The Bullfrog Bell Choir

6 07 2017

Sunset in the North Woods is like having season tickets in the front row to the gentlest, most beautiful production around! Almost every evening, the Sunset Show starts, well, at sunset. If you want to see whether there’s a show on any given night, just look to see if the lights are on. (The rain needs a chance to clean up the theater!) No schedule, no email notices, just look toward the west and check the sky.

On this night, there was enough of a breeze, a day of just the right weather, to keep the mosquitoes at bay. (Sometimes, one must make extra preparations for the optimum experience!) Tonight I just settled on the pier to enjoy the show. It is always enhanced by the lake, its reflections and its surroundings. That crew really knows how to set the stage!

My eyes and ears perked up as the sun was dipping low, the light dimming to the perfect pastel pink-blue. I was ready for the opening number. “Ladies and gentlemen, critters great and small, we present The Bullfrog Bell Choir, for your listening enjoyment,” an announcer should say.

Each frog had its own note, one single croak. Each was slightly different, like notes on a scale, and interestingly, it sounded to me like the lowest, deepest tones were to the left along the shore, with middle tones in the center, and higher tones to the right. As with a human bell choir, each individual gets a note (humans 2, for 2 hands; bullfrogs one, for one voice. This may be obvious, but it always amazes me how the humans holding the bells play in perfect sequence as one instrument to bring forth their songs.

The bullfrog choir, similarly, played in their exquisite sequence: Low, middle, high; middle, high, low… Sometimes 2 or 3 formed a chord, sometimes they sang a fun froggy arpeggio. Often, an emphatic bass note interjected.

One nature-related issue—they were so far into the grass that I couldn’t see them! I’m sure it was planned—I needed to enjoy the music with my ears, while I watched the sunset with my eyes. (No doubt, Nature required this for bullfrog safety as well.) But I was SO curious!

I wonder if the sun, so low in the sky, was their spotlight? Do you suppose they wore bowties? And from whom did they each get their individual sounds, as well as their cues to sing together, each at their own time and in order? And for whom did they sing? Me? Wow!

I wonder…maybe, ultimately, we each have a single note to play in the choir of life in our communities. We don’t have to sing all the notes or know all the songs. Maybe we just need to sing our note when it’s our turn. Maybe that is enough.

So thankful to the Creator-Producer of the evening shows; for nature-music. For making me a part of this wonder!

Raindrops and Grass Roots II

14 03 2017

Note to self…

Self, you are a blade of grass, in the whole scheme of things. Thinking about the vast universe, galaxies, our solar system, our little earth in that solar system, the pinpoint that is you…

Yet, make no mistake, here, in YOUR universe, YOU are important to all the other life around you—in your home, your family, your community, state, nation, people in developing and developed nations—in this amazing created garden you call home.

What a paradox! [paradox-a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.] How can I be both so tiny, seemingly insignificant, yet so unique, valued and important?

I told you last time! But, given the trends in this garden we call home, it bears repeating. Each other. Community. I will give you a “demonstration” of the lesson from nature; the human blades of grass and what they can do when they come together.

The world-wide demonstrations the day after the US elections: Millions of people in dozens of countries declared the messages of hope, mutual support and unity.

One person + one sign = 1 blade of grass

1 million persons + 1 million signs = a vast field holding the earth in its roots, refusing to let it erode.

1 person + 1 post on social media = 1 drop of rain

1 million persons + 1 million comments of unity and encouragement = a powerful flood capable of washing away the trash of lies and bitterness and leaving behind the freshness of positivity and caring.

DON’T BE TRIPPED UP, SELF, BY MISUSING THE “EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE” ATTITUDE! Yes, it appears in the same Scripture book as the blades of grass thought. It is not applicable here. It is found in the chapter titled “Lamentations.” The destructive forces around us, spiritual and temporal, would love it if you do not root yourself and grow.

What if half the blades of grass didn’t come out? What if there was only a brief shower of public comments? What if only one blade of grass appeared or one raindrop rained?

