Posts in Category: The Generous Eye

The Generous Eye. Bee-eaters. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

Bee-eaters are one of my favorite African Birds. They are elegant, brightly colored, and have interesting behaviors. They are custom designed to feed on bees and other flying insects…up to the larger dragonflies. Most are communal nesters, and most nest in holes in banks along streams and rivers. In the regions of Uganda we visited, there are 11 possible bee-eaters. 10 are resident, and there is one migrant that breeds in Europe. We saw 6 different species in 12 days. Though they are all obviously variations on a theme, they are all distinctive. Even the closest two in the panel here, the Cinnamon-chested (bottom left) and the Little (bottom right) are different enough to recognize in the field. (And they are, left to right and down: White-throated, Northern Carmine, Swallow-tailed, Red-throated, Cinnamon-chested, and Little.)

Now, I believe that this universe we live in, and this earth we live on, and all its creatures, are works of creative love…works of a creative imagination working good. So when I look at the Bee-eaters of Uganda, I see and can celebrate that love. Sometimes I like to think that what I believe is a choice, and I sometimes present it that way to others since it can make it easier to understand, or at least to accept…but if I am honest, there is no choice involved. I am compelled, in the face of the evidence before me, to believe that creative love moves in, lives in, everything around me. What is already in me, the light within, answered what I see with a resounding and generous yes! The Bee-eaters just make it easier for me to believe. May your eye be generous and you whole being full of light today! Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye: Kinship. Happy Sunday!

If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light! Jesus

This is the palm of a Chimpanzee’s hand, photographed in Kibale National Park in Uganda, on a Chimpanzee Trek in the forests of the park. We had the privilege of watching 3 Chimps in the wild for well over a half hour. And, though I have struggled over putting what I felt into words, in the end, the photo says it all. May your eye be generous, and your whole being full of light! Happy Sunday.

The Generous Eye: Giraffes in the sunset. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being if full of light!” Jesus

Towards the end our first day at Murchinson Falls National Park in Uganda, while we were on our way back to the lodge after a cruise on the Nile to the base of Murchinson Falls, we encountered a journey of Giraffes just before sunset on the crest of a hill in that golden light. Who could resist? Giraffes, to my eye (my generous eye) have a strange beauty at the worst of times, and bathed in glory, as they were at that moment, they are certainly creatures that demand, and reward, our attention. What eye, but the most generous and loving eye of the Creator, could have seen in imagination, and shaped in the flesh, the Giraffe? It is such an unlikely critter…and yet, once seen, so perfectly essential and necessary and right, that you can no longer imagine the world without it. That is the way with the creations of our loving God…each perfect, each undeniable once seen.

It can only be my fervent prayer, reinforced by faith, that I am such a creation…and can live in the world with the same grace as the Giraffe…sunrise to sunset. And that, of course, is my prayer for you as well.

The Generous Eye: Otherworldly. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

On our way to the airport, between the Lamar Buffalo Ranch and Gardiner, we stopped at Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs. We only had an hour to spare so I parked at the Upper Terraces, my favorite spot, and we hiked the boardwalks out over the the thermal springs. It is, of course, beautiful, but also very strange…very alien…very otherworldly. Like someplace we can’t quite imagine, and yet, undeniably present. There are signs all over saying not to touch the scalding water and not to step out onto that enticing surface, for as beautiful and fascinating as it is, it is not a place where humans can survive.

We are surrounded, of course, by an otherworld where we can survive…I am talking about the world of the spirit, as seen through generous eyes. A world of love and creation that can be just as strangely beautiful and alien as the terraces of the Hot Springs…and yet still a place where we can more than survive. And we don’t have to travel to Yellowstone to see it. It is never more than a decision away. Open eyes are all that are required. The other world of the spirit is as otherworldly, but completely safe. It is our true home, always waiting for us, a heartbeat away. We choose to see it or not. We choose to live it or not.

A strange landscape like that of Mammoth Hot Springs can jar us into the kind of open eyes we need to live in the otherworld of the spirit. And that is a good thing. Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye. Clouds. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

I don’t know about you, but I have never enjoyed a clear blue sky. I far prefer my skies to have some “drama” in the form of clouds. Of course, I don’t enjoy the pouring rain either, unless I am safe inside, but a few clouds, strategically placed, or even a really interesting layer of cloud with some sun showing through, or at the extreme, a storm sky coming on fast…that is my ideal sky. I never tire of the interplay of light and shadow that is the weather. And I have never convinced myself that a clear blue sky day is weather at all. I think of it, whether summer or winter, whether the earth is green under or white, pretty much as the absence of weather.

