"In the wasteland I will set the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, That all may see and know, observe and understand, That the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it." - Isaiah 41:19-20
The mystery of a pine cone. "Mystery", you ask? Much to my surprise, the pine cone is rich in religious symbolism. Besides being a symbol of fertility and growth, it is a symbol of enlightenment and spiritual illumination. But perhaps its most prominent symbol is that of everlasting or eternal life.
Conifer pine trees belong to one of the oldest plant families on the planet, having existed nearly three times longer than any other flowering plant species. Believed to be the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, the seed of the pine cone gives birth to trees that last for hundreds or thousands of years.
In yet another religious connotation, if you look at a pine cone, you will notice that its spines spiral in a perfect sequence in either direction. This is known as "sacred geometry", or the belief that God is at the center of the world.
As a symbol of spiritual enlightenment, the pine cone reflects our spirituality that each of us are given the gift of eternal life. May you gaze at a pine cone in absolute wonderment today!
"... and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." - Matthew 25:32
As the Jury Assembly Room began to fill, we formed a "nation" of people. We were black and white, young and old, male and female. Some needed parking tickets validated; others did not. Some walked with canes; others were agile. Some needed work excuse slips; some were retired or homemakers. We were uniquely individual, but we were a "nation" of people.
Some left coats on; others removed them. Some read magazines; some had e-readers; some watched television; some just rested. We were uniquely individual, but we were a "nation" of people.
Some were likely nervous or anxious; some were probably fretting over sacrifices made that day; some were notably proud to be part of the democratic process. We were uniquely individual, but we were a "nation" of people.
Some formed small communities to strike up conversations. Some shared experiences; some told stories; some asked each other questions. We were uniquely individual, but we were a "nation" of people.
The Bailiff came and slowly read names of prospective jurors to separate us one from another. The assembled "nation" of people began to disperse. One by one they left the Jury Assembly Room to form smaller "nations" of uniquely individual people.
God bless them all.
With the dawning of a new year and the promise of new resolutions, an email hit my inbox about keeping a food diary. I really didn't think this was necessary because we eat healthy, prepare our own food, skip desserts, listen to health programs, and are within the body mass index guidelines, but the email piqued my interest. After all, I love statistics and thought this would be fun! So I found a phone app and started a food diary.
Oh my. Within three days it became blatantly obvious that we eat way too much fruit which is causing us to consume way too much sugar. Even "natural" sugar has a limit, I learned. Now I'm sorry I even got into this food diary thing . . . or am I?
There was a reason I got the email. There was a reason I started the food diary. There was a reason I saw the results. Now there is a reason to change.
How many times do we see something and avoid it because it makes us uncomfortable? How often do we think a situation will go a certain way only to have it turn a different way? How frequently do we meet someone who "turns us off" and then that person becomes our best friend?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens." We need to look at every situation placed before us, both the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, as an opportunity. This is my opportunity now.
Heavenly Father, thank you for setting before me these circumstances so that I am given the opportunity to change. May I always seek Your clear and precise path. Amen.
Well, it's here: Year 2017. Christmas Day 2016 came and went. The presents were bought, the gifts were wrapped, the packages were opened, and the trimmings were thrown away. We scurried, we hustled, we busied ourselves. We drove ourselves (and others) crazy.
"None of it is needed," he softly stated to me. "You know, none of it is needed."
I thought about what he just said: "None of it is needed." We are blessed and definitely have more material things than we need. Our presents often just represent "stuff"; "stuff" that is really not needed. Once the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing are met, the rest of it is just "stuff".
Christmas gifts are a sign of our love for one another, but also a way to celebrate the gift of salvation that we received from God through Jesus. Our presence to one another and to Jesus is a more suitable gift than the presents we give to one another, and declutters us of the "stuff" that we accumulate over time.
As this new year begins, I ask myself, are there parts of me where "none of it is needed?"
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."