Category Archives: Nature

Sights and smells of the great outdoors.

“The Wonderer” (6th Stanza: God)

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Photo: TLClark

William Service wonders at “my Hand … my Eyes … my Heart … my Brain” in the first stanzas of “The Wonderer.”  Then he notes “You’re just as wonderful as I” and invites us to wonder and marvel at Creation.  In the sixth and final stanza, Service turns our attention to God:

If wonder is in great and small,
Then what of Him who made it all?
In eyes and brain and heart and limb
Let’s see the wondrous work of Him.
In house and hill and sward and sea,
In bird and beast and flower and tree,
In everything from sun to sod,
The wonder and the awe of God.

Wonder and awe.  Of Creation and Creator.

“In the beginning God created …”  Genesis 1:1

I understand the first chapter of Genesis as ancient poetry – beautiful, evocative, imaginative.  It is an invitation to take another look at the world and to wonder at our very existence.  As a person of faith in the current era, I am quite willing to stand in awe of the ‘Who’ of creation and not worry about the details of the ‘how.’  Nature is.  And God was at its beginning, is in its midst now, and will be present in all the days to come.

“Consider the lilies of the field ….”  – Jesus, Matthew 6:28

I invite you to look at a few flower photos (sorry, no lilies).  Notice the color, the texture, the raindrop or the shadow and to see the wondrous work of God.  Then gaze – perhaps at a person or pet near you or at the scene out your window – and notice other beautiful, marvelous works of God.

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Photo:  TLClark.

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Photo:  TLClark.

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Wildflowers of a restored prairie on a rainy day. The Morton Arboretum. Photo: TLClark.

This is the last in a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking here.

 

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“The Wonderer” (Stanza 5 – You/Creation)

In the first four stanzas of “The Wonderer” Robert William Service wrote of

  1. “the moving marvel of my Hand”
  2. “the wonder of my Eyes”
  3. “the wonder of my Heart”
  4. “the wondrous wonder of my Brain”

Lest you and I  think we are any less marvelous than he, the beginning of the fifth stanza of the poem assures us otherwise.

But do not think, O patient friend,
Who reads these stanzas to the end,
That I myself would glorify. . . .
You’re just as wonderful as I,
And all Creation in our view
Is quite as marvelous as you.

The pastor in me immediately remembered the words of the psalmist:  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps 139:14a NRSV)  Not just me.  You, too, are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Nothing less than a marvel.

The rest of the fifth stanza – the way it is printed makes it look like it is not a new stanza – is an invitation to wonder.

Come, let us on the sea-shore stand
And wonder at a grain of sand;
And then into the meadow pass
And marvel at a blade of grass;
Or cast our vision high and far
And thrill with wonder at a star;
A host of stars — night’s holy tent
Huge-glittering with wonderment.

I searched through my digital photographs looking for sand and grass and stars.  I took time to marvel at the variety of unique flowers and wonder at the shapes of many individual leaves.  But flowers and leaves aren’t mentioned in this stanza of the poem.

I don’t take many landscape pictures.  Nevertheless I found a few photos that sort of reflect the fifth stanza of Service’s poem.  Hope you’ll take a moment to wonder or marvel or thrill – not so much at the pictures but of the memories you have of a sea-shore, a meadow, and the night sky.

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Beach, Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, Washington.  Photo: TLClark, 10/7/2018

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Sand on Fingers and Rock, Golden Gardens Park, Seattle, Washington.  Photo: TLClark, 10/7/2018.

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Meadow, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois. Photo: TLClark, 6/29/2013

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Blade of Grass after the rain.  Photo:  TLClark, 6/29/2013

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Epiphany Stars, Faith UCC, January, 2013

This is another in a series of posts in response to the poem “The Wonderer” by Robert William Service.  Read the whole poem by clicking here.  The first stanza is in my first post found here; the second is here, the third is here and the fourth is here.

A Photo a Week Challenge: Water

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Photo:  TLClark, 8/16/2012

I stumbled across a photo challenge in the blog-o-sphere.  The instructions this week:  “In a new post created for this challenge, share a photo or two that features water of any kind.”

