-tree hugging dilemma . . . Arrrrrgh!
A new remedy was in order . . . perform a balanced walk out onto the huge hemlock traversing the ravine to the smaller tree; saw it through; gratefully watch as each half plummets into the ravine below. Problem solved!
Strangely analogous to Murphy’s First Law of Tree Felling, Murphy’s Second Law of Tree Felling took effect – Partially fallen trees seldom fall the rest of the way as planned.
Upon almost sawing completely through the partially fallen tree hugging the huge hemlock my chainsaw jammed, becoming irretrievably stuck . . . double Arrrrrgh!
Time to ditch Murphy and go Nike . . . Just Do It!
Trudging across the ravine yet again, I ruthlessly abused a thick rhododendron branch to pry against the severed end of the former leaning, now hugging, tree just enough to slightly loosen the stuck chainsaw. A final ravine crossing followed by another balancing walk out onto the huge hemlock successfully retrieved my little chain saw . . . Hooray!
Here’s a couple illustrative pics of Murphy’s Laws of Tree Felling, and one of an ole, jubilant, fatigued, but eventual Victor! . . . another Senior Fun Day in the forest 😊😊😊
I’m not an avid sports fanatic. Perhaps it’s because, being from Philadelphia, PA, there’s not a preponderance of First Place professional sport team trophies in the City of Brotherly Love’s trophy case to brag about.
But . . . ranked to finish last at the beginning of the baseball season . . . the PhiladelphiaPhillies somehow miraculously won the National League Pennant, and now are battling it out with the Houston Astros in the World Series! . . . maybe pigs do fly 😊
There are no First Place trophies on my shelf . . . or Second, Third, or Fourth . . . although somewhere there may lie a long-discarded childhood conciliatory ‘Participant’ ribbon 😊
It’d be easy to accept that qualifies me for a ‘Loser’ ribbon in a culture where ‘Winners’ are worshiped and Second Place is regarded as just the first to lose . . . except for a ‘counter-cultural’ statement Matthew was inspired to jot down some 2,000 years ago in Chapter 20, verse 16,
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
How ‘unfair’ of the wealthy landowner to pay the guys whom showed up last and worked for only an hour to be paid the same as those who toiled all day.
And what about the thief on the cross? Talk about unfair! . . . a criminal scoundrel up until his last moments, he finally comes clean, fesses up, and hears the soul saving words that pardon and heal him forever,
“I tell you the truth, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”
Truth be known, I’m no stranger to having shown up late and still receive full-time benefits. Regrettably, the label ‘criminal scoundrel’ is no stranger either.
But . . . because of my Abba’s utterly undeserved, unfathomable forgiveness, love and ‘Unfair Grace’, I’m no longer a stranger, criminal scoundrel, or ‘Loser’.
Because of His ‘Unfair Grace’, Heaven’s trophy case only contains ‘Winners’ and First Place trophies each inscribed with the date and name of each man, woman and child who one day came clean, fessed up, accepted and heard Jesus assure their soul,
“I tell you the truth, this day you shall be with Me in paradise.”
For the first time in a long time, I’m mildly optimistic the PhiladelphiaPhillies may actually win the World Series. I’m completely certain, in spite of all my many foibles and failures, I’ll forever remain His beloved child, and ‘Unfair Grace’ has won life’s World Series for me.