Tag Archives: creator

DESIGN & ORDER amidst human disorder

 

Newscasts trumpet misery, scandal and chaos. BUT! As I wander down summDSCN5023 (3)er DSCN4962 (2)pathways and drive along our country roads I’m impressed by a recurring theme. Whether it’s the tiniest beetles I find on leaves or the rising of the moon, there is evidence of design–and of the Designer.

DSCN2805 (2)It’s the same when I gaze on the apparently bewildering display of creativity among flowers. Or the astounding intricacy of a snowflake. Or the various plumages of birds or even the blades of grass DSCN5204 (2)in a farmer’s field. Variety but not randomness fills our world with a richness and interest our busy lives usually lead us to ignore.

From sunsets to cloud formations, from eyesight to dandelion fluff all around us throbs the evidence of an omnipotent Creator. “Day after day they pour forth speech.”  Too often our ears throb with a cacophony of artificially generated sounds.

Lord, help us to pause, to look around, and to lift our hearts in worship and praise–and even appeal. DSCN3181 (2)Truly, “this is my Father’s world.” This Father can bring order and redemption to our disordered and broken lives.

January Sunset

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Woodland Therapy?

A recent article in the Globe and Mail confirms the value of forest therapy. Now,Sugar Maple that’s a value I’ve always treasured, but when I express something similar, folks look at me strangely. I can see in their eyes the query, “Are you some kind of weird woodsy throwback? What about all the mosquitoes? Just tell me where to find the nearest Starbucks.” Ah, but wait.

Cassandra Szklarslo writes about “the forest-bathing movement…which is a cornerstone of preventive health care in Japan.” Forest-bathing?? Weird. The article explains that they’re not talking about bathing in water but “immersing SummerWalkEricDukeoneself in the healing properties of trees.…A walk in the woods can be great for boosting your mood.…A burgeoning group of nature enthusiasts say it can do much more—including strengthen immunity, lower blood pressure, increase focus, and ultimately lower health-care costs if done regularly.”

Data collected in Japan and Korea found that “forest-bathers” had an increased number of “immune system cells that combat disease.” “It involves simply walking—quietly, slowly and deliberately—in a forest, and taking in the sounds, DSCN1325scents, colours, forms and general vibe of nature.”

I’ve always loved the outdoors, from the fields near our home to the creek that gurgled through a nearby valley. Probably it was that love that led me to study forestry in my undergraduate years. I’ve never understand why some declare; “If you’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all.” Every tree enthrals me; from the stately umbrella-shaped American Elm to the majestic White Pine.

I’m not surprised by the article. Many people appreciate the natural world. But OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhat deepened my love was an experience with the Creator of that world. In my second year of university, He sent a gospel shaft of conviction into my heart. I became a simple follower of Jesus. It was as if I unexpectedly was fitted with a hearing aid; or as if a light went on in the dark room of my mind. Suddenly it seemed as if “all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres,” for “this is my Father’s world!” “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).

As this Psalm reminds us, it’s not just trees that should cause our mouths to drop open in awe and our hearts to sing God’s praises. No, it’s stars and clouds, birds and flowers, the roll of breakers on a beach, the colours of pebbles on a shore, Mute Swansnowflakes and rainbows. It’s more; even the undulation of sand dunes in a desert, the giggle of a child, and the smile of a wrinkled senior. For He made them all.

Oh, I know, there is trash in the ocean and war among nations. We are doing our best to ruin God’s world. But beneath and beyond all that disturbs, if we have redeemed eyes to see, remains the matrix that displays the creativity and artistic genius of Almighty God. This matrix reminds us to breath deeply of God’s love and grace and point people to the beauty intrinsic to the world we live in.
Besides we live in hope! “He will make all things new.” In the meantime, “all the trees of the field will clap their hands” whenever God reclaims territory in our ruined world by the spread of his spiritual kingdom in human hearts. (See Isaiah 55:11,12).

So this summer, let’s take time for a walk in the woods. Then we will return Honey bee on fall mumsrefreshed and more able to practice holy love wherever God places us.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1 and on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Beauty for Ashes

DSCN2359A few weeks ago, I noticed some very tiny flowers in an uncultivated flower bed—weeds, but very pretty. Later in another part of town, I spied a cheerful carpet of mauve flowers on a lawn. Alas, they too were weeds. These tiny flowering weeds got me thinking.

