Tag Archives: Nature

Blue Diamond

About a week ago, I went out for breakfast with my mom. The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining, and it was warm. There were some wispy white clouds in the sky that, as I was getting into the car to go home, reminded me of a blue diamond. I didn’t know if blue diamonds were real, and neither did my mom, so we both assumed they were something I made up. I make a lot of things up. The next day, though I looked them up, and it turns out they are real. They can be made from normal diamonds and chemically altered to look blue, but they can also be found naturally with the blue tint. Either way, they are extremely rare, and extremely precious.

On Saturday, my dad and I went wandering around in the woods to look at the foliage. Ironically, there is an amazing red maple tree across the road from our house, but there wasn’t much color to be seen where we went. Still, it was very nice out, and once again, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue. There were a lot of interesting things to be seen where we went. I found the remainder of a tree stump that only had half of it’s outside left, and to me, it looked like a crown. I also found a dead fruit tree of some sort that had a branch and a shoot curving up towards each other like hands. I also hugged a fern because it was exactly the right height, and because I felt like it.

After seeing the blue diamond in the sky, I’ve been referring to happy, blue sky days as blue diamond days. When I was looking at the red maple outside our house, I thought, “I wonder what God was thinking when he made that.” Then it occurred to me that I might know. He was probably thinking something along the lines of, “That’s good.” Then it occurred to me that when he was making me, he was probably thinking, “She’s really good, and she’s going to like this tree.” I was really amazed by that thought. God made that red maple to stick out among all the other trees against a vivid blue sky, and he cares infinitely more about me.

Of course not every day is a blue diamond day. Maybe today the sun is shining, and the sky is blue, and your favorite tree still has all its amazing foliage on it, but you can’t see it past the broken glass in the window of your heart. Or maybe the window is just fine, but the sky is gray, and the leaves are gone and it’s cold outside. The truth is that we have blue diamond days to remind us how precious we are to God. You are God’s blue diamond. You are good. You are loved.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Look At The Sky

The other day I realized just how much I stare at my phone. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I realized that for the longest time, I had not looked at the sky. After realizing this, I realized just how much I don’t pay attention to as an adult that really seemed to matter when I was a kid. As a kid I would just sit and stare at the sky and think about a million things and nothing. It seemed like there was so much more in the world. I didn’t notice when I stopped doing that. I didn’t notice as the world became smaller and faster.

I’ve been trying to make a point to look at the sky now. I still don’t always remember. I think it’s important. I used to see pictures in the clouds. I don’t see pictures anymore, but I still think the sky is beautiful. I think it’s important to appreciate the things God made. If it wasn’t important, he wouldn’t have made things beautiful. The world could have been black and white. As an artist, I don’t always know why I make things or write things. I just can’t help it, and even though I don’t have an explicable reason for them, I love the things I make. I imagine God feels the same way, particularly about people who can love him back.

It’s funny that a lot of things in the world can keep you alive in one case, and can kill you in another. I like fire. At one point in time, fire was integral to the survival of the human race. In fact, for several years we’ve heated our house with a wood stove through the winter because it’s been cheaper. Fire is something I can still stare at for hours and think about nothing and everything. I like to play with fire. I like to watch stuff burn (yes I know that sounds weird) because it’s interesting and beautiful.

I’ve said this before, but I have over one hundred cousins of various removes, etc, so I just call them all cousins. Anyway, at camp this summer my mom had to explain to one of my cousins who has some form of developmental problem that he couldn’t touch fire. He understood that it would hurt him, but he thought he could run to the lake and put it out before it got too hot. Like me, he thought fire was beautiful and interesting and just wanted to understand it better.

Two years ago, when we had a record-breaking winter, my dad went hiking and made a video. It was snowing and sub-zero on the mountain, but my dad had the time of his life. He loves cold and snow. When I was a kid I liked it. Listening to the weather forecast and hearing seventies and eighties instead of eighties and nineties makes me a little sad these days. At the same time, a part of me is hoping for another record-breaking winter. If it has to come, I’d rather it come in full force. When we got Seamus, we tried to give him some snow to play with. He was afraid of it. He’s a really stupid bird.

