a Sweet humble life. I chanced upon this little mongrel named Mocha in a make-shift “home”. My stay is too brief but we are already friends through tongue sticking out, tail wagging and paw shaking.
My heart’s Variations on a Theme, my ocean. Given an option I would choose the ocean if I were a gull with wings. There are two views of the same section of the Pacific ocean being superimposed in this picture. I took them at the end of 2015 on a clear sunny day in California. I have inverted the bottom half of the second picture. The inverted waves are symbols of what are moving inside a heart that cannot be stilled. The top half of the original first picture has the bird facing the opposite direction, flying away from the shore. But during my editing she has somehow turned around towards the shore and nearer to the audience. I have seen many gulls onshore in the city. I am told that they come in to scavange for food often near the dump-site or where passers-by have left unwanted stuff behind. Has the ocean become less habitable for gulls? Or perhaps the shore is a more convenient however brief respite? Sometimes I wonder whether we have unwittingly domesticated gulls because I just read a poem about tame gull.
What a sad thought it is. Given an option I would choose the ocean if I were a gull with wings.
A conversation (excerpted*) between the fishermen:
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.”
And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish…Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
Today I sense a Transformation by the renewal of the mind.
On this morning when sleep is freshly cast aside with reluctance
because of the lingering sweetness of an undisturbed rest,
I hear a light whisper outside my window
and I rise and greet the call which is even sweeter, from love.
A light switch turns gently on by nature from beyond
with a rush of refreshing cool breeze that only a dawn can bring.
How do I define you, my dawn?
I just look at the demarcation line you make between the light and the darkness.
I always associate you with light and love.
Together you bring fresh hope for life.
For too long I have heard oppressed stories of gloom and depressed forecast of doom.
Today I decide to turn way from false prophets and soothsayers.
I am resolute to start my day with you of light and love.
My mind is transformed by your evidences that present themselves
in grandeur and majesty from on high,
yes, from great beyond.
Power of God’s word heals.
Read this prayer aloud and let your heart agree with it: Heavenly Father, thank You because You’re my Father and I’m your child. I have been born again. I am born of You. You are my very own Father, and I am Your very own child. Hallelujah! It is written in Your Word that “my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” [Phil. 4:19]. I believe that in my heart. You supply my physical needs – that is, healing for my body – for it is written in Matthew 8:17, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Jesus took my infirmities. He bore my sicknesses. What He bore, I need not bear. Because He bore them. I’m free; I’m healed. I believe that in my heart. I say it with my mouth. It’s mine. I have it now. He meets all…
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Here is a conversation overheard.
Child: Mom, I can touch the clouds.
Mother: No you can’t.
Child: Yes I can.
Mother: No, they are too high up.
Child reaches her hands into the water, and says, “See, here they are, not high at all.”
Mother: No, you are not touching the real ones. These are mere reflections.
Child laughs and ignores the mother. She continues to play with the clouds’ reflection in the water dancing at the touch of her hands. She is happy.
If the reflections do not have a meaningful purpose why does God create reflections? A point to ponder on.
It IS Easy Being Green!
I took this picture by the roadside. When you look at the picture closer you will find that it is not perfect. It has a lot of lush green leaves but it also has leaves with holes. It is by the side of a little park which is regularly maintained by odd job workers who merely cut the grass or trim overgrown branches which intrude onto the road. Otherwise the plants just grow as they like. Rainfall is ample and there is no lack of tropical sunshine. The color of green is common and people do not particularly notice it. The park benches were painted green once and soon faded. Why are there holes in the leaves? Well, the insects and birds and other creatures live here and thrive too. Some mornings we can hear beautiful melodies sung by birds of unknown names. In the evening we hear all sorts of other little creatures each performing its utmost best to outdo each other perhaps. We cannot see them. The bushes are thick and the trees are tall and form a green canopy surrounding the park. The footsteps of the wind often sound like those of the rain. But when we hear the sound of creatures we know it has to be the wind and not otherwise. Green is an easy color. So are others. The Lord has made them all, beautiful and awesome! The wonder of all is that we can hear the colors before we see them.
I am often attracted to flowers by the roadside because they are Resilient. It is not easy to find a picture for this week’s photo challenge. Although I have stocks of other plants which are typically drought resistant in more arid zone, I decided to choose this one. I took this picture during a walk to the local town centre last October. It was hard to find flowers along the road and this tiny red one stood out because of its color. As I paused and looked at it I noticed how little soil it needed to thrive. It required little space and the leaves and stalks were small. I ask myself whether it served much purpose because it was alone and tiny. I would not have noticed it if I had not deliberately looking at the ground to spot a flower. Looking at it now, I suddenly realize that my question of its significance is irrelevant because it was the only flower around that morning! it was the star of the show at that time and space.
