Monday, March 31, 2014

Time & Eternity

In my last post (March 16), I referred to an Irish proverb which states:  "Time is a great story teller".  How true this is.  Time marks the seasons of our lives as well as God's creativity in nature.  Time is a treasure which encapsulates our past, our present and our future.  Time does not determine but rather is the conduit through which our lives flow.  Time is a witness...
- to yesterday's history 
- to the current moments of our today 
- to the movement into tomorrow's future

In the course of time, the season of spring is evident in the beautiful blossoms exploding on barren trees in nature's rhythm of life.  I recently traveled into the western region of Oregon as trees and foliage are being resurrected from winter's dormancy into a living panorama of color and beauty.

Time has a way of revealing the birth and death that lies within the cycles of season.  And so it is with our lives.  We were created to be eternal, where no time exists in the Divine and yet our humanity is subject to time and to its limits.

As we are in the spiritual season of Lent, time honors  a Savior born nearly 2000 years ago and whose human life was cut short at the age of 33 and went on to experience the power of resurrection.   In the Christian community, the Lenten season can mean many things to many people of denominational faith.  Some use the passage of Lent as reconciling to God, some use it as a time of fasting and prayer, some use it as a time of reflection in consideration of the Cross of Christ.  Jesus said himself... "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 11:25). 

As these photos show the glory of blossoms... a tree "birthing anew" in expression of life, so it is with us as we change through seasons, passing through the conduit of time, carrying within us God's own eternal life.  As we give attention and consider the beauty of the blossoms of a tree, it seems reasonable to give attention and consider the glory of the Lord within our hearts.  Our spiritual eyes are lifted to something beyond our humanity into the living presence of God and we experience life in His wholeness. 

This time of Lent in my personal conviction, is not about penance but rather gratitude to One who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..... 
"Allegory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ"

Artist - Patrick Devonas

Join me at the Turn-Up Patch on Monday, April 14.  "See" you then!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ireland and St. Patrick

I was privileged to have visited Ireland a few years ago.  It's a country that I have always wanted to see... could my maiden name of O'Leary have anything to do with that??  I will be sharing with you some of the sights of Ireland along with historical reference in this ancient land.

Today, being St. Patrick's Day, I'd like to devote this post to this honorable saint who has remained a popular and well-known figure throughout the centuries in many countries.  The photo below is a cathedral built in his name in Dublin.  It is here that St. Patrick was said to have baptized converts to Christianity in the 5th century.  A church as been built on this site ever since.  The present one was constructed in 1225 but has been enlarged and restored many times.   St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was previously Roman Catholic, is now the Anglican Church of Ireland, following the English Reformation in 1537.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Sanctuary inside St. Patrick's Cathedral
Legends abound about Patrick; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him:  He was humble and courageous.  The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God's instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.
Old Statue of St. Patrick in Cathedral
Duiske Abbey statue of St. Patrick
- Varied dates are given for his birth and date, but it is believed that he was born around 387AD and died in 461AD.
- Enslaved as a young teen by pagans and Druids, he turned to God in captivity.  Escaping at age 20, he returned to his family and began studying for the priesthood.
- He preached throughout Ireland converting many for 40 years.
-  St. Patrick is often shown with a shamrock.  The shamrock is a three leafed clover and is a world-renowned symbol of Ireland.  The Shamrock was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
- In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
- One of the few certainly authentic writings is his "Confessio", above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.

 The Lorica or St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer
Here is a little background on the word Lorica  which means breastplate... (1) In medieval times, it was a protective shield, a piece of armor that was placed over the chest while in battle for protection.  (2) A vestment worn in ancient times by a Jewish high priest and set with 12 gems bearing the names of the tribes of Israel.

According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote a prayer in 433 AD for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from Paganism to Christianity.  This prayer has become known as The Lorica, or St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer.  This prayer invokes God's protection on a journey, either literal or the metaphorical "journey of life".  The following is just a part of this beautiful prayer....
"Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation."