In many ways, the world in which we live is very dark. People are losing hope. An advertisement for a new book professing to solve all human probDSCN2535 (2)lems is a symptom of this malaise. No, it doesn’t ask us to “love God and love our neighbours as ourselves.” Evidently, forgetting the dismal record of the last 200 years, the solution proposed is scientific and biological. Vain hope. But at least its analysis of our condition is relatively accurate. We live in “a world facing complete breakdown from terrorism, refugee crises, corrupted economies, polarized politics, family disintegration, rampant mental illness and ecological devastation.”

DSCN1650No wonder doom and gloom occupy most writers these days. Yes, but what about God? “He makes all things beautiful in his time” (Eccl.3:11). As the One who is altogether lovely, whatever he touches becomes beautiful. David’s longing was “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord…all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4). The antidote to ugliness and evil, is God.

Have we failed to notice indications of God’s glory scattered prodigiously throughout the earth? What do I mean? I mean those silent witnesses to the beauty of God and His salvation. Every beautiful thing in creation points to its Creator and whispers, hope. As Isaiah prophecies of Jesus; “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1,3).

DSCN2541The beauty of a baby’s smile. The fragrance of lilac. The beauty enshrined in a grain of sand or a snowflake. The rainbow reflected from a drop of dew. The infinite shape of clouds. The loveliness and variety of myriads of flowers. The shape of trees. The magnificence of mountains. The splendour of the sea. The magic of sunrise and twilight. What about butterflies and birds; diamonds and dandelions. Lord, the earth is full of your glory!

Have we failed to notice God’s beautifying touch? The refugees who shout hallelujah after being saved by Jesus Christ. The drug addict in Brooklyn totallyRainbow delivered from addiction. The abuser becoming gentle and loving. What about myriads of men and women from every tribe and nation who have seen their fear and despair replaced by joy and peace and hope?

DSCN2373 (2)Oh, yes, the cataclysm produced by the fall of mankind into sin, produced thorns and thistles, hatred and war; and probably mosquitoes, volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes. And yet, God has not left us without witness. If we would but look, we would find glimpses of beauty from the hands of the Creator at every turn. And that beauty bears witness to hope in seemingly hopeless situations; hope through bowing in faith to Jesus Christ, the Lord. Then we will revel in beauty and worship God in the “beauty of holiness”.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Why Do the Shorelines of Lakes and Oceans Attract Us So Powerfully?

Cobourg harbour1A few months ago we moved to an apartment near the waterfront in a town on Lake Ontario. The pier that juts out into the lake, daily attracts scores of people coming in their trucks and cars for no other apparent reason than to gaze at the water. It’s a strange, but universal phenomenon. And one we share. Almost daily, we amble along the shoreline.

If we could, we would probably invest in a lakefront or ocean property. However, the premium charged for properties with water frontage makes such a dream unrealistic. What is there about oceans and lakes that inspires such adulation and competition for frontage?

KayakI’m sure part of the attraction concerns the fun to be had at a beach. Swimming and frolicking in the water. Kayaking and surfing. Boating and water skiing. Fishing.

Perhaps it is also the sight and sound of waves endlessly lapping on a beach. From as far as our eyes can see, the waves march toward us hypnotizing us into a pleasant state of reverie. Unless they crash on the beach in a wild storm, the sound of the waves mediates a sense of tranquility. Their regular rhyMary Helen on Myrtle Beachthm soothes our frazzled spirits in a hectic world, whispering, “All is well.”

Or perhaps we are attracted by how expanses of water reflect the infinitely varied moods of creation. One day calm and tranquility reigns. On another day gentle waves lap the shore. Then a violent storm lashes the shoreline with towering breakers. The rising sun paints the surface with astonishing colours. Evening comes and people OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgather at the shore for another free and unchoreographed light show from the Divine Artist. As darkness deepens the moon rises gilding the waves with silver.

Our oldest son credits the magnetism of shorelines with the views they give of distant horizons. Most of our lives are spent with the walls of buildings or trees limiting our view. But at a beach, we can gaze off to the horizon without anything impeding our vision. This somehow expands our spirits giving us a mysterious sense of wellbeing.

