Choose to Fly by Pat Cirrincione

Flight. Where does it take us? To the moon and back? A journey we may or may not wish to make? As I ponder this word, so many images come to mind. The flight of Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt. Their forty-year flight in the desert, which could have been so much shorter if they had obeyed God, who took them out of bondage. Like the Israelites, we, too, make mistakes on our personal flights.

We fail to listen to someone who may know better than we do about making the journey a more comfortable one, perhaps even bringing joy to everyone involved in the walk. We fail to see the pitfalls or the temptations in route. We whine if things don’t go our way, even though the fault might be ours for refusing to listen to those who have gone on ahead of us.

Then there is the flight Mary and Joseph made back to Egypt to keep their infant son safe from a murderous, jealous king who was not about to be dethroned. But this newborn king would want something more—the hearts of all people to turn to him in submission and love. I’m sure that many of us have fled from this all-out submission to Christ.

If you’ve read any of my posts, by now you know that I have a tremendous capacity to flee from bugs of any sort. I hate to admit this, but I have demonstrated the same capacity to flee from our Savior.

I thought that I could live my life any way I pleased, going from one temptation to another, prizing achievement and acclaim more than anything else. I ignored the basic beliefs of my faith and followed the idols of the world. I wanted to accumulate fame, riches and notoriety as stage actress.

I had many opportunities to follow that desire as different opportunities came my way—from an internship with Second City (thwarted by my fear to travel downtown by train during the sixties), to being offered my acting green card to perform in the Goodman’s children’s theater (the idea of touring and living in flea bag hotels held no appeal to me), to different opportunities to perform on stage in different venues. Each time, however, something came along that pulled me away from the starlight.

Personally, I thought it was my wonderful personality, good looks and charm that got me into other positions in the corporate world, and opportunities to perform in many Crusade of Mercy shows, singing, dancing, acting—even getting a small part in The Nutcracker ballet.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized God had been directing the flight of my life all along. God says to return to him. Our hearts must take flight back to our Lord and God. We should turn to him in prayer as King Hezekiah did in Scripture. Only Yahweh can turn our lives around as we trust him. As our souls fly back to him we are blessed with his steadfast love, his voice of hope and peace. Only then can we turn away from our idols, and take flight from pride, self-worship, greed and the grotesqueness of sin.

We cannot live or “take flight” in this world without first placing our complete faith in our Creator. Only then will our souls soar to the highest point, to a God who watches over us. When we take flight from God we lose, because we need him the most. I conclude with a quote from Pro Football Hall of Famer Tyrell Davis who said: “Know God’s hand is always on the small of your back, propelling and guiding you forward.” Then move ahead, with gratitude in a God who will make you soar with the gift he has blessed you with.

Entangled Flight by Virginia Hughes

A flash of feathers in rapid succession catches my eye from the kitchen window. A mourning dove is flailing in the crabapple tree. 

I approach cautiously speaking just above a whisper, "It's all right, let me see," reaching around the bird's back to gently hold it. Both legs are caught fast in kite string. A wide web of string is forming from the bird's wild thrashing in the branches. Once it quiets, freeing it may begin.

My husband finds the smallest pair of scissors, and we commence the delicate process of cutting and unwinding string off the impossibly skinny legs of the bird. Snip, snip, I shakily avoid its slender legs, the tender feet. We pray it doesn't die of fright or make a sudden movement and suffer more in our hands. 

Once freed, I set it gently on a branch. It grips with one good set of tiny talons, the other claw misshapen, unable to clasp around the branch. The wounded claw hangs awkwardly in the air as the dove balances on one leg like a flamingo.

The nature center’s oft repeated lecture about leaving wild things alone echoes in my mind. I remember my children on these nature center field trips watching caregivers feed baby squirrels, fledglings and bunnies with an eye dropper. A stern lecture always followed about leaving wild creatures in their place. 

Once we brought a broken bird to the nature center, hit by a car in front of our home. We sat through a reprimand for touching it, and learned the bird was not surviving, and should have been left to die. My young daughters burst into tears. Cruel world. I reassured them that the wounded bird should not have been left wobbling dazedly, dodging cars in a macabre street theater, with youngsters as the audience, front and center.

Today's bird in front of me needs more help. Will the nature center fashion a tiny splint for that ruined claw after lecturing me, of course, maybe provide a bird sized grain of pain med? 

How does that string become part of a bird? Perhaps while nesting, going about her birdly mom duties, she pecks a wad of string, never suspecting it to take on a life of its own, ensnaring and nearly ending hers.