Which I think, overall, is a pretty good attitude to have. Things being what they are, in this world (at least where I live) it seems we have have more cloudy days than blue skies…and at least as many outright stormy days as completely clear. And that is just talking about the external weather. If we turn the conversation toward the spiritual, then, even more so (again, at least from where I live) you have to expect some clouds and even maybe a storm in any given five-day-outlook. It is just the way the world is. It is just the way we are in the world.

The trick is in knowing that God is in the clouds as much as in the sun…that God is in the storms as much as in the sunny days. More! At least that is the way I see it. In the clouds and storms we see God at work…whether we are talking about the external or the interior weather. In the clouds and storms God is continuously remaking and renewing creation. The clouds and storms are God’s blessing made real…God’s work in us and in the world made visible in ways we can not miss. Or at least that is what I am thinking right now. I will have to try to remember that the next time I get caught out in a downpour, or blown away by wind too strong, or swept up in a tornado that seems to never end. Should any such weather come my way…I will have to try to remember that I really do like clouds.

The Generous Eye: Seeding the wind. Happy Sunday.

“if your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

I don’t know what roadside flower makes this seed head. I thought maybe Salsify, but checking Google I am still not sure. Whatever it is, it is certainly a furry little thing…not nearly as delicate as a dandelion…more animal looking than anything grown from a plant has any right to be. Still, I assume that, like the dandelion, each of those filaments are designed to eventually catch the wind and sail off in the remote chance that they will fall on hospitable ground and continue the cycle of life.

We humans like to consider ourselves way more intentional than that. We would never trust to what appears to us to be random chance for the future of our families or our species. We do not sow the wind, because the wind is unpredictable and ultimately completely out of our control.

And yet, I have a feeling that, at least were love comes into it, we would be better off seeding the wind. If we could produce as rich a crop of love as this plant does if seed filaments, and sow them down the wind, without regard for where they might land and grow…would’t the world be a better place for it? And isn’t that what we are supposed to do…to be prolific, to be generous, in our love? The wind, Jesus said, comes and goes and we do not know where it comes from or where it is going…and so it is with the spirit. I don’t know about you, but I want to seed the wind today, every day, with love, and trust that the spirit knows where it is coming from and where it is going. I want to do that. I might not be able to do it, but God can, and God can do it in me. Seed the wind, Spirit of the Living God. Seed the wind in me. Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye: wiñaywayna: always young. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

I spent the better part of 6 days walking down the Manu Road in Peru. To get to the Manu Road you drive across the high passes of the western slope of the Andes, between Cusco and Paucartambo, mostly above 11,000 feet. The Manu Road itself begins in the Puma, among dry grasslands and stunted trees, and then winds down through the Elfin Forest into Cloud Forest and and then on down into the Foothills and the beginnings of Rainforest. There is a lot to see. So many birds. So many butterflies. So many flowers. I was especially taken by the orchids. I will not be able, I am sure, to identify half of what I photographed, but I found some information on this one…common along the road in both Elfin and Cloud Forest. It is epidendum, a terrestrial orchid and it apparently blooms all year long, which is way it is called, locally, wiñaywayna, or “always young”.

I am pretty sure no one who has survived their youth would, when all is said and done, wish to be “always young” but amid the aches and pains and bother of getting old, it is easy to develop at least some nostalgia for the physical vigor of youth. I am certain that in many ways I would have enjoyed the trek down the Manu road more 50, or even 40, years ago when I was in better shape physically. At 71, the daily hike along the road took a tole on my feet, legs, knees and lower back, and I would not have made it far at all if we had had to walk UP the road…not without frequent rest stops to catch my breath. The best investment I made for the trip was a pair of orthopedic insoles for my new boots. Still, there is a part of me that has remained “always young” and is, if anything, younger now than 40 years ago…and that is my capacity for wonder…for being awed and delighted with the things God puts in front of me in this world. I mean, look at that orchid! I am certain my eye is more generous today than it has ever been, and in that way I am not “always young” but growing younger every day. Age has its compensations…at least it does if you practice a generous eye.

I revel in the beauty of the wiñaywayna, the always young orchid on the roadside in the Elfin Forest of the Andes of Peru. God is good. God’s goodness is always young! Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye: Love Locks, Machu Picchu, Peru. Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

This is a pedestrian bridge over the small stream that bisects Machu Picchu Pueblo at the foot of Machu Picchu mountain in Peru. Machu Picchu is a major tourist destination, so I suspect these Love Locks come from all over the world. Each had the name of the couple inscribed in magic marker. Some were still legible despite having survived a few rainy seasons in the high Andes. I don’t know where the tradition of Love Locks started, but I have seen it several times now in my travels in romantic locations through Central and South America (and in Santa Fe, New Mexico), so it must be well established. It is an interesting concept…that we can “lock up” our love and make it eternal. There is song by Mercy Me…really just a song fragment…a single verse with music…in which the singer lists off the things he could do for his love. Bart Millard is a master with words and images and deserves quoting here.