Perhaps it is that very mystery that intrigues us. Below the surface there is an unknown universe so we invent snorkels to see below the surface and diving suits to probe the depths of our oceans. And yet they resist all our attempts to uncover all their secrets.

Perhaps it is the human desire to conquer or at least to get to the othPicnic at the shoreer side. We can’t walk on water like we do on land. So we invent canoes and sailing ships to traverse this mysterious element. We teach ourselves to swim. But in spite of all our attempts to conquer expanses of water, we cannot parcel it out like we do the land. It refuses to be domesticated. We can pollute it but not conquer it.

Squalls change the temper of our lakes in a moment, sending boaters fleeing to harbour. On the ocean, tides rise and fall answering alone to the moon’s gravitational pull. Storms drive tidal surges that crush our puny attempts to limit the ocean’s reach. Cities like New York and New Orleans reel from their effect.

When we venture out of our controlled environments to visit a seashore, the distant horizon humbles us. There we come face to face with something vast and mysterious that resonates with the human heart. At the margin between land and water, we sense something almost incomprehensibly Ocean along Maine coastvast. Where did it come from, we muse? We slip back to Creation and feel the, often unacknowledged, presence of the infinite and all-powerful God.

The Lord God, “who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” (Is. 40:1 NKJV) invites us to bring our joys and troubles to Him. He who spoke and 322,300,000 cubic miles of water came into existence has the capacity to understand our concerns and meet our deepest needs.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Color My World Autumn

Sumac

Sumac

Many in our northern latitudes find autumn their favorite season. For a couple of months the countryside exchanges a large part of its green wardrobe for gowns displaying a profusion of colours. The countryside is a giant canvas. The Divine Artist gradually fills in the mural with subtle shades here and splashes of color there. As the weeks pass, the canvas becomes more and more vibrant. By the way, it’s not Jack Frost at work or Mother Nature but the Creator Himself. Even plants like the sumac, which some consider a nuisance, get in on the act. As if afraid to be overshadowed by the scarlet frocks that towering maples don laterin the season, the sumac heralds its place in this drama by dyeing the fringes of the roads and fields with crimson.

White Ash

White Ash

Next come the stalwart ash, first displaying subtle shades of beige and rust before donning brilliant gowns of plum and wine.

The leaves of beech and oak, which often cling to their branches throughout the winter, paint their trees with hues of fawn and brown and taupe that gradually turn to gold.

Trembling Aspen

Trembling Aspen

Part way through this seasonal drama, the Divine Tailor stitches up a gown for the aspens and poplars composed of a dozen shades of yellow–flaxen, lemon, saffron, amber. All in preparation for their autumn dance.

Meanwhile the Artist on High has been tinting the maples, most dramatic of the trees, with every colour in His palate from lemon yellow to bright orange and scarlet.

Throughout the fall, pine, cedar and spruce maintain a background of rich green to set off the multi-hued pigments of autumn that wash the fields and woodlands with bright color.

Sugar Maple

Sugar Maple

As the season develops, commentators keep us abreast of where and when to visit our woodlands to catch a glimpse of this yearly display. And so, throughout Eastern North America, city dwellers abandon their grey city haunts to tour the lakes and forests of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ontario, and Quebec.

The wind blows and the leaves begin to fall OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAleaving windrows of fading colour all along the verges of field and roadway. No human artist can hope to best the skill of the Creator. And this yearly exhibition is free for any to enjoy. No wonder many view autumn as their favorite time of the year.

Where Have All the Butterflies Gone?

Monarch butterflyEvery summer we look forward to monarch butterflies flitting from flower to flower. But we’re now well into September and have seen only one or two. Days go by with no sightings. What has happened? It can’t be the lack of a food source near where we live. There’s lots of milkweed upon which the monarchs lay their eggs.

Not only monarchs, but other butterflies along with bees seem much diminished. And bees fulfill a crucial role as food pollinators. Why this decline?

Part of the answer is found in extreme weather; some recent winters have been unusually cold while some summers have been dry throughout much of the Texas and the mid-West of the US. These extremes have proven to be life-threatening for the fragile monarch.

