Tag Archives: nature

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Thousand Word Fridays: Flashes of Neon

composite bird3

Photo by Jason Sierra (2014)

I wonder if the lilac-breasted roller knows how spectacular he looks, floating behind the Zebra, chasing flies. I wish I were  a butterfly or  a mantis shrimp; I’m sure there are colors there I’m missing between the pink-orange and neon blue, cocking his head to look more closely at me. Click click click.

(Pilanesburg, South Africa)

 

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Thousand Word Fridays: Til the flooding subside

water lion

Photo by Jason Sierra (2014)

He stood,

and waited,

his back to me.

listening me into stillness

and waiting for the flooding to subside.

Invisible

“What am I doing with my life?”

I ask this question in jest whenever I see someone accomplish what I could only hope to (like making this amazing video). But really, it is the ever present question, the one that rattles around in my chest and head every time I stop long enough to breathe and look around. That’s part of the unsettled nature of this moment in life, I guess. Or maybe it is just part of life in general.

I have this image in my head that discernment  is a task I could accomplish in an afternoon if I really just committed the time and engaged in some sort of linear process. I would begin by looking at my life, my skills, my passions, then I would ask myself a series of  questions and suddenly my vocation would emerge, clear as day.

But really discernment, in my experience, has been a lot more like this video.

The me I want to be, the me God is calling me to be is like an invisible being that I’m constantly chasing through the woods. I wait for a shadow or a change in the way the dust is blowing and then I have an instant to throw color where I think he is in hopes of catching a glimpse of how he moves, what he looks like, where he’s going. It’s beautiful and painstaking and frustrating as hell.

But every time I encounter him I come one step closer to being him.

Being in grad school I have the luxury of spending all my time chasing this image of who I want to be. But just like in my former working world, it is so easy to lose focus. It is so easy to get caught up in someone else’s idea of what the process should be, to just create another to do list, when all I really want and need is to pursue the image of my own wonderfully created soul.

And when I pursue that, when I can emphasize my being over my doing and seek ardently for it in all its unknowableness, I know I’ll begin both being and doing what God has called me to do and be.

What to do with your weekend

Make your head explode with the BBC’s Science Club and their excellent animations on the history of science (clips, page 2).  For example, the brain. Now go waste some time.

You’re welcome.

Life

As I watch this trailer my heart is breaking and mending cyclically in a way that only Spike Jonze makes possible. It’s partially the music in his movies with voices that verge on tears, partially the monsters he creates and then makes you love, and partially the willingness to hold nothing back. But all together it makes for something untouchable.

While I, of course, haven’t actually seen the movie (it opens Nov. 20), “Her” crosses a frontier that probably makes a lot of us uncomfortable. Begging the questions: what is love? and how do we love?,  it also asks the bigger question, what is life?

Between technological advances, medical and political debates and extraterrestrial exploration the question is a relevant one. What is Life? How do we define it? Does it have to be carbon based? Does it have to die? Does it have to be “conscious” in the way we are conscious? or does it simply have to be? And once we have defined it, what does it mean to honor it? 

I’m uninterested in sparking a debate here on abortion or various forms of research, what I am interested in is how definitions of life restrict or expand our understanding of the infinite creativity present in the creation. If God truly is “I am,” that is, being itself, than everything that exists both reflects and honors that foundation.

So while I may pity Theodor Twombly in “Her,” I also hear Samantha discovering, beautifully discovering, the life that is already hers. She is perhaps  not so far off into our future, how will we receive her? Alive?

(A good friend, the Rev. Dr. Lucas Mix who is both Episcopal Priest and astrobiologist will be studying the definition of life in both theology and science through Harvard’s biology department over the next couple years. I’ll try to interject insights from him from time to time as his research progresses)

Science

Somebody did this.

This is you. Amazing.

These exist.

There are many Facebook pages that give homage to the wonders of science, but my favorite is Science is Awesome.

In a world where people constantly fail to honor the wonder of life around us, the complex mysteries of other human beings, and the infinite miracle of our own bodies, these pages provide a constant stream of opportunities to marvel at the miracle of existence.

When God called himself “I Am that I Am” in the book of Exodus, God claimed existence itself as the divine wonder, the beauty of being as the unknowable foundation. Christ showed us that we didn’t have to stare into the cosmos to see that wonder, that it was right in front of us every moment.

So when I wonder at the posts on this page I am reminded that life is so much bigger than my own little tragedies, that the beauty of all life is an invitation into the divine fullness of our own lives.

A Sadness

The pool’s edges glitter with turquoise and sky

at the touch of my light,

the only warmth in this throne room of unknown gods

hundreds of feet beneath the sun-beaten Texas hills.

Cradled in white calcite drippings and strivings

falling and rising like porcelain fingers

cupping a precious mouthful

stolen from some unseen stream in the blackness,

the water is all the more precious to be drunk.

The depths call to me from the shallows

with a memory of some long rejected touch

the cold ringing familiar through my bones

inciting an impulse to sleep beneath its blanket,

and there, in the quenching blackness of its center

to be cradled by the weight of waters gathered

to feel my rib cage contract around an emptiness

my soul curl in upon its own weightlessness

to find itself hollowed by the cold

and the impregnable darkness.

But here in the shallows, there is a comfort,

the warmth of my faint light

revealing the coppered rust of the pool floor

my toes searching like so many bottom feeders

my soles planted upon a porcelain palm

and my heart, though longing,

turning to ascend

to reclaim a place

beneath the relentless summer sun.

Flowers in Dried Earth (Pine Ridge Reservation, SD)

flowers in dried sand

Grey and tired the land lay

not resigned but exhausted

skin bleached to clean the stains of fallen warriors

the  hush of the wind a reminder of the fragility of this peace

the silent grasses an empty signal of things lost.

I come as a pilgrim, tent and stake,

to cling for a night to her unforgiving hide

to hold my hand to her stars

and shield my eyes from her moon

to take the sandals from off my feet

and quake at the un-consuming flames rising from the dried earth.

Here the locust, the frog and I,

we are all of a kind,

unwelcome, unwitnessing,

and met with grace.

How does your city taste?

What do the 1980s taste like? What’s the difference between the flavor of the Bronx and the flavor of Staten Island? What is the difference between the self-described flavor of Brooklyn and the clean scrubbed stats produced by the census?

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Sunbreaks

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The sky is made of steel here

but once in a while

the sun’s diamond-bladed rays

pierce through.

The heart of heaven

bared for a brief moment

to break across

these jagged western mountains;

our silhouettes not even muddying the fringes of her coat

as she leans across the yawning city

to reflect dimly in the windowed towers,

who, with waking wonder,

stop to marvel.