Wood Thrush

One of my favorite birds is the Wood Thrush. Not much to look at and easily confused at a glance with other brown birds, but boy oh boy can this one sing!! Here is a tiny clip. There are times I think it sounds like corillion bells.

Recently after the torrential spring rains, we saw one rolling on the sidewalk a bit aways from our front porch. My husband asked, “What in the world is that bird doing?” I looked and said, “Likely he is rolling in dust to clean his feathers. With all the rain it is probably hard to find dust in the woods!” Thrush must have sensed us watching him because he soon took off for the woods. In fact, we rarely see this fellow. Secretive, but a lovely minstrel!

Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country and the gates of Heaven are not shut against him.

American Naturalist Henry David Thoreau writing about the Wood Thrush

Often in the brutal heat of this summer weather on my way to the garbage can or getting out of the car I will hear this bird and then I SO agree with Thoreau. It has been way too hot and too many allergy triggers out there to have the windows open. Maybe it will cool off soon so I can hear it from inside, too!

Some Methods To Find Those Treasures In Plain Sight

Discussing meditation and contemplative prayer and all these other terms can sometimes distract us from actually doing the practice. Mark Buchanan is a wonderful author who often expresses things in a way I had not previously thought about. His book The Holy Wild mentions this:

“Our creativity, at least in part, comes from resting in His creativity until it seeps in. It springs from prayer. Not the busy chatty prayer we often do, but the other kind: prayer as emptiness, prayer as silence, prayer as stillness. Prayer as the absence of wanting and asking. Not the clamoring man waking his neighbor, desperate for bread (LK 11:5), but the suckled child curled up, satisfied in the mother’s arms (PS 131:2).

“Sometimes I just sit there. I don’t speak or ask or think. I watch, devoid of analysis. I just sit and look.

“I let things be, and I simply dwell in their presence. Where there is music or poetry or artistry in these things, I receive it without comment or lament, without the impulse to possess it or explain it. There is nothing mystical about this. This is not a slipping toward pantheism, where every rock bluff or grass tuft brims with divinity. This is simply an act of reverence for the God who makes things, and respect for all that He makes.

 “God’s creativity is, in one sense, the most obvious thing about Him. He saves His most intricate work for the insides and undersides of things. (Molly’s favorite part of the ocean is the underside of waves!)

Richard Rohr has also at times taken as his guide in prayer a simple phrase: “Don’t think. Just look.” He wrote in Near Occasions of Grace “Father McNamara’s definition of contemplation became transformative: “A loving look at the real.” The world, my own issues and hurts, all goals and desires gradually dissolved into proper perspective. God became obvious and everywhere.”

He says “To Practice This Today: Take a loving look at the real. Use the phrase “Don’t think. Just look.” as a reminder throughout the day.”

Often I think of the view out the window nearest to my prayer chair as a cathedral. Not one built of stone and wood, but the most important place of worship. The biggest sanctuary in the area! I dare you to try these methods of prayer, if not for an entire day, then start with 15 minutes. “Don’t think. Just look.” Just sit and look, especially if you can be out of doors. “Rest in God’s creativity. Prayer as emptiness, silence, stillness.” You will never know the benefits until you try this repeatedly. Devote 15 minutes to this practice for one week. And be blessed by a renewed awareness of God’s Presence, within and without.

About jumped out of my skin just now.

While I am typing I have my phone timer set on the silly duck sound, Kay’s favorite on her phone. I keep setting the timer for changing the outdoor hose. My plants are suffering from our near drought conditions. Writing the blog I was deep into trying to explain the practice above and the benefits of meditation and contemplative prayer. I am home alone. That phone quacked and I nearly jumped out of my skin! My Prayer Core-Group friends are never far from my mind! TURN UP YOUR VOLUME TO EMULATE MY EXPERIENCE!

So, just a reminder, to try this practice but also stay aware of the things around you so you might not be as startled as I was just now!

Sometimes a Writer Must Work and Wait

I have been working to read and then copy out selections from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” That book had a huge impact upon me years ago when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. For those who have followed this and my other blog I mentioned the book a while ago. Since I continue to age (better than the alternative) and the future is uncertain regarding this shoulder, which means our summer, and then our trip to Cape Cod in the autumn, and on and on it goes in uncertainty – seemed like the right time to take up the project. I had ordered a used copy of the book but it was SO old that pages were crumbling as I read. So I got a newer copy and have completed the part entitled Experiences in a Concentration Camp. Now this might seem totally depressing to some, but Frankl is worth reading. He writes from the viewpoint of a psychiatrist and a prisoner about what happens to humans when choices are removed. This chapter is about 145 pages in a smaller paperback, so not too difficult to accomplish. He actually writes from experience. Bob’s Dad was part of the Liberation Army in WWII and set some of the camps free. I have wondered if he was one of the soldiers who freed Doctor Viktor Frankl?

Frankl focuses repeatedly on the fact that the last of human freedoms is the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstance. Hopefully, my synthesis of his insights will come forth in future blogging.

The attitude choice has come home to me again personally as I wait for diagnosis of the problem in my shoulder after the fall in the living room. I get to choose my attitude. I am NOT always sweet and kind and uncomplaining. When I get weary from pain and frustration I often want to just go crawl under a rock where I will not hurt anyone with my misunderstood tone of voice or sour attitude. Today I will focus on what Scripture says about waiting.

 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!  I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.  The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the LORD.

Lamentations 3:22-26 (HCSB)

His mercies never end – even when we are irritable. His mercies are new every morning – He knows so well I will need a daily dose! His faithfulness far exceeds mine.

