Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Words - A Sabbath Mood

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

"X" by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997. © Counterpoint, 1998.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Tome - A Timbered Choir

My wife and I love the stories and poems of Wendell Berry. Many is the time we have read aloud a favorite passage to each other. If you're not familiar with his poetry but would like to explore a bit, A Timbered Choir would be a good place to start.

From Library Journal--
Winner of the T.S. Eliot Award, Berry spends Sunday mornings in walking meditation in the forests and fields around his Port Royal, KY, farm. During these walks he writes, and he has brought many of these poems together in the present volume. Berry has long been an articulate and passionate defender of the environment, and his "Sabbath poems," spanning 20 years, bring the reader close to the earth, the fields and flowers, richness of the soil, and diversity of the seasons: "Too late for frost, too early for flies,/ the air carries only birdsong, the long/ breath of wind in leaves." The poet has a marvelous ear for interior rhyme: "Horse and cow,/ plow and hoe, grass to graze/ and hay to mow have brought me/ here, and taught me where I am." These poems are not uniformly pastoral; Berry reflects, too, on war, technology, and the economy in these pages, but always with a heartfelt devotion first and foremost for the earth. A contemplative treasure; highly recommended. --Judy Clarence, California State University Library.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday Music - Better Day

Abel made a sacrifice.
Enoch somehow never died.
Noah built an ark
And left the world outside.
Abraham didn’t have a son,
But by faith he traveled far.
His children now outnumber
The stars.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.

Isaac blessed and prophesied.
Jacob worshipped, staff in hand.
Joseph spoke of exodus from
Egypt’s land.
Moses chose to be mistreated--
Pharoah’s pleasures he would deny.
The Red Sea parted and the ground the children walked
Was dry.

Take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better day.

Gideon, Barak, and Samson--
There’s not time enough to tell
Tales of Jephthah, King David,
And Samuel.
There were those who closed the mouths of lions;
Those who quenched the fury of the flames.
They suffered this world’s hateful scorn
And shame.

Still they took another step,
Breathed a little deeper;
They weren’t afraid to take a stand.
They walked another mile,
Headed for a better land.
They thought about the joy--
Thought about the promise;
They let the Spirit lead the way.
They gave a little more,
Hopin’ for a better day.

So take another step,
Breathe a little deeper,
Straighten up and take a stand.
Walk another mile,
You’re headed for a better land.
Think about the joy,
Don’t forget the promise,
Let the Spirit lead the way.
Tomorrow’s gonna come--
It’s gonna be a better da 

"Better Day" words and music by Dave Burkum from Breathe a Little Deeper. © Copyright 2000 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Supplication - He Is Worthy

Almighty and everlasting God, we give you thanks for the hope and reconciliation you have given us through Christ. Help us to live in the resurrection power of your Spirit. Make our lives a witness to the faith we profess.

We confess our sins and weaknesses, Lord. We repent of the ways we have disobeyed and turned from you. Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds.

You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious toward others.

Thank you, O God, for sending your son into the world to save us. We worship Christ Jesus because he is worthy, for he has redeemed, by his blood, people from every tribe, tongue, kindred, and nation. It’s in his saving name we pray.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Favorites - Baseball and the Blossoms

Looks like I'll be going to see the Twins play on August 6.  Two of my favorite things about summer, baseball and the Cactus Blossoms, have somehow been brought together. Amazing! Definitely did NOT see that one coming.

From the Star Tribune, April 18:
The verdict is still out on whether or not the Twins stepped up their pitching this year, but the team did at least add a little muscle to their Midwest Music Showcase in 2014. Tapes n’ Tapes, Trailer Trash, Mark Mallman, the Cactus Blossoms and a reunited Tina & the B-Sides are all on the roster for the 10 Wednesday live music performances at Target Field, which include pre-game warm-up sets from the bands as well as random songs between innings.
Here’s the full lineup announced today by the team:
  • May 14: Tapes ‘n Tapes (7:10 p.m., Red Sox)
  • May 28: Mark Mallman (7:10 p.m., Rangers)
  • June 4: Pennyroyal (7:10 p.m., Brewers)
  • July 2: The Odd Fathers (12:10 p.m., Royals)
  • July 23: Trailer Trash (12:10 p.m., Indians)
  • Aug. 6: Cactus Blossoms (12:10 p.m., Padres)
  • Aug. 20: Crankshaft (7:10 p.m., Indians)
  • Sept. 3: Special Guest TBA (7:10 p.m., White Sox)
  • Sept. 17: Tina and the B-Sides (7:10 p.m., Tigers)
  • Sept. 24: Local contest winner (12:10 p.m., Diamondbacks)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Thinking - Scripture and Community

