This is a Tiger Longwing butterfly we saw at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. It is resting a Cardinal’s guard plant. Both the butterfly and the plant are beautiful. Which one is prettier? Of the many possible answers, my answer is why does it matter? We seem to have a need to rank things: best athletes, best cities, best food, and so on. Sometimes this is helpful. So if you are looking for a good place to eat, it is nice to know where other people got a meal they enjoyed. Unfortunately, it also too often leads to comparing ourself to others. Which is definitely not helpful. Thankfully, God loves each of us as we are, for who we are: children of God. Beautiful in our own way.
Mist and Smoke
This is a photo from the Bernheim Arboretum near Louisville Kentucky. In addition to the reflection in the water, you can also see some mist over the water toward the far left shore. For some reason, whenever I see mist over water, the words from the Deep Purple song “Smoke on the Water” come to mind. The song was inspired by actual smoke over Lake Geneva, Switzerland from a casino on fire.
It is a short flight of ideas to go from smoke to fire to baptism of the Holy Spirit. Numerous scriptures compare presence of the Holy Spirit to fire. Fire which will consume the world.
This photo was taken not long after we started our bike ride on the carriage roads in Acadia NP. This spot was near Witch Hole Pond. It was a little chilly, I was riding with a jacket and gloves on, but it had the signs of being a beautiful day. There were lots of clouds, but it was not “supposed to” rain. At least, that is the way we think. As if some modest ability to predict the weather gives us ownership of the weather. And if it rains on day day like this, it violates our sense of fairness.
We seem to have a finely tuned sense of fairness regarding things directly affecting our own life, and less so for things affecting others. While that can be a result of self-centeredness, I think it reflects 2 other things. First, being emotionally close to something impairs our judgement. Secondly, it is very difficult to see things from someone else’s perspective.
Seeing God in all things changes that. Not just seeing God in nature, but also in each other. Life becomes less about me and more about we.
When my wife and I travel, one of the things we enjoy most is learning about places we have never been before. That includes learning to identify and reading about fish, birds, plants and animals we see on our trips.
This is a Florida gar, which we saw in the Everglades. It can be found in fresh waters in Georgia and Florida, often in shallow waters. It has an air bladder which helps them survive in poorly oxygenated water.
God has given us such amazing gifts in the world we live in.
This is Ship Harbor in Acadia NP, near Bass Harbor Head Light Station. Even though I assume this was near low tide, it is hard for me to imagine large ships coming through here. And yet, that is supposedly how this body of water got its name. You can tell how high the water gets during high tide by the dark color of the rock.
We talk about the rising tide as a metaphor, as in “a rising tide lifts all boats”. This phrase has been used primarily in an economic sense, meaning everyone benefits when the economy improves. But it could just as well be thought of in a spiritual sense as well. As in, we all benefit from God’s love.
This butterfly is a Blue Morpho. The name refers to change in color as the butterfly flies. When its wings are closed, it has spots resembling eyes which may serve as protection. When the wings open, it flashes an iridescent blue color.
People also change the way they present themselves, particularly in situations they perceive as threatening.
This is a view of Jordan Pond from the North Bubble in Acadia NP. The water stands out, but much of the beauty in the view lies in the surrounding details. You need to look a closely, but you can easily see the Jordan Pond House at the far end of the pond. Some of the other details that “stand out” to me include the carriage road (to the right), the leaves changing red, and the islands off in the distance. This is so much more than a picture of a water.
Beauty is often found in the small details. God provides a richness to our lives that must be noticed to be appreciated.
This is a photo of a Paradise Tanager, taken at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. My reaction to seeing this bird was that it didn’t look real. It’s not so much the colors as the pattern (that seem unnatural). But I saw it moving and can testify it is real.
We are in the Easter Season, and daily readings are about the Apostles testifying to what they saw and heard as unbelievable as it seemed. John writes “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life— for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.” (1 John 1:1-2)
We weren’t sure what we were looking for when we found this lake. We had hoped to be able to hike from the middle of a longer trail that led to the lake, but there was no parking. The map showed a short trail leading to the lake from another spot, but found no parking there either. It was obvious other people had driven their cars off the road, so we did the same and came to a parking area beside this lake. It is not obvious from this camera angle, but it was less than a quarter mile across the lake. Despite all that, I think this was the prettiest view we had the whole trip. Beauty is sometimes found at the most unexpected times.
Pine Glades Lake, Everglades
We saw this Great Blue Heron (and many other birds) biking around the Shark Valley Tram Trail in the Everglades. There is really nothing about a bird standing still that suggests an ability to fly. And yet these birds are capable of great flight.
People are often capable of unexpectedly great things as well.