Saturday, August 28, 2021

No Flowers In The Field


My dog saw it first.  Barney is an English Springer Spaniel and he doesn’t miss much unless it’s kennel time when he seems to have a hearing problem.  There in the freshly mowed field was a pair of wings, standing upright like flowers.  But it’s August in Texas and, other than sunflowers, there are no flowers in the fields around here.


Barney usually sniffs and then chews on most things he finds in the field.  But, this time he just stood there, looking at the tiny wings and then looking back at me for an explanation.  As I got closer, I realized that he had found a butterfly.  An exceptionally beautiful one at that.  It appeared to have only recently nose-dived to earth finding its final resting place in an almost perfect vertical pose, wings fully extended and intact.  Even the butterfly’s body appeared to be unharmed.  I started to pick it up for further examination, but decided such an artful passing need only be memorialized in a photo. 


As Barney and I walked on I had to wonder what happened to this butterfly.  They only live for a few weeks. Had its time come?  Did it just run out of fuel and crash?  Or did it fall victim to an angry wasp or some mischievous dragonfly.  Was it the ruthless, deadly herbicide I use to keep weeds and grass out of the fence row?  Or did it just fly to close to the sun?  For some reason it has remained in my thoughts, this dead butterfly suspended at the end of a perfect dive.


The next day we walked past the same place and it was still there, but one wing had collapsed giving way to the wind and gravity.  Another day later and the butterfly’s remains appeared to be long gone. But Barney was intent on finding a trace and there some twelve feet away from the crash site was a piece of the wing, soon to become dust, yet still shining in the late evening sun.  


Since that day, I have looked in vain for a butterfly as beautiful as that one.  Perhaps next spring there will be flowers in the field and another butterfly even more beautiful will appear….at least for a few days.  

Monday, August 16, 2021




Critical or mocking in an indirect or sarcastic way. - (Oxford dictionary)

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”  The Apostle Paul -Galatians 5: 14-15

True confession: I have anger issues.  Not that it is expressed by acts of violence, revenge or retribution.  Thankfully, I was not raised by violent people.  Physically hurting others never seemed right to me and, just as a practical matter, seldom works out very well for either party. And growing up, I was bigger and stronger than most kids, so my parents warned me to not be a bully.  I grew up being more of a teddy bear than a grizzly bear.

But I am a teddy bear with an attitude.  That attitude, combined with a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue can do more damage than the best left hook or right cross.  I am at my core a pessimist and very distrustful of others’ actions, intention and motives.  As a result, I tend to be coldly cynical and bitingly sarcastic in dealing with those outside of my circle of trust, a circle which is indeed quite small.   Fortunately, my sense of humor and good ol’ Texas drawl gets me a pass on many comments which if taken at face value would be very offensive if not downright mean-spirited.  

In other words, I was “Snarky” before snarky was even a thing.  But these days being Snarky is how the game is played.  It fuels social media, politics, business, sports, television, movies, music and even Sunday morning sermons.  It has become the zeitgeist, the defining spirit and mood, of our culture.  It is the shedding of blood without the blood as we bite and devour each other.

Why do we, who call ourselves Christians, play this game?  What drives us to say and do those things which defy our Lord’s command to love one another?  It’s easy to say, “Well we aren’t perfect….just poor old sinners, saved by grace, praise God. “  And then go on to act just like everyone else.

But shouldn’t we be better?  Shouldn’t we be different?  Are we just saved, clinging to some shallow faith as our insurance policy against the fires of Hell?  Whatever happened to becoming disciples and going on to make disciples as commanded by the One we claim to believe in and follow? 

As I reflect upon my own behavior, I have come to understand why Anger has earned its place as one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Perhaps more importantly, I have learned that Anger is always motivated by one of the other six deadly sins: Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Pride and Sloth. 

Further on in the fifth chapter of Galatians Paul calls such things “the acts of the flesh”.  Then he exhorts us to live by The Spirit, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

There are times when pushback and conflict are necessary.  But one must always ask, am I doing this out of Envy or Greed or Lust or Pride or any such “act of the flesh”.  Personally, I have found that most of the time, when I am inclined to say or do something in anger, it’s because someone has injured my pride or challenged my power to get what I want.  Well, I’m not perfect…just a poor old sinner…saved by grace…praise God and so it goes on…and goes on.

Since The Fall, the pattern of this world has been one of conflict and chaos.  Honest peacekeepers who truly love others have been few and far between.  Today more than ever, Christians need to be the light that shines in the darkness.  We have bitten and devoured others far too long. 

So the next time you feel anger. or even just some good old-fashioned “righteous indignation” swelling up inside, ask yourself….WHY?  You just might discover that your anger is part of the problem.  The solution will be found in love, that place where all conflicts will be settled in the end.

“I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live my life.” – Dallas Willard