Today I'll share a few excerpts from an N. T. Wright lecture (How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?) which I read this week while studying for my upcoming teaching series at Valley Christian Church. The entire lecture transcript is available for you to read HERE

My series, The Church & The Word, is less about the authority of scripture and more about the importance of reading Scripture in the context of Christian community. I'll be exploring reasons  Christians should read and memorize and study scripture together. I'll be making a case for why it is both the necessity and beneficial for Christians to bring individual reading into relationship with corporate reading and response. We will examine seven key verses of the New Testament and consider why and how a corporate knowledge and application of these scriptures can and should shape the character and practice of both our church and individual lives.

Here are the excerpts from Wright's lecture:
The purpose of the church’s life is to be the people of God for the world: a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  But the church can only be this if in her own life she is constantly being recalled to the story and message of scripture, without which she will herself lapse into the world’s ways of thinking (as is done in the evangelical dualism, for example, that perpetuates the split between religion and politics invented by the fairly godless eighteenth century).

The Bible, clearly, is also to be used in a thousand different ways within the pastoral work of the church, the caring and building up of all its members.  Again, there is much that I could say here, but little space.  Suffice it to note that the individual world-views and God-views of Christians, as much as anybody else, need to be constantly adjusted and straightened out in the light of the story which is told in scripture.  But this is not to say that there is one, or even that there are twenty-one, ‘right’ ways of this being done.  To be sure, the regular use of scripture in private and public worship is a regular medicine for many of the ills that beset us.  But there are many methods of meditation, of imaginative reading, ways of soaking oneself in a book or a text, ways of allowing the story to become one’s own story in all sorts of intimate ways, that can with profit be recommended by a pastor, or engaged in within the context of pastoral ministry itself.  Here, too, we discover the authority of the Bible at work: God’s own authority, exercised not to give true information about wholeness but to give wholeness itself, by judging and remaking the thoughts and intentions, the imaginations and rememberings, of men, women and children.  There are worlds to be discovered here of which a good deal of the church remains sadly ignorant.  The Bible is the book of personal renewal, the book of tears and laughter, the book through which God resonates with our pain and joy, and enables us to resonate with his pain and joy.  This is the really powerful authority of the Bible, to be distinguished from the merely manipulative or the crassly confrontational ‘use’ of scripture.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I'd also recommend Wright's book, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today.

Widely respected Bible and Jesus scholar, N. T. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on the current “battles for the Bible,” and restoring scripture as the primary place to find God’s voice.

In this revised and expanded version of The Last Word, leading biblical scholar N. T. Wright shows how both evangelicals and liberals are guilty of misreading Scripture and reveals a new model for understanding God’s authority and the Bible.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Words - Looking at the Sky

I never will have time
I never will have time enough
To say
How beautiful it is
The way the moon
Floats in the air
As easily
And lightly as a bird
Although she is a world
Made all of stone.

I never will have time enough
To praise
The way the stars
Hang glittering in the dark
Of steepest heaven
Their dewy sparks
Their brimming drops of light
So fresh so clear
That when you look at them
It quenches thirst.

"Looking at the Sky" by Anne Porter, from Living Things: Collected Poems.
© Zoland Books, 2006.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Forgotten God

I haven't read this one, but it's the Valley Book Club selection for the next three Wednesdays. Brad Dewing will be leading the discussions. For more info about the book and the group, contact Brad.
From the Publisher: 
In Forgotten God, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives. In the name of the Father, the Son, and … the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two? As Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ.
Listed are the chapters we will plan to discuss when we gather. Please have read them in advance so you can be a full participant in our discussions!

Session 1: Wednesday, April 23 / Chapters 1—3
Session 2: Wednesday, April 30 / Chapters 4 & 5
Session 3: Wednesday, May 7 / Chapters 6 & 7 & Afterward

CLICK HERE to purchase book at Amazon.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Music - The Word Is Near You

The word is near you it is in your mouth
The word is near you it is in your mouth
If you confess Jesus is Lord
And believe God raised him from the dead
You will be saved

Jesus is Lord
Jesus is Lord
Jesus is Lord, my Lord,
Jesus is Lord.
"The Word Is Near You," by Eric Unger and Dave Burkum, from Fireside: Worship & Scripture Songs, based on Romans 10:8-9, © Copyright 2006.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Resurrection Power

O God, you gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross for our redemption. And by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of our enemy. We pray that you would help us die to sin so that we might live eternally with him in the joy of his resurrection. By your mighty resurrection power, deliver us from evil.

