Project 52 #25: Swimming With Jellyfish

There are some capsules of time that are just sheer beauty and wonder. They’re the kind you always remember, the kind where you don’t even have to close your eyes to remember…

the wonder and delight of tiptoeing along through the water with the jellyfish swirling magically around you and purple starfish at your feet…

the way the waves of a passing cruise ship wanted to lift your feet right off the sand…

that exhilarating moment of plunging all the way in and listening to your children laugh in delight and come piling in after you…

the way your body tingled when you came up out of the cold ocean into the hot sunshine of a rare southeast Alaskan heatwave, and the way that feeling lasted for hours afterwards…

or the way the beach peas were trailing wild over the bleached driftwood when the sun sank to the treetops and you clambered down the pebbly bank to go home.

I think that those of us who live in the places where summer is fleeting are less likely to take it for granted. In some ways, I am grateful that it’s fleeting, because the beauty of it isn’t lost on me and I am not afraid to stop and savor it before the days slip through my fingers like sand, give way to autumn and winter, and are gone forever.

P.S. Yep, we’re swimming in our clothes. When you feel like swimming, but didn’t think to bring your swimsuit, one of the great delights and freedoms of life is that you don’t have to let that stop you.

Also—the clear jellies pictured here are lovely and harmless, but don’t worry—we kept our eyes open for the stinging varieties!

“There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:6-7)

Project 52 #7: Sunny Shores

“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.  The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.” (Exodus 15:11,13)

I’ve been soaking in the story of the Exodus this last week. How wonderful to remember that this God of the Israelites, who parted the Red Sea, is the same God we serve today—and He’s still in the business of redeeming people. Praise His name!

About the photos: The kids and I have spent a couple days playing along the shore this last week, soaking in some overdue sunshine! Can you spot the bald eagle in the tree on the island? There is pretty much always an eagle sitting on that tree on that island, sometimes two. There were a couple trees by our house in Minnesota that the eagles habitually perched on, as well, and I love that moving 1700 miles away didn’t change the fact that I still get to live within daily sight and sound of these beautiful big birds.

P.S. If you’re new here and wondering what “Project 52” is all about, you can go here to read more!

Project 52 #6: A Short Hike

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

Reading this passage this week got me thinking about what it means to deny self, and that led to thinking about the current cultural emphasis on “self care” that I’ve noticed lately.

Here’s the question I’ve been pondering: Can the idea of “self care” coexist with Jesus’ call to “deny ourselves”—or are these two diametrically opposed to one another? And: Is there Biblical support for the idea of “self care” or is it a completely anti-Biblical idea?

I came up with a few answers of my own…but what do you think?

About the photos: We got out and went on a hike near Control Lake, my first since injuring my tailbone. I was moving pretty gingerly, I’ll admit, more paranoid than usual of slipping on ice or mud, and we turned back once the snow on the trail got knee-deep—but it felt really, really good to be out in the wild again, listening to the eagles call and looking for signs of spring.

P.S. If you’re new here and wondering what “Project 52” is all about, you can go here to read more!

What Does the Eagle Say?

IMG_7509.JPGWith the warming of the air, the signs of spring begin.  The return of this old friend to his favorite post in the old oak tree overlooking the lake is officially the first.  I heard him one afternoon, reinstating his dominance over favorite hunting grounds for all the world to hear.  He peered at me with his sharp yellow eye through the branches, skeptical of my attempts to find an angle that didn’t make it look like he was holding a stick in his beak (as you can see I was unsuccessful, so let’s just pretend he was grabbing it to add to his nest).

And then, peering up at his grand figure in the branches up there against the blue, I thought of how to describe the call I heard, and came up short.  How, exactly, do you describe the call of an eagle?  I thought someone more learned in the field of ornithology (the study of birds) than me would have a good answer—but I must say that I was disappointed.

My sources basically couldn’t agree on how to categorize the call of a bald eagle, other than that it was too musical to be called a screech, but not musical enough to be called a song.  Some call it a combination of high pitched “whistling” and “piping” (Irish penny whistle, anyone?).  Some call it “chattering”, as though it were a squirrel.  Still others liken it to “chirping”, oddly bringing the largest bird of prey down to the level of a songbird at the bird feeder.  Others go so low as to call it “squeaking”, as though it were a mouse, or, worst yet, “squealing”, which brings to mind a very unhappy pig.  I thought of “trilling”, but even that conjures more images of tree frogs and raccoons in my mind than those of soaring eagles.  “Twittering”, perhaps?  But somehow that just reminds me of a cross old owl scowling at a lot of happily love-sick songbirds in “Bambi”, not a bird who bears the weight of being a national symbol on his shoulders.  Come on, now!  Is it too much to ask for a word that accurately describes the sound, but still manages to embody the dignity of such a majestic bird?

(To be clear, this is the call I’m talking about, not the peal call of alarm which really is more like screeching.)

So, based on that sound recording, how would you vote to finish this sentence?  The eagle __________. (Whistled, piped, chattered, chirped, squeaked, squealed, trilled, twittered, or you fill in the blank with something I haven’t thought of.)  Chickens cluck, geese honk, crows caw, swans trumpet, owls hoot—but what do eagles do?  Do you think it can be boiled down to a single descriptive word—or not?

I’m somewhat tempted to side with the writer of Proverbs on this point.  Describing the voice of the eagle in one word is a mystery that I might have to be content dismissing as “too wonderful for me” and, apparently, the English language.  Though, to be perfectly fair and in context, in this case I think this writer was more in awe of the mystery of flight than flummoxed by a fruitless late night Google search for an apparently nonexistent perfect word.

“Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky…” (Proverbs 30:18-19)