Ah! The smell of spring in the air. When you ecstatically throw open the window to the light and enjoy the first warm breezes marking the change of seasons.
The sun is shining, the snow is reduced to patches dotting the landscape, the first tiny snowdrop flowers appear in the garden bed and – hard as it tries – winter cannot hold sway over the days to come.
Just a month ago I would take Sylvester out and hold his leash in one hand, balance the recycling bin on top of the garbage can with the other (as I dragged it all to the curb) and tuck the days mail under my chin. All in an effort to do everything in one trip.
Sub-zero weather calls for creative maneuvering.
But today it’s going to be 65 degrees, so I hook up the mutt and we take countless jaunts up and down the street. In fact, I purposely find reasons to pop outside. I’m behind on the housework – but Sylvester and I have to get the mail first. I seriously need to do my filing so I can complete my taxes – which I will get to right after I take down that winter wreath adorning the carport.
Sylvester and I make so many trips outside that he doesn’t even find any more bushes he wants to mark.
If only the outside looked as nice as the warm sunshine feels.
Instead, I see garbage and mud. So much soggy ground and mud that my desire to get out in those garden beds and clean up the rotting, winter-dead foliage is impossible to fulfill. I’ll have to wait until the thawing ground is firm enough.
And the garbage, uncovered from beneath the snow! Where does all this trash come from? Plastic bags trapped under bare bushes, water bottles in the middle of the lawn, an unbelievable number of old newspapers… delivered by someone with equally unbelievable aim.
It’s all incredibly ugly.
I feel like I live in a dump, but the neighbor’s lawns don’t look any better and I’m not inclined to wage war with the mud, so I try to ignore the way it looks and concentrate instead on enjoying the newfound warmth.
There’s still a chill if you stay out too long, so these jaunts are fleeting, and I retreat back inside, where I leave the door open and slip up the pane of glass on the storm door, the breeze flowing in through the screen.
As the day continues to heat up, another first sign of spring comes wafting through the house.
Sylvester is thrilled. It’s clear he thinks this is even better than when I grew kumquats (The Kumquat Thief). He runs to the door and presses his nose against the screen, audibly sniffing in huge breaths.
Getting his whiff on.
Sylvester’s eyes are shut tight in ecstasy. His jowls shake in excitement. And as I run around the house, slamming the window’s shut, I remember what else is out there, soft and gooey, waiting for me to clean it up… a winter’s worth of Syl’s potty breaks, augmented by the corresponding mounds left by neighboring canines.
Ah. The scent of spring.
Hubby and I were driving home one day, the light of dusk darkening what had proved to be a stressful day. My old knee injury was bothering me, so at one point I was waiting in the car while Hubby ran into a store. I pushed the radio button and started flipping through channels.
I like most styles of music but for a car ride I usually settle on soft rock, classic rock, or country. Occasionally, I listen to classical, but the problem with classical in the car is the road noise when you drive. Classical music tends to have very soft sections and very loud sections, all in the same piece. So you’re bumping along down the road, can’t hardly hear it, and turn up the volume until you do. All’s well until suddenly the brass section comes blaring in with a forte, and it just about blows you out of the car! Which is why I tend to keep my classical listening outside of our vehicle.
This particular day, while Hubby was in the store, I couldn’t find one song I wanted to listen to. Except, there was a particularly nice piece by Claude Debussy playing on WFMT. So I let it play… and by time Hubby came out the Debussy had ended and a narrator was discussing pre-WW1 music.
It was the tail end of a two-day program highlighting music before the Great War came along and changed the face of composing. As we drove home, the narrator gave a summary of his playlist and introduced the musical piece he was ending the program with. It struck me funny, because the musician’s name made me think of the fancy skirted bottle of maple syrup fame.
It was an English composer, George Butterworth, who has little music to show for himself as he really had only gotten started before the war broke out and he joined the British Army. Before he was deployed, he destroyed many of his musical compositions himself, fearful he wouldn’t return from the war and have the chance to revise them to his satisfaction before someone else heard them.
I think it’s safe to say he must’ve been a perfectionist.
Some of his music, however, had been previously published and he had already gained a reputation as an important musician. It was generally felt that he would’ve become one of England’s finest composers if he hadn’t died in the war (he was only 31).
Hubby and I pulled up in our driveway and turned off the car engine just as Butterworth’s orchestral rhapsody, A Shropshire Lad, began to play on the radio.
I haven’t the words to tell you how truly peaceful and calming this pastoral rhapsody was. From the very first notes, lovely images of a sunny, summer day in the English countryside came to mind. We both just sat there, mesmerized by some of the most beautiful music we’d ever heard.