‘Flower Carpet Red Velvet’ is a vigorous, low growing, spreading shrub with green leaves and good disease resistance. It has deep-red flowers that bloom from late spring until the first frost. It prefers hot warm conditions and just blooms and blooms and blooms. This is a genuinely easy-care groundcover rose – consistently one of the most disease-resistant roses ever bred – ideal for both home gardeners and professional landscapers. Simple to grow and easy to maintain, without any spraying or even fancy pruning. And during the long flowering season, this rose will self-clean so that there’s no need for fancy pruning or deadheading. Can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. A perfect commercial landscaping plant for low-maintenance color. (Information from various online sources)
The Path of water is there. I read this with surprise one day. There is a path everywhere seen and unseen. One day a little boy told me he wanted to become a pilot when he grew up. Then he explained to me seriously, “Of course I need to learn the path of the sky first.” he knows there is a path in the sky.
I took this picture one morning as I looked out of the hotel window. I went there to attend a wedding, thousands of miles away from where I stay. The dawn was not yet ready for my simple cell phone camera. I took the picture anyway. And the photo turns up as I look closely seeing if I can find a path in the water. The water is still and calm and the houses near and far are sleeping. It is a beautiful day and the sky is clothed in the colors of love and romance.
Bible verses on “path”:
Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known.
You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.
The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
It is hard to put into words a person’s life. But I try to do so. I perceive myself as a fluid, unhurried, unclassified blogger. Why blog? I like to test the water of the thinking river. Thoughts. Words. Pictures. Just as they appear. Like this brightly painted building next to the Amtrak rail on one fine mountain climbing day. I just happened to look out of the window of the train and saw it. Yellow is not my usual color. But it was a striking moment that appealed to me at an appointed time in space. I captured it. When I look through my pictures at random to find something for this blog, it comes out and so I use it to represent a view.
I would describe myself as a mere keeper of some words which do matter to me a lot. I do not want to forget. I preserve good words. Preserving words is like preserving life. (I wrote this introduction two years ago)
Added on December 17, 2016.
In some ways, I am waiting with Anticipation.
Yes, an anticipation for a future. Come to think of it, our future can be a past soon, just as many futures of yesteryear. Here is an updated photo for this week’s challenge. May my readers find hope and strength in the small things in lives, just as these little endangered birds do.
It’s Not This Time of Year Without…
Today I decided to post a different (off season) food picture. I made my yearly visit to a sibling’s home over the sea recently. On the day before I left after the morning church service, I decided to treat the younger generation to a restaurant of their choice. And here (plus other stuff) is what they chose that day.
We also shopped for clothes as I wanted some cotton ones. Before paying I suddenly realized I wanted to give gifts for this season. So the young ones happily selected their own favorites as well.
It was truly a fun (though somewhat costly for my pocket) time for the family.
Unlike many Christians who celebrate this season with yearly gifts to each other in the family, I have stopped this ritual for many years to the point that I treated my habit as a norm. But this year was different. Perhaps I was in a good mood. Perhaps I decided to be generous. But the truth is I always give during hard times, when they encounter hardship. Why did I give gifts when they are not in hard times? Was it because of the sermon of the preacher? He was talking about “Don’t give up, keep praying!” Perhaps the Lord has granted my nieces’ prayers because they didn’t give up praying for those nice Sushi and dresses! Truly our God answers prayers. Don’t give up, keep praying.
Tiny flowers in yonder garden
beauty veiled at distance but not nigh
lo, transcendental strength to halt the turning time of tide
strive you would to thrive like your ancestors from eden
Notes: When I took these photos I did not really look much at the flowers. I just wanted to click away at whatever that broke the monotony of the impending bareness of the new season. The leaves were turning yellow and unsightly. The flowers tried to do a good job by blooming and cheering up those who walked pass and happened to pause and cast a casual look. When I look at them now I realize how wonderful they actually look in their whiteness even though they were really tiny and could easily be unnoticed by a traveler like me. I now wonder the number of lost opportunities I encountered with beauty and missed seeing them because they seemed too small and unimportant then.
White, an inherently positive color, is associated with purity, virginity, innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, brilliance, illumination, understanding, cleanliness, faith, beginnings, sterility, spirituality, possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection.
A precious H2O account.
The rain came on the last day of January. I was getting ready to pack and leave. It was just an ordinary rain and it was not exceptionally heavy or spectacular. The drops were large. And I was looking out of a glass window at a parched dry garden being newly nourished and replenished of its green. On good days the owner came home and plodded through the garden plowing, digging and planting. A guest who came for a month joined her. The two happily gardened and imagined the beauty when the garden would be in its full bloom in a new season. The arrival of rain was a good news to them. The two ladies saved time and efforts as the garden sprinkler system had broken down and water had to be carried manually.
I recalled one unpleasant experience of an arid land in a distant country. I arrived in March and was confronted with draught. The rain did not come for months. I was indeed in shock as I had then come from a land of plentiful rainfall. I was told that the drinking water came from the drain/well. I dared not think of the sources of the drain/well water. I asked my hostess when the rain would come. She said normally it would come in late May, or June, or July. I left finally in July/August. She rang me and told me the morning after I left that the rain had come in the night like a troop of army. I could imagine the dusty brown earth and the dry bare trees hungrily gulping down the heavenly water.