I wonder if it’s easier to appreciate things when you think about how you relate to those things, or when you project yourself into a story or an idea or a situation. In my last post I talked about Mythic Island. There was a specific way in which to get there. You had to build a fairy house. Fairies would show up and live there, and in return for building them a house, they would do things for you. In particular, they would create a magical portal that would allow you to get to Mythic Island. A fairy house is a tepee made of sticks and leaves and things. The better the fairy house, the more fairies it would attract. The more fairies you had, the more they could do for you. When we hung out in the woods as kids we would think about these things, and we would build fairy houses just to be nice. We had more of a reason for being there.

I think it’s harder to relate to the world when our worlds are our computers. On Facebook and WordPress and wherever else we “exist” we create the versions of ourselves that we want that particular world to see, and we see the manufactured versions of everyone else. We can look at pictures of clouds and fire, but they’re no substitute for the real thing. When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, it was like going back to Mythic Island. At the time, though, things from Mythic Island would come into the “real world” and we had to help dragons get back home. I guess maybe that made the world seem a little bigger, too.

What I didn’t realize as a kid was that the world is really big. It’s just my little piece of it that’s small. In Mythic Island we could ride our dragons hundreds of miles in a day, we were powerful, and time didn’t make sense. It was our world, and that’s why it seemed so much bigger than the “real world.” I guess I just kind of miss being amazed by the sky. The world really hasn’t changed. I’m just more easily distracted, and ironically, I think I’m less patient in some ways. For the longest time I didn’t want a cell phone. Everyone my age (eleven or so) had one, but I didn’t care. Then when smart phones became a thing my mom practically had to force me to get one. And a few days ago I realized that I forget to be amazed by the sky.

Don’t forget to be amazed. Even if you’ve looked at something a million times, look at it again. Listen to that song you love again. Smell those flowers. Climb that mountain. Eat that cookie. Go back to Mythic Island.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Where To Find God

Earlier today I read a short article that one of my friends posted on Facebook about why Christians should create art. The strongest argument, I thought, was that we are created in the image of God who is the ultimate creative force in the world. We’re not meant to just sit idly. We are meant to take care of God’s creation, but we are also meant to create. Another point that was made was that good art is a reflection of the goodness in the world, and the potential for the world to come.

The author also pointed out that the art we create doesn’t have to be Christian art. Painters don’t have to paint scenes from the Gospel. Songwriters don’t have to exclusively write worship songs. Good art amazes us and can even bring us to tears, and I think there’s spiritual value in that. We can pay homage to our Creator without being obvious. Good art brings joy to our lives, helps us relax, and allows us to dream and to wonder.

If God is meant to be like a friend, if we’re meant to have a relationship with him, then it’s important to actually spend time with him. On one level, yes, that means going to church and reading the Bible and praying, but I think it can also mean just being content, enjoying some good music, or playing a good video game by yourself. It means enjoying life and appreciating what you have. I think simply being content is a way of communing with God because the complications of life and the world around us aren’t getting in the way. I think that’s why a lot of people say that they find God in nature, as opposed to in a church.

It’s not easy to be content. I know I often find myself overly critiquing my thoughts and actions and coming to the conclusion that I’ve failed. I often find myself thinking that I’m doing something wrong or that I’m missing something important or that I’m wasting too much time. I’m very critical of myself, especially when I think I’m being overly self-indulgent. Trying to be perfect is a giant hassle. All this is to say that I am often the most at ease–the most content–when I’m playing video games in my bedroom. I’m not praying, I’m not reading, I’m not thinking. I’m just enjoying myself, and honestly, I think it’s really good for me. I get the same feeling out of reading fantasy stories or watching movies. It’s not a spiritual activity, but it lets me be at peace. Some people find God at the top of mountains. I find him in epic adventures through which I escape my own mind: through which I escape the complications of this world.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

We Are Of The World, And That’s Okay

I was taking a walk yesterday, and I was amazed at just how colorful the trees in my neighborhood were. It’s kind of funny, actually; it’s like I forget that they get this way every year. They really are beautiful, and they drop giant piles of orange and red leaves that smell amazing.