We confess our sins and weaknesses, Lord. We repent of the ways we have disobeyed and turned from you. Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds. 

You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious toward others.

God of Salvation, we believe that Jesus, your son, is the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to know him and to follow him closely that we might walk in your truth and grace.

It’s in his name we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Favorites - Homeless Jesus

How can something so simple cause such a stir? My favorite arts story of the week...

From Story on NPR:
A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church.
The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban's Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes.

Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.

The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn't.

"One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by," says David Boraks, editor of "She thought it was an actual homeless person."

That's right. Somebody called the cops on Jesus...

From the artists website:
Inspired by Matthew 25, this sculpture is a representation that suggests Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket the only indication that it is Jesus is the visible wounds on the feet. The life-size version of the work has enough room that someone is able to sit on the bench.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday Thinking - The Meaning of Exodus

David Brooks had an interesting piece on Monday titled, "A Long Obedience." He suggests that the ancient story of Exodus is much more than a story of deliverance and freedom; it's a vision for leadership, solidarity, social order, and community stability.
Monday night was the start of Passover, the period when Jews celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from slavery into freedom.

This is the part of the Exodus story that sits most easily with modern culture. We like stories of people who shake off the yoke of oppression and taste the first bliss of liberty. We like it when masses of freedom-yearning people gather in city squares in Beijing, Tehran, Cairo or Kiev.

But that’s not all the Exodus story is, or not even mainly what it is...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Words - Like Wheat that Springeth Green

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain,
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen,
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts, that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

"Easter Hymn 2" by N. T. Wright, © Copyright by N. T. Wright, from the Easter Oratorio, libretto by N. T. Wright with music by Paul Spicer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Eat to Live

It's time for me to pull this one off the shelf and read it again. The battle of the bulge continues. I've been doing well with my exercise, but making too many bad food choices.

Eat to Live is by Dr. Joel Fuhrman is easy and informative reading. The first time I read it, I found it to be both informative and motivational. The instruction was helpful and effective. When I followed Fuhrman's advice, I got good results. I really need to get my wife read it with me this time so she can help me out on the home front with diet and groceries.
Publisher's Weekly:
In this new edition, which incorporates the latest scientific nutritional data, Fuhrman's restrictive diet plan is designed for clinically overweight people who suffer from a spectrum of lifestyle/obesity-induced conditions like diabetes and heart disease and need to drop a significant amount of weight fast—about 20 pounds in the first six weeks.

The basis of Fuhrman's program is Nutrient Density, expressed by the simple formula health equals nutrients divided by calories. Fuhrman's "secret" to optimum health and permanent weight control is giving the body only what it needs. An aggressive six-week vegetarian plan segues into a regimen that includes a limited amount of animal products, like lean fish or egg whites once a week. Although proven and sound, this guidebook is not for someone who wants to lose those last 10 pounds or fit into her wedding dress; this is a serious undertaking for dieters whose umpteen previous efforts have failed and whose health is endangered.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Music - Song for the Real World

News, news of a savior I bring;
Beautiful music I sing.
Song, song of a Father and Friend,
Chorus of love without end.

It's a song of peace for the worried and distressed;
It's a song of hope for all who are oppressed;
It's a song of strength for the challenge and the test;
It's a song for the real world.

Sound, sound of a hammer that swung–
Song of the Crucified One.
Praise, praise to the champion who lives;
Sing of the pardon he gives.

It's a song of light for the blinded and confused;
It's a song of love for those who've been abused;
It's a song of grace for the guilty and accused;
It's a song for the real world.

Song, song of the True Living Word,
Music that some have not heard.
Sing, sing where no singer has sung
In every land, every tongue.

It's a song of faith for the ones who will believe;
It's a song of truth for those who've been deceived;
It's a song that gives to all who will receive;
It's a song for the real world.

News, news of a Savior I bring;
Beautiful music I sing.

“Song for the Real World” by Dave Burkum from Songs for the Real World. © Copyright 1991 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Supplication - To Act, Think, and Live

O God, you are everlasting and always faithful. We thank you for the grace and love you have proven to us by sending Son our Savior Jesus Christ into the world.

He emptied himself, and he became one of us, and he suffered death upon the cross in order to free us from the penalty and the prison of sin. Give us humble and thankful hearts. Help us to walk in his ways and to live by the power of his resurrection.

Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.  And as you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Holy Father, though life is difficult and demanding, you are attentive and faithful. Though the world is entangled in the lie that everything is meaningless, you give us meaning, purpose, and hope. Thank you for the salvation, the strength, and the stability you give through Jesus.

