Tag Archives | nature

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Remember the parable about cleaning out the house, throwing out the devil (demon) and sweeping it clean? That empty house becomes the target of those demons, and it moves back in with something like seven buddies. I’ve pondered that parable on occasion: clean up one mess, and if you just leave things empty, something will fill the space. So, you might think ahead about what you would like to have fill that space.

And then, in more concrete terms, I had to laugh out loud the other day. I have entirely too many coffee mugs — gifts, collected on trips, swag from work and conferences — you know how this works, right? They were so crowded in my cabinet that I decided to take the situation in hand. I selected several (like 4 or 5) and bestowed them on my daughter. She has only a few, and when we go to visit, we often use all of her coffee mugs on a given morning. Beautiful! I have plans for a few more to go to my son’s house for the same reasons (I have too many, they have too few).

It felt good! There was space on the shelf so that I could arrange the remaining mugs. Sweet! And then my prayer partner for the upcoming Cursillo weekend brought me a gift. You got it – a coffee mug! I had to laugh. I thought about that demon and his 7 buddies. I thought of nature and vacuums. But, I smiled because it is truly a lovely coffee mug all covered in the word(s) “Believe!” I do believe – and this is one of those good replacements in my life. I accept it.

Obtacle to Grace?

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend a few hours boating along the Connecticut coastline. We started on the Pawcatuck River, down to the coast, over to Mystic and in as far as the second bridge (the one near the Mystic Seaport) and back. The water was smooth, there was a lovely breeze. We made turkey and roasted red pepper sandwiches for lunch while relaxing on the Mystic River. We watched the railroad bridge open and close at least 3 times.

The feel of being on the water settles my soul. No words are necessary. As a teenager I could sit by the Tennessee River for long periods of time and become lost in the eternity of the water. Here, on Long Island Sound and the associated rivers, I also find the call to rest and just be. When I come to notice myself from time to time, I am wearing a smile. My insides are quiet.

I am home.

Which is why I was lead to chuckle when we passed another boat on our way home. She was named “Obstacle to Grace.” How funny that seemed to me that the thing that allows me to come so close to resting in God should be called by another an obstacle to grace. Life is a yard sale: one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. A good thing to remember.

Pact with the Devil

I grew up loving trips to the Gulf Coast… cross the state line into Florida and I get a feeling of HOME — and odd, deep, excitement. As a child and later a teenager, 20 something and young mother I could stay at the beach, playing in the surf and watching the waves for an eternity. My soul rests when I look out at the Gulf.

In 1977 I was a part of the scientific crew on the Machias (research vessel from the University of Miami) to do baseline studies of the Gulf prior to opening it up to oil exploration and drilling. Due to an accident, we came in to port a week early to drop off our injured worker, only to discover that the Bureau of Land Management had decided to pull all of our funding. When we got off the boat a week later, we had no jobs. And, more importantly, there would be no hard data to show what the ecology and environment in the Gulf of Mexico had been like prior to drilling. If you can’t show what was there before, it is really difficult to prove that there has been great damage. That’s politics and law.

Today I find myself grieving. I drive a car, so I’m a part of the problem. Granted, one of our cars is a hybrid (Prius); Helps with gas mileage. Still, I grieve. The damage assessment from this leaking well only seems to get worse by the hour. I hope I live to see the recovery. I pray that God will guide the hearts and minds of those who must try to stop the hemorrhaging oil well and lead them to a solution. I look in horror at the pact with the devil that humankind has made to satisfy our need for energy – coal and oil…

Yes, I’m distressed. And trying to figure out how to help straighten the mess out (without making things worse). Forgive us, Father — we really don’t know what we are doing.

Rainy Day Sunset

I was browsing through some old stuff on my other site, and found some of my poetry.

Rainy Day Sunset

The fiery orange beach ball
slips slowly lower on the grey horizon
leading the orange-pink laced remnant of pale grey
into oblivion

Wind in the Willows — well birches

Late yesterday I took a stroll behind the cabin in Maine where we were spending the 4th of July with my husband’s family. “The wind in the willows” ran through my mind, until I had to go and give them their proper names…

The wind in the willows – except they’re not
They are birches and yellow woods and pines
There’s barely a sound beyond the cry of the loons
as the breeze ruffles the ferns, the birch leaves tremble
And a small spring meanders through the underbrush

Perhaps this is the still, quiet voice that Elijah heard
after the fire, after the earthquake, after the storm

Be still

Good Things

I love my deck. When we rebuilt the house after a fire 8 years ago, we changed a window in our bedroom into a door to the backyard and added the deck. It’s a good size – 20×20 or so, with benches on two sides, and a sort of table in the corner where St. Francis lives. The trees, a maple, an oak, a pine and some crepe myrtles offer shade as they creep into the space around the edges. In the mornings, especially this time of year, it’s not exactly a quiet peace due to the sounds of birds that inhabit the various trees in our yard and the neighbors. But, it’s a deeply peaceful place.

How lucky I am to have this space to step into. I seem to be the only person who really uses it. I can sit on the bench and listen to creation all around me. I can see the day lilies, the gardenias, the azaleas, the iris and the camelias which all bloom at slightly different times.

My friend John might refer to this spot as my “flee to.” Yeah… everybody needs a “flee to.” A place to go and just get away. A place that calls one to prayer. A place that shouts “Welcome! You belong here!”

I love my deck.


I was a bit taken aback the other day when one of my coworkers was reading the early reports of the devastation from the cyclone that hit Myanmar and remarked – “He’s really cleaning things out over there.” This young man is a Christian. Our conversation often wanders into the realm of church, community and our faith. But, I was so taken aback by that attitude I could barely respond. This attitude that when disaster occurs that God is somehow cleaning out an evil people or punishing people for being bad is pervasive at times. I heard similar remarks from people when the tsunami hit the shores of the Indian Ocean.

I wish I’d had the presence to ask him a few more questions. There’s Facebook group formed around anger at the actions and words of Westbrook Baptist Church, who proclaimed that the all to recent murder of a coed on our campus was the just punishment for the unholiness of college campuses. When disaster hits close to home, the sentiment is certainly not that we are evil and we are being punished.

My own morbid fascination with this latest disaster has caused me to ask myself some questions. As I watch aid groups trying to get in and help, I see the government of Myanmar either not responding, or trying to handle it all alone. I see them refusing to let aid workers from the US enter the country. I head the media observe that the US has been an outspoken critic of the Myanmar government and opine that this is probably the reason they are refusing to let people from the US in. I wonder at how many times, in my own life I refuse help with disaster (not on this scale, of course) because I don’t like the person who is offering help. I think of the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan, who likely wanted help, but might have been very dismayed at the prospect of that help being offered by a Samaritan. He probably would have preferred help from his own people – those who passed him by – instead of from a despised Samaritan.

I believe that nature is nature and disasters will happen. I know that hurricanes/typhoons are a physical force that transfer heat from the equator to the poles and keep the world functioning. I tend to think of the earth – even the universe, as a creature of sorts. Just as a human body has mechanisms to maintain body temperature and fight off infections, the mechanisms in place to keep this planet functioning are going to have to work to keep the proper balance.

Scripture observes that rain for the fields falls on both the good and the evil. The sun shines on both the good and the evil. And cyclones, tsunamis and hurricanes hit land inhabited by both the good and the evil. We are called to love and care for each other and not make that love and care dependent on whether we perceive the recipient of that care as good and deserving.

If there is anything I can do to help ease the pain and suffering of those remaining after this disaster, I pray that I am open to see it and willing to do it.

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