Monthly Archives: June 2019

Great Blue Heron

A beautiful morning for a walk and for watching this great blue heron!  After startling him (her?) into flight when I got near the pond, I paused awhile to watch.

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Walking along the north bank of the pond.  Photo:  TLClark, 6/13/19.

When I wasn’t quite paying attention, he flew back to the south side of the pond to do a little fishing.

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Catching something small.  Photo: TLClark, 6/13/19.

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Posing.  Photo: TLClark, 6/13/19.

Crossing the pond again and this time I was ready!

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Great Blue Heron in Flight.  Photo: TLClark, 6/13/19.

After capturing a picture of the heron flying I continued my walk down the bike path.

On the way back I found him playing with his food … dropped the fish on the bank (behind where he’s pictured), picked it up, carried to the pond, rinsed it off, and finally swallowed it whole.  I wouldn’t have guessed there fish that big in the pond!

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Breakfast!  Photo: TLClark, 6/14/19.

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A Drink to Wash the Fish Down.  Photo: TLClark, 6/13/19.

Rather than repeat what others have written, click on the following links to read about this majestic bird:

Musing: Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” – Acts 2:1-4 NRSV

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Pentecost Sunday, Trinity UCC, Quincy, IL.  Photo: TLClark, 6/9/19.

Noise.  Like Wind.
Light.  As of Fire.
Thunder and Lightning?

I don’t remember ever thinking of the Christian Pentecost event as being accompanied by thunder and lightening.  But something the preacher said Sunday caused me to wonder … why hadn’t I thought of it before?  could there have been a wild storm?

Whatever happened, it transformed about 120 of Jesus’ first followers.
Fear flew out.  Courage blew in.
Timidity dissipated.  Boldness gathered.

Easter is the central event of the Christian faith.  But without the Spirit’s work at Pentecost, I’m not so sure the good news of resurrection would have spread very far.

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Glass Wall.  Photo:  TLClark, 6/9/19.

If you haven’t guessed from the pictures, RED is the color of Pentecost.  Actually, red is the color most often associated with the Holy Spirit.  Since Pentecost is a celebration of the giving of the Spirit, red is assigned.  The sanctuary at Trinity UCC had dozens and dozens of potted geraniums with red blooms throughout the chancel (front of the church); they will be planted on the church grounds as a reminder of the Spirit’s work.

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Centerpiece for Confirmation Breakfast.  Photo: TLClark, 6/9/19.

My youngest niece was confirmed on Sunday.  Since I’m not currently serving a local congregation we took the opportunity to be there.  Bonus: we were included as part of the family for the Confirmation Breakfast – a long standing tradition in that congregation where confirmands, their families, and their mentors are served a sit down breakfast before worship.  Added bonus:  just getting to spend time with family!


Note (because I know not every knows what “being confirmed” means): Confirmation is always associated with Baptism – a fact we sometimes forget when children are baptized as infants and confirmed as teenagers.  A confirmand/confirmation student usually goes through a season of education that lasts from a few months to a year to two years depending on local tradition.  Typically lead by a pastor, the class looks at key Bible stories and learns a little church history.  Sometimes they do mission or outreach projects.  Often there is a mentor who spends time with the student exploring questions of faith.  The process culminates in the Rite of Confirmation when the young people 1) affirm the baptismal vows that were made for them at their baptisms and 2) are welcomed as full members in the life of the church. 

Thinning the Home Library

One by one.
Book after book after book.
Pull off the shelf.
Read the title.
Check for an inscription.

Haven’t read it?  Give it away.  (A very small pile.)

A textbook?  Have I used it since taking the class?
Can I imagine turning to it for any reason?
Keep?  Give away?

An old favorite?
Remember the story.
Remember the person who gave it to me.
Remember why I bought it.
Remember how it made me feel or gave me hope or challenged my world view.
Remember.

Keep? Give away?
Have I re-read it?
Will I read it again?
Have I quoted from it?
Was it a gift?
Does it make me smile?
Is it a connection to someone I love?
Keep?  Give away?

One by one.
Book after book after beloved book.


 

We have to have our floor replaced (it’s become a safety hazard).  Every piece of furniture, including all the bookcases, will be moved at least twice.  So we’re clearing the bookshelves, packing books into boxes, and taking the opportunity to thin the ever growing collection of books.  – Teressa

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

“Tell me the old, old story … of Jesus and his love.”  – Hymn by Katherine Hankey, 1866

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I’ve been clearing bookshelves, packing up books.  Every piece of furniture – including the bookcases and their contents – must be moved so the floor can be replaced.  We’re using it as an opportunity to thin our library.

The three books pictured came to me from my mother.  Two clearly belonged to her stepfather.  The inscription in Bible Picture ABC Book suggests it was a Christmas gift to him when he was three years old.

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A page from Bible Picture ABC Book by Elsie e. Egermeier.  Illustrated by Charles B. Millar and Ruthven H. Byrum.   Anderson, Indiana: Gospel Trumpet Company, 1924.

