Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Innisfree Garden

I can't believe I've lived here for twenty-six years and haven't been to Innisfree Garden until today. It certainly won't be that long before I go again to enjoy the peaceful grounds, the lily pad bordered lake, the abindant flowers, and the wonderful rock formations. I strolled around the lake with Jonathan, then we each went to whatever spot had caught our eye to spend time thinking, praying, reading, and just being.

I first sat at a picnic table to eat my lunch, then sketched the view looking down the lake.
After that I meandered along the lake until I came to a shady hill with a cool breeze, right by the 60 foot fountain. There were seats on the hilltop, overlooking the lake, where I sat and pondered with pen in hand, thinking about how to add sabbath rest to my week on a regular basis. I think I've decided on Wednesdays. I'll focus on spiritually and physically refreshing activities on those days, and keep internet browsing, email, and phone time to a minimum, in order to help ground myself in the here and now. That will also give me the quiet time for contemplation, prayer, and open-ended musing that I need in order to stay grounded in who God has made me to be.

After writing for a while, I wandered a bit more, until I found myself enveloped in the fragrance of sun-warmed pines on a dry hillside-- the perfect place to sit and sketch.

Finally, rested and refreshed in body and soul, I made my way slowly around the lake until I met up with Jonathan. We then explored, as we compared notes about our day. I'm looking forward to going back very soon.
Bullfrog on lily pad

Partially done sketch from above Corncrib Crossing
Swift Long-winged Skimmer Dragonfly on Lotus bud
One of many benches in strategic nooks

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Musings on Freedom

Loud noise and parties aren't my thing, so I stayed home when Steve went to a party today, and I've had a delightfully quiet, meditative day.

I've done laundry and hung it on the line. It came in smelling so fresh and clean.

I picked black raspberries from the canes in our yard and ended up with purple finger stickiness.

I enjoyed the flowers. They make me smile every time I look at them. :)
Marigold, red romaine, calendula, green romaine, lemon thyme

variegated Cuban oregano, curry plant, red romaine, marigold, flat parsley

marigold, red romaine, mosqito releling herb?, red romaine, curled basil

lantana, rosemary, red romaine, Cuban oregano

curled parsley, red romaine, celendula, basil, lime thyme

marigold, tomato, red romaine    lime geranium

Bee balm

I also painted a little, did some writing, and read a bit in the book I started a few days ago, all the while musing on the freedoms that have been won for us by those who fought and died many years ago.

Ironically, the book I happen to be reading is Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup-- a true story of freedom lost, when Solomon, a free black man in New York, was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana. I haven't finished the book, but I know that twelve years later he somehow regained his freedom.

Reading this is making me mull on how precious freedom is, and how deeply disheartening it is to be in bondage. I don't know whether slavery was worse for Solomon, who had known freedom and so was fully aware of how unfree he was, or for those who had lived in slavery all their lives and, although well-aware of their enslavement, didn't have any experiential knowledge of freedom. Both are horrifying to read about and imagine.

That train of thought then leads me to muse on the ways I have become free in my own life-- from destructive thoughts and habits, from brokenness, from fears, from the tyranny of sin-- and also to wonder in what ways I might still be living in bondage to some of those things without even know what I am missing.

In Galatians 5:1, the apostle Paul states, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Solomon Northup didn't have a choice; he was forcibly kidnapped, but I do have a choice to stand firm in the freedom that Christ has won for me by his death and resurrection. This evening, as I listen to nearby fireworks celebrating our freedom as a nation, I am also joyfully (but comparatively quietly) giving thanks for the freedom I have received as a gift from Christ and praying that I live as fully in it as he enables me to.
Mid-Hudson Bridge July 2009

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kisses from Katie-- Book Review

I don’t think it’s possible to read Kisses from Katie and remain unmoved and unchanged. Nor is it easy to put the book down once you start reading it. Katie’s engaging writing draws you into her life with the thirteen delightful children she’s in the process of adopting and takes you along as she visits and ministers to all sorts of people. People who are struggling with situations most of us couldn't even imagine, but who have the same kinds of fears, hopes, and dreams we all have.

Written by Katie Davis, who went to Uganda at age eighteen for a one-year mission trip and has lived there since, this book opened my eyes to some of the most economically destitute, but often spiritually rich, people there are in this world. I’ve heard all my life of people starving in Africa, but I have never been introduced to them as individuals with faith, fears, and longings I could relate to. Katie puts her arms around them and shows them God’s love with food, medicine, tears, gentle care, and the constant message of Christ’s love for them. She listens to their stories and helps each one experience the dignity of being a valuable person created in God’s image, precious to the Lord and to her. She also learns from them, as she sees their gratitude, faith, and joy, despite the losses and hardships they have experienced.

Young though she is, Katie lives more selflessly and wholeheartedly for Christ than most of us would think possible, and she also experiences deeper communion with Christ and more joy in him than most of us know. Throughout the book, she is honest about her own struggles and doesn’t put herself on a pedestal or even think that what she is doing is extraordinary. She shows by her life how one person, relying on God’s strength and following his leading, can do an extraordinary job of bringing Christ’s love to those who are often least valued in the world. 

I finished reading this book last week, but it is still in my thoughts every day, as reading it has challenged me to rethink my priorities and examine the depth of my faith and how I live it out. I am pondering how to follow Katie’s example in my own life. It is unlikely that I will go to Uganda or possibly anywhere overseas to do missions work, but I know I could live more closely with Jesus, more selflessly following him and loving the people he brings into my life.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...