In the half light of dawn a quick flash of red had been darting back and forth just beyond the blue gazing ball. Whoosh! There is was again! Surely you saw it that time. No? Ohhhhhh, but I did! Even from 30 yards away the vibrant color and black mask of a male cardinal is unmistakable. Fully awake and focused now I could clearly see what the beautiful flash was, and yet sadly I had not obeyed the call earlier to get up and find my camera. After weeks of early wake ups, I just couldn’t make myself get up out of my chair; I was being lulled into a kind of stupor by the gray, quietude of the early January morn. Then I remembered the last line in Kalidasa’s Sanskrit poem, “The Salutation to the the Dawn. “Look well therefore to this day,” he said. So with a better late than never resolve, I started trying to untangle myself from a blanket and get up from my chair when all of a sudden the amazing crimson creature landed not ten feet away from me on the other side of my patio door. Lots of cardinals live in and around our yard, but until today none of them had come this close to the house. What a brave, cheeky guy was this one who had found and perched itself atop the blackberry vine I’d purchased last week. Though he tarried there a while, I was afraid to move for fear I’d shoo it away. So I eased back down in my chair, watching in awe and admiration until it flew off. Afterwards, I did go grab my camera in case the beauty returned again. Alas, however, it did not. Instead now it was only flying back and forth, along with its mate, from the feeders to the top of my rose arch outside Natalieworld
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. ~1 Peter 1:13 ✝
Thy bounty shines in autumn unconfined,
and spreads a common feast for all that live.
The leaves on my blackberry vine are among the last to change colors in autumn, and so I think of them as the dessert in the “common feast” spread for “all that live.” Earlier while I was out snapping photos of this year’s “dessert,” I watched the sunlight first touch only the tip of the leaf and then eventually spread “unconfined” throughout the span of its surface and onto the other leaves. As I stood there shooting from different angles, it occurred to me that the same thing happens in our lives. As the Lord labors in our inward “fields” of spiritual growth, His light in us expands and begins to spread from us into the lives of others. It also dawned on me that the “fruits of the Spirit” of which Paul speaks in Galatians are not meant to be the product of a single season’s growth. Both the expansion of light and the bearing of fruit develop in a one-thing-leads-to-another kind of progression. Thus there’s a purpose for falling into non-productive “briar patches” while our inward skies are gray; it allows our “fields” to lie fallow until they can be reconstituted and strengthened. Afterwards the soil of our human experiences is ready to bear more fruit and display the fullness of the Lord’s light in us. To that end then we need always to be deepening our relationship and intimacy with the “Vine” by twining around and clinging to Him with thankfulness, patience, and prayerfulness until the fodder being cultivated in our souls becomes sufficient to fuel a new crop of “fruit” as well as widen the reach and intensity of our inner light.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ~John 15:5 ✝