The bird pulls up her gimp leg, slowly raising and lowering both wings, gripping with one claw, wide-eyed and blinking. Up to a higher branch she flies. Adapting and balancing on the one leg again, she eyes me cautiously, lifts off the branch and flies swiftly away. She is freed yet marked by the battle with the string.

I am the mother bird with many good intentions, in over my head with lots of strings attached. Such is the nature of birds and other mothers. Daily I pray for wisdom for my daughters living in a broken world. In physics, entangled means to cause the quantum states of two or more objects to become correlated in such a way that they remain correlated, even though the objects are separated spatially. There is math to back up the existence of the heart strings that I feel though they seem to stretch very thin at times.

 I quiet myself in God's presence, worship begins and God begins to free me of all but his goodness, which like a fetter binds my wandering heart to him. I am freed, yet marked by my battle with the string. May I forever embrace my entangled flight. 

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for they courts above.

 

The Temptation to Forget by Pat Cirrincione

More than a few years ago, some close friends asked my husband and me to go camping with them. My husband was really excited about this upcoming weekend adventure. He envisioned using his Bowie knife like Davy Crockett. I envisioned him knocking out any bug that would dare to try and take up residence in our tent. If you are wondering, we had never been camping before.

The drive to our campgrounds in Wisconsin was quite nice. It would have been even nicer if we had left earlier. You see, we arrived at our campgrounds about 9 p.m. It was pitch dark in those Wisconsin woods, and it was raining. We kept the car headlights on so we could pitch our tents; my husband kept his Bowie knife by his side in case a bear happened to stroll by. I thought we should just sleep in our car, but then how would my lack of adventuresome spirit affect our friends who had extended the camping invitation in the first place. With a stiff upper lip, I learned how to set up our canvas tents, in the rain--my teeth chattering  in the damp cold air. By midnight our tents were up, and we retired to our respective homes in the wilderness.

Once inside our tent, my husband got our lantern up and running, and then proceeded to blow up our air mattresses and set up our sleeping bags on them of them. Meanwhile, I went around the tent with my box of Kleenex, stuffing the tissues into every nook and cranny a bug might think of crawling through in order to spend the night with us.

We finally snuggled into our sleeping bags as the storm outside intensified. Every time the wind gusted a fine mist of water showered us. I was told later that this can happen in a canvas tent, and wondered why no one had told us to bring rain tarps for inside the tent. There was thunder, lightning and rain, rain, rain. Did people really think this was fun? I prayed myself to sleep, aching to be in my own warm, dry, cozy bed at home. Visions of sugar plums were not dancing through my head, while my husband, Bowie knife at his side, slept like a bear.

At some point, I must have fallen asleep, because I awoke to the wonderful smell of coffee. As we eased ourselves out of our sleeping bags, I did a quick look around for spiders. Seeing none in sight I was up and out of the tent, in need of that delicious dark brew.The day had dawned bright. My camping partner was ready to take on the day. Me, I just wanted to curl up in the back seat of our car and fall asleep. God had other plans.

After a few hours--KABOOM! More rain, more thunder and more lightning. Back to the mists of Avalon, as I  affectionately called our tent home, but this time I was armed with another cup of  coffee. As I sat there watching the storm through the tent flap, I could feel the presence and the power of God. I felt awe as I watched the magnificence of what he was doing; how he could keep the earth alive and nourished with his drops from heaven. I felt so small and humbled by his might and majesty. I began to realize that this camping trip was a gift from God. He gave it to us so that we could admire his handiwork in his creation. He knew that this trip was  to become a respite from our busy lives, to dwell for a time in place that we seldom take the time to see because of our busy lives and schedules.

The rain dissipated and as night fell, the stars came out in their glory, and we were treated to the infinite glory and magnitude of his universe. Again, I sat in awe of his artistry in everything that surrounded us. Who was this God who could create such magnificence for our pleasure if only we would take the time to notice. As for camping, well, we did that again, but we will never forget the gift of being in the woods or how the clouds broke in the morning and the sun shone through, making the wet trees and grass glisten for a brief moment, until the rain began again, sprinkling the air and tent with a dewy mist, giving us a picture of his glory.

Cento Tremble

A Cento is a poem that is a collection of quotes from other works. This one includes Psalm 114, Thomas Jefferson, George Herbert, Oswald Chambers, John Piper, MosaicMSC and Christina Rosetti.

Marr Miller shot the image: "This is a digital copy from a Kodachrome taken in December 1978. We were in the north east of what was then Zaire (now Congo) at the time."