A judge who refused to retreat to his home and party today, die tomorrow, halted the immigration ban, supported by people and states who followed suit.  Thousands of demonstrators over months called attention to the issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipelines, and continue to do so.

Yes, you are a single blade of grass, a drop of rain. But never, NEVER say “I’m only”! When a voice (lying, destructive voice) in your head whispers that to you, just speak back to that voice, “YOU ARE LYING. HERE IS PROOF.” Say, “I AM meant to be a part of one grand larger field, flood, world!”

A world in which we need each other to be fully—and uniquely—who we are and who and where we were meant to be.

Love, YourSelf

Thanks. I needed that.

Raindrops and Grass Roots

28 09 2016

Raindrops and Grass Roots

It was misty and off-and-on sprinkly, but thankfully warm the day I’d planned to finish my landscaping project. The day prior was hot and sunny and I lasted an hour before I hosed off the sandy soil and sweat and moved on to cooler, cleaner activities.

Counting on the shower passing, I sat in the open doorway of the garage. Nothing—no crosswords or technology—was occupying my brain and fingers as is usually the case. Just sitting, listening to the rain. Noticing which leaves moved to the dances of the raindrops on their surfaces. Hearing the plop of drops off the eaves—some into a puddle, some onto drier pavement. Different sounds. Different amounts of water gathering. Breathing in moist freshness.

My tension over the condition of our world and the pain of loss I had been feeling abated as I prayed and soaked in nature’s comfort. With one large cleansing breath, my shoulders dropped and relaxed, grateful for my natural, pure, gentle surroundings.

I looked out at the wet scene again. Why rain drops? Why not a gentle one-time sheet-blanket of water that drifts down to earth and gives us fauna and flora a drink (and is done in an hour)? At what point does a droplet become a drop? A mist become a shower, become rain? Or, for that matter, a downpour?

The rain stopped and it was time to get busy, my sharp shovel attempting to cut through grass to create a flower bed. It was a tough layer, strongly interconnected into a single, cushy , seemingly impenetrable carpet. I pulled a chunk from its soil moorings—heavy! I shake the extra soil off and the grass itself was quite light. It had held that ground. A single blade of grass can be tossed by wind or torn by a fingernail. Its roots are no more than hairs. But joined together, they required a great effort to pull and were a force to be reckoned with—and respected.

Which brought me back to the rain. It looks like raindrops need to come together in great numbers to serve rain’s purposes. It looks like when blades of grass come close and intertwine, they are a strong powerful force. Snowflakes. Grains of sand. Leaves. Clouds. Seeds. Voices in song. Orchestras.

People.  Prayers.

E-Votions by efb–September 28, 2016



Brush the Snow off the Roses

23 06 2016

Remember when we had snow in April here in the Midwest? I thought I’d post this now and give you a smile…

Brrr! April 2 and huge swirling flakes are piling up on the spring flowers and turning the coldest ground white. What a shock/challenge/disappointment/surprise for the happy daffodils and crocuses and snowdrops and even roses  already primed for their spring show! Geeez! Will warm weather ever come?

However, I kind of enjoy the (near) April Fool’s day snow. God’s April Fools joke, I say. When it snows in early spring, I get all smug, mentally put my hands on my hips and say to the snow, ‘Nyah, nyah—you’re not going to last long—it’s spring and you’ll melt away—VERY soon!’ And it makes me happy. Encouraged even.

Like my grandsons looking for a chase, ‘na, na na na, na, you can’t get me’. Daring whomever—to prove them wrong. Challenging me to overcome, to win the race.

When the soft petals of my life are startled by chill snow, I want to remember I can just brush it off. The hard white ground will give way to green, and already has started to yield. I want to remember the strength of attitude, the confidence of knowing the freezing, swirling snowy challenge  threatening me at a tender, vulnerable time won’t last.          Can’t last.

