Photos, sometimes with Commentary, from a lay Catholic.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lessons from the Maple Tree, Lessons from the Saints

Maple Tree Seeds Blowing in the Wind 2010

"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope."
- Thomas Merton

"Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself."
— Thomas Merton

"If you want to identify me,ask me not where I live,or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail,ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for."
- Thomas Merton

Maple Seeds Dancing Against the Sky: April 2010

"Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance."
- St. Augustine

Hope of Things to Come!

"MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
- Thomas Merton

New Maple Tree 2010

‎"Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. Others seek knowledge that they may themselves be known: that is vanity. But there are still others who seek knowledge in order to serve and edify others, and that is charity."
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Maple Seeds in Springtime: April 2010

Note: Thomas Merton is not regarded as an official Saint within the Catholic Church, meaning that his life has not undergone the scrutiny of a formal Canonization process. He is, however, regarded with respect as a prolific and profound Catholic who through his writings and journals conveyed many spiritual insights which have merit and value for all of us. He is most certainly a "saint", as all of us are who seek to conform our lives to the teachings of Jesus and to live in the Father's will.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hope and Promise

Hope and Promise: The First Year the Yellow Tulips Bloomed

In April, Spring came again to our northern climate and the grey and white landscape was replaced with colors and shapes, and the birds returned to their singing. Our moods lifted and the possibilities of all that we could accomplish filled our spirits like blood rushing into our head. Our thoughts ran swiftly like the spring streams, and ideas flowed with renewed energy. The world had awakened, and we with it. The doors and windows of our houses opened and the neighbors stepped into their yards, and blinked away the drear that had been our winter. Perhaps better things lay ahead after all.

Oak Tree in Afternoon Light, April 2010

Yellow Tulips: First Time They Saw the Sun

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wisdom Speaks

Red Geranium Bloom: Indoor Beauty

The first reading from the Mass on Sunday, July 17, 2011 was from the book of Wisdom:

"There is no god besides you who have the care of all,
that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.
For your might is the source of justice;
your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved;
and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.
But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,
and with much lenience you govern us;
for power, whenever you will, attends you.
And you taught your people, by these deeds,
that those who are just must be kind;
and you gave your children good ground for hope
that you would permit repentance for their sins."
- Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

God has no need to prove Himself to us. His might is the "source of justice", it is the measure of what is just and right. And yet His "mastery over all things makes Him lenient to all." That is a profound thing to consider. If our all powerful God shows His leniency toward us, we are obligated to do the same to our fellowman, and fellow creatures. Those who are strong should protect the weak.

The passage from Wisdom spoke to me on many levels today, but perhaps the most relevant to my circumstances at present was this: "In those who know you, you rebuke temerity." For those who are in relationship with God should not exhibit temerity. They are, after all, His. This is different from arrogance and free of caprice. Those who walk with Him should recall that they are in good hands.

If our God is just and cares for us, and if he shows us mercy and has provided a means of forgiveness, why should we be timid, fearful or insecure? Why exhibit temerity? He rightly rebukes this in us because it reveals a small faith in His providence. It is as though we have forgotten who He is! Rather, we should remain confident in the assurance that whatever befalls us, He will be there with us. He is our source of all that is good.

In the Shadows: Red Geranium