Alight by Dan Haase

Storms pass and so too the ominous clouds.
The parting leads to a brightening. What fear drove into hiding returns and because it had been so dark for a time, one is surprised by the beauty within such fragility. We trod in muddy fields as we pass many blooms.

wild flowers--
the height of the prairie
in the rising sun

With Both a Whimper and a Bang by Lois Krogh

While many of you were enjoying neighborhood fireworks or lighting sparklers with your kids over the very long Fourth of July weekend, I was sitting with Brynn, our seven-year-old, 70 pound, Norwegian Elkhound, who just happens to be afraid of fireworks. Terrified really.

At the first sound, she goes into a frightened panic mode. Her tail, that usually is curled with its tip resting on her back, flattens out and drops between her legs. She then begins to pant heavily.

Probably like I would if I were to run down the street chasing after a child’s school bus with forgotten homework in hand. At the next boom, she will bolt. Anywhere. Under anything. Tables, chairs, desks. Places that are really not comfortable for a 70 pound dog. Including my lap. Without warning, she’ll be on my lap. And off at the next bang. Somewhere in there her instinctive warning system ramps up and the barking and whining commence.  

And yes, we’ve tried the “Thunder Blanket," lavender oil and doggy sedatives. What seems to work best is going to the basement with her and turning on the dehumidifier and the TV. I know more than enough about the stars on home improvement shows.   

It has been a long week. Please tell me when we began shooting off fireworks for the whole month of July? The rest of my family has been backpacking this week. I was supposed to be having a quiet time at home to myself. It has been anything but. Brynn doesn't calm down before one or two in the morning; then is awake at 5 a.m. hungry, because she wouldn't eat her dinner because she was afraid. And me? I’ve not really been all that rested either.

It’s almost midnight of the fourth night after the Fourth, and I can tell I won’t be asleep for a while. If only I could reason with this dog. I’ve tried. And failed. She doesn’t realize how good she has it. All her meals provided. A great backyard to run in, lots of people to fuss over her. If only she could trust me.  

Ah. Do you see where this illustration is going? How like Brynn I am. How foolish it is of me not to trust my heavenly Father. Something goes wrong in my world or I feel like I have lost control over something and what do I do? I drop my shoulders and panic. How often have I run from one thing to another trying to solve the problem? How often have I overburdened those around me, making sure everyone knows that something is wrong and they had better help me? I, too, have been guilty of not accepting the help they give. Sometimes I know I hide from a fear by increasing activity and noise around me.  

I am sure it grieves my heavenly Father. I have it so good. I have a great Savior who is a good shepherd and a strong and victorious king. He is wise and loving and powerful. And he has promised to care for me.  

Maybe this week home alone wasn’t about resting or checking things off my to-do list. Maybe it was about being in the middle of an object lesson about the foolishness of fear. Dear Lord, the next time I hear a bang, crackle, sputter or boom, would you give me ears to hear the reassurances of your Word? 

Brynn is under the desk as I write. I think she might have fallen asleep. So while my God holds the universe together, I’m going to get some rest as well. 

Lines for Sandy by Wil Triggs

We trembled as we drove our dying dog Sandy to the emergency vet clinic on Sunday, July 9. We trembled in grief when the vet gently laid her now lifeless body on the examination table--no more wagging tail or huge doggy smile. I wrote these lines for Sandy.

Whatever you thought
I never knew,
but your voice
always made my tail dance.
Pant.
When I rolled over
on my back,
Your hand was there
to stroke or scratch.
Pant.
When I would go
out to yard-explore,
You always opened the door
and let me in to lap the water dish.
Pant.
Morning and night,
you always gave me fowl or fish.
I always wanted more;
I am a dog, after all.
Pant.
But it was also always enough,
Every moment enough
But never full
Ready for more,
to give and give;
That's what I was
and am made for.
Pant no more.

 

In the Bright Morning, Shadows by dt.Haase

Our favorite wanderer for wonder, whimsy and wisdom, Dan Haase, reflects on a summer morning.

The garden, like any good fairy tale, reminds us how, at times, beauty is a disguise of the dangerous. The Japanese beetle has taken flight and descended upon the leaves of my garden. It is a troubling thing that destruction should lead to destruction. That in one ecosystem, thousands of miles away, its presence does not trigger any alarms as the natural order keeps it in check, while here it is named a pest. How does one live in a world of such discontinuity? 

forecast - 

clouds block out the sun 

bringing rain