I can be there for you when it can’t get much harder
I can cover your head when life starts to rain
I can hold on tight when you feel like you’re falling
I can bread crumb the path when you’ve lost your way
I can make you laugh when the whole world is crying
I can build you up when you’re broken in shame
But if all that we do is absent of Jesus, then this so called love is completely in vain…

When I listen to those words I am always moved, but at the end I always want to say, “No Bart, you have it wrong. It is impossible that any of us could do any of that, absent of Jesus. All love, true love, can only be accomplished by the divine in us, by Jesus living and loving through us. We, in the absence of Jesus, are incapable of any meaningful expression of love.”

So, the fact that Bart, or anyone, could “be there for another when life can’t get much harder” is evidence of God’s love for us, expressed from one Child of God to another. It is evidence of the presence of Jesus.

Love Locks…eternal love for one human being for another. It is a romantic idea. But more, it is a reflection of the need we feel, in our spirits, for eternal love…the love of God…the true love that is possible between two Children of God. Putting a lock on a fence or bridge does not make it so…but knowing yourself in Jesus, living with another in the spirit of the generous eye, can, and does.

I missed my wife Carol’s birthday traveling to Machu Picchu. I took this photo the day before. So this is by way of a birthday present for her. My own Love Lock hanging on a bridge in some romantic destination, just for her. One Child of God’s declaration of love for another. Happy Birthday Carol.

And may all your loves be evidence of God’s love, the presence of Jesus, today. Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye: Going deep… Happy Sunday!

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

I walked out the door the day before yesterday, on my way to the bank to get funds for my trip to Peru (which starts tomorrow) and was arrested by a Canada Tiger Swallowtail in our yellow Day Lilies right in front of me. I had to go back inside for my camera, and by the time I got back in position the butterfly was in flight on its way to another stand of lilies under the Cherry tree. These are more the common orange lily that we call, mistakenly, Tiger Lily here in Southern Maine. They are in full bloom in all the yards less than half a mile inland from us, but just coming into bloom in our well shaded and tide cooled yard. I got the best shots I could of the butterfly, but it was buried deep in the flower, and only sat there a moment, before rising and sailing out over the tall unblossomed lilies along our drive and on across the road into the forest.

Looking with a generous eye this morning, I have to admire the way the Swallowtail dove right into that flower…going deep…drawn by the promise of whatever nectar had collected in the cup of the petals. It was certainly at its most vulnerable, head down, busy, going after what it wanted, or what it needed in the moment. And I take that, with the light within me, as a metaphor this morning for our quest for the spirit. We are born, I believe, with the inner certainty, that there is more to life than nectar in a cup, sweet as it might be…that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Oh yes, you can explain that feeling away…make it into a weakness instead of a strength…but to me it has always been evidence of our calling as the Children of God, meant to live out of the spirit of Creative Love that animates the universe. The light within. I remember the feeling of vulnerability when I had to admit that what I wanted, what I needed, might be found deep within the experience, the reality, of Jesus. Sometimes you just have to dive right in…go deep…and let consequences take care of themselves…like the Tiger Swallowtail on the Tiger Lily. With a generous eye, you just might find a satisfaction that will fill you with light, and send you sailing on over unopened flowers into the future. Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye: The best stuff just happens! Happy Sunday.

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

If you go about with your eyes wide open, taking a generous look at nature in the world around you, you can not help but be surprised by the stuff that happens. 🙂 Even more, if you photograph nature, you can not help but be surprised by the amount of times you manage to capture the stuff that happens. You can not plan for this kind of stuff. It just happens, and you have to just happen to be there with your camera, and just happen to have your camera ready to take a photo…or, more likely, you take a bunch of photos and only discover the really good stuff that happened when you get back home and are processing them on the computer or tablet. That is what happened here. I was photographing Rose Pagonias and Grass Pink Orchids in the remnant bog at Laudholm Farms one day last week, and came back with hundreds of images. While processing this one, I saw the tiny cricket/grasshopper-like insect on the leaf next to the blossom. Though I have tried my best to identify the bug, I have had no success. Most crickets are not out in plain sight during daylight hours, and most grasshoppers have definite wings.

I am not sure what the bug is, but the fact that it is there in my photo of a Rose Pogonia makes for a special image. The best stuff just happens, and happens often enough so any thinking human being is likely to wonder…to feel a touch of awe (which is concentrated wonder), not to mention a good deal of gratitude. God is good. God is good everyday and all the time, but every once in a while the best stuff happens, and you are reminded just how good God is. May something good just happen to you today…and that is very likely if you take a generous view of the world.