Category Archives: Cool Science

The science behind physical phenomena can be even more convincing evidence of the divine hand that created it.

Designed to Do More than Reflect: Holy Refraction

There’s just no beating around the bush about this. The events of these days have been hard to manage.

The news, more often than not, leaves me sad, sorry, or simply confounded. How have we found our way here? For surely we have all wandered into a movie no one would pay good money to see. Someone shut off the lights and forgot to illuminate the aisle.

And yet… there are glimmers that sparkle all around me. People who hold onto hope. People who keep doing the good. People who, against all odds, keep bearing the torch so others can see by its light. I see ’em and I wonder how they stand the barrage of the daily news and don’t wither under its fire.

Some just seem really good at keeping their focus. They’ve got their eye on that prize and nothing distracts.

Some are on fire with a passion — for kids, for family, for their art or their dream. A heart aflame compels them and nothing can quench that fire.

Some, it appears, are duty bound. Disciplined to the max, obedient to a fault, or perhaps afraid to veer left or right.

Some, however, seem unfazed by it all. (And here, I am not referring to the few that, by privileged means and with an apparently hollow soul, can turn a cold shoulder to the circumstances of others and go on about their business as if nothing is happening.) I am referring here to those who stand in the midst of the fray, absorb the blows and yet respond with patience and understanding, kindness and positive intention.

While I in these circumstances often feel inclined to reflect the world back to itself to show it just how awful it looks, these “unfazed” folks don’t stoop to this. Instead of knee-jerk reflection, they engage in Light of the World refraction.

“Refraction is the change in direction of a wave passing from one medium to another or from a gradual change in the medium. Refraction of light is the most commonly observed phenomenon, but other waves such as sound waves and water waves also experience refraction.”

Wikipedia

By God’s grace, these remarkable people receive the earthly things that demand our attention but reflect them at a different angle. A Kingdom angle. Instead of holding a mirror to the world, they offer a different and better way.

I pray that we who claim the Spirit of God in our hearts and souls might choose to refract earthly things this way. To pass them through this medium of a different density and reflect them at a new angle to offer a Kingdom reflection.

To the uninitiated, it may look like magic, but we know it’s not sleight of hand. It’s just the same kind of refraction designed by the Great Optometrist who gave us eyes not only to see but to focus clearly on what God sees. And to be witnesses to it all, to the ends of the earth …

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

Today, I witnessed a resurrection

Today, I thanked a tree for its shade, pausing under its broad branches for a moment’s break from the late morning sun. I even blew it a kiss, the only gift I could think of to offer back was this bit of extra CO2 for its respiration. A very small bit, to be sure.

On a normal day, I wouldn’t notice this tree or at least I would pay it no mind. But these aren’t normal days, are they? These are odd days, co-opted by the novel corona virus. They have us thinking a-new about every thing and thinking more about everyone. Paying closer attention and taking more care.

Unannounced, this had me attending in a different way to many things I passed in my outing. This tree was the first of many trees I thanked, along with the woman riding toward me on her bike who got off and walked it wide so I could pass at the prescribed social distance. I returned the favor to a cyclist where I had room and he didn’t.

Not all were happy things. I lamented the loss of the life of a turtle who, in departing his pond in search of a distant and deeper shore, didn’t make it that far. This invited sudden thoughts of people who were now in peril because they had embarked on a similar trip. What was it like in the face of this virus if you were in close quarters, in a homeless shelter or detained as an immigrant seeking asylum?

Further on, from another resting spot in the shade, I could see a family of Sandhill Cranes walking along the shore. Mom and Dad mate for life; each year their brood is only two fuzzy yellow crane-lings. This family who only had one saddened me; I had watched two chicks with these parents only a day before. The danger to the young and the defenseless is real in all species.

******

Actually, that today was yesterday.

Today, I thanked the rather the tall hedge who provided me shade as the sun was still early in the sky.

The walkers gave me less leeway, so I swung wide for them.

The early bikers preferred the roadway to the path, as auto traffic was far more sparse than pedestrian.

The turtle now rested on its shell, having provided sustenance for scavengers nearby.

The cranes pecked their way along the familiar shallow hillside. Mom, Dad, and baby.

I paused then to appreciate the cool shade offered by the trees by the pond. I marveled at the majestic blue heron fishing, the glistening snowy egret so still, and the black bird in flight whose red wing patches gave it away. It landed in the reeds near the cranes who paused in pecking their way along shore’s edge.

Mom, Dad, baby and… another spot of yellowish white. From my distance I couldn’t be sure, but perhaps. If it moved I would know. I waited and watched. No one sped me along. No one called me home. No one pushed my pace or bid me hurry. I waited and watched, craning my neck and squinting into the quickly brightening day.

The spot moved; I was almost certain. As I looked on, it did move and then, sure enough, it straightened into a gangly, yellow fluff of a walking thing. It wasn’t dead; it was alive. I had witnessed a resurrection! Praise be!

In the times we are living, these 2020 times, this corona virus time, this Lenten time that will now almost surely conclude in canceled Easter services, this chick come to life felt like a sacred moment.

I have heard some quip that “This Easter Jesus will stay dead,” but watching the baby crane I wondered if things had turned their way around. Perhaps resurrection is happening among us, so that this Easter, in the very midst of the hardship and sacrifice we’re witnessing, we will be the ones telling the stories of all that God is redeeming and bringing back to life.

And that tomorrow will be all our todays.

The key to 2020 Vision is in View

Evan and Evelyn Eagle greet the sunrise before the new year

This pair of eagles was perched on the rooftop, amiably and companionably awaiting the rise of the new day, new month, new year, new decade. I wonder what they can see way up ahead, where their eagle eyes can pierce through the fog, the foliage and the distance.

My eyes, on the other hand, are such feeble instruments, requiring spectacles to read the tiny print and binoculars to bring distant things into focus. What meager vision I have by comparison to these two magnificent creatures. And yet, I perch before my day and pretend to see it clearly.

Vision, what a miraculous gift! But how confounding. Because my two eyes, set apart as they are, give me two versions of my world, one from the right and one from the left. Thus, I have two perspectives on every viewpoint, such that by holding them together I may compare them and judge their distance. This is how My Designer teaches me depth perception.

In order to compare what each side sees, some of the “image” from my right eye crosses over to the left side of my brain and some of the “image” from my left eye crosses over to the right. Thus, my brain shares visual input “across its aisle,” considering both sides before concluding what it sees. This is how my Designer teaches me deliberation.

Because of the unique properties of the lens in my eye, the image on my retina is projected upside down. The top is on the bottom and the bottom is on the top. Only as I use my body through my environment, touching, feeling, manipulating what’s before me can I convert the image to see it “right side up.” This is how my Designer teaches me mind-body connection.

Next, my eyes send this abstract collection of color, intensity and pattern on a journey to my visual cortex where the inputs are compared with patterns I have seen before and impressions made by previous experience. Along with other pertinent sensory input, all of this is “processed” in light of what I’ve learned and what I believe. This is how my Designer teaches me understanding.

Finally, I see.

Isn’t it miraculous how inside a problem lay its solution? How inside a question lay its answer? And if we pay close attention, how inside a human lay our solution for humanity? This is how my Designer teaches me about Himself.

Sitting together on a rooftop taking in the long view before the sunrise of a new decade, I pray we might see into the distance and be completely and utterly amazed. Now that would be 2020 VISION.

*For more like this check out Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.

%d bloggers like this: