Monday, February 16, 2015

When Hope Springs Eternal

In my last post at 'The Turn-Up Patch', I ended with several photos of a beautiful sunset.  I begin today's post with several photos of a beautiful sunrise  that I was delighted to photograph this past week.  I happened to wake up early enough to notice the red and orange hued sky visible from the window.  Since colors can change dramatically fast, I grabbed my camera and headed outdoors to catch the scene.  It is times as these, I am grateful for the surrounding beauty that country life affords unencumbered by tall buildings and power lines.  

Such scenery can inspire and bring one to reflect on the magnificence of an Almighty God.  We live in a world full of color and splendor in all of its display in creation and yet, it is besieged in distress due to perverted beliefs and infesting corruption.  The world becomes a visible paradox - a contradiction of beauty in the ugliness of overt human suffering.  The axis of good and evil, light and dark rotate in a spiritual dimension manifesting opposite natures.  The media reports anguishing news of the plight of our fellow humanity in the witness of atrocities of what one human being can do to another in the name of their twisted justification.  Pockets of nobility, courage, empathy and compassion are scattered across the globe to counter cruelty but are reported comparatively little to the amount of inhumane news that we hear and read about.

Whether we falter in our daily living or that of present world disorder, where do we catch the glimmer of hope in this day and age of negativity and evil.   Just as the sunrise gives the first rays of light dispelling the darkness of night, so does hope shed a ray of light in the darkness of despair.  The words 'Hope Springs Eternal' come to mind and upon research, found that it is the title of  'An Essay on Man', written by Alexander Pope.....
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Hope is energy driven -  a springboard that leaps from faith to that which is hoped for - the substance of the unseen.  Hope is color instead of the gray in black and white.  Helen Keller  stated that 'hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible'.  As the mythical Phoenix rises from the ashes, renewed and reborn, so does hope give us courage to propel us on to live a new day.  Hope, however, is not mythical It is a force centered on God and gives us a glimpse of the eternal.  
Hope is essential even though there could be an ultimate outcome that things did not turn out as desired. What then?  Hope rescues us to meet another day - it transcends us over an unfulfilled outcome into the Divine presence of God where peace and comfort is found.  Hope is never lost in the eternal.

Lewis Smedes wrote, “Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise.”

Until next time on Monday, March 2 at The Turn-Up Patch.....

Monday, February 2, 2015

Of Swans and Sunsets

The month of January came with its surprises - beauty in swans, sunsets and warm weather!  It was a double surprise to have looked out across the field several weeks ago and see some huge white birds enjoying the day.  Upon closer inspection and to my delight, discovered they were swans.  I call it a surprise as in all the years of living in Eastern Oregon and particularly in the John Day Valley, I have not seen a swan in the area let alone on our ranch property.  I have always loved swans, they represent to me such beauty, grace and symbolism of love.  Of course, this led me to do a post about these beautiful birds.   The photos below were taken from a distance with the camera zoom maxed out.  I didn't want to move in too close and frighten them away.  Consequently, some photos may not be the sharpest but I was thrilled to have such a camera opportunity and to share some pictures with you.

The swans flew in with a flock of Canadian Geese and appear to come and go as they please.  They show up for several days and are absent for a day or two and surprise you again by returning.  There were four swans originally, two adults and two 'adolescents'.  When the birds last appeared, they brought friends and there were seven swans at last sighting.

After checking my photos and investigating what kind of swan these could be, they appear to be a 'Trumpeter Swan'.  I came to this determination because of the slope of its black bill and the slight red color that is on the lower mouth part of the bill (mandible) on the adult swans.  The plumage of adult trumpeter swans is completely white, though their heads and necks are often stained a rusty color from contact with iron compound minerals in the soils during feeding.   I noticed that the sound of this swan was different from the geese they were with.  The Trumpeter has a deep, loud trumpet-like call and has been compared to the sound of a French horn.  Their bills, legs and feet are black and can weigh between 21 - 30 pounds.  The Trumpeter Swan is the largest native waterfowl in North America.

Other facts about swans in general....    
-  They mate for life.  A male swan is called a cob and female is a pen.
-  A young swan in the first year of life is referred to a 'cygnet or juvenile'.
-  An adult swan has a wingspan of more than 7 feet and a height of about 4 feet.
-  They can fly as fast as 50 - 60 miles per hour and are known as the largest flying bird.
-  Life expectancy in a protected environment is 30 years.
-  They are not known to attack humans without cause, and actually can remember humans that have been kind to them.
-  The word swan is one of the oldest names in the English language, coming from the Anglo-Saxons.
-  There are nine varieties of swans.

Some symbolic meanings of swans:
-  Peace and tranquility
-  Native American peoples - connected to one of the most sacred mysteries of the Lakota/Dakota religion, in which the swan acts as a messenger of faith.
-  In England - symbol of loyalty and strength.
-  In ancient Greece - symbol of beauty and grace.
-  Because it has domain over water as well as air, the swan is considered to be the Bird of Light and is associated with the dawning of the Sun.
-  Swans also symbolize sensitivity and love.
-  A reminder of blessings in relationships. 
There are many symbols to be found but the ones listed are a few of the most note worthy.  We can say with assurance, that swans have inspired art, music, literature and dance.

In closing, I am posting the above photos of a beautiful January sunset in a heaven of clouds and color above Mt. Vernon.  God's blessings came in varied forms and surprises that just happened to 'turn up' at The Turn-Up Patch.

Now that we are in the month of February, I look forward to unexpected blessings that only our Creator can bring to uplift, affirm and a reminder that He is the "I AM".

Until Monday, February 16..........