It could be that the contrast between a stressful day and the salve of the music was so vivid. Or it could be that I don’t often hear a piece written in the Dorian scale (also called Russian minor). Either way, it was an unexpected blessing I won’t soon forget.
It also made me sad, thinking of his destroyed compositions. What beauty have we been deprived of in Butterworth’s quest for perfection? And I wonder… what gifts do each of us have that we purposely squelch, because we are embarrassed by not meeting our internalized standards? Who could we have helped with our ‘meager offerings’?
I went online and found a YouTube recording of the whole rhapsody, performed in 1944 by the NBC Symphony Orchestra (Stokowski conducting). I listen to it now, from time to time.
What if it wasn’t a co-incidence that my knee was bothering me that day? Or that Hubby wanted to stop at that store? And maybe Debussy was playing at that time to act as the proverbial dangling carrot, drawing me to that station at just that moment. (Doubtless the good Lord knows how I feel about impressionistic music.)
I realize not everyone thinks everything happens for a reason. And maybe it doesn’t. But be it luck or blessing, isn’t it amazing when you get exactly what you need, exactly when you need it? Perhaps someday, when we are in heaven, we will all have the opportunity to hear Mr. Butterworth’s destroyed works. I like to think that heaven will include concerts by our favorite musicians. Heavenly music the likes of which are heard nowhere here on earth.
If you are having a stressful day, or you just need a reminder of summer, I highly recommend you listen to Butterworth’s music too. I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands. Psalm 66:1
… singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19
This post is about green. Specifically, the color green. Not money, jealousy, Irish ancestry, government issued cards, or spinach.
It has nothing to do with:
* the heart chakra,
* emeralds or jade,
* Celtic myths,
* looking nauseous,
* ghost slime,
* the former flag of Libya,
* stop lights,
* greener pastures,
* or unripe tomatoes.
This is about the color itself, not the meanings or associations we attach to it.
Green is a beautiful color. Green makes me happy. I’m thankful for green.
I once read that the purpose of good-luck pieces, amulets, or talisman’s wasn’t to cast spells on others, so much as it was to have a physical object that helped you to change your own perception from the negative to the positive. Sort of like having a worry stone in your pocket, that you could rub to help calm you.
The main advice of the article was to use physical props to help you deal with stress. Find that physical thing which helped you, and set it on your desk at work, hang it in a prominent place on your wall, or carry it with you.
As you can guess, with me it’s the color green. I have no idea why, but just seeing green brings me joy in a way that no other color does. And yeah, I’m a gardener, but it’s not a plant thing, it’s something about the color itself. So sometimes I put a little something green (fabric swatch, ribbon, jelly bean?) in my pocket, so that when I’m feeling stressed I can pull it out and look at it.
I don’t think the green object has magical powers. (Unless my blood sugar drops. Then that jelly bean can “magically” take away my hunger!) Perhaps mystics might say that on some level my body resonates with green’s wavelength or frequency. Or maybe other people feel this way about their favorite color too, but they just don’t talk about it. I have no idea. I just know that green makes me feel good.
This is why I wore a Kelly green wedding dress and had a bright green wedding ring.
It’s why the carpet throughout my home is “seafoam”. Why the wallpaper is “sage”, the lamps are “avocado”, and the bath towels are “forest” green.
I have to fight through the green jungle of huge houseplants that fill my office, and if you open my drawers you will find a multitude of green clothes. (Sadly, I don’t look that good in green, so I end up wearing the blues more often.)
My family knows this “green obsession” about me too. For my birthday this year, my sisters spent weeks looking at green jewelry.
“Do you think she’ll like the green tourmaline or the green crystals better?” They shopped and agonized and tried on pair after pair. It came down to two pairs of earrings – one pair was teardrop shaped and forest green – the other pair of semi-precious peridot, a lighter shade of green. They showed me both pair but said I could only chose one. The whole family had bets on which green I’d choose.
So today, when I put on my forest green Swarovski crystal earrings (it was no contest really, they were the “greener” of the two), I decided that November 26th, 2014 should be declared the first annual Green Appreciation Day. After all, if a clothes store can generate profits by declaring a day every year for families to buy and wear the same colored pajamas (not saying who, you can Google it), then I see no reason I can’t have a Green Appreciation Day.
Maybe it’ll catch on. Hey, the throwing an orange down the street on New Year’s eve did (another story for another time).
By the way, the earth is approximately 71% water and then there’s that immense blue sky over all. So I think it’s safe to say that God likes blue.
