Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Animals Know





Maybe it was my dad telling me when I was a child that the first thing he did every morning was look out the window. Maybe it was spending so much time outdoors as a child, and camping a lot as an adult. Maybe it was reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, reading about how a Native American man clued Pa in to the coming severe winter, based on signs he could see from the animals. Maybe it was all of that, but I've learned both to love nature and also to realize that animals often know when a storm is coming. We may know, with all our science, but so do they, it seems.

I remember some years ago, a couple days before a hurricane was predicted to hit the East Coast, we happened to take a short walk in a state park Something seemed "off", but I couldn't figure out what it was. That night, at the hotel, it dawned on me what it was. We had seen no small animals in the woods, no salamanders, no rabbits. We had heard no unseen woodland creatures rustling the leaves, no birds tweeting or calling. When we arrived home, there were no squirrels in sight, as there usually were. It seems they had all taken shelter ahead of the hurricane. 

This morning, with a snowstorm predicted, and schools and government offices closed, I got up to nothing happening. I wondered if the weather forecasters had gotten it wrong. 

I looked out the window to see a lone large animal in a neighbor's yard. I think it was a buck. Since moving here, I have often seen a deer family, doe and fawns, acting at home, nibbling, and then gracefully running off. But, this morning, it was a lone buck, walking, perhaps cautiously. It seemed almost as if he was taking something in or figuring something out. 

A little later, I stepped outside to take a look around and heard a cacophony of birds. A whole flock was up in a tree, some joining them, some taking off, and soon they all took off in the same direction. 

And then the snow began in earnest. I don't know where the birds were going, but I think they knew what was coming. 



Saturday, January 26, 2019

Love is the Only Answer





I woke this morning with a thought, and this was the thought, "Love is the only answer." It just popped into my head. 

Now, what I think of when I think of "love" is respect, caring, compassion, appreciation, and understanding. I might be able to think of other words, but that's a start.

Love - for those who are Christians – says: these people were redeemed by the same Jesus who died to redeem me. Love - for those who believe in God – says: these people, whoever they are, wherever they are, were created by the very same loving God who created me. Love - for those who don't believe in God – says: I will do to others what I would want them to do to me, and not do to others what I would not want them to do to me.

Love does not look at race, nationality, religion, or other beliefs or conditions, before being respectful of any one of the very greatest creation of all, the human being. Love seeks for all to be treated with the same respect.

Love does not look at whether someone has committed a crime to decide if they will respect that person as God's creation.

Love does not look at what they believe to be sin, and judge what is in someone else's heart. But love does call out injustice in order to right wrongs, out of compassion and respect for those being wronged. Love does not mean we will like everyone or that we won't get angry when someone commits an injustice, but love wishes change, not harm.

Love will be glad that someone feeds the hungry; and that someone visits the imprisoned; and that someone helps the homeless; and that someone visits those who are sick. Love helps whenever the opportunity and the means present, but without the opportunity or means, it still seeks to do no harm and to speak or hope no harm.

Love requires courage and strength. Love requires effort and practice. We all fall short at times.

But I believe, when all else is said and done, that love is the only answer.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

People

Please don't anyone tell me how bad people are, the people in our country or in the rest of our world. Right now, as we speak, many people in this country are working without pay to serve you and me and our loved ones. It just struck me how heroic that is. People in airline security and air traffic control are making sure people who fly are as safe as possible. People in the Coast Guard are doing water rescues. All while getting no pay and wondering when they will. All while trying to keep themselves and their own families afloat.

Don't anyone tell me how bad or evil our people are, either the people in our country or other people in our world. Sure there's sin. There has always been sin. There will always be sin. If there had not been sin, Jesus would not have come to this world. Jesus spent time with sinners, as the Pharisees pointed out disparagingly; but Jesus pointed out to them that they were sinners too. We all are. It's not people "out there" in "society", or "in other countries", that sin! It's every one of us, in some way or another. But that's not reason for despair, either for our nation, our world, or ourselves; because God is merciful.

But we do have some very real fears at times. Fears of people going homeless or hungry. Fears of sick people not getting the help they need. This is why we need compassion, compassion to look at people with eyes of faith and hope and especially love. Compassion to help them when we can and at least do them no harm. Compassion to have attitudes of love toward them.

"So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

On These Two Commandments

I've been reading tidbits, just a few sentences a day, of the New Testament, sequentially, at home in quiet, to just ponder. Even though I know these texts, sometimes I'm just in awe...or something jumps out of at me differently than it previously had.

Here's an example. Yes, I'm very aware of - and sometimes refer to - the two Great Commandments; but the sentence following them really struck me this morning.

" 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?' And he said to them, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.' "
Matthew 22:36-40.

"On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." I've read and heard that many times, but how much have I really thought about it? To love God and to love our neighbor....and, that nothing else supersedes that....nothing in law, nothing in prophecies. That's it, right there.

To love God and to love our neighbor. And in another place, someone asks Jesus who is our neighbor. And he told him, in the story of the Good Samaritan, who our neighbor is. That person doesn't have to think as we do. He can be different from us in some way. And yet he is our neighbor. We care for him.

No law or prophet is more important than to love God and our neighbor. No prophet, ordained by God or perceived by man, is more important than love for God and compassion for our neighbor.