Seeking shelter

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter
of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal
likewise with their fellow men.

Francis of Assisi


(spicebrush butterfly seeking a safe perch / Julie Cook / 2017)

I was leaning over, pulling up a few weeds out of the freshly strewn pine straw bed,
when I caught a bit of movement on a freshly trimmed bush.

A butterfly sat with fluttering wings wide open…not in the sun, but rather in the shadows.
It’s still a bit chilly in the mornings and early evenings here…however those first
hardy souls of the butterfly world are beginning to make their seasonal appearance.

I know that butterflies must sun themselves, warming up their muscles.
If the temps dip into the 40’s, butterflies can’t even move let alone fly.

I watched this wee one flitter from the shelter and shade of the shrubbery,
heading happily outward into the sun, only to lite upon the bay laurel tree.

The butterfly struggled on the slick laurel leaves to get traction.
Vainly attempting to climb up the leaves, in order to reach a sunnier spot in which to bask
in the beauty of the day, the butterfly kept slipping back down to the underside of the leaf,
while all the little fragile black legs worked furiously…
as my little friend scrambled to gain a foothold upward.

Yesterday we had tornados.
20 touched down throughout the state with one of those touchdowns being in my county.
It was nothing like our neighbors to the west in Louisiana,
but destructive none the less.

Property was damaged, cars crushed, college housing lost windows,
and even one of the local fire stations had it’s roof lifted of and taken away…
while a side wall then gave way….

Thankfully no one was hurt and no lives lost.

Today is a far cry from yesterday…
Today is one of those Chamber of Commerce type of days.
Warm, brilliant blue sky, white puffy clouds—
a true welcome mat coaxing one and all to venture out of doors.
Tomorrow however is to be like yesterday…
storm ridden and supposedly worse then we saw Monday.

Such is life in the Spring in the South…
beautifully inviting one minute, then hell on earth the next…
Sending both man and beast seeking shelter….

So for today as the butterfly and I currently enjoy wandering about a bit outside,
free from the confines of indoors or shelter…
I do so with knowledge that we both will most likely be seeking a safe haven
at some point tomorrow…

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91

Rejoice even in the shadows

“It is supposed by some that religion makes people solemn, takes the sunshine out of their life, the joy out of their heart, the song out of their mouth. But the reverse of this is the truth. No other one in the world has such secrets of joy as has the Christian. Christ teaches his followers to rejoice. He bids them rejoice even in sorrow and trial.”
James Russell Miller

“There is strong shadow where there is much light.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(Spicebrush swallowtail on the meyer lemons tree / Julie Cook / 2015)

Rejoice, Rejoice. . .and again I say Rejoice. . .
Rejoice in finding the happiness and joy that is promised to you this day,
just as it is promised each and every day . . .
Despite the growing and lengthening shadows that threaten the very gift of radiant light. . .
Those shadows which grow ever more ominous and heavy,
Remember that you are a child of holy Light. . .that there is nothing which remains hidden from the knowledge of the Most High. . .not even in the darkest shadow. . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

Inside out

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
Ezra Taft Benson

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(a spicebruch swallowtail butterfly found its way into the kitchen / Julie Cook / 2015)

My aunt and I walked out onto the back deck this afternoon–out from the kitchen door in order to get a closer look at a deer out in the back yard—we had left the kitchen door slightly ajar.
As we stood gawking at a doe nibbling on the grass, a spicebrush swallowtail butterfly, sporadically flittering over our heads,
makes it’s way along the deck heading directly for the kitchen door–
with the cat in hot pursuit.

The next thing I know, the butterfly is in the kitchen, flying immediately toward the shuttered kitchen windows. In a blink of an eye it makes its way through the slats of the far window, trapping itself between the shutter and the window. The cat now stretching to reach the window.

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I quickly opened the shutters, gently reaching in to cup my hands over my flighty visitor.
Easing my hands around him / her, I quickly escort my friend back outside. Freely opening my hands, the spicebrush takes off missing nary a beat with its herky jerky flight pattern. . .
this time far away from my open door.