But he gave us the land to live on. And it’s predominantly green. If he wanted us to be blue lovers he’d have given us fins. So it’s very, very possible (don’t burst my bubble here) that God’s favorite color is green!
Happy Green Appreciation Day everyone.
Most of our days we go through life so fast that we don’t even notice them passing. Especially in light of the holidays… working, raising kids, maintaining the house, figuring out how to pay for Christmas… it’s all a blur. Those days are the filler of our lives. “What’s new with you?” “Oh, you know, just carrying on.”
But there are other days too. The days everyone hopes to avoid, yet everyone has.
Everyone knows what I’m talking about. Unexpected tragedies. Burdens that almost break your back. Worries that rob you of sleep. Family Discord. Anger. Pain. Resentment. Fear.
I woke up this morning, worrying (again) about something that I’ve worried about for so long, it’s automatic. My Achilles heel. Yet for all the times I’ve given it my attention – freely smothering it with my hard-earned energy – that worry has never come to pass.
I am – literally – worrying about something non-existent. What happened in the past, what could happen in the future, yet has no bearing on the immediate present.
I’ve cried to God about it so often that I, myself, am tired of hearing my own complaint!
I thought of everyone else. Doing the same thing I do. Just trying to make a living, taking care of our families, getting as many errands done in one day as possible, and attempting to hold it together one more day. Meeting the demands of everyday life.
You know. Scrabbling around gathering nuts. (Yeah, the squirrels do it. We do it. Every bug and plant does it. In short… every living thing is concerned with the same thing. That constant need to push back at the struggle of survival doesn’t take a vacation for losing your job, the kid’s measles, or home repairs.)
You know what? This is the price of life.
So. If this is the price of life, then what is the paycheck?
Sweet kisses on my face from Hubby. Kids. Sisters. The dog. (’nuff said). Family! Who can describe the connection with family? Love.
Then there’s music. Oh, happiness – it’s that time of year when every choral/instrumental group performs the most wondrous sounds.
Dark, cold nights spent cuddled under piles of soft blankets. Dog snores from the bedside.
Christmas movies. Driving around and viewing all the sparkling decorations. Holiday scenes made out of gingerbread and candies. Eggnog.
A warm bath. Good books and good neighbors. Ice sculptures of incredible beauty. Snow. Crystal clear night skies, sparkling white and blue days.
Green! (There’s always green somewhere.)
The scent of sugar from the Tea Olive plant on my windowsill. Jasmine flowers.
Yes, the price of living is high. But the paycheck is pretty darn great.
What are some of the rewards included in your paycheck?
“Joy and sorrow are the light and shade of life; without light and shade no picture is clear.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
Hubby and I went to see the movie Interstellar late last night. Interstellar Heaven!
I was so pumped to see this film, but I know how that can be… you get yourself so excited by your expectations that the actual event can’t live up to it, and you’re disappointed.
I didn’t want that to happen with Interstellar. (Hard sci-fi films are so far and few in-between as it is nowadays.)
So before we went, I read many of the on-line comments and reviews, both professional and from the general public that had already seen it. It seemed people were divided between two camps. Lots of 5 star reviews from people that loved it, and a lesser amount of 1 or 2 stars from the haters. There were very few in the middle.
You either loved it, or you hated it.
General consensus of the lovers:
- Amazing special effects.
- Moving emotional performances.
- Gripping tension that kept you glued to the edge of your seat.
General consensus of the haters:
- What exactly is happening? Too difficult to understand.
- Too long.
From within both camps there were comments that the sound quality was a problem. The music, they said, was too loud to hear the dialogue.
After reading the reviews, I was still looking forward to seeing the movie but my expectations were tempered, mainly because of the sound thing. I already have hard-of-hearing issues and those movies where I spend every other minute whispering to Hubby “What did they say?” tend to drive me nuts. Not to mention Hubby doesn’t enjoy the constant interruptions.
So we saw it. And here’s my take:
It was gripping enough that the 3 hour length didn’t bother me. Nor did it bother Hubby, and he often gets antsy even in 2 hour movies. He even wants to see it again. (I’m not so sure I do, although I’d love to see that ending again.)
The emotional performances were just what they said. Great. McConaughey acted his a** off, not something you usually see from him. Matt Damon played an irritating character, and he did it decent enough so that you really didn’t like him much. Jessica Chastain did a good job as the adult daughter of McConaughey but the one who really stole that role was Mackenzie Foy, who played the same character as a child. Even Anne Hathaway who – I’m sorry, I just don’t like her – did a really credible performance.
