Advent 2: Of The Roses Singing

Isaiah 40:1-11The Second Sunday of Advent – for Sunday, December 7, 2014

“A voice is crying out: Clear the Lord’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

two+candlesA voice is crying out:
Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!

Some say, fervent and sure in their beliefs, that Isaiah predicted a voice in the future: a John the baptizer that would cry aloud in the literal wilderness, a harbinger for Jesus’ ministry.

Some say, fervent and sure in their beliefs, that Isaiah was not predicting a some-day future of John and Jesus, but shouting an every-day truth in the metaphoric wilderness: a longing for God to transform a wounded world.

Either way, when modern hearts and minds read Isaiah’s ancient cries, there is a belief that from the wild, from beyond our safe homes and familiar streets, a change will come.

American poet, Mary Oliver penned,

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

The second Sunday of Advent has arrived. Come walk with me into the woods, in the wilderness of yesterday’s Isaiah and today’s faith . . . but only if you are not one of the “smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.” Continue reading →

Glimpsing Danaus Plexippus

John 20:19-31  – The Second Sunday of Easter – for April 27, 2014

“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them with Jesus came.” (John 20:24)

I rode my bicycle, all smiles and pedaling fast.

Then a butterfly attacked me!

I ducked . . . whew!

mexico-monarch-butterflies.jpeg-620x412However—since I’m a two-hundred pound guy, and was riding at twenty miles per hour, and wore a goofy-looking helmet—shouldn’t I instead say: I avoided smacking a butterfly?

After all, who’d have suffered more from impact: Chunky Larry or Madame Butterfly?

I’d been dashing along the bike trail, admiring the scenery, alert to other bicyclists and the occasional walker and mostly minding my own business. Then, whoosh! On the far left side of my peripheral vision a winged creature dipped into view. I ducked. All survived the near miss.

It was my second butterfly encounter within the week. A few days before, I’d been lounging in a lawn chair after finishing yard work. Just passing the time. Just enjoying a spring afternoon. And then, floating by the orange tree, I spotted a monarch butterfly. For a leisurely moment, the Danaus plexippus did what butterflies do so wondrously well. It flitted up and down, a splash of brash gold and black against the tree’s green backdrop. Unlike an anxious, frenetic hummingbird or a proverbial busy buzzing bee, the monarch took its time.

I watched, my mind wandering until the insect disappeared over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Continue reading →