The intent, I think, of the challenge is to take new photos.  But I immediately thought of the photo above.  Taken more than six years ago, it’s water from a well at the Neumann Ranch in eastern Montana.  The pump on the well is now run with electricity, but once upon a time it was an old fashioned windmill.

The water runs through a pipe and then a hose to fill a stock tank from which the garden is irrigated.

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While waiting for the water to flow through the rows of the garden, you might use the watering can to hurry things along.

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Photo:  TLClark, 8/16/2012

The best part:  digging a few carrots, washing them off at the well where the water is clean, and enjoying the treat of really fresh produce.

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Grandpa and Grandson.  Photo: TLClark, 8/16/2012

 

Mud

After all the rain this past week, my favorite bike/walking path had patches of mud.  It wasn’t as deep and widespread as what was left after the flash flooding at the beginning of July.  But it was still messy and slippery.

It was also kind of beautiful.

There were criss-crossing trails…IMG_7032

…and little mud-mounds formed from leaves.IMG_6961

Dirt and sand on the concrete path before the storms (from a child playing?) became works of art.

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Hoping you’ll find beauty after every storm.

Puddles

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Heron and ducks on the pond near 36th between Trilein and the Woodland Preserve Bike Trail.   Photo:  TLClark, 9/4/18

The Woodland Preserve bike trail in my neighborhood isn’t very long, but it’s just right for a daily 2-mile walk easily made shorter or longer.  Out my front door, south on Trilein past the pond, head east on the bike trail along 36th, then turn north parallel to Four Mile Creek for a walk that goes by the pond again and then through the woods (albeit on a concrete path).  At the other end, near 47th, the trail opens to large field.

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The field as seen from sidewalk along 47th – the path is at the top right.  Can you see the baseball diamond, complete with pitcher’s ‘mound’ and catcher’s place behind home plate?  It was created by boys and girls, ages 5 to 15, playing unsupervised!

More than a week ago a mom was squatting, watching her little ones play in the field as I exited the wooded part of the path.  Both children wore rain coats and rain boots.  Mom stood up as I approached – keeping her eye on me and on the kids.  I commented about it being a great day to be outside.  She relaxed and told me they didn’t get out early enough; the puddles from the overnight rain were mostly gone.

I thought of them yesterday on my first walk this week.  Thunder, lightening, and too many brief heavy downpours meant little time outside Sunday and Monday.  It also meant plenty of puddles!

Although puddles weren’t on my mind when I grabbed the camera as I left the house, the pictures in the puddles quickly caught my attention.  Clouds, trees, shadows and light reflected off the surface; the images shifting as I got closer and walked by.

The reflections reminded me of last Sunday’s reading from the book of James:

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forgot what they were like.  – James 1:22-24 NRSV

Too often we forget we are made in the image of God, beings made to reflect God’s steadfast loving mercy and never ending compassion in word and deed wherever we go.  We aren’t called to do it alone; Jesus promised the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God that was with him – would also be with us.

May you take time to see reflections in puddles this week.   May your words and deeds reflect our maker’s love.

Geese and Goslings

I should have taken a camera.

Just off the bike trail, at the edge of the pond, were five goslings and two geese.

A week or so ago I’d noticed two geese by a smaller pond not far away.   One sitting on a nest, pretending she could not be seen.   One day her neck was stretched out, parallel to the ground.  Another day her neck curled around her body, head tucked in tight.  Her partner was close:  floating on the little pond, standing near the nest, or keeping watch up closer to the sidewalk.

Now there were five fluffy yellow and black baby geese mimicking mom, pecking at the ground between the people path and the pond.  Standing guard just off the path, dad was none too happy with passersby.

At least I think it was mom and dad.  But I have to admit I can’t tell one adult goose from another.  After hearing Charity Nebbe interview wildlife biologist Jim Pease on Iowa Public Radio, I now know that it’s not only the parents who bring up baby geese.  (You can hear the interview here: Parenting in the Wild.)

The goose doing guard duty looked like he (I’m sticking with dad) was making a noise – neck stretched up, beak open, tongue darting in and out – but I couldn’t hear it.  As I got closer, he hissed at me.  Meanwhile the other goose ignore me and the brood kept moving around pecking the ground.

When I went back by toward the end of my walk, the geese had moved to another bank.

And I still wished I had my camera.