Nyah, nyah, you can’t get me! My sun will melt you with its power and warmth! In the grand scheme of things, you will pass, and I will grow and thrive and live in colorful, passionate joy!

[As you walk outside today in your shorts and sunglasses, say to yourself, “See? Proof!”]


Raindrops of Revelation

17 12 2015

I’ve been asking God lots of questions lately with Hanukkah, the Christmas season, the strife in the world and all.

While decorating my Christmas tree, I was trying to explain to my sweet and inquiring non-Christian houseguest the history of my Christmas traditions.  The evergreen Christmas tree, symbolizing new life.  Candles in the dark of winter for hope of light to come.  By the time I finished and answered a few “Why?” questions as best I could, I felt I  hadsucceeded in describing a new religion which  borrowed pagan rituals and adapted them to this new experience and belief. We changed old practices, rituals and celebrations, and adapted them to fit this new revelation.   But I was not pleased with my answer.

What light?  What hope?  What new life?

I imagine we all wonder about different elements of the amazing, mysterious Christmas story!  Virgin birth in a stable, angels appearing to shepherds; learned, wealthy sky-watchers following a new star.  Wonder-full facts worthy of awe, wondrous mysteries for pondering.

“Heaven and Nature Sing!” the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World,” declares.  Creation shows the character of its Creator.  It is a concrete ever-present fact and sustainer of our lives, one we can taste and see.  I walk outside and feel the raindrops.  I smell the freshness after the showers.  They eventually make up oceans of water!  Making sense of it all–putting words and coherent thoughts to the contents of an ocean of mystery–is impossible to me.  Yet, we are blessed with raindrops of understanding.  What we can handle, what we can grasp.  We react differently, but we all see and receive the rain.  We all drink water for life.  There are facts we can grasp, oceans of mystery we can ponder and explore.

Jesus, whose amazing birth is celebrated on Christmas, walked this earth.  He lived and taught in Israel.  Josephus, the Jewish historian records this fact, as does the Christian Bible.  The Bible book of John, referring to Jesus says:  “Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.”  John 1:3-5, The Message.

Are you both, Creator?  Angel-announced?  Mary-borne? Poor and born in a stable?  Human, like me?  Angels, shepherds, Magi.  So many mysteries!  It would take an eternity to discover and grasp them all!   I will focus for this Christmas, with joy and gratitude, wonder and awe, on the raindrops.

 Perhaps you don’t celebrate Christmas as I do, with evergreen trees and candles and gifts, time with family, love and feasting: or as people around the world do, each with their own traditions.  For you I wish that you see the spirit of love and welcome, gratitude and generosity, and the wonder of awe at great mysteries, and that they touch you with hope and peace.

Merry Christmas to you, dear Reader, to All! 


6 10 2015

I am sitting outside at my little table, the cast aluminum one with the scrollwork. I pause my writing, and stare at the pen in my hand. As my body stops, my wondering (wandering?) mind takes off…

What is the force that connects atoms? Divides them from other atoms?

Hand rests on table. Head hovers above hand, breathing the air between and around table, hand and head. Book connects to paper, to pen, to ink inside pen. Ink is pressed onto paper, perceived by eyes and retina and brain. Because of reflected light. Sending messages to muscles and hands resting on the table, holding the pen.

Eyes look up. To clouds, “blue” sky, trees. Breeze pushes leaves connected to twigs and limbs, which also wave and flex with the touching. The limbs connect to the tree’s trunk, which is immovable, because of the roots and rootlets grasping the ground, taking nourishment and stability from the soil that surrounds them. The tree’s bark delivers that nourishment and water upward (against gravity’s pull) to the leaves using light to create energy the tree uses to grow. Released from the leaves’ pores is oxygen, which floats between my hands and my head, and I breathe it in.

And as I try to think about it, I’m “blown” away!

I think of the saying, “If a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon, a hurricane can occur in Japan,” which has countless iterations of specific locations and outcomes, depending upon what source is quoted. The original “butterfly effect” was named by Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist, whose weather prediction models drastically changed when a seemingly inconsequential change occurred in his original data, something as small as the flap of a butterfly wing.