I take a walk just about every day if it’s warm enough outside, and yesterday was about perfect. It was a bit cool, but not uncomfortably so. There was a bit of a breeze, and the sun was warm. My walk takes me around the horseshoe of the street I live on, then down a busier street, and onto the street that leads to the cemetery. I then wander down to the back of the cemetery, which is connected to my friend’s back yard, and I cut through there to get home. I sometimes sit in the back of the cemetery for a while and look at the sky or follow ants, or sometimes talk to my grandmother on the phone. Sometimes I just talk to myself. Yesterday I just sat there with my eyes closed. It was very nice.

There are a few particularly colorful trees on my street, and they, along with a video I remembered, made me think of something: The world itself is not evil. The world worships God. A similar thought came to my mind after seeing (or rather, hearing) this video in one of my classes. It is the sound of crickets slowed down to what they would sound like if they had the same lifespan as humans:

I remember a quote from John Keats that has stuck with me since high school. He said in his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” An idea that is thrown around a lot at my school is that, as Christians, we should be “in the world but not of it.” Well, the fact of the matter is, we are “of the world,” and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Nature is beautiful and innocent, and we are natural beings. Obviously we, along with many things we create, have been corrupted by sin, but we were created in the image of God, and I think that somewhere within us, that innate goodness remains. If it didn’t, I don’t think it would be possible for us to know God. Furthermore, I don’t think it would be possible for us to be creative.

What I’m trying to say is that the trees changing color is their way of worshiping God. Birds singing; crickets chirping; water flowing and giving life; the sun rising and setting everyday; it’s all Creation’s way of worshiping, and saying “thank you” to the Creator. As humans, we often try and do it so elaborately, with complicated music and ceremony and what have you: but in a way, even just existing and acknowledging where we came from and our place in the world is a form of worship; possibly the purest form.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Before Mountains Were Mountains

Mountains were mountains before we called them that. Then we claimed them and gave them names and the wonder was lost. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the first person to see a mountain, then to climb it and say you did it? We named mountains and rivers after our heroes: Mount Washington; the Hudson River.

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the early humans to discover desert and jungle and tundra? As we gained in knowledge, as the maps filled in, we lost in amazement and in imagination. Fish were fish before we knew we could catch them and even keep them. Once upon a time we were the hunted. Now we are hunters.

What is left to explore? What is left to find? What is left to imagine and amaze and destroy? Can it destroy us?

We flew a spacecraft to the moon. Now that’s done and we’re on to Mars, the war god’s planet. Will we find any signs of life, or did they make our same mistakes years and years ago?

Have you ever tried to count the stars? I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a lot of time and a long, long night. It’s like trying to count molecules or cells under a microscope; little signs of life. The universe pulses with breath and heart beat. We see it in our dreams. We hear it in melody. We sometimes fall asleep to the beat, beat, beating of waves.

What is it you believe? How did we get here? Why are trees so inherently tree-like? Why is it true that 1+1 = 2? Do oysters make a sound? The world is not just chaos. We didn’t start with maximum entropy. Do dogs bark because they should or because they evolved to? Could it be both? What is right and what is random? If there is an order to things, then someone must have ordered it. God made sunsets pink and said it was good. God gave man poetry and the Big Bang Theory and the invention of internal combustion engines.

We are borrowers of big ideas. We are discoverers of the unknowable, unclaimable, untamable and great. We choose what is given; we are given free choice. We see freedom and we will it to be.

A Blast From The Past Of Mythological Proportions

Some of you may remember that when I started this blog I wrote a seven part mythology story. I haven’t written much in the fantasy genre since then, but I had an idea that I might either incorporate into the mythology somehow, or write as a standalone story. Anyway, here are the links to parts 1-7 of the mythology if anyone is interested. I’ll be posting the first instillation of my new story shortly.

