Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring blossoms

by John D Ramsey

Gabby was Daddy's helper Saturday. We hunted dandelions in the front and back yards. I dug them up and Gabby tamped down the dirt and grass after I had pulled the tap roots. I know that it is terribly old-fashioned to dig dandelions, but I avoid using chemicals in the yard. A yard is a place for people to visit and children to play. If there is such a thing as a "safe amount" of herbicide exposure then certainly no exposure to herbicide is also safe. We fed the dandelions to Clover, the lop-eared bunny from Minnesota. She seems to prefer fresh greens to timothy hay. Because the dandelions were chemical-free, Clover found them suitable for breakfast.

In the afternoon Gabby and I set up a miniature photo studio in the garage. It was a simple setup. A tripod, 35mm Nikon camera, a light stand with an old Smith Victor photo flood, long black velvet skirt hanging from a garage shelf, and a Lastolite reflector. I am sure that we could still find blue photo flood bulbs somewhere, but we settled for a 100W GE Reveal bulb. We had some Fuji ISO 400 film. I do not remember where it came from, or for what we had expected to use it, but it was on hand and that made it the perfect film for this project. I put a piece of cardboard over the window in the side door. It was dark enough so that we could see what our lighting looked like.

We cut flowers from the yard and posed them in the garage using a stand, floral wire, and a clamp. I would frame, focus, and hold the fill reflector while Gabby tripped the shutter release. All the photos were snapped at F/16 with shutter speeds varying from one to four seconds. Claire became interested in the project, too, and she held the fill reflector for some shots. I am not sure that she realizes how thrilled that I was that she joined us. I know that she was distracted Saturday by a science fair project on which she was working; nevertheless, I was glad she took time to work with me.

After each photograph Gabby would add the flower to a vase. It made an odd looking bouquet, but Gabby would not discard the flowers when I finished with them. The flowers were props to me, but they were precious to Gabby. They could not be cast aside. I intend to get some enlargements of Gabby's photographs so she can use them in her bedroom as wall art. I hope that she remembers our time together when she sees the photographs on her wall. Our picture taking was not an elaborate project, and the results may be pleasing, but they are not spectacular. If we recorded beauty, we did not create it. Nevertheless, I hope that Gabby remembers Saturday afternoon. I hope that she understands how much she contributed to the project. Were it not for her, I would have lost interest before I started.

The last promise in the Old Testament is found in Malachi 4:5, 6 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (NASB)

Luke 1:17 explains that this was part of the ministry of John the Baptist. Nevertheless, when we review words of John the Baptist in the Gospels, we do not hear him saying, “Fathers, turn your hearts to your children.” Nor do we hear him saying, “Children, turn your hearts to your fathers.” What John did say is this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

What we should observe is simply this: right relationships among men begin with a right relationship to God. Moreover, our relationship with God must begin with repentance. Modern Christianity seems to be tired of repentance. To some, sin is merely failing to live up to potential. Spirituality is measured by what we accomplish, and faith is mistaken for self-confidence. This puts each man in the center of his spiritual universe. It elevates man and diminishes his Creator. This is the same sin which God attributes to Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-14. We are not the center of our own spirituality. Christ must be our foundation, the fullness of our hope, and not merely a means to an end.

The last prophecy of John the Baptist is recorded at the end of John Chapter Three. John the Baptist ends his farewell speech saying, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

What begins with repentance continues in faithfulness and obedience. The result of this is that we no longer live for our own gratification. Our hearts in tune with Christ are turned toward others. Fathers' hearts turn toward their children. Children's hearts turn toward their fathers. Once reconciled to God, families can be reconciled together in him. It is curious to me that modern Christianity spends a lot of energy promoting better relationships without proclaiming repentance before God. Much of modern Christianity appears to me to be like pretty flowers that are severed from their roots. Regardless of their appearance, they will die without fulfilling their true purpose which is to spread life.

Sin, by the way, is not our failing to reach potential, but rather our selfishness which causes us to rebel against the Life Giver. All our wicked deeds are merely symptoms of rebellion. Our efforts are insufficient to overcome the sin which separates us from God. Only Jesus Christ, carrying our sin in judgment upon the cross, can reconcile man to himself and to the Father. His sacrifice brings us new life in him.

While I hope that Gabby remembers Saturday and the good time we had working together, my greatest hope for her and for all my children, is that they will have a relationship with their Heavenly Father through faithfulness to his Son, Jesus Christ. The older I get, the more dependent I am upon God. The more I know of him, the more I draw my life from him. I am more grateful for his mercy toward me today than I was when I was younger. I pray that God will draw my children ever closer to himself even as he is drawing me

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