As far as the science of the film? Quantum gravity at its finest. Loved the strings! Loved the Rama-like spacecraft (just exactly when is Morgan Freeman’s production company going to film Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama anyway? He’s been promising it for years!) It was reminiscent of several hard sci-fi books, actually. Using “dimensional shortcuts” (like a fifth dimension) to travel or send messages through space-time is a trick of many a science fiction plot.
And then there was all the relativity. Can you ever have too much of Einstein’s relativity?
I think not.
The negatives I would give the movie echo the same as other reviewers… the sound quality. The science is daunting… I’m a bit of a physics buff but I certainly didn’t understand all of it. You really need to be up on all the latest theories to grasp the whole thing. But I might have understood more if I could’ve heard it! The music, while intense and wonderful, grew so loud – right during the key points of the story, of course – that even Hubby didn’t know what they said.
Do you think they did that on purpose? So we would miss a key physics explanation? Maybe they were fuzzy on it themselves and so covered it up with loud music? Ha – probably not. But it was kind of frustrating.
The other negative just has to do with my own personal idiocies in movies. I LOVE disaster films. And I was really looking forward to those gigantic tidal waves, frozen clouds, and planetary fires that were promised in this film.
They were a disappointment. The waves were pretty good, but the frozen planet was “eh” and the planetary fires were fields of corn burning on Earth. (Oh yeah, as an aside, that plant blight and Dust Bowl rendition of Earth was pretty cool.)
Still, when you have so much of Albert’s general theory of relativity in a film – well, as far as I’m concerned, Albert rules over all, so disaster disappointments are forgiven.
Plus, it was wonderful (for a change) to actually see hard sci-fi on the big screen. So much of what they call sci-fi nowadays is more like magic, or fantasy. I’m not opposed to those, I enjoy those too, but I’m old enough to remember when fantasy and sci-fi were different shelves at the bookstore. Nowadays, you go to Barnes & Noble and look in sci-fi and find mostly paranormal fantasy. Vampires, witches, and a few alien adventures with swords.
When and why sci-fi became vampires is another subject. Maybe I’ll explore that on another post someday.
But for now, here’s the bottom line:
If you have a working knowledge of physics, Interstellar is going to rock your world. You’ll be discussing it with your friends for days.
If you don’t understand the science one iota, it’s still pretty cool.
I say “Go”. At the speed of light.
Sometimes I feel like I’m surrounded by ignorant people. Sometimes being this morning, actually.
Logically, I know it’s not true. In truth, I don’t think I’ve ever even met an ignorant person, so how could I be surrounded by them? We all have subjects which we’re ignorant of, but that’s not the same thing as someone who is ignorant. Plus, our definitions of intelligence are 1) subjective, and 2) frequently prejudiced.
No, being surrounded by ignorant people is only a feeling I get, born out of frustration during those times when I don’t get the co-operation I think I should, from people whose co-operation I need. (Usually, it has to do with things like: doctors who don’t listen to what I’m saying or who don’t treat my family members with that same courtesy, contractors who take advantage of my ignorance and do a lousy job, etc.)
I’m sometimes told my own judgment could be suspect in these cases. Or, as Hubby would so aptly put it, “You just get upset when people don’t see things your way.” (aka: too controlling). Leave it to Hubby to tell me the truth. (“Ha!” she answers defiantly.) This was the case last night (and again this morning) when I expressed frustration with the “ignorant” someone who frustrated me.
There’s just enough little girl in me to wish my dad was still here. If Dad was here, he’d know what to do. I’ll never forget when I was in my early twenties and I made some derogatory remarks to my Dad about one of his friends…
My parents were part of a coffee clutch that met at a local restaurant. It was a fairly large group – probably 15 or more people – and several hours every morning the members would drift in and out of the restaurant, sit at a long table, eat breakfast and chat with each other before they had to leave for their jobs.
I was a college student at the time, and sometimes ate breakfast with the clutch before I went to classes, always finding it interesting how diverse my parents friends were.
There was the beautician who owned the beauty shop next door to the restaurant. She’d stop in around 9 a.m., order coffee and dry toast and spread local gossip she’d hear from her customers.
There was the manager of the hardware store… a disgruntled fellow who came (and went) early, since his store was clear across town and traffic could get bad. And the high school teacher, who ran into job trouble when the school district found out he was gay (this was back when “coming out of the closet” wasn’t fashionable).