St. Patrick's day is celebrated throughout the world each year on March 17th and it is tradition that people wear a shamrock on their clothing and dress in green to honor St. Patrick and celebrate being Irish.
Country scene overlooking city of Dublin, Ireland
 A view of the Connemara region in western Ireland
The above photos are just a few of this picturesque country, unique in history and turbulent in times, which has had heroes and villains throughout the centuries.  The Irish spirit is indomitable, capturing the world through their music, their humor and their faith.... yes! Even to St. Patrick who is recognized and renown beyond the borders of Ireland. 

From time to time, I will be sharing about places that I visited while traveling in Ireland along with history and photos.  Scotland is another country that I was able to see... beautiful, ancient and raw in the human turmoil of personal drama.  Each country has examples of triumphs and tragedies that are shown in narrative from generation to generation.  I will take you there on virtual trips through my blog in future posts.

Let's meet again at the Turn-Up Patch on Monday, March 31.  Until then, here is a great and very short Irish proverb with a lot of truth in it....  "Time is a great story teller."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wintry Potpourri

I decided to do March 3rd's post with photos in continuance of our winter scenes experienced in January and February in Grant County.  Now that March is upon us, green grass is beginning to shoot up through the dormant earth heralding the advent of spring.  I notice the miracle of life with buds beginning to form on trees, the first indication of spring and summer foliage.  This country is known to have the odd snowstorm which comes in March or April, but it doesn't last since winter is in its "last hurrah".
January Sunrise (click on photos for enlargement)
I'm usually a night owl rather than an early bird, but I'm glad I was up early enough to catch this gorgeous sunrise which bathed the hills in all its colored glory.  A sharp contrast from the gray days that winter can bring.  

The classic strawberry mountain range is always a photographer's dream, no matter the season.  The shots below are just a few of many taken on a winter's drive along Highway 26 above Prairie City in February.

Mountain Road on Highway 26

Strawberry Mountain Range near Prairie City
We also have our resident geese, which stay throughout the winter season.  They don't seem to mind the snow and manage to eat the crumbs of hay left behind after pasture feeding.  You can spot them in various fields throughout the John Day Valley surviving the winter weather.  You can read extensively about geese in a December 9, 2013 post that I did, entitled "Life Lessons From Geese" that includes a PhotoShow.    
Link is:

Resident Geese
The Eagle Pair
Several eagles flew into our area and for a short time, liked to perch in the same tree surveying the activity around them.  Perhaps they had an "eye" for dinner, looking for a solitary rabbit or a carcass to eat off of.  Perhaps they were just resting until they took flight for a meal elsewhere.  These were the same two that I photographed and had in my recent post, "The Eagle Factor" written on January 20th.

Also in January, we were treated to a hoar frost nature display.  One of the simplest explanations for hoar frost is frozen dew that forms a white coating on a surface.  Trees, brush, weeds, wire fences and fence posts are suddenly transformed from the mundane to magical as they are painted in nature's array of ice crystals.  The frosty wonderland slowly disappeared as the day warmed.  But for a while, it was great to view the sights that took on new life in this splendid coat of white crystal.

Pasture tree painted with hoar frost
Cobweb Magic in white crystal
Wire, weed & fence posts
In my last post, I introduced you to Charlie.  In today's post, I'd like to introduce you to Ring and Bud.  They are two new members of our family acquired this winter.  They are Border collie dogs and brothers from the same litter.  At the time this photo was taken, they were barely two months old.  They are quickly growing and doing stuff that puppies like to do, such as trashing the back yard with all kinds of things they find to chew on.  Now, don't they look sweetly full of mischief??  (Oh yes, they do get along with Charlie!... the dog-cat has taught them some manners.)

Ring and Bud
Until we meet again at the Turn-Up Patch, here is a wonderful quote by St. Francis de Sales ~
... God attracts our minds to himself by his supreme beauty and incomprehensible goodness
... So God, Father of all light, supremely good and beautiful, by his beauty draws our intellect to
    contemplate him,        
... and by his goodness he draws our will to love him."

 See you on Monday, March 17th, which by the way, is St. Patrick's Day.