Inside out, or outside in–either way it made for a bit of a trouble for the visiting butterfly, as well as for me, as I clambered over chairs to get to my guest quickly before it hurt itself or the cat beat me to it.

This latest escapade of mine had my thoughts shifting to the whole concept of inside out / outside in. . .
With Mr Benson’s quote for today’s post painting a very plain talking sort of thought, his words resonating deeply in my thought process. . .”God works from the inside out as the world works from the outside in. . .”

Intrinsic verses extrinsic.
Proactive verses reactive
Victim verses survivor

To be a Christian–one who lives in the world yet is not of the world is nothing short of learning to swim against the rip tide current.
When the world screams inclusiveness, the Christian claims conviction—
When the masses demand rights the Christian stands firm with an absolute.

Lines have blurred.
The world demands the bending of the sanctified spirit.
There are those who begin to question their beliefs—thinking that if the whole world seems to think that its way is the only way, lulling the questioning believer into falsely accepting such as truth, then the existence of the sanctified Truth becomes colluded.

Yet the Word was spoken. . .it has not changed, it has not deviated–it resonates deep from within, emanating outward—just as a stone dropped into a still pool of water with the rings of disturbance reverberating outward, ad infinitum, as it grows greater and wider from its center, so too does the Word of God. . .from the inside where God plants the seed of Truth in the heart of man, the Word spreads, speeding ever outward to touch a troubled world. . .and nothing shall stand in the way of God’s emanating Truth. . .that which starts from the inside spiraling ever outward.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

Precarious yet Precious

Hopes have precarious life. They are oft blighted, withered, snapped sheer off In vigorous growth and turned to rottenness.
George Eliot

“Why does everything that lives have to die?
So life would be precious, Asher. Something that is yours forever, is never precious.”

Chaim Potok

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(a wounded spicebrush swallowtail resting in a tree / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is life but a precarious dance with death
A game of slight of hand
Hide and seek
Catch me if you can. . .
And yet it is a gift, sacredly given–
A gift to be. . .
Savored
Guarded
Cherished
and
Honored. . .

All life matters. . .
The born and the unborn
the young and the aged
the sick and the healthy
the bright and the dim
the tall and the small
the believer and the unbeliever
the White
the Black
the Asian
the Indian
the Muslim
the Buddhist
the Jew
the Christian
the Taoist
the liberal and the conservative
the republican and the democrat
the whig and the tory
the carnivore and the vegetarian
the learned and the ignorant
the faithful and the faithless
the wise and the unwise
the good, and yes, even the bad. . .

And what we do with that most precious of gifts is what matters most

Give or take
Comfort or ignore
Help or turn away
Reach out or hold tight
Love or hate. . .

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth
Psalm 139:13-16

Newness

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
you shall begin it serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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(spicebrush swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2014)

While out walking in the woods, on a most blustery day, a tantalizing surprise made its presence known. . . Gloriously, it appears that our long weary wait, through a never-ending winter, may soon, blessedly, be drawing to a close.

Life has been painfully cold, unseasonably so. Nightly lows have remained in the mid 30’s. Wind and rain has been the featured guest as of late, but today, joyfully today, a glimpse of Hope.

Lithely, without rhyme or reason, bouncing on shimmering translucent wings, the first butterfly of the season dances past non believing eyes.

Still bundled up, fighting March’s final fierce stinging winds, we wander along the trail just happy the sun has decided to make a long awaited appearance. Are we seeing things? Was that truly a butterfly wistfully flitting past?

A spicebrush butterfly makes its way to a small twig in order to bathe in the warm rays of an early spring morning.
A sign of new days and new ways, as the heavy unending winter mercifully dwindles and wanes, becoming nothing more than a shadow.

Today is a new day indeed.
A glimpse of a happy change has made its presence known and for it, we are most grateful!
We sit perched on the edge of a happy new month.
Oh Blessed Happy Day!!