Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reading, Part 1

Here’s a medical update. My alkaline phosphatase levels are stable at 147! And my lung capacity has increased from 1250 cc to 1375 cc! Yea, God!
   I have always been a slow reader so I never had the time to read books when I was working. Now that I have retired, I have the time. I have several reading projects that I am actively pursuing. One is the Bible. At God’s suggestion, I have read it from cover to cover once. So what do I do now? Read it again, of course! And I am using a different translation. I am also taking notes this time, so I will have a reference when I want to quote scripture.
   Another project is the book “Harmony, A New Way of Looking at Our World” by Prince Charles of England. My sister works for the Prince of Wales Foundation in Washington, DC. She traveled to England in 2011 and had the privilege of meeting him and touring his organic gardens. She too is a gardener. The book is about living in harmony with the earth and nature. Prince Charles writes that before the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment in seventeenth century Europe, people all over the world lived in harmony with nature. They understood its cyclical patterns, and arranged their lives within those cycles. Planting and harvesting crops according to weather is just one example. People of ancient and medieval cultures could look at the sky and read the signs. Today, we who live in the city don’t have that knowledge. We have to turn on the television to learn what the weather will be like tomorrow. We valued waterfront property so we filled in the floodplains of our great rivers and built on barrier islands on the edges of our oceans. Nature made the flood plains to absorb extra water and protect the earth. The barrier islands are nothing more than large sandbars, which are supposed to shift constantly with the pounding of the ocean waves. Today, without the flood pains, when heavy rains flood the Mississippi River, our homes are flooded and destroyed. When hurricanes come, they destroy the buildings on the islands. I am reminded of people who put their faith in man’s scientific discoveries. Man attempts to control nature by building levees and piling up sandbags, but our solutions don’t always work.
   Prince Charles writes that we are living in the Age of Machines. We emphasize industry and material progress. On page 187 of “Harmony” he writes, “We … need to value Nature’s capacity to self-order her complexity; to recognize Nature as our guide, rather than seeing her as a machine that we can abuse to (the) breaking point.”On April 29, 2013 the NBC Nightly News reported that the coastlines of the United States are changing. With the devastating storms we have been experiencing, the shorelines of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico have been redrawn permanently.  A woman’s house in New England was pictured on the edge of a sandy cliff. There used to be an acre and a half of sand in front of it, but it is now hanging off the cliff and is uninhabitable. The reporter stated that a “standard of living is changing forever.” People realize that they can no longer live right on the ocean. In our battle to control Nature, Nature is clearly the winner.
   Five circular patterns are depicted on the jacket of Prince Charles’ book, to reinforce the cyclical harmony in nature. One of them is the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. It has been a year since I attended my church retreat on labyrinths. What is the connection between labyrinths and this book? First of all, labyrinths are circular and the circle is a universal geometric form that occurs throughout nature. Secondly, all medieval cathedrals had labyrinths. To walk a labyrinth signified a spiritual pilgrimage; it was a mystical experience. Most of these medieval labyrinths were destroyed during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment! Mysticism was out of style in Europe! And has been out of style in the Western world for over 200 years! Yet today people are seeking labyrinths, seeking to walk on their mystical paths. There are at least three labyrinths that I know of in and/or near the Jacksonville area! I keep my hand held labyrinths near me so I can use them whenever I need them. At times when I am feeling stressed, they help me visualize walking into God’s presence, and sitting there quietly. Incidentally, while attending the retreat last year I was also reading the classic book “The Pilgrim’s Progress”. The medieval labyrinths were made to be pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Many European knights actually went to Jerusalem (the Crusades), but the majority of people could not afford to do so. Thus, they made their pilgrimages with the labyrinths.
   These marigold and Gerber daisy plants are the same ones pictured in the blog of May 1. The Mexican petunias are the ones pictures in the blog of April 29. See how many new blossoms they have all put forth? The heather and the croton survived the winter cold. The croton, with its gorgeous variegated leaves, was not supposed to live through the freezes, according to the local weatherman.  But God resurrected it! Al and I do not cover our plants when it freezes. It’s cold and windy and the sheets and towels are blowing every which way while we struggle to hold them down with bricks! Besides, the garden is no longer a “Zero maintenance” garden if we have to go to all that trouble. We just leave it up to God to take care of our plants when it’s cold. And he hasn’t failed us yet! In the upper and left part of the pictured croton, you can see four buds on the 4 o’clock plants, the first ones of the seasons!

1 comment:

  1. Bobby, have you been following Carolyn H.'s adventures in California? She showed a labyrinth just the other day!
    Have you walked the one at Peace Presbyterian on Southside Blvd.? That's our voting precinct & I noticed it there one day when I went to vote.
    xo Jane