It’s in his name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday Thinking - The Road Ahead

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

– A Prayer by Thomas Merton (1915-1968).

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Wednesday Words - Baseball

It looks easy from a distance,
easy and lazy, even,
until you stand up to the plate
and see the fastball sailing inside,
an inch from your chin,
or circle in the outfield
straining to get a bead
on a small black dot
a city block or more high,
a dark star that could fall
on your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hops
between your feet and overeager glove:
football can be learned,
and basketball finessed, but
there is no hiding from baseball
the fact that some are chosen
and some are not—those whose mitts
feel too left-handed,
who are scared at third base
of the pulled line drive,
and at first base are scared
of the shortstop's wild throw
that stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball's
spotlight swivels your way,
and the chatter around you falls still,
and the mothers on the sidelines,
your own among them, hold their breaths,
and you whiff on a terrible pitch
or in the infield achieve
something with the ball so
ridiculous you blush for years.
It's easy to do. Baseball was
invented in America, where beneath
the good cheer and sly jazz the chance
of failure is everybody's right,
beginning with baseball.

"Baseball" by John Updike, from Endpoint. © Knopf, 2009.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Life Together

Over on the Jesus Creed Blog, Scot McKnight has posted a nice piece about Bonhoeffer's classic book, Life Together. His post is titled, The Church: What Is or What Could Be?

I encourage you to read what McKnight has to say, and then do yourself a favor and read what Bonhoeffer had to say. Life Together is a small book, but it contains huge ideas about the shared life God intends for Jesus followers in Christian community.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday Music - Love the Lord

Hear, O Hear, O Israel,
The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Hear, O Hear, O Israel,
The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Love the Lord, your God,
With all your heart,
And with all your soul,
And with all your strength.

Hear, O Hear, O Israel,
The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

"Love the Lord" by Dave Burkum (based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5), from This Is the Testimony, © Copyright 2005 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Supplication - Hearts that Are Ready

Almighty God, we come to you today asking you to help us to submit our wills and our desires to Yours. Help us to live stable lives with your direction and wisdom.

Help us to love your commands and to delight in your promises as we face the challenges and changes all around us. Give us your joy and peace in every circumstance.

Forgive us our sins, O God. Lead us away from temptation. You are so faithful to forgive and restore those who have sinned against you. Help us to be faithful to forgive and restore those who sin against us.

Give us the eyes to see your goodness, O Lord, and the minds to remember your faithfulness to your people throughout history. Give us hearts that are ready to worship you all day every day, and voices that are quick to sing your praise.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Saturday Smile - Moving

We're having a moving sale today at 1835 Grant Road (9am - 4pm). Lot's of childcare stuff: toys, educational supplies, games, puzzles, furniture, and more. I'll be clearing out the garage too: snow blower, yard tools, shelves, etc.

Everything must go!


Friday, April 04, 2014

Friday Favorites - Lake Josephine

Lake Josephine is my new favorite fishing hole because it's right across the street from my new home. Let me know if you'd like to explore it with me this summer. The boat launch is only a couple hundred feet from my garage.

Josephine is located in Roseville along Lexington Ave, just south of County Road D.

Species Present:
Walleye: Lower than average in abundance, average in size.
Northern Pike: Above average abundance, average size.
Largemouth Bass: Average abundance, average size.
Bluegill: Higher than average abundance, smaller than average size.
Crappie: Low abundance, small average size.
Bullhead Species: Above average abundance, average size.

Boat Access:
Entrance to the public access is located at the north end of the county beach off Lexington Avenue.

Shore Fishing:
Bank anglers are limited to the public shoreline adjacent to the beach. Ramsey County has installed a fishing pier between the boat launch and the beach. Much of this area is open sand beach. Fishing may be inhibited by overhanging trees in some areas.

Management Plans:
Re-survey in 2012. Population assessment in 2018.
Stock 243 pounds of walleye fingerlings (3 per littoral acre) in odd numbered years.

This is a small lake with a limited access facility. Fishing has been limited to angling for bass, small bluegill and the occasional northern pike. Stocking of walleye fingerlings is hoped to provide additional angling opportunities as well as an attempt to improve the quality of bluegill in this lake.

More information about Lake Josephine

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Thursday Thinking - About Preaching

Writer and theologian, Roger Olson, recently blogged about preaching and sermons in a post titled: "A Word about Preaching: Whatever Happened to Points?"  If you are a preacher or public speaker, it's worth reading. Here's an excerpt...
When I was a kid and student most sermons I heard had three points–sometimes two or four. That by itself did not guarantee “good preaching.” Some pointed sermons were and are awful. But I remember many sermons I heard many years ago–some from my teen years and student years (college and seminary). They ALL had clear points.

