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"Thank you for the words of wisdom in today’s Abilene Reporter News. In the midst of wars violence and pandemics, you words were so soft spoken and calming."

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Blind Spots

 All of us have have blind spots. Our brain fills in the picture so we don’t realize it. But the blind spots in our field of vision are very real. In medical terms, “it is the place in the visual field that corresponds to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells on the optic disc of the retina where the optic nerve passes through the optic disc.”

 Here is a simple way to “see” your blind spot.  Put your thumbs together, the tips touching, with your index fingers pointed upward. This will separate your index fingers by approximately six inches. Extend your arms with your hands directly in front of you. Close your left eye. Focus with your right eye on your left finger and move your hands closer or further away.  The right finger will disappear in your blind spot. You can do the same for your left eye. If this doesn’t work, go to google or you tube and you will find plenty of help to find your blind spot.

 Several years ago I was diagnosed with glaucoma in my left eye, something very similar to the blind spot, but bigger. About ¼ of the vision in my left eye is missing, and I didn’t know it.  With both eyes open, my right eye compensates for it.  With just my left eye open, my brain tries to fill in the gaps. But when I move my finger into the blind spot, it disappears.

 We also have a blind spot when we are driving.  It is the place just behind us on the left side, just off the left rear bumper. We can check our rear view mirror and our side view mirror, and it appears no one is around us, but when we try to change lanes horns blare and people swerve. We can easily miss our blind spot.

 Jesus spoke about our spiritual blind spot.  We think that we can see all things clearly.  We believe that we have a full field of vision, but the truth is that we are unable to see some of the most important elements of life and reality. We are blinded by our prejudice and presumptions. We assume we have no prejudice.  Other people may be prejudiced, but not us.  We assume we see all things objectively.  But do we?  

 Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5).

 Jesus often told simple stories so that we might see our spiritual blind spot and understand the important lessons of life.  Jesus said, “This is why I speak in parables: though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”  (Matthew 13:13).

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Where Are the Birds?

 I have often risen before dawn to sit outside under the stars listening  as the birds announce the coming day.   It starts with a tweet or a chirp and then, as a crimson glow streaks the gray sky, their songs rise to a chorus as the sun breaks above the horizon.  But lately, there have been no songs.  The pre-dawn darkness is shrouded in an eery silence.  The first shadows stretch across the  landscape where there is no movement. The birds are absent. Where have they gone?

 Probably it is a matter of seasonal migration.  But this is the first year I remember watching the sun rise without a single bird to signal the day.  There are no Sparrows, no Juncos, no Finches, no Blackbirds, no Geese.  Where are they?  According to a study out of Cornell University, birds are, in fact, disappearing.  Since 1970 the bird population in North America has plummeted by 29%, from 10 billion to 7.1 billion.  Almost 3 billion birds are gone.  Scientists point toward climate change and the destruction of natural habitats as the primary reasons for the decline.  Imagine a world without birds to greet the sunrise, geese to fill the skies, trees without songs. Imagine the natural world replaced with concrete, steel, plastic and virtual reality.

 Years ago, I visited the abandoned coal mines near Birmingham, England, an area known as the “Black Country” due to its early industrial pollution.  We toured the caverns where men labored to extract the coal.  As we descended the guide pointed out the cage where they placed a canary to detect the build-up of dangerous gases.  As long as the air was good, the canary sang. But when the canary stopped singing, and eventually dropped dead, the miners knew it was imperative they evacuate the shafts.  Perhaps the birds are sending us a warning.  Perhaps like the canary in the coal mine, the silence of their song signals the imperative that we take climate change seriously. 

 Birds play an important role in the Bible’s redemption story.  When Noah emerged from the catastrophic flood he sent out a dove that returned with an olive leaf, the first sign the waters were receding, (Genesis 8).  When Elijah hid from Ahab by the brook Cherith, God sent ravens to feed him bread and flesh in the morning and evening, (1 Kings 17).  When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the bodily form of a dove, (Luke 3:22).  Jesus urged us to consider the birds as an example of God’s provision and care.

 Our planet is a marvelous, mysterious and miraculous place.  There is nothing else like it in the known universe. We share our space with the myriad of other living species.  At the dawn of creation God gave his first commandment, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth,” (Genesis 1:28).