The Lord is my portion, therefore I put my hope in Him. Well, what else can I say? I trust the doctors and MRI, but He is my highest and best hope, my most thorough Physician. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. I wonder HOW many times we are admonished to wait for Him in Scripture? Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. In returning and rest I am saved; in quietness and trust will be my strength. Be still, and KNOW that He is God.

Jeremiah ends with “It is good to wait QUIETLY for deliverance from the Lord.” I know a woman who is waiting for healing from a second back-to-back Shingles infection. I know a man waiting to find out if the purchase of the home he wants will go through. I know others waiting to heal after surgery, waiting for back pain to let up and be healed, waiting for a church dedication and celebration after hours and hours of hard outdoor work, waiting to plant their crops after history-making flooding. Some are waiting for asylum in America fleeing violence in their homeland, another waiting to finalize a divorce after a miserable marriage.

As humans we do not generally wait well or quietly. Perhaps remembering His mercies are new daily and His steadfast love for us never changes can help carry us over the bumps and crashes of our dreams in life.

When your particular house of cards comes down, remember that no one EVER said “I want to be ill this summer”, or “I want to be waiting weeks on end for an answer .” Ever. So along with me, rest, wait, hope and watch for a manifestation of His love in our presence.

Husband is a Treasure

I have a bad habit of kicking off my shoes and not putting them away. Caught up with me last Sunday night. I was getting ready for bed and remembered I needed to enter one more portion of water on my Fitbit app. My phone was charging in the living room. I entered the data. Turned to go to the bedroom and tripped over a sandal. I went down in a huge way! My husband could only watch me fall. There was no time to get up and try to stabilize me before I crashed into the floor.

Turned small toes on left foot under and smashed down on them as I went down bodily. Skidded left knee across the carpet, then left elbow, then smashed down on left shoulder. Saw stars as shoulder lit up in electric explosion. Slammed jaw on the carpet as I hit the floor. BUT thank goodness I did not hit my head, though I came very, very close!

My sweet husband was by my side instantly. Mind you I once fell in the Smoky Mountains at the end of Abrams Falls trail on a wet rock. That time we had to hike 4.9 miles back to the car and me with a dislocated right shoulder. So we were both a bit fearful of the extent of my injuries this time.

Nothing seemed broken as he slowly helped me sit up on the floor. Then slowly helped me stand and get to the sofa to sit down. He bandaged my knee and went to get some ice crushed for an ice bag. Bandaged my arm where forearm had busted open from the impact. Put me to bed with Tylenol and prayers for healing and comfort and another soft ice pack.

We saw a shoulder surgeon Monday as I was unable to lift my left arm without tremendous pain, and then not all the way up. MRI of shoulder is scheduled in case it does not get better in a week “after the dust settles” from the fall. Possible rotator cuff injury. If not better, MRI will determine if surgery is needed and exactly where.

So I am spending most of my time editing past posts. That has been encouraging as I have read, again, how the Lord has sustained me through the past. Acute pain is a bear when it comes on top of chronic pain. I am determined to trust and follow where I am led through this ordeal.

Moral of the story: put your shoes away and trust in the Lord regardless of what comes your way! Even if it involves a mess you made.

Pain is exhausting and I do not know how much more I will actually create today, but you will know by what I do or do not post! When people ask me in stores, “May I help you?” my typical response is “Yes. I need all the help I can get!” Please lift me in prayer until this is resolved. Thanks, Molly

To the Equator

Cincinnati is 274 miles further from the Equator than Flagstaff, but that distance makes such a difference in the quality of the light! Our friends moved to New Mexico because they get so many MORE days of sunshine there. This has been a hard year for Cincinnati regarding sunny days. On average, there are 176 sunny days per year in Cincinnati. Flagstaff averages 266!

Waterlogged Milkweed

I am seriously hoping the Milkweed does not drown before the Monarchs lay their eggs. I so want to watch larvae hatch out again this year! At the rate we are going rainwise, it is a toss up right now! I slipped out between showers to take this photo. Was sprinkled on as I walked back!

Our local weatherman stated that as of June 19, 2019 63% of our days had rain this year alone. That is 107 out of 170! We are 13″ over our annual rainfall level.

So yeah, gloom is our word so far as weather goes. They are predicting more INCHES of rain over the next few days. Farmers are suffering the most. All the people here are complaining. The YMCA keeps closing their outdoor swimming pools.

Hope you have sunshine wherever you are as you read this!

Amazing Weather

We had over 4 inches of rain in 24 hours here. Today we are approaching 1-1/2 inch and it is only 10:10AM! No matter how much Ohioans complain about our weather, my heart goes out to those in the midwest whose homes and farms have been underwater for months. I cannot imagine the destruction. Pray for them! Makes it hard to write about Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam, but here I go.

We spent one more night in Las Vegas and took off the next morning for Hoover Dam which neither of us had ever seen. Of course, you may remember the point of this trip was to go to places we had missed in our previous travels among the 49 States. (#50 will be for our 50th wedding anniversary!)

Another gorgeous cloudless day in Nevada as we entered the Hoover Dam area. We were told we might not be allowed to drive across, yet that particular day we could walk across and the drive across the road that tops the dam.

The lean on the towers fascinated me. As did the sparkling sun on the water. Look for the color line along the cliff that shows how high the water has been in the past. Wish we could drain the Midwest and send it to Hoover Dam!!

I liked this plaque!

I was all of five years old then!

So had to wonder the depth along the shore! According to http://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp The water level on June 18, 2019 was 1,085.46 feet. The level is 143.45 feet below full pool of 1,229.00. I love looking in water depths!

This is the view you are likely familiar with. Yep, it made me a bit dizzy!

Look at the employee parking!! Both sides of the water. Greenish water is expelled water from power plant.

And finally the huge angels. You can likely see better photos on bing images, but these are mine.