Contemplating God’s Presence

City blend of steel and nature…

O what joy it is to
Contemplate on God’s Creation
His Divine Presence everywhere abounds
In the gentle wind rustling through
My few potted greens
Crisp air and quiet
cool rainy day
Clouds floating in the skies…
Music of sweet birds’ sweet refrains
Or soft rain’s rhythmic pattering…
Morning pale blue sky
Crowning the distant grey mountains…
Sunset’s glow blending
With the city’s evening lights in a show so striking

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Rain or shine
In stormy weather too

God’s Mighty Presence abounds…

O GOD, may we always see You,

feel You in your Creation around us,

most especially in the people in our lives and

those we meet each day…

In good or bad times, in the ups and downs

of our lives, may we never fail

to praise and give You glory, O Lord. Amen

“It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”  — Frederick Buechner

 

 

Lessons from Watching Birds Fly By

The pigeons and white doves flying about in our neighborhood have always fascinated me.

I also recall with fondness the little brown mayas back in our previous community who’d visit our backyard every single day, as soon as they learned of my bag of treats  for them– sunflower seeds.

So amazing how they quickly discovered where I put these, for then they’d line up, one by one, to peck at the plastic pack that held these precious delights. It was as if they instantly knew it was theirs for the taking.

Not only that, funny how they could also show their preference — just like any pet animals. These brown mayas would never want to eat any sunflower seeds, if I scattered them or even put them in a container on the ground! Maybe they thought the ground was not clean enough for them to feed on?

So each time I’d buy a new pack of seeds, I’d just place it on the sink counter outside. But they’d come only at certain hours of the day — in the morning and in the afternoon! Gluttony is never in the nature of birds.

Now in our present home, the pigeons here offer me a daily dose of delight, both sensual and spiritual, especially in this time of the community lockdown and restricted movements due to the Covid pandemic.

And they  provide me with inspiring life lessons as well.

Observing them for the most part, I’ve come to learn birds – pigeons, doves, and brown mayas — are as human as can be. The only difference is they take life as it is without much qualm, unlike our human tendency to whine or worry.

Creatures of habit and routine,  they start their day almost as the sun starts to rise and peer from the eastern sky. First order of the day is to stand in formation, if they happen to be in a flock, and fly together, circling the air above, as if paying homage to our Creator God. Then they go on flying up and low, round and round, above the metropolis, in what it seems to me their early morning exercise. To strengthen the muscles of their wings. To gain greater speed. To scour for food too, maybe.

They disappear from my view for a while. Then one by one, they fly again to rest on the rooftop of the next building, where they stroll, flap their wings, or simply rest and gaze at the city below.

My winged friends enjoy bonding together as in a community, whether flying or at rest.

Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash
Photo by Gio Roca on Unsplash

But they also love to take some ‘me-time’ — time for being alone. Socializing and  being in solitude are essential to their well-being.

They are masters in waiting meekly for their turn. Most of all, they are patient, relaxed, and ever so calm, serene and graceful. Nothing in their movements shows them to be worried or perturbed or restless.  Maybe because they trust in their Creator God to care for them no matter what. As is said in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

This nature of theirs speak to me clearly especially at times I get so overcome with anxiety, frustration, even despair.

Soar up into heights they fly in stately elegance, yet they humbly return and perch on the ground or wherever they can find rest in this urban jungle. Humility. It’s a constant reminder no matter where in life we go, how lofty or lowly our position in society is, or how much we have achieved or still striving to, our everyday living should be a reflection of Christ’s humility and obedience to God’s calling and mission for us.

Read also a related post of mine, Morning Lessons from the Birds.

I can’t help but compare these flock of birds with religious communities, such as those of contemplative nuns and monks. For while these religious communities are cloistered in their convents and monasteries and donned in their long habits, these birds are free to move up and around resplendent in their colorful feathers.

Yet both communities – human and avian alike — share the same pattern and rhythm of daily life. Communal yet with time for solitude and quiet; working/flying and worshiping, exercise, and rest — all these make up their everyday schedule. And let’s not forget the virtues of trust, faith, humility, and love that our feathered co-creatures mirror so well.