Water shortage remains a major issue in many parts of the world. I just watched an interview of a missionary and she said that a significant percentage of the world’s poor population are in danger of dying of thirst. The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation), as announced by the World Economic Forum in January 2015. 663 million people – 1 in 10 – lack access to safe water. In low and middle-income countries, 1/3 of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source. Globally, 1/3 of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation.
After returning to a station of life where there is plenty of safe water both in terms of rivers and rainfall, I feel I could breath easier as I walk through lush green trees and surround myself with green plants, acknowledging and giving thanks to the Creator for the rich blessings I have enjoyed often without even noticing how precious they are.
Indeed, water is precious to this earth. So are many things which we have taken for granted.
Some facts (Quoted from: 1990-2016 Water.org): The world doesn’t stand a chance without water. It spreads disease. Compromises safety. Makes education elusive and economic opportunity farther out of reach. The lack of access to safe water is deadly, dangerous, and a major obstacle to the people of developing nations becoming economically empowered. It is what is standing between billions of people and their health, safety, and the opportunity to unlock their true potential.
The edge that demarcates light from darkness fascinates me. The contrast is so clear in this picture taken in last September. The dark side is a wall of hedges. I was new to this place and was walking along the side of the road. The trees on the other side were turning into autumn’s yellow but the willow tree was quite adamant to stand out in its lush greenery. I cannot figure out now what the white spots on the ground are. But they too contribute to the contrast in colors between the black and the white. The path too, clearly marked by a white side and a dark part shadowed by the tree. There seems a marking of a boundary between two sets of realms, one in the bright sunshine and the other one in the dark. Again it makes me think of our lives. Some are in the bright sunny realm where the light is and some in the dark and shady realm. One thing is certain, all living things need sunshine to grow and thrive, even the trees and the grass. With the seasonal changes one may enter a bleak and bare grey and colorless period. But the good news is the sun and the light with all the glorious and rich colors always come back with another season. Being an optimist I believe that this too applies to life.
Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
Someone sent this photo to me. It is interesting as it is like someone performing a balancing act with one limb standing. It reminds me of life. Often we have not much choice in our circumstances. We can opt to stand (even if handicapped) or fall. In this case this rock opts to stand precariously along the edge of a hill/mountain slope. Amazing how nature portrays our daily lives. How long has it been standing? Pretty long, I am told. It is in a national park, a regular tourist visit place. What keeps it from tumbling over and roll down the slope or worse crashing down the chasm and crumbling to pieces? Does this rock fear of its plausible fate? There seems a hidden gigantic hand that holds it there, in place, over the ages, along an edge and always on edge. Again, I can’t help but marvel at the many things we are yet to find out about a realm which we cannot see with our physical eyes.
Bible verses that come to my mind:
Isaiah 44:8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’”
Isaiah 48:21 And they did not thirst When He led them through the deserts; He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them; He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.
This picture was taken in a tropical garden where there is ample sunshine and rainfall. It is a private park open to the public in a residential estate. The developers have maintained the park well and given the residents and nearby visitors a place where they daily recreate, exercise, and meet for community and social connection. It is quite a refreshing change from the Western scenario. The people are less mobile-phone-bound. A morning means bright sunshine and green trees. There are joggers and even families with small pre-school children. The seniors practice their daily folk dances or other forms of cultural exercises. There are cafes all around the park. There are private schools nearby too. The park is right in the centre of activities and living. I was told by someone that this little park has won an official landscaping prize and the property value rises consistently. The efforts of consistent up-keeping maintenance by the developers are being recognized and rewarded. A large park nearby has gone to ruins and become a den of thieves and drug addicts because of the negligence of maintenance by the developers after some years. The value of their properties drop drastically. The contrast between the two parks is so obvious. So are the fortunes of the two developers.
I am reminded this morning of this little verse which describes a prosperous and successful king* in the ancient times:
“And every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered.” 2 Chronicles 31:21
Have a good day!
*For those who are interested to know a bit about history, here are some notes from Wikipedia on King Hezekiah:
Hezekiah purified and repaired the Temple, purged its idols, and reformed the priesthood. In an effort to abolish what he considered idolatry from his kingdom, he destroyed the high places (or bamot) and “bronze serpent” (or “Nehushtan”), recorded as being made by Moses, which became objects of idolatrous worship. In place of this, he centralized the worship of God at the Jerusalem Temple. Hezekiah also resumed the Passover pilgrimage and the tradition of inviting the scattered tribes of Israel to take part in a Passover festival. He sent messengers to Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover. The messengers, however, were not only not listened to, but were even laughed at; only a few men of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun came to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the Passover was celebrated with great solemnity and such rejoicing as had not been in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon. Hezekiah is portrayed by the Hebrew Bible as a great and good king. Knowing that Jerusalem would eventually be subject to siege, Hezekiah had been preparing for war for some time by fortifying the walls of Jerusalem, building towers, and constructing a tunnel to bring fresh water to the city from a spring outside its walls. He made at least two major preparations that would help Jerusalem to resist conquest: the construction of the Siloam Tunnel, and construction of the Broad Wall.
It is interesting that King Hezekiah built two great constructions: the famous Jerusalem underground water tunnel and the famous Jerusalem Broad Wall. Points for pondering today. Key words: Wall and Tunnel.