Blood Moon Manna

About a week or so ago, as my daughter-in-love and I were leaving with the kids for a trip to the beach, I accidentally backed into her car. Not just any car, their new (to them) car. A beautiful car with nary a scratch nor dent. A car that my son and daughter-in-love were so happy to have purchased. A car that fit and served their family’s needs perfectly.

To say that I reacted poorly would certainly be an understatement. I was mad at myself for being so careless. I felt sad that I had damaged their car. Oh, that sickening CRUNCH! When the reality of what you’ve done is solidified.

My struggles with sin and failure over the previous few days welled up and spilled out, a mixture of anger, frustration, helplessness, and tears.

Of course, my son and daughter-in-love responded graciously. My husband (as always) reacted calmly. But I was not about to let myself get off so easily. I beat myself up pretty good over it.

About 5:30 the following morning, I received a short text from my son: “Blood Moon now if you’re up.” In this case, it was a super blue blood moon, a total lunar eclipse. Yes, I was up and soon positioned myself outside on the balcony to watch.

The morning air was not uncomfortably cold. It was still dark, but I could hear the world around me beginning to stir. I thought about the people starting their work day. How many of them would completely miss the astronomical wonder unfolding above them?

I thought about the kindness of my son’s reminder. I thanked the Lord for him and my daughter-in-love, for my husband, my other two children, all my grandchildren, and for the undeserved Grace and privilege of being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

I remembered what I had been reading earlier that morning about how the children of Israel complained to Moses, “…you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” I thought about God’s gracious and miraculous provision for them, Manna. I thought of my own grumbling heart and how the LORD had always  provided for me in spite of it.

I tried to imagine our solar system, the planets, sun, moon and stars all following their appointed course. My imagination wondered at the immensity of the universe and marveled at the power and wisdom of the One who created it.

I thought about the grandiosity of the Great Artist’s rendering unfurled above me, His canvas the dark morning sky, His subject the moon, His brush dipped into the richest of purples and reds to paint a celestial masterpiece no mortal could ever hope to duplicate.

…all things were created through Him and by Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
(Col 1:16,17)

I felt small sitting on my little balcony, my life a tiny speck in the grand order of things. I realized I had come outside hungry of heart, but how long can a soul go unfed in the glorious presence of such a God as this?

When I look at Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Ps 8:3,4)

And so it came to be that my soul was put at ease. I rested then, my hunger satisfied and my heart warmed by peace that passes understanding.

This, my bread from Heaven. Blood Moon Manna.

Poem for a Crow

By Terrie van Baarsel

Beyond my lace curtain
A crow in the birdbath
He is not exactly what I had in mind
And the sky is just crazy with crows
(Where are the sparrows, the finches, the doves?)
He struts
Arrogant in black
Until I open the door
And then
A reluctant flyer, he.

The crow brings bird carcasses
And bean burritos
Yes, bean burritos!
And leaves them to soaking
Until they are fat with water
Plump offerings and ample
For his eager mate in waiting
Oh, how charming
(Is it quite illegal to shoot a crow?)

Better yet so
Shall I then appreciate him?
Loan him a name and
In his honor compose
A poem of crow appreciation?

All hail!
I crown thee Copernicus
King of all Crows
Sleek of feather
Beady of eye, art thou
An ode to thy prowess
Thy intelligence
Thy form
O, rarest of scavengers!

Dearest Copernicus
Purest of pilferers, pillagers, plunderers, thieves!
No call to repentance for thee, dear bird
Alas, thou canst not repent
And of a fact, need not
For thou dost only what thou hast been created to do.

But why, oh why, must it be in my bird bath?

Summer Remembered


Your wild breezes speak
of children’s brown faces
and barefoot lovers
Whisper, you
palms and long memories
of flowers’ heads weaving
The oracles of summer
robed in deepest sapphire
profound in blue
Did you know I understand you?


Consider the Birds

I wish I were better at identifying the multitude of mature trees that populate my neighborhood. I do know that some of them have been growing for a very long time. The tallest I would estimate at sixty feet or higher. I’m thankful for the shade they provide and the protection they give to the many and various birds that visit our backyard.

I have three bird feeders out back. There’s a platform feeder, a little house that holds birdseed, and a finch feeder. There are two bird baths and plenty of nectarous flowers to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

My backyard is quite busy most of the time!

Here is what I have learned about the birds that frequent our community:

The Woodpecker is noisy… tap, tap, tapping on his preferred canvas, the tall palms that tower over the street. His call makes me think of what a witch would sound like were she to laugh loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.

The tiny Finch loves a crowd. Sometimes nine or more of them cling to their feeder hanging every which way and stuffing themselves with Nyjer Seed. For such petite little birds, they sure do have a voracious appetite!

The ace flyer of the neighborhood is the Mockingbird. Fast and with a flash of white, he swoops and slides through the air. He’s fun to watch and seems quite intelligent. Once, I heard a mockingbird mimic a crow.

The Hummingbird wins the agility contest. He’s a bit of a show-off, hovering and flitting among the honeysuckle blooms. He also fearlessly defends his territory and won’t hesitate to dive-bomb a grown man!

We have a pair of Mourning Doves who like to rest on the block wall in our backyard. I’ve read they mate for life and this must be so, for I hardly ever see one dove without the other. Their cooing is quite soothing and I don’t find it mournful at all.

We have a couple of high-flying Red Tailed Hawks in the neighborhood as well. The hawks are most welcome because the gophers certainly are not.

The California Towhee seems to be on clean-up detail. He likes to hop around underneath the feeders and eat the seeds the other birds have dropped.

Whether perched upon the back of a lawn chair or atop the outdoor water spigot, the Black Phoebe patiently scans the lawn and waits for just the right moment to swoop down and feast upon unsuspecting insects going about their business in the backyard grass.

The Bluebird is beautiful to behold, but he is something of a neighborhood bully. He aggressively chases the other birds away from the feeders, and I can get quite close to him before he is scared enough to fly away.

Sometimes, late at night or very early in the morning, I hear the soft call of our resident Owl. I’ve only seen him a couple of times, and it’s a mystery to me how such a great bird can glide so silently through the night sky.

The Orioles prefer to eat halved oranges placed here and there around the garden. Recently, we observed as a Mama and Papa Oriole patiently watched over their fledgling until the little one finally took off for his first solo flight. An Oriole in the bird bath is simply a delight to watch. Flashes of bright yellow plumage and water splashing everywhere prove the Oriole enjoys his bath as much as I enjoy watching him.

And finally, the humble Sparrow. If you ever have the chance, look closely at the pattern and color of his feathers. He really is quite exquisite if you take the time to appreciate him.

So, whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or out in the country; next time you are outside be sure to consider the birds.

“If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.”   -Charles Lindbergh