Chaos theory describes the unpredictability (of weather, rolls of dice, other seemingly random happenings) of nature, based upon the fact that there are always minute differences in the original conditions that begin a series of events, or “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” (from Wikipedia— Then the math gets really complex and I again return to looking at the clouds. And wondering-wandering.

autumn leaves on bench 2014Chaotic or very ordered? Cyclical and predictable, or random? All of the above? Obviously, if I want air to breathe, and skin and bones to hold me together, I need the cycles and laws of nature—from the force that holds atoms together, to that which causes breezes to blow and planets to stay in their orbits. Yet, predicting the weather, or which autumn leaves will fall first, what I will eat tomorrow or who will start the next war or peace effort—impossible!

Does the stroke of my pen make a difference? Can your prayer set in motion a chain of events like a hurricane of healing? Will our use of resources affect the trees’ gifts of oxygen and shade to us? Does a baby’s cry elicit a response? Am I important?

What is the force that holds atoms together, and keeps them separated?

E-votions by efb, 10-5-2015

Fasting for Lent–I’m a Total Failure!

2 04 2015

I tried to give up daily crossword puzzles and sweets—and failed miserably! And the closer it gets to Easter, the worse I get in my self-discipline. Today, I’m beginning with new resolve—after all, it’s Holy Week! But even in failing to adhere to my fast, it has been a good fast.

I don’t think we are supposed to beat ourselves up over our failures, or our sins. As I see it, a Lenten fast, lasting 40 days, is not to test my resolve but to make me aware of how easily I can forget, or push out, true peace and hope in my life and seek it in unfruitful ways.

One benefit of this teeny-tiny fast came in the times I succeeded in replacing the crosswords habit and sweets craving with a prayer habit and “Jesus craving”. Sweet times of quiet and pondering the love and forgiveness without which I would not, could not live.

And lo and behold, the times I struggled with my choices yielded fruit as well! Picture the angel on my right shoulder and the devil on the left, arguing:
“Oh, you’re not at home, you don’t want to be impolite to your hostess—have dessert.” (I did.)
“You’re at the restaurant—it’s a celebratory time—you can abstain at home.” (I had a glass of wine.) I can rationalize with the best of ‘em! Put conditions on my obedience. Make excuses—lame ones.

“God is so forgiving, and this is so minor, you can just go ahead—well, God did give us all freedom to choose…It doesn’t really matter…” And the angel pops up, as Paul did, “Just because we are forgiven, does that mean we should keep sinning? NO!” Once in a while, the angel wins the arguments. But often, I have found myself presuming upon God’s forgiveness and mercy, while choosing sin or disobedience. Forgive me for taking You for granted, Lord!

I could choose to listen to that still-lingering devil saying, “You failure! Look at Jesus’ suffering! Geez, this is Holy Week—sure doesn’t describe you—not for a moment!” And I could walk away thinking certainly I am not “washed in the blood,” or worthy of forgiveness. Instead, the gentle angel whispers, “This is JUST why He died—he loves you, fallible though you are. ‘While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…’ Learn from these failures.”

And so I learn. I become aware of the mind games I play in making decisions. How I use my time, my talents. My attitude toward my Creator, Savior, Redeemer. How I care for my body, the Spirit’s temple. This time of fasting for Lent, whether in success or failure, God has used for good. The hours I did take from doing crosswords were spent considering the wonderful Wangerin writings that helped me walk with Christ and his disciples as he approached his death; moving me to awe at the willing suffering for all of us, because of Love; and to grief that I, like the disciples, deserved what Christ endured. The times I craved sugar, or a glass of wine, I prayed that I would indeed yearn for a drink of living water so much the more.

We are beloved. Undeserving, fallible, yet fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, forgiven and redeemed. Seems like a pretty big realization for giving up doing a crossword!

Efb 4-19-11