I remember one fellow who was quite handsome. He had exquisite Greek features, attractively styled hair just barely frosted with gray, and he was always impeccably dressed. He was the owner of a men’s clothing store, my dad bought many of his expensive office suits from that man. Rumor had it that he had a penchant for cheating on his wife.
As for my dad, he was an executive for – now that I look back onto it – probably one of the largest employers in the area. A national corporation whose headquarters were in Stamford, Connecticut.
This coffee clutch was, basically, an interesting representation of the townspeople. They ranged in age from thirties to retired, women and men alike with varied livelihoods, interests, religion, and political opinions. I loved being a part of the clutch whenever my schedule permitted it.
One of the clutch members, however, was someone I really looked down on. His name was Al and he was a retired farmer who lived on the outskirts of town. To fill his time he did odd jobs for friends and family.
At the time, my dad was a controller. (No, that is not a description of his personality… it’s the title of a top managerial financial person, responsible for all the financial/accounting related activities within an organization.) A numbers man.
When our back yard fence needed repair, or the garage door opener jammed up, Dad would try his darndest to fix these things, but mechanic’s was definitely not his forte. His fingers worked fine on a calculator but when it came to home repair, he was all thumbs. Instead, he came to rely on Al.
To look at Al was to look at the stereotype of the typical “backwoods” farmer. He wore denim bib overalls, long-sleeved shirts and dirt encrusted work boots. He drove a small, dented pickup truck. His thinning gray hair always looked like it needed to be trimmed. He had a missing tooth and a rough, grizzled manner.
I thought Al was the most poor, worthless, uneducated man I’d ever met. As I said, I was college age. (We all remember how “smart” we were at that age, right?) I don’t remember exactly what my disparaging remark about Al was, but I do know it included the words “dumb” and “poor”. My dad became very angry.
“Al has more money than any of us up at that restaurant,” he said.
My eyes grew wide in surprise as Dad went on to explain. Turns out that – in exchange for fixing things around our house – Dad did Al’s taxes and helped him with his accounting. Something I hadn’t known. Al had no college degree, but he was a savvy, shrewd business man who, as a result, was very wealthy.
He knew what his area of expertise was and he knew how to capitalize on it. So much for “ignorant”!
After Dad “educated” me, I was more respectful of Al. Money talks, I suppose, but mostly it was because I saw my dad as a smart man, so if Dad thought Al was smart, then he must be, and I had judged prematurely.
So here’s the thing about dealing with “ignorant” people… do we get upset because people disrespect us? Or do they know something we don’t? Certainly you need co-operation (or at the very least, explanation!) when it comes to people you receive services from. Such as doctors. (My source of irritancy was a doctor, of course. I should qualify here that I have a profound distrust of doctors. My paranoia of them is probably deserving of some serious therapy.)
Well, I can’t quite let go of my frustration yet. But I am willing to take a step back and try not to control the situation every time I step into a doctor’s office. To admit that I could be reacting more to how I think the doctor perceives me than I am to why we went there in the first place. After all, it’s at least a possibility he may actually know what he’s talking about (that’s cheeky, isn’t it?).
It’s practically impossible to know what someone else thinks of you, and dangerous to base your reactions on what you think those opinions might be. I have no idea what knowledge or experience that doctor has had that, added to my own experiences, lead to our lack of communication. What kind of a day he had or what his emotional, spiritual, or physical state was at that moment. What I do know is that I doubtless could’ve gotten more co-operation if I’d handled it better. Tried a different approach, instead of just reacting from expectation.
That’s the danger of letting others define us. That’s the danger of defining others.
My dad’s not here to set me straight anymore, so I have to figure these things out without him. But I like to think that God has appointed Dad to keep an eye on me. To help me, by bringing to light memories from our past. I think of my dad as more of a disciplinarian than I do God, so that thought may not be enough to always keep me from reacting first and thinking later… but it is enough to give me pause.
After all, it’s not just a loving, forgiving God watching over me. Dad might be watching too.
I recently read on Yahoo that cable TV was on its way out. It’s days were numbered, being replaced with the option of buying only the channels you wanted to watch and downloading them onto your TV or computer devices. Internet-delivery TV they call it. It sounds complicated to a non-techie like me, but I’m all for learning about ways to cut my 3-digit cable bill. The light at the end of the tunnel. Definitely something to look into.
One thing I can’t wrap my mind around though, is downloading a movie and watching it on your carry devices. Like a cell phone, or even something like an I-Pad. I don’t really understand why the same consumers that buy big-screen TV’s for their living rooms would also watch a movie on a device that’s smaller than a child’s shoe.
