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So why all the pictures of birds recently? It’s not just the fact I got a new camera. There’s more to it than that.

I’ve noticed something about myself in recent weeks, maybe recent months. I’ve noticed it growing and developing and finding its way deep into my soul. I’ve lost my poetry.

Not my books, or some such palpable loss, rather I’ve lost the inner rhythm which naturally seeks the heights. I’ve lost the inner rhyme, the inner agreement, and while this isn’t an emotional downturn, it is, in a way, a creative downturn, and a downturn of my soul’s yearning for the beautiful, and true, and eternal.

Sometimes, if I’m in a mood, when people ask me what I’m doing I respond with, “I stare at trees.” Most folks would see this as a sure sign of laziness.

However, for me it is an active seeking after the renewing aspects of the eternal life. If I can, in the shape and wonder of God’s creation, see the patterns of the Divine, I can renew the vision in my own soul, and begin to see eternally once more.

So, it’s felt comforting, in a way, to leave off commentary on various political, spiritual, or ecclesiastical topics. Letting my posts drift into a simplicity of nature is refreshing. I think I need it, for all the other commentary, if it is to have worth from me, depends on my renewing and refreshing the eternal perspective. And if I am going to find light and joy and purpose in all my life, I need to find this perspective and find in it the poetry which seems to have gone missing. There’s a lot more of a discussion on the topic to be had, with more nuances and whatnot.

But, for now, it felt nice to simply explain why this page has taken a bit of a turn for the time being. I’ve lost my poetry, so I look to poets of words and Creation to help me find it once more.

A Robin

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Took the dog to the groomer yesterday. Whatever your image is of a dog groomer banish it from your mind in this instance. The best groomer on this mountain is named Dolly. She has her business in the midst of what must have been at one time a small camp or mountain themed motel. The various businesses around fill assorted small cabins, with a wonderful little bookstore, a chiropractor/master herbalist, hairdresser, children’s theater group, being neighbors. In the middle is a small courtyard with a rock waterfall. Trees abound, as do flowers in the right season, and always birds. This is a picture of what I think was a young female robin. I think it was young because it was acting curiously lost, and opening its beak a lot while it stood in various places trying to figure out what to do in life.

American Robin

Oh, and yes, as you likely figured out, I did get a new camera recently. I’m trying to get a picture of each of our regular visitors. I’m doing pretty well now. I still need a flicker, a raven, a vole, a coyote, and maybe a few others.

Another Visitor

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When you throw out some corn and sunflower seeds in these parts, sometimes you see a more cautious visitor. Here’s a California Ground Squirrel, with its cheeks making me think it is saving quite a bit of corn for later.

California Ground Squirrel

Another Chickadee picture

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Hey, what can I say, I like mountain chickadees.

Mountain Chickadee

sunny day

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After five days of cloudy and stormy weather the sun came out again with a fair bit of charm today. I enjoy the rain and what it does, but my California soul hankers after the sun if it’s gone for too long.

fall flower
Chickadee bath

October 18, 2005

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October 18, 2005

California Chipmunk

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Here’s a California Chipmunk taking a break from sitting on the woodpile to eat a bit of corn:

California Chipmunk

Some rainy day pictures

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Well, it’s Fall here now, no doubt about it. It stormed all last night and continues a little less vehemently today. Here’s some Fall rainy day pictures:

rainy day 1

rainy day birdbath

rainy day

rainy day branch

He blinked

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He Blinked

a pet peeve

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I have a pet peeve. Well, likely a good many but one which comes to mind right now because it’s related to my various fields of interest.

I’ve attended a fair number of churches in my time, either for a visit or, significantly more rarely, a longer stay. I’ve now made churches my profession of sorts, though not being paid by a church does mitigate that reality I suppose. I’ve also helped out in other creative projects and participated in arenas in which the mediocre thrived (my high school) and the amazing become more so (my college). I’ve seen a curious thing over the years which surprises me. The great things that happen are often because the people involved are doing something for themselves, that is they are making something, or building something, or leading something which they enjoy for its own sake. They would go to it even if they didn’t lead.

On the other end I’ve seen a larger number of people putting together projects or events or whole congregations which would in no way attract them otherwise. They expect others to participate in something they themselves wouldn’t participate in. Pastors often lead churches they would never, ever attend. Projects are put together which hardly any of the participants would really enjoy if they weren’t responsible for something.

It’s sad. And as I’ve noticed it over the years, part of my own philosophy has been to be real congizant if what I do would actually intrigue me if someone else had done it. Would I attend a church service I put together? Would I visit a website, or read something I wrote, if I wasn’t so personally involved with myself?

This has made it hard because over the years I’ve occasionally come to the stark realization that “no” I wouldn’t in fact attend the place I am working at, or visit the project I am helping with.

Imagine what the Church would be like if instead of the concerns always being what “someone” else should do, each and every pastor or church worker actually helped create the sort of place they would attend even outside of leadership.

I used to go to a church like that, where the founding pastor created a context to address what he saw was missing in other contexts. He made a place he wanted to attend, and others with like minds also, it turned out, wanted to attend. Unfortunately, this pastor left, and the church “grew up” or some such thing and became exactly the kind of church it was originally founded to contrast. Sad, so now churches are springing up in response to the kind of church this church has become. It’s a vicious cycle, mostly it seems, because the leadership don’t help create the kinds of places which would attract them. Maybe this is a bit what Jesus meant when he said it’s better to be a servant. Servants work from the bottom up, for others, rather than top down to others.

It seems a fine model, which at its heart is the key bit about such places being from beginning to end a place where leaders themselves fully enjoy the whole show, whether or not they are leading. How many pastors would attend their own church if they were not paid?

It’s likely a very, very small percentage. Which, I think, says something profound about what’s going wrong in our communities.