I do believe it is God’s way of showing us, through the pattern and rhythm of birds’ daily life which religious communities are practicing, together with the virtues they are striving to live out, that this way of life is good — for our physical and spiritual nourishment and wellness and growth.

I note from stories and status updates of friends and relatives, that many have been incorporating this pattern  and rhythm into their daily lives since the start of the pandemic. So it must be one good that has come out of it. And it’s about time we did, don’t you think so?

Oh there’s another thing I almost forgot — singing is essential and second nature to birds, as well as religious communities — for singing is the highest form of praise we can offer to our Creator God.

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.” — Lois Lowry

Wisdom comes in all we see, God writes His lessons in each flow’r, and every singing bird or bee can teach us something of His power.” — Maud Lindsay

 

 

 

Nature’s Brushstrokes at Sunset

“They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.” — Psalm 65:8

I will never tire of looking at sunsets – whatever I can get from my vantage point. I appreciate nature’s brushstrokes at sunset, part of God’s wonderful creation. So here again with 2 of my sunset photos to practice composition.

Looks like that tower’s spewing fire across the sky…
Same scene at a slightly different angle with the last of the sun’s blaze fading away

“A sunset is the sun’s fiery kiss to the night.”
Crystal Woods, Write like no one is reading 3

 

Sign of Hope

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” — Desmond Tutu

The other day close to evening, the sky was overcast with dark, purple clouds threatening heavy rain. I didn’t exactly relish the thought of another rainy evening but my heart leapt with joy at the sight of a glimmer of light in the midst of the gloomy clouds.

Sign of Hope

“What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” — Emil Brunner

 

Evening Purple Sky

 

A simple shot I took of an early evening sky using my phone camera

Purple-bluish skies…

when the fading daylight

slowly hides beneath

the dark mantle of the night

 

Psalm 113:2-4

“Blessed be the Name of the LORD from this time on and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the Name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations, and His Glory above the heavens.” — Psalm 113:2-4

Streaks of rain on the window pane

cannot dim the glow

of the fading sun slowly sinking

beneath the purple skies…

— teachmarich

Psalm 147:8

“He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.” — Psalm 147:8

Rain clouds

As Psalm 147:8 says that God put clouds in the heavens to make way for rain to water the earth and make the grass grow on the hills, so does He also allow difficulties and challenges to cloud our lives, not because He wants us to suffer. Rather, it is His loving way of preparing us for the rains of blessings to come and make us grow into the best person He wants us to be. To be the beautiful person we are meant to be, in and out.

 

Psalm 34:17-19

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and rescues them from all troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.

One recent morning, I spotted a lone pigeon on the rooftop of the building next to ours. I was so used to seeing almost every day a group of them, either resting or flying around in circles.

But today this little bird looked forlorn and sad and a bit confused.  Where are they, my dear companions?

My heart filled with pity and wondered too about his usual companions. Have they been caught and served as a meal? And oh, why wouldn’t he fly away despite the soft rain? In the drizzle, he kept still, seemingly awaiting his friends. I waved my hands and opened, closed the window shutters in hope of catching his attention. Alas!

Lonely pigeon
All alone in the drizzle…

Purple Sunset Skies

“The mighty one, GOD the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, GOD shines forth.” — Psalm 50:1-2

Purple sunset skies with a patch of bright golden orange forming like a halo over a tall unfinished structure. For almost six months, this building under construction went totally dark devoid of any activity. Thus, it gladdens me to see it springing back to life with lights on until curfew time because it means it is back to work for the building laborers who had lost their daily wages during the past months of more restricted community quarantine…

Bright orange halo forming around the tall structure, symbolizing hope amid troubled times

Purple sunset sky

 

Glow of a New Day

“By the tender mercy of our GOD, the dawn from on high will break upon us.” — Luke 1:78

Just before the first light of day
distant tall buildings in the business center
A slightly different angle
the golden sky serving as perfect backdrop for those commercial edifices…