But that’s the world of options. And isn’t having options just the grandest thing ever? In the world of options, “little” and “big” are important words.
Life is like that too, don’t you think? We have so many options from the time we’re born to the time we die. Big options that affect every other moment of our lives, and those options that have little impact.
Do we live life safe, in a little box? Or take a bigger, riskier step, and put ourselves out there? One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it depends on the situation and what you need, or what you want. It’s those options again.
I remember when I was planning a trip for my family to go see Niagara Falls. Hubby (who is far more well-traveled than I) had seen Niagara Falls before, and told me not to expect too much, because the Falls were “just okay”, but that if I wanted to see something really spectacular, I needed to go out west and see the Grand Canyon. Compared to the Canyon, he said, the Falls were just mediocre. His insistence, of course, had the opposite effect and I could muster no desire at all to see the Grand Canyon.
Then when I saw Niagara Falls, I thought What is he talking about? These are incredible!
They were. Unbelievably gorgeous. And BIG! Maybe it’s because of my low travel quotient and lack of experiences, but I was terribly impressed. Which got me to thinking… if he thinks this is “just okay”, then what must the Grand Canyon be like?
So now we’re planning a trip out west for next year. To see some REALLY BIG things, like the Grand Canyon. And the redwood trees. Plus, something I’ve dreamed about seeing for some time now. Something that was once available for all of mankind to see, and now is seen by only a small percentage. Something that I can remember seeing when I was little, but haven’t seen in a long time. Something that it’s estimated eight out of every ten people born today – 80%! – will never be able to see.
A truly dark, starry night sky.
In the definition of “BIG”, NOTHING is bigger than seeing the Milky Way and thousands and thousands of stars. Are you old enough to remember how the night sky was so immense and lit with stars, from horizon to horizon, that to gaze at it gave you vertigo, and you had to close your eyes from feeling you were falling off the earth?
Thanks to artificial lighting and population growth, there are very few places left in the United States to look up and see the Milky Way. We are not alone in this, the rest of the world is in the same shape we are, and those places where there is still natural darkness will soon be full of light.
Luckily, this is another one of those options we’re always given. It’s easily within our power to change back to being able to see the night sky, before the generation that remembers it is gone, and the remaining generations don’t even realize there’s anything to miss. A gift we could give our ancestors.
And all we have to do is turn off the lights.
Article’s about last night’s total “blood moon” lunar eclipse (where the red part of light is cast onto the moon’s surface) evoked all kinds of comments about science versus religion. “Light”, of course, being a BIG word in both circles. I got to wondering, how many times does the word light appear in the bible? So I looked it up.
Using the bible and an online Christian reference*, here are the results:
Light appears 272 times. This includes both the Old and New Testament, but does not include variations of light (Lighted, Lighting, Daylight, etc.)
To gain a comparison of its usage and importance, I looked up these other words (again, this does not include variations):
Faith appears 247 times.
Wisdom – 234 times.
Grace – 170 times.
Joy – 165 times.
Salvation – 164 times.
Believe – 143 times.
Forgive – 56 times.
Redemption – 20 times.
Obviously, light is an important word in biblical circles.
Some of these words (specifically: salvation and redemption) were not listed on the Christian reference site I used and I needed to combine information from various avenues. I suspect that may be because of translation issues.
Light, however, was on every resource I viewed. No doubt someone could dispute me on this, it was hardly exhaustive research. Nonetheless, there is no disputing the importance of light in the bible, and given our nature of always looking for answers, is it any wonder we’re all fascinated with it?
Light was right up there, comparable or only slightly under some heavy hitting words. Like:
Pray (313 times), Love (310 times), Covenant (292 times).
The really Big Words? The one’s that were literally off the charts in distance from all the rest? No surprise there:
Jesus – 983 times, (all in the New Testament).
God – 4,444 times.
Lord – 7,946 times.
Much of the time, when the word light appears in the bible, it is referring to God’s light inside of us. As in:
- In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.
- … arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
- The spirit of man [is] the candle of the LORD.
- …thy whole body also is full of light.
- … for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.
- For God… hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
- Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
- He knoweth what [is] in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.
It’s not hard to think that perhaps light is an integral part of God’s nature, and perhaps even is One with the Holy Spirit, as well as part of our own nature and the natural laws of the universe.
For the record, the words:
Holy Spirit appears 7 times (3 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament).
Holy Ghost appears 89 times, in the New Testament only.
Might it be that a quest to understand light could really just be the Holy Spirit within, driving us ever closer to understanding the nature of God?
