The Appointed Seasons

What have we here?

Turdus migratorius (Latin)

Turdidae are thrushes.

This one a Robin, a thrush that is…DSC_0051ed

a migratory bird. (migratorius)

6 of 10 things it eats are

FRUIT.

Robins are “frugivorous,”

they eat fruit.

Robins are common.

We know their song, their color, their size.DSC_0055ed

They mark the change of season…winter to spring and fall to winter.

Robins “know” migration.

The why and the when.

Why? Consider this answer from the Bible, the book of Jeremiah. Just a warning-there is a surprise at the end. “This is what the Lord says…even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.”

Does migration work for these birds? We know the answer. Migration is appointed-by God. Following the appointed times directed by God works each season for migratory birds.

What if we followed what God has appointed? It works for birds. What if we knew the “requirements of the Lord?” Would it be better than good? In a word, absolutely. How do we know the requirements of the Lord? In two words, the Bible.DSC_0045ed

Colors & Beauty of Fall

 

What is color? Call it a property possessed by an object to produce different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light. Color has hue, tint, shade, pigment, and shade.DSC_0026ed

What is beauty?  We explain it as a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, which please our senses, especially sight. Beauty is loveliness, pretty, exquisite, gorgeous, splendor, or magnificence.DSC_0088ed

How do we know the color of something? Our eyes tell us. How do we determine if something is beautiful? Our eyes relay color and form, it is the heart which determines beauty.

The components of determining color and beauty are human eye and heart. What is the origin of the human eye?

To answer this question, let’s examine the eye. There are 4 distinct parts to the front and outside of the eye. The iris gives our eyes color. The cornea is a clear dome over the iris. The pupil is the circular opening in the iris, it lets light into the eye. The white of the eye is called the sclera, it covers the entire eye except the cornea and protects it. Light next passes through the lens attached top and bottom by two post-like parts of the eye called cilia. After passing through the lens light enters the vitreous body of the eye (which keeps its round shape) and continues to the back of the eye where the retina, macula, optic disk and optic nerve are found.

Since the front of the eye is curved, the beauty and colors we see are projected upside down on the retina. In the retina there are 7 million rods and from 75 to 150 million rods that receive the light. Minimally 150 million receptors “process” the image to fit into the 1 million optic nerve fibers. When they transfer the image to the brain, the brain turns it right side up. How does that work?

We will only mention the eye is protected by bone in the special hollow for each eye called the eye-socket. We will only mention that the eye is moved in the socket by 6 muscles which are synchronized to direct movement, and in this movement, both eyes work in tandem. There is much more.

Every function of the human eye is an intricately orchestrated system of tissue, nerves, blood, and cells designed to turn light into images our brain can name. It’s red, scarlet, orange, yellow, green. We call it fall. We say, “Beautiful.” The color, and beauty of fall are gifts from God. That we have sight to see in this season is also a gift from God.DSC_0104ed

What is the origin of beauty? God. Only God can make the human heart to thrill at the color and beauty of fall. These gifts from God: color, sight and beauty combine to swell our hearts in thanksgiving to God who gives them freely to each of us. This truth makes colors and beauty of fall brighter and even more spectacular.DSC_0001ed

Ask for the Ancient Paths

Call them migratory flyways. There are four in North America: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific. These distinct flight paths for migratory birds are set by biologists. They were formally set in 1948 by biologists who worked with migratory waterfowl. Even earlier, the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, established treaties with Canada and Mexico for the protection of birds that make all three countries their habitat during parts of a year.

Yet, the human recognition of established flight paths for migrating birds is new. The flyways are ancient.DSC_0056ed

Today, a gusty northwest wind has caused the release of thousands of leaves from nearby ash trees. For every leaf it is the first and final trip to earth. These leaves have come to the place where they perform their second function: to renew the earth as they decay. The annual color change and flutter to earth of millions of deciduous tree leaves is an ancient event.DSC_0079ed

Yet, seasonal change and bird migration are relatively new.

So is the annual storage of food by squirrels. The seasonal ritual of burying walnuts in the earth by the squirrels has been underway for many days already. Squirrels have responded to the soon to come cold of winter by caching food in the ground for centuries, even millennia. Forests have grown from this rodent behavior.

But squirrels, leaves and birds are not the ancient.

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The way of Creator God is truly ancient. But not ancient in a negative, or being ‘out of date’ or antiquated way. God’s ways are both ageless and contemporary. Have you gazed at a fall forest hillside ablaze in color? Have you witnessed the wonderful mystery of a migratory flock of birds overhead? Has your breath ever been taken by the majesty of the thousands of stars in the night sky? Could the ancient ways of One who daily creates such majesty be out of date?