Mythology Part 1
Mythology Part 2
Mythology Part 3
Mythology Part 4
Mythology Part 5
Mythology Part 6
Mythology Part 7

The Food Chain And The Human Component

I didn’t sign up to take Environmental Ethics for any actual, important reason. I signed up for it because I like the teacher and it was the only class he was teaching this semester; that and it fulfilled one of my “thematic core” requirements. However, it is a philosophy class, and I like philosophy classes because they make me think, and it’s a different kind of thinking than what I do in English classes.

One of the issues Glenney mentioned in class that we’ll be discussing later is the significance and status of animals. Something I think I’m going to have to deal with is a dual philosophy that I’ve had about animals. I eat meat because I like it and because it’s available. Granted, for the most part I try to eat organic, free range chicken, but a) I don’t really know much about that chicken, and b) I have often said that I think of animals as people when talking about my guinea pig or my bird or my friend’s dog. Is it therefore wrong to eat animals? I’m not sure. Many animals eat other animals. Humans are animals, so in some sense we’re not doing anything different. Is it right to say that animals are people? What does that mean?

There’s no way I’m going to come up with answers at this point. I just got thinking about this earlier.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Northbound

It’s raining. Sometimes I think rain is a sign of good luck. It always rains when I do an open mic. I usually pick a few dates per month to perform, and it invariably rains on those days. We’re leaving for a week to go camping in Maine tomorrow. Camping in the rain is awful, but the forecast looks good for tomorrow and the rest of the week. We have a few super fun plans for this trip. The first thing on my list is to go to my uncle’s house and learn to shoot a gun. It just seems like it could be fun. I would probably never own one, and I’m not exactly a fan of hunting, but just shooting at targets or something seems like it could be enjoyable. It’s just something I want to try.

My brother and cousin and I are planning to organize a Capture the Flag tournament. Whichever team wins 2 out of 3 games will win. We’ll have one game at night and one during the day and we’ll have a tiebreaker if we need to. Most of my mom’s extended family comes, so we’ll have plenty of people to play.

We also do a mile swim every year. I’ve only made it all the way a handful of times, including last year. Of course I’m going to shoot for it again this year. I’m usually the last one to finish, but I think the trick is to take it slow. It’s not really a race; we just like to see who can make it the whole way.

I’m also organizing a talent night with another cousin. We did it last year for the first time, and it actually turned out okay. It probably would have been better if the weather had been nicer. Last year was specifically a jam night; meant for musicians only, but this year we’re doing a talent night to hopefully get more people. There are plenty of odd people with odd talents at camp, so I figured we’d get everyone we could. I think our other mistake was that we were trying to get people to sign up ahead of time, but this year I think we’ll just do it free-for-all style. Last year the rangers let us use the amphitheater where they show movies on Saturdays and Thursdays. They show a lot of Disney movies, which is fun. I made my cousins watch “Chicken Run,” and I think they’re still scarred.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Ice

I was having breakfast with my mom and cousin, and we were watching the news. I normally hate watching the news because there are never any good stories. One in particular seriously pissed me off this morning and my family were unexpectedly subjected to one of my angry hippy rants.

Today reporters said that the arctic could be expected to have an “ice free summer by the middle of the century and although that could have devastating effects ecologically, it could create great opportunities for tourism.”

Tourism… Because apparently all we think about these days is making and spending money. All that matters is our own entertainment at any cost. Humans aren’t the only species that matter in this world just because we can talk and we walk funny. I believe that God entrusted us with the care if his creation, and this news story was a prime example of how we are failing.

This is more than a matter of faith, however. It is simply inhumane to let that ecosystem die because we are too lazy or selfish to do anything about it. In all cases, not just this one, Nature was there first. We ought to respect that and fight to preserve the life that is there; not exploit it for our own ends.

The natural world is beautiful. My brother and I spent our childhoods learning about it and experiencing it first hand. My parents took us hiking and camping every summer. When it was too hot or too cold, we would go to the Museum of Science or the Aquarium in Boston. We grew up on Animal Planet and the Discovery Chanel. I want my future nieces and nephews to be able to experience these things the way we did. Maybe the problem is indifference, or maybe it is a lack of education about these issues, but something needs to change.

If you agree, please reblog this.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!