The Story of Jesus was also a gift:  “To Arthur for Ideas to Paint  – Mother -“.  Based on the copyright date (MCMXXXIX), the man I knew as Grandpa Art would have been a teenager.  He grew up to be a High School Art Teacher who painted, carved, made pottery and pursued other artistic endeavors.

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A page from The Story of Jesus.  Akron, Ohio: The Saalfield Pub. Co., 1939.

The third book does not have an inscription but considering the topic and the copyright date, I imagine it also came from the Lenz family.  Knowing they lived on a ranch in eastern Montana, I called Mom to ask if they could have afforded books.  Her reply was along the lines of “Oh, yes, Grandpa Lenz came from money.”  She also said that Grandma Lenz was a teacher so having books in their house made sense.

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Title page from Wee Folks Stories from the New Testament in Words of one Syllable by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil.  Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company.  Copyright 1921 by Howard E. Altemus.

Wee Folks Stories is a wee-sized book that is about the size of my hand – 4.25″ wide by 5.5″ tall.  True to its title, nearly every word in the book is only one syllable!

Rather than keep these books, I think I’ll send them to my Aunt Clara.  She’s just the sort who would enjoy having Bible story books that were used by her father.

Three books I won’t have reshelve!  (Is that three fewer or three less?  I’d look it up, but I’ve already packed the reference book and I don’t want to search the web.)

May you have time to read today!

Monday Musing: Ascension

Then [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hand, he blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.  – Luke 24:50-51 NRSV

Ascension.  Another weird story in Christian scriptures that I’d rather ignore.  Jesus – the risen Christ – carried into heaven.  Forty days after Easter.  A Christian holy day.  My guess is many Protestants don’t realize it’s come and gone.

So when looking up a quilt fabric store on the internet the other day I was surprised to discover the following announcement in large, yellow letters at their top of their web page:

Store is CLOSED Thur. May 30th for Ascension Day  

Really?  Here in Iowa?!!  I’ll try to remember to ask about it when (if) I get there.

Ascension was not acknowledged in any way, shape, or form by my home congregation this year.  If I’d been preaching last week, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it either.

But our local Roman Catholic church marked the day at weekend masses.
And the priest did something I like to do when preaching.
He quoted from a contemporary text.
Not a commentary.  Not an overtly Christian or specifically religious book.
A work of fiction published in my lifetime:
Jonathan Livingston Seagull: a story by Richard Bach.

They came in the evening, then, and found Jonathan gliding peaceful and alone through his beloved sky.  The two gulls that appeared at his wings were pure as starlight, and the glow from them was gentle and friendly in the high night air.  But most lovely of all was the skill with which they flew, their wingtips moving a precise and constant inch from his own.

Without a word, Jonathan put them to his test a test that no gull had ever passed.  He twisted his wings, slowed to a single mile per hour above stall.  The two radiant birds slowed with him, smoothly, locked in position.  They knew about slow flying.

He folded his wings, rolled and dropped in a dive to a hundred ninety miles per hour.  They dropped with him, streaking down in flawless formation.

At last he turned that speed straight up into a long vertical slow-roll.  They rolled with him, smiling.

He recovered to level flight and was quiet for a time before he spoke. “Very well,” he said, “who are you?

“We’re from your Flock, Jonathan. We are your brothers.”  The words were strong and calm.  “We’ve come to take you higher, to take you home.”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull: a story, (c) 1970

Do you know the story?  Jonathan, a seagull, had been cast off from the flock.  He didn’t fly simply to find food and eat.  He flew for the shear joy of flying.  And that was unthinkable, unacceptable, intolerable.  So he was alone.

And now he is not.

That’s not where the priest went with the story.  But it is what has caught my imagination after re-reading the book on Sunday.  Though physically alone in a particular time and place, Jonathan was not alone in pursuing a dream of perfect flight.  He had kindred out there somewhere.  One day, they found him.

When you’re feeling cast off from the crowd (whether a little or lot),
may you know you are not alone.
May your kindred find you – or you find them –
and together pursue a dream that brings beauty and joy into the world.

Photo Challenge: All Lined Up

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Iowa Fields in Spring.  Photo: TLClark.  5/30/19.

It just makes me smile to see rows and rows of corn in the field.  Looking one direction, the rows are clear.  Move around the field 90 degrees and the rows disappear.  This photo is proof that at least a few farmers in Iowa have been able to plant this spring – before or between rain storms.

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Branch of Honeysuckle.  Photo: TLClark. 5/30/19.

The honeysuckle blossoms were the brightest things on my walk Thursday morning.  Only when I stopped to take Another LQQK did I realize they grow in a row on a branch.

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Honeysuckle Blooms.  Photo: TLClark.  5/30/19.

Saw a post for an “All Lined Up” photo challenge, I couldn’t resist joining the fun with pictures that had yet to make it into a blog post!