Example: heard about 35 years ago. Text: Psalm 119:11. Three points (expanded on well): 1) A good thing, 2) In a good place, 3) For a good reason. Simple? Yes. Simplistic? Depends on how the points are developed and explained. “Old school?” For sure. Memorable? Absolutely.

Now the favored preaching style is “narrative preaching.” Okay, sometimes I get it. But sometimes I have no idea what the preacher is trying to say. It’s just a good story. Maybe inspiring. But in my opinion, good preaching appeals to the mind and the heart. “Just inspiring” isn’t good enough.

A good sermon informs and challenges as well as inspires. The “information” may not be new, but there should be facts, cognitive content, propositions, truth claims in every sermon. Why? Because otherwise, unless it’s a very sophisticated congregation capable of interpreting narrative for themselves, the narrative sermon along, without some interpretation,will miss the mark. EVEN JESUS condescended to explain his parables to his disciples!
I guess I'm pretty old-school when it comes to preaching because I always use points. Olson makes the point that clear points help the listener understand and remember. I would add add that it also helps the preacher! Using points helps me as a communicator. I can focus on the people I'm talking to and still remember where I'm going without reading a script or constantly referring to notes. I'm more likely to preach well if I can tell you the main points of my sermon from memory before I get up to speak.

Points in a sermon are like landmarks on a map. They serve as an itinerary as I guide the congregation through the texts and topics at hand. Developing sermon points also forces me to think clearly about what I want the takeaway to be for myself and my listeners. It helps me to nail down applications, and it pushes me to identify and articulate actions we can all take as we try to be responsive to the truths presented.

While sermon structure and method are important to me, I actually don't expect or want my listeners to think much about it. In fact, making a good sermon is a bit like making a really good meal––it's likely to be more enjoyable when those eating it are just delighting in the experience, not thinking about how it was made. But if you're the cook, you'd better be thinking about it a lot!

CLICK HERE to visit Roger Olson's Blog.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Wednesday Words - Such Singing in the Wild Branches

It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves––
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness––
and that’s when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree––
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky–––all of them

were singing.
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn’t last

For more than a few moments.
It’s one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you’ve been there,
you’re there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

"Such Singing in the Wild Branches" by Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, © Copyright 2003 by Mary Oliver.

• • • • • • • • • • •

Minnesota Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina
In early spring, the fluting eee-o-lay song of the wood thrush resounds throughout the moist woodlands at dawn and dusk. In Minnesota, the bird nests throughout the state, except on the prairie and in the heavy coniferous forests along the Canadian border. It is partial to woodlands with swamps or streams. A heavy-bodied large-eyed bird, the wood thrush is easily recognized by its white eye-ring and light belly marked with black oval spots. A shy denizen of the woods, the bird is usually found alone or in pairs, foraging on the ground or low in trees. It feeds primarily on insects, spiders, and fruits. In Minnesota, the spring migration peaks around mid-May. Typically raising two broods each year, the wood thrush lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated for 12-14 days. Young remain in the nest for 12 days and may live as long as nine years. It departs for its wintering range in eastern Mexico to Panama between August and October.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tuesday Tome - Birds of Minnesota

The arrival of spring means the return of birds and birdwatching. Regular visitors to my neighborhood include cardinals, house finches, sparrows, gold finches, hummingbirds, turtle doves, chickadees, nuthatches, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, juncos, and orioles. Whenever I see a bird I don't recognize, I reach for my Birds of Minnesota Field Guide to see if I can figure out what type of bird it is.

This field guide by Stan Tekiela is perfect for amateurs like me. It only includes the most common birds of Minnesota (just over a hundred) and organizes them by color instead of name or species classification. So when I spot a bird I've never seen, I just note the bird's color, grab the field guide, go to the section for that color, and then flip through the pages of photos until I find a match.

If, like me, you enjoy watching birds but you're a novice at identifying them, this little book is just what you need. It's great for kids too. Cheri and I have certainly had fun looking up birds with our grandsons. Sometimes, they just grab the book for the fun of looking at all the wonderful pictures.

Publisher's Book Description:
Learn about and identify birds using Stan Tekiela's state-by-state field guides. The full-page, color photos are incomparable and include insets of winter plumage, color morphs and more. Plus, with the easy-to-use format, you don't need to know a bird's name or classification in order to easily find it in the book. Using this field guide is a real pleasure. It's a great way for anyone to learn about the birds in your state.