Nature

Redefining Perfect

Blog_ForestPathI watched one day as a man planted trees on an empty lot. With great precision, he lined the trees in perfect rows. If his pattern fell off, he would re-fill and re-dig to get it just right.

Later, I walked through a park where it seemed the trees had been there from the beginning of time. The path wound with bends and turns, veering here and there, never once forming a straight line.

Instead, it followed the pattern of the trees.

So often we expect our lives to fall in perfect line. Like the man planting trees, we define perfection by precision—a strict, military regimen without hindrance or obstacle. But when I observe creation, I wonder if perfection has an altogether different definition.

Consider the trees. There is beauty and order in each, and yet…in a natural setting they are not lined in perfect rows. Their branches are bent and twisted, growing every which way, yet still forming something…beautiful. It’s the same with rivers and mountains, flowers and hills. Even the shoreline of an ocean changes daily with the tide.

Our lives weren’t meant to be formed on an assembly line. There will be bends and turns, times when everything seems opposite of order. Yet from a higher perspective, our Creator observes and declares, “It is good.” He is the ultimate artist, and his definition of perfect trumps our own, every time.

 

Photo Credit: Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Revisit) (5) | Flickr …

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Where There is Beauty

Yes, there is suffering. Yes, there is evil. Daily, we’re bombarded with news we’d rather shut our eyes and ears to. Yet still, there is beauty, tenacious beauty. Where there is beauty, there is hope. And if there is hope, there is reason to live.

 

Photo Credit: File:Bodnant Gardens, Petal strewn path – geograph.org.uk …

Stop and Consider

Blog_MountainView01

Have you ever considered the vast beauty that surrounds us, not only in flowers, but in trees and hills, mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, canyons and waterfalls? Have you ever appreciated the exquisite uniqueness of each animal that graces air, sea, and land? And does it ever confound you that each of these exist despite the surrounding death and decay? The evils of earth pale in comparison to the beauty which prevails.

 

Photo Credit: Mountain, Landscape – Free images on Pixabay

Strengthened by Struggle

Blog_ButterflyChrysalisSo it looks like my butterflies-to-be will be coming home with me for Spring Break. Though I was hoping my students would be here to witness metamorphosis, the timing just didn’t work out. But the coming transformation is something I definitely do NOT want to miss. How sad if it were to happen in an empty classroom, for no one to see.

Unfortunately, that’s how most ordinary miracles are, happening every day, all around us—yet we fail to see. But that’s another blog post.

What I’m thinking about now is…struggle. The other morning, my co-worker gave me some pointers on caring for newly hatched butterflies that turned out to be profound wisdom. When they emerge, the butterflies will struggle. I’ll want to help them, of course, but helping them would hinder a necessary process. Because it’s through the struggle that they gain strength.

How reflective of life, these butterflies. We struggle, fight, and flail—all the while praying to get out of the trial we’re in. If only we lived free of struggle, we’d be strong…or so we believe.

Yet it’s in the midst of struggle that we become strong. The burdens we bear seem to weigh us down, when in fact they’re building us up. Soon, our wings will be strong to fly, if only we endure.

Though it’s hard, I’m learning a new prayer—not that God will take the trial from me (unless He wants to!), but that God will make me stronger through the trial. As Jesus prayed in the garden, so I pray, “My father! If it is possible, may this cup of suffering be taken from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Do Not Disturb

Blog_WorkInProgressMy butterflies are waiting in their chrysalises, soon to emerge in splendor and freedom. While I wait for their big reveal, I’m doing my best to follow the step-by-step directions that accompanied the butterfly garden kit. And, I might add, biting my nails. What if I do something wrong? Could one mistake prevent these amazing creatures from fulfilling their destiny? Will they die in their cocoon?

This morning, I took the bold step of removing the paper film from their former habitat and transferring the chrysalises to their garden home. Bold, I say, because I do NOT like insects. As mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the only thing motivating me to care for these otherwise repulsive bugs is the knowledge of what they will become.

The next step shouldn’t be so hard. “Do not disturb.” Although, in a classroom full of curious kids, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The future butterflies are busy at work, though all we see is their hard outer shell hanging loosely from the netting. Our job is to wait and watch.

Sometimes, we get a little eager to see what’s going on with our circumstances. We want answers, and we want them now. If it seems nothing’s happening, we want to intervene. What if we’re not doing enough?

And yet…what if we’re doing too much?

There’s a season for everything. There’s a time to labor and invest. And there’s a time to wait and watch. There’s wisdom in discerning which season we’re in.

If we step in when we should be still, we disrupt the process. Think of Abraham. When he should have been waiting patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promises, he took matters into his own hands—resulting in family strife that affected all of history beyond.

When God says “do not disturb,” it’s best to listen. There’s a work in progress. We’re a work in progress. And the results of waiting (patiently!) are always glorious.

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)