Ancient is a human term. It signifies the passage of a great deal of time. God has no clock. God has no day. God has no calendar. God is not ancient. God is now. God is active. God is all-knowing. We cannot comprehend the majesty that is God’s alone. But, we can trust Him.

When the subject of God comes before us we have two choices. Trust Him and follow His path or refuse and take our own path. It is incredible to think that we humans would ever say to God, “I’ll go my way, not yours.” But we do. We turn from the One who made migration paths, seasons, and the instinct to cache food, and go our way. Almighty God will not force us to walk with Him.

God’s prophet, Jeremiah wrote these invitational words from God. Our two choices are included. He wrote, thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)

The choice seems clear. Ask for the ancient paths. The good way is in them. God has promised rest for our souls.

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Never Withers-Never Fades

 
The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:8)
 
Yesterday, my objective was a Woolly Bear caterpillar. Should adults be looking for small orange and black fuzzy caterpillars? In a word, yes. Woolly Bear caterpillars are good photography subjects. My search resulted in a respectable hike, but not one Woolly Bear was seen.
 
Searching places my human reason determined to be Woolly Bear habitat did not help either. Actually, it’s good my mind does not work like a Woolly Bear’s, it would be disastrous for both insect and human.
 
As the hunt for the elusive Woolly Bear continued, small areas of color caught my eye. Delicate white, royal lavender, and deep scarlet came into view as my steps carried me onward. Yesterday, fall was a week old. The few flowers remaining were a minority among the withered tan and brown leaves and stalks of the grasses. They became my subjects.DSC_0025ed
 
Today, my mind is still on the flowers and the grass. Not their diminishing beauty and number, or their withered drying stalks, but their example. Withering and fading happen in the north country each fall. The beautiful vitality of a native plant, either flower or grass gradually withers or fades. Petals and leaves fall to earth. The response of native plants to seasonal change provide us with a powerful physical example which instructs us about the Word of God.
 
Take a fall walk outside. Notice the grass and flowers. They clarify for us a truth about God’s Word. In sharp contrast, God’s Word never fades. It never declines. It does not become weak. It never wastes away. God’s Word stands forever. It endures. It survives every human attempt to destroy it. Over all human rhetoric, God’s word prevails. It is always beautiful. It endlessly, ceaselessly stands as the ultimate truth.
 
Here are two truths from the forever Word of God: We can have eternal hope. Jesus died for my sins and yours. As the flowers fade and grass withers we are reminded God’s Word is everlasting. One place the power of God is found is in His word. Find a Bible, and read.

Far Beyond Marvelous

A walk with the camera this afternoon revealed marvelous things. It was not a walk in an exotic place. Our backyard is comfortable, familiar.

On a set timetable my walk was brief. Limiting time outside narrows our ability to see things. Time limits distract us from paying attention.

Yet, any time outside is beneficial. It takes the edges off. Worries shrink. Problems seem solvable. Marvelous things can be seen by distracted eyes. Mine saw three.DSC_0002ed

The sugar maple in our yard signals season change. Maples herald fall, they inspire awe in the process. A Northern Flicker revealed the second marvelous object, Virginia Creeper berries. Stems a deeper red than the most scarlet Maple, the purple berries create a stunning contrast that draws the eye. For number three you have the right to disagree. It was a common house fly. To be specific a cold common house fly, cold enough to allow a camera within a foot of its highly visible perch. This fly will likely not reach its full life span. In two days, the forecast calls for frost. When not annoying me, I find beauty in a single fly.DSC_0009ed

What do we do with marvelous things? We can relish them. Changing leaves bring the reminder of cold to come. We can appreciate them. Marvelous things quiet our souls, and marvelous things are also created to give glory to God. The source of everything marvelous is God. Breathtaking? It’s God. Magnificent, thank God. Spectacular? God.

These three marvelous things of today have long-standing origins. All were planned by God before recorded history. There is no word descriptive enough for that. It is far, far beyond marvelous. These three simple marvels were planned long ago and have occurred with predictable timing every fall season. That kind of dependable only comes from God. For He is faithful. Millennia have passed, and every fall leaves turn color, Virginia Creeper berries turn purple and flies go into slow motion. These marvels happen every fall. In them God shows us His great faithfulness.DSC_0005ed

God is faithful in all things. Isaiah reminds us.  He said, “Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1)   When God tells us He loves us, it’s true. He tells us Jesus died for our sins. He did. This is the greatest act of faithfulness ever given. This is beyond marvelous.DSC_0007ed