Small blessings, sprinkled like manna, just waiting to be claimed
By Linda Albert | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When the month of September rolled around, I decided to celebrate the approaching fall season by taking a few photos each day of the beautiful things I would see unfold. Like so many other folks, I get too caught up in the big stuff sometimes and don’t appreciate the smaller blessings sprinkled like manna all around.
Manna, the daily nourishment provided for God’s unruly people as they wandered through the desert, was right in front of their faces. The thing is, they had to gather it in order to consume it. God didn’t cause it to fall into their gaping maws. And thus, with this image in my mind, I went in search of the manna for my soul beginning on Labor Day in late afternoon.
I almost didn’t get out of the house. The three-day holiday weekend was not so good on the fibromyalgia pain scale, and I spent two and a half days cuddled up with the heating pad on the couch or propping up at the computer to check on Facebook friends or play mindless games. Then, for whatever reason, I envisioned the wildflowers bursting forth. I was hungry for their beauty — and since they were not going to magically appear in my cluttered den, I showered and dressed and took off down the road toward the Tellico Lake Wildlife Area, Chota Refuge Unit, about 20 minutes or so beyond Historic Fort Loudoun at Vonore.
By the time I drove the 45 minutes or less it takes to get there from my house, the afternoon heat was making me wonder why I bothered. Not a dry stitch of clothing remained, my hair hung in soggy strands and my face was red as the proverbial beet. The temptation of turning around and hieing back to the house was strong, but the stubbornness of which I am often accused won out. I mean, really, after actually bathing and dressing and driving in that hellish-hot afternoon, would I give up that easily? Nope. I stayed.
The first sight that greeted me was a huge stand of black-eyed Susans, glowing yellow petals surrounding the purple-brown “eye.” The camera got a nice workout on those before seeking out the brilliant red cardinal flowers blooming a few feet farther down. Joe Pye weed, a tall purplish-pinkish flower, towered above them all and kept company with the deep purple ironweed. I don’t remember the names of some of the other wildflowers along that relatively short stretch of road, but I know the colors: pale jewel-gold, dotted with orangy-red spots; another relatively tall plant with clouds of muted white flowers; the pale purple of a low-growing flower that reminded me of vetch; the medium blue of what might be salvia.
And this was just on one side of the road.
I eased on down a bit and turned my attention to the lake side. Goldenrod was already beginning to show its colors, but what caught my attention was a patch of purple thistle alive with butterflies. My camera resembled a machine gun as I captured the movement of the butterflies, lens zooming in, zooming out, following the creatures as they went about their work. I was very pleased with my camera’s capabilities, even more so when I saw the images on the computer screen after arriving home. One image in particular appealed to me: three butterflies on three different thistles, all in the frame, all aflutter, all in focus. Not bad considering I was sitting in the car on the opposite side of the road.
I didn’t think the day out could possibly have been better, but the good Lord had another surprise for me. A side road leading back into the refuge was open, the first time I’d seen it without the barrier across. Should I take it? Yes!
No man-made painting, no artistic master, could adequately capture what I saw — layers and layers of color, flowing in waves from ground to more than head-high, all entangled together. I just stopped, and stared, and pointed the camera in every direction, praying the battery would last until the very last shot was done. Even more beauty was to come, though. In an open field, the golden carpet of a variety of wild sunflower stretched as far as I could see. It took my breath away, this final morsel of manna my soul needed for restoration and renewal.
Sometimes we forget to open our eyes and see what’s right in front of us. Sometimes we choose not to see ... and, oh, what mighty blessings we miss.
My prayer for each of you today is that you stop and see. Let the manna refresh your soul. All you have to do is pick it up.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (email@example.com)