However, the largest culprit remains our careless approach to the environmentHoney bee on fall mums. Certainly, the slow decimation of the monarchs’ preferred wintering ground in Mexico has contributed. But here in the rest of North America agricultural practice must also be considered. Farm fields used to be separated by fence rows where wild flowers and small animals thrived. Recently, most fence rows have been bulldozed into oblivion creating enormous fields with little space for natural species to flourish. Hence, throughout the plains, monarchs find less and less wild flower nectar for themselves and less milkweed upon which to lay their eggs.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Scientists tell us natural habitats face a perfect storm of environmental problems. The existence of so-called weeds, such as milkweed, suffer from the widespread use of herbicides which eradicate weeds that hinder the growth of genetically modified seeds. Pressure to produce high yields almost compels farmers get onboard this biotech nightmare.

Added to this threat to plant diversity is the widespread use on engineered insecticides. These new generation pesticides effectively control sucking insects, some chewing insects, soil insects, and are also used to control fleas on domestic animals. They increase profit but decrease biodiversity and threaten to destroy not only butterflies but bees as well. In a sense farmers are in a bind, under enormous pressure to use whatever means is available to compete world-wide.

Surely there ought to be national and international regulations about protecting ???????????????????????????????biodiversity. Neither monarch butterflies nor bumblebees nor chickadees nor sparrows seem very significant. They do not obviously contribute to GDP. But surely life is more than GDP? What about EDP, esthetic domestic product? After all wasn’t it Jesus who taught us about God’s care of the birds and delight in lilies and grass? (See Matthew 6:26-30) If He cares for them; shouldn’t we?

Sadly, most of us feel more devotion to the Almighty Dollar than we do to the Creator. But the Creator has made it clear, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. We hold land in trust, as His stewards. That means caring for the earth not thoughtlessly exploiting it.

Savoring Beauty

Monarch butterflyThe flower vases sit empty; the faded and shriveled remnants of last week’s bouquets have been cast aside. “Can you cut some fresh flowers?” Mary Helen asks as I head outside for my morning check of the garden. We love to have vases of flowers beautifying every room.

Wherever we live I have to plant flowers. Even when we lived in a walled-in house in a dusty Pakistani town, I pulled up some of the courtyard bricks to plant flowers.

I believe God created us with an innate longing for beauty. It may be buried beneath stronger desires: security and self-assurance, love and community, power and wealth, food and drink. But somewhere it lies waiting to be recognized. I remember reading about a young child walking with its mother down a dirty alley in one of our cities. Suddenly the child stopped and pointed at a flowering Winterloghm, croppedweed growing in a crack of the potholed pavement. “Pretty,” she said.

As we gaze around our world and beyond, if we have eyes to see, beauty leaves us with our mouth hanging open. Fields full of daisies. A sky full of stars. Butterflies and goldfinch. The stark beauty of the desert or the arctic tundra. Snowflakes gently falling. The microscope diving us into the stunning beauty and diversity of sand granules, the symphony of life we find written in our DNA, the complexity of a cell, the harmony in a molecule. Or probing galaxies through telescopes. Wherever we go we discover in form and function astounding beauty often partnered with utility.

SunsetOf course, this is not surprising. With David who longed to spend his days gazing “upon the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4) we would expect the glorious Creator to leave his fingerprints everywhere. “He has made everything beautiful in its time”(Eccl. 3:11). The Jewish Tabernacle and later the Temple were made beautiful, constructed as they were according to God’s blueprint. Everything God touches becomes beautiful: salvation itself (Psalm 149:4), the holiness He inculcates in His children (Psalm 29:2; 99:9; 2 Chron. 20:21), the feet of those who proclaim the good news (Isaiah 52:7).

Can you imagine the beauty that awaits believers in Christ beyond the veil of death? Even the book of Revelation, limited as it is by human language, fails to Lupinsclosedescribe fully the heavenly Jerusalem. Paul quotes Isaiah. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”(1 Cor. 2:9).

In the meantime, we should be on the lookout for beauty because beautiful things reflect the glory of the Triune God who made them. Open my eyes, Lord, to really see?

 O my God, if Thy creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy,
how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy
art Thou, Thyself, Creator of all!
(Quoted by Ann Voskamp, p. 102, One Thousand Gifts, from Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain)