Oh say can you see?


As many of you know, Sid and I live in Maine. Our home is situated on a cove at the bottom of Casco Bay so we have a lovely view of water, both the ocean and the river that empties into the ocean at their juncture near our home. Since our area is completely rural, a small fishing village, we do not have underground utilities. So in addition to the beautiful water view we also see power lines, especially noticeable from our second floor windows. There is even one of the original fishing shanties across from us and it looks just like that, a small home in need of repair.


To me, I’ve always loved all of this, its authenticity, realness, closeness to nature. I see the ocean’s beauty and see the rest as part of life too. To some, however, the power lines and fisherman’s home are unsightly and they have trouble seeing the truly stunning view. I actually love when the two seeming extremes come together to create something that can’t be seen without the both/and.


The lines from the utility pole across the street attach to our house. I enjoy looking out the windows of our home office and our bedroom at the birds who often light there. They are typically sparrows, robins, morning doves, and more common small birds. The sea gulls, osprey, and eagles prefer the trees in the cove. This morning, however, as I looked out the north window which faces the river there was a bright red small bird. I really didn’t know what it was but shortly thereafter a pair of male and female cardinals joined the wire so that must have been one of the baby cardinals. What a treat, especially since I’m a Buckeye (born in Ohio and an Ohio resident for my first 50 years) and the cardinal is the state bird of Ohio. As if that weren’t enough, at that same moment from my bed I looked out the west window facing the ocean and there was a kingfisher sitting on another wire!! Neither Sid nor I had ever seen one of those on our wires, nor the cardinals in all these years. What a blessed morning, and so much to think about. . .


Our perspectives, our personal filters, our “wirings”, whether we see the cup half full or half empty, definitely shape our personal perceptions. For some the harsh realities can completely remove the ability to see the beauty. “Water view? I mostly see the wires.” For others it diminishes the beauty. “Nice view but too bad that shanty is there.”


Yet isn’t it our “wirings”, the things about us that get in the way, the very things that make us human, that amplify life, just as the power lines? We are great energy sources, trying at most times to serve and bring enlightenment. Yet we’re often in our own way or an obstruction to seeing the bigger picture. Just as the telephone wires, we do our best to speak in good ways with good intention, and yet, just as power lines obstruct or fail, so do we.


We try to make our homes places of love and beauty. Yet just as the fisherman’s shanty seems desolate by what we see, we fail too. Are our homes always places of sustenance and beauty, welcoming to others? Perhaps the generational stories of that fisherman’s modest rickety home have more tales of love and beauty than some of our newer homes.


This morning as I was doubly blessed to see these unusual birds gracing the utility lines, I was reminded of the both/and – that in each view of darkness (power lines), there comes light (literally). That were it not for those groundings (pun intended) and our own, we would not have the ability to see this morning’s blessings. Without unsightly-to-some wires these glorious birds would not have been able to perch so close within my view.


So it is with most of our life’s experiences. The recent political indictments – each will see what is the result of individual perspectives, each person’s viewpoint guiding how he or she sees it, each given an opportunity to grow in His Light. Unprecedented weather, again opportunities to experience and grow closer to Him by how we see and react to the events.


The devastating fires in Maui are perhaps the flip of the metaphor – how or when can one see anything possibly good or beautiful in such horror, an event too horrific to even be able to fully comprehend? For so many survivors, maybe never to be able or not in the foreseeable future. For others, the light of their faith will shine brighter. For others the redemptive and loving helping hands that are bringing tremendous aid are reminders that He is there through it all. No one is in this tragedy alone. Perhaps changes will be made in the future regarding public services and prevention. Nothing can take away the horror. Yet knowing our Abba through Yeshua is in it with those taken and with those who were affected is the best we can have until Olam HaBa.


These are those days, the times to try to look beyond, to see past our and society’s shortcomings, to acknowledge that it is not we who control, but rather, God who knows, and if we allow Him, who guides our days. Last week I mentioned the poignant moment in the Barbie movie when she was moved to tears by the beauty of the wrinkled face of an older woman. It is in our humanity, the utility wires and the rundown house, even in the ashes, that we see Him. It is in these less obvious places that His Light shines the brightest. He is everywhere, even in the places where it is hard to see Him. He is in the both/and – both intimately with us and infinitely afar. He is in the sorrow and in the joy, the fall and the redemption, a tension of opposites inexplicable in our vocabulary and reasoning powers. He is God who is steadfastly, always with us.


I encourage you to let Him in, no matter where or when, whether you see the ocean or the power lines, are in awe and feel His Glory, or seem in a fire of torment, or hopeless confusion. For it is when we let Him in that He reveals Himself most magnificently.


Shabbat shalom.




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