Then again: how did we get here; do we have a purpose; where are we going… isn’t this also a quest that we’re all on? Whether we consciously state it in those terms, doesn’t everyone ponder the Big questions in life?
And given how physically we respond to light, and that every cell in our body has light receptors (see: Clocking The Light), could it be that both scientist and theologian are just using different protocols to study the same thing?
Note: Translating the biblical manuscripts is difficult. Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic usage differs from English in grammar and structure, so there is no definitive translation. Also, the number of times the word light (and its derivatives) appear in the bible depends on which bible version you are using. For the sake of this article, I used the King James (KJV) version. The KJV was translated by the combined efforts of approximately 50 scholars and all scripture quotes are in the public domain.
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(Re: usage of light in the Bible.)
The bitter cold and weak light of an Illinois winter make growing a kumquat tree outdoors an impossibility. Indoors, it’s not easy either. Especially if there’s a thief in your house.
If you’ve ever tasted a kumquat, you’d know why I grew one.
I fell in love with the fruit when I traveled to Florida one year, and a relative of mine picked one off the kumquat tree he had growing in his yard. He handed it to me and instructed “eat the whole fruit, skin and all.”
It was instant love at first bite. Unfortunately, despite the wonderful sweet/sour taste of the fresh fruit, there’s not a lot of kumquat shipping going on.
I don’t get it. You can buy Florida oranges, Texas grapefruit, Costa Rican pineapples, Honduran bananas, kiwis from New Zealand, and Mexican avocados. But try and find kumquats at your local grocer. It’s a rare day in January when you’ll find one.
So it came about that one year I bought a kumquat tree from a nursery that assured me the citrus was hardier than most and could be grown successfully indoors in my zone 5 habitat.
For three years I nursed that tree. It wasn’t easy.
Our summer takes too long to get hot, and turns cold too quickly. Normally flowering in spring, forming fruit in summer, and ripening in early winter… my kumquat barely had time to set flower outdoors before it was time for me to carry it back inside.
All those websites and catalogs that tell you it’s easy to grow kumquats inside in the frozen north are either 1) unintentionally ignorant, or 2) flat out lying so you’ll buy a tree from them.
Kumquats need heat for the fruit to ripen. Try getting heat next to a sunny window when it’s 10 degrees below zero outside. Speaking of that sunny window… kumquats need light. Warm, bright light. My winter light shining in a full sun window is still too weak.
Not to be daunted, I re-arranged my office, the brightest room in my house. I turned the whole room into a mini-greenhouse and set the kumquat as close to the window as possible, catching what little sun rays it could.
I adorned my office with artificial light.
I researched the plants native habitat and fruit production schedules and set the plant lights on a timer, designed to imitate the amount of light required for optimum fruit production.
To protect it from the cold near the window, I enclosed the whole shelving unit in plastic sheeting. Of course, dry heat from a furnace comes nowhere near the humidity needs of tropical fruit, so I had to set up a humidifier within my tiny office as well. And, what the heck, I added a bunch of my other house plants to the locale, which not only helped them, but also created additional humidity for my kumquat.
You couldn’t come into the room without skirting the equipment and plants. As my office faces the street, the lights from my windows lit up the whole block. My neighbors commented that they didn’t need to turn on their porch lights anymore. The light leaked into their homes in the evenings. Did it lower their electric bill? I wonder.
I had a trick-or-treater ask why I had a bright “jungle” on the side of my house and I suspect we were the subject of many Halloween stories… at least by the parents.
I’m not even going to begin to tell you how much this all cost.
Finally, after several years of this insane behavior, I found – to my delight – that my kumquat held twelve little orange globes. I was thrilled. A dozen kumquats isn’t much (they are a bit larger in size than a grape). Those twelve kumquats would’ve been just one or two snacks, actually. But did I care? No! I was one happy gardener.
Patiently, I waited for the fruits to ripen. Every few days I would check on them, smacking my lips in anticipation.
Then one day, I noticed something funny. Something had changed. I counted the fruits, and two of them were missing.
“Two of my kumquats are missing,” I said to Hubby. “Did you eat them?” There was an accusatory tone in my voice.
Hubby denied responsibility. I could only assume that I had counted wrong. After that, though, I kept closer watch. The next week passed and all seemed fine. I began to relax again.
Then, inexplicably, another one disappeared.
I confronted Hubby. “There are only nine kumquats on my tree,” I said. I didn’t need to say more, my combative stance and expression said it all.
