Posts in Category: The Generous Eye

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.

The Generous Eye: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

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

There are two species of Clearwing Moth commonly seen in Maine…the Hummingbird Clearwing and the Snowberry Clearwing. This one is, I think, the Hummingbird Clearwing. Both of them might be mistaken for tiny hummingbirds as they hover around flowers feeding with their long proboscis, but they do have, as the name suggests, transparent wings. Unlike most other moths, they are mostly active in daylight. Still, they are small, fast moving, and not all that common. I can count the times I have seen them in Maine on the fingers of one hand. This is only the third one I have managed to photograph. The fact that it is on the Saco Heath and feeding on a nice stand of Sheep’s Laurel, one of our more beautiful flowing bushes here in Southern Maine, only adds to the blessing.

And I am triply blessed in that I got to see and photograph the Clearwing with a friend. Though I met and know him mostly through Facebook, my friend Stef lives an hour and a half west of me. He is the kind of friend who makes an effort…several times over the past few years he has driven up to spend the day exploring my favorite local spots for photoprowls. I generally take him out to eat since he does make the effort…drives, pays for the gas, etc. He also joined my group on the Point and Shoot Nature Photographer adventure in Costa Rica last December. He is politically active on the local scene, so over lunch and in the car between walks, we generally discus the state of the nation and the future of the world. Friends like that, who make the effort, are as rare as Hummingbird Clearwing Moths, and just as special.

We have never discussed religion (or more accurately, to my mind, faith) but there is a sense in which I am certain Stef and I share the same spirit. It is, of course, part of my creed…part of what I believe, based on my experience of life and God and everything…that we all share the same spirit…that we are all equally children of the loving creator, alive with the spirit that some of us identify with Jesus. It is part of seeing with the generous eye…a gift and a responsibility of faith. I have to make the most effort to remember that when discussing politics in today’s world, (some of those people, honestly!) but I don’t have to work hard at remembering it with Stef. It is a clear as a Clearwinged Moth in the Sheep Laurel on Saco Heath.

What can I be but deeply thankful? Happy Sunday! (And this goes for my few other friends who make the effort too…you know who you are!)

The Generous Eye: Fledgling Bluebirds. Happy Sunday!

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

It is baby Bluebird season in our back yard. We have had Bluebirds coming to our feeding station for the past 3 years now. I put out dried mealworms to keep them faithful. We also put up a bluebird nesting box, which they have ignored every year so far…but they do nest somewhere near…near enough so that when the young birds fledge we have them in our back yard daily. Before they learn to use the mealworm feeder by themselves (a Squirrelbuster Mini…which I had to resort to to keep from feeding all my expensive dried mealworms to the local squirrels) they come and sit in the branches we have mounted on the deck by the feeders, or on the rail of the deck itself, and wait for the adults to come and feed them. The fledglings do that vibrating thing with their wings and open their mouth’s wide, making that little cry they do, and the adults go to the feeder over and over and bring back a mealworm morsel to pop into the open mouth of the youngster. In a few days the fledglings will learn to use the feeder themselves and this part of the show will be over.

Jesus said, “Take a look at and learn from the birds. They don’t sow or reap, and they have no barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Surely you believe he carries you more carefully than he does the birds!”

He says it in the middle of a long passage where he teaches his disciples, and us, to just get on with whatever God gives us to do…trusting our life and our well being absolutely to him. Jesus says, in several different metaphors “why worry about food and stuff? God knows what you need. Just be busy about God’s work, and he will take care of you!”

The passage begins, however, with advice on dealing with the poor and vulnerable among us, and the “getting on with it” has to be seen in that context.

In the baby bluebirds on our deck we have the whole story. The fledglings are busy reminding the adults that they need to be fed…you can see it in the vibrating wings and open mouths. In the context of scripture they stand for the vulnerable among us. And the adults are busy feeding them (though, by now, they have a new clutch of eggs to tend as well). They stand for the disciples of Christ, the children of God, who are busy caring for those in need, and living lives of trust in God. Living lives, doing what needs to be done, but trusting God to take care of them.

Consider…look at and learn from…the birds. Consider the bluebirds. Happy Sunday!

The Generous Eye. Happy Father’s Day.

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

As it happens, yesterday we celebrated a new baby to be in the family at Erin and Paulo’s baby shower for Everleigh (they already know the baby will be a girl). And, today, of course, is Father’s Day. Certainly cause for reflection, and, yes, celebration (if I do say so myself). I have 7 wonderful daughters, enough to make any man proud. Each one is enough to make me proud. I have not always been the best of fathers, and that is not just false modesty…love is the hardest thing to do well, and I have often failed. Still, my heart tells me that Our Father, who dwells in us, has worked it all for good, and that, over all, love has won the day. That, honestly, is all any father can hope for…and it is my prayer for all father’s today, and that includes Paulo, as he sets out on this journey. It does not take a generous eye to see he has made a good start already. Happy Father’s Day to all of us today.

The Generous Eye: Wild Iris. Happy Sunday!

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

Here along the coast we will not have Wild Iris for another 2 weeks at least, but just a few miles further inland they are all over the place…in roadside ditches, and along wet swales in hayfields and on the edges of meadows near ponds. Maybe there are that many more this year as we have had a wet spring. I found a boggy pasture edged with pines that must have had 5000 Iris in bloom. Quite a show. Evolutionists will tell you that wildflowers got their form and color due to the evolutionary pressure, not to say competition, for reproduction and pollination. It is not so much that I don’t believe it could have happened that way, as that I find it much easier to believe that the loving creator just likes flowers…loves flowers. There are so many and so many different colors, different forms…from a simple round of petals to the ornate structures of the iris and orchids. Form may follow function, but, to my way of thinking, and my generous eye at its best, part of the function of flowers might just be…well…to be beautiful. If that is naive…or even “simple minded”…then I proudly claim naivety and simplicity as legitimate aspects of the generous eye. The generous eye sees the glory of the creator in everything. How can you not see it in the Wild Iris?

The Generous Eye: Surprise! Happy Sunday.

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

If you go through the world with your eyes open, generously open, you are bound to be surprised by the things you see. This little puff of moss, up against the base of a pine in the forest, surprised me. It looks like a animate creature, an animal…like, at the very least, a sea urchin of the forest floor, or maybe even a hedgehog. Surprising. Delightful. With open eyes, you will be constantly reminded that creation is alive (and often delightful) in all its details, and that the creator is at work every second of every day. Another way to look at it is that the creation is communication. Nature speaks to us. We hear it with our eyes and ears, with every sense, and what it says conveys essential meaning to the spirit of creation what lives within us. Nature sings, and it sings a surprising song. My best hope for you this Sunday, is that you find yourself surprised by creation. It might not be a little puff of moss at the base of a tree in the forest…but there will be something…just keep your eyes open for it.