Alarm lit up his face. He lifted his palms, facing me, signaling me to stop, and swore up and down that he had nothing to do with it. I had no proof and it seemed out of character for him to steal my fruits, but I couldn’t see how else it had happened. Sylvester, our dog, didn’t like going into the office because of the crowded set-up and humidifier. Plus, he’s a dog… kumquats (especially unripe ones) are kind of sour. He liked to have a bite of banana whenever we did, but he was really a meat and potatoes sort of a guy.
After that, I became obsessed with counting the kumquats every day. Every so often another one would mysteriously disappear, so I began to watch the office door like a hawk, but I never caught anyone doing the deed.
Then, one day, I caught him.
He thought I wouldn’t see him, engrossed as I was in my book. He passed the outskirts of the hall silently, moving covertly and sticking close to the wall, hanging his head low so I wouldn’t notice him out of the corner of my eye.
He slipped into the office and disappeared from view.
I popped up from my chair and ran to the office, just in time to catch him with a kumquat on his treacherous lips.
“Wait!” I cried. His eyes grew wide and he ran past me and took off for the other side of the house, where I found him hiding behind the bed.
I was shocked.
But as much as I loved my kumquat tree, I love my dog more. And how could I blame him? Kumquats are the most glorious fruit, and I suspect he knew he’d never get any offered to him. So I forgave Sylvester his trespasses.
That night, when Hubby came home, I told him what had happened. Of course he took Sylvester’s side, as I knew (and Sylvester knew) that he would.
Sylvester watched as I set up a barricade to the office, protecting the remaining five kumquats. When they finally ripened, I gave Hubby two and I ate the remaining three.
Sylvester watched us eat them, longing shining from his big, brown eyes. I almost relented and gave him one, but then I didn’t. Hubby gave one of his to Sylvester, and the kumquat story has come to epitomize some of the craziness I sometimes go through for plants. We talk about it with humor.
Oh, the tree? Despite all the artificial light, summer wasn’t enough to repair the damage caused by yet another winter indoors – It died the following year. The neighbors were thrilled – no doubt Sylvester was disappointed.
I knew there was a reason I loved coffee! A new report has come to light! According to an August 7, 2014 report in Clinicalnews.org, caffeine intake is associated with a lower incidence of tinnitus. (Say what?) According to this article, “Researchers observe that women with a higher intake of caffeine had a lower incidence of unexplained ear ringing.”
If you know me personally, then you know this is pretty funny coming from me. But I’m not laughing (as I turn up the volume on my hearing aids to hear the good news). Uh-uh. Coffee is serious business.
Not only is coffee good for your ears, but apparently it’s good for the rest of what ails you too:
“A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents. (High blood caffeine levels in older adults linked to avoidance of Alzheimer’s disease, 8/5/14, Clinicalnews.org.)
Somebody call my doctor, quick! He apparently is misinformed into believing that caffeine raises your blood pressure. Silly man.
The above referenced Alzheimer’s study took place in Tampa, Fl, 6/4/12, (what better place to do it?), a collaboration between researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami. They found that higher caffeine levels in the blood were associated with avoidance of, and perhaps protection from, developing Alzheimer’s disease. “Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals”.
So, what exactly do they mean by “higher blood caffeine levels?” Well, that’s a good question.
According to the news article: “These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/pharmacy/) and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute (http://health.usf.edu/nocms/byrd/).
But then later in the article: “No one with MCI* who later developed Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above a critical level of 1200 ng/ml – equivalent to drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.” (*mild cognitive impairment)
Hmmm… so several cups of coffee is below the critical level? Then, does “several cups” mean 2 cups? Because it would have to, wouldn’t it, in order to jive with the statement that 3 cups a day will protect you from the disease? “… In contrast, many with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher than this critical level.”
I don’t know; these statements appearing conflicting to me. But I’m betting that whatever the “above critical level” is, I’ve got it covered.
This is the problem with news articles. This one is the journalists attempt to compile summaries of more than one study and cram as many references as possible into it in order to make it accurate and professional. Or at least appear accurate and professional. Not this journalists fault, I’m doing the same thing with this post. But the process does sometimes unintentionally drift into unclear territory.
(As a side note, I have to wonder if anyone’s ever done a study on the link between Alzheimer’s, increased caffeine consumption and Florida’s vehicular crash statistics.)
Nevertheless, the message coming across is consistent. If you want to head off Alzheimer’s, drink more coffee:
“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, and has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”
And since the study also points out that neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s) actually start one or two decades before the symptoms become apparent, the sooner you start drinking that coffee the better.
Hey… I don’t need a light bulb over my head to do that! I heard that message a long time ago.