Dividing the waters

We tend to think of Moses being the only person who divided large bodies of water in the Bible, but there were three others.

The prophet Elijah at the Jordan:
2 Kings 2:7-8
7 Fifty men from the sons of the prophets came and stood facing them from a distance while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the waters, which parted to the right and left. Then the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

His successor, Elisha, at the Jordan:
2 Kings 2:13-14
13 Elisha picked up the mantle that had fallen off Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle Elijah had dropped and struck the waters. “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” he asked. He struck the waters himself, and they parted to the right and the left, and Elisha crossed over.

The famous scene with Moses:
Exodus 14:15-22
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. 16 As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh, all his army, and his chariots and horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the Angel of God, who was going in front of the Israelite forces, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 It came between the Egyptian and Israelite forces. The cloud was there in the darkness, yet it lit up the night. So neither group came near the other all night long. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left.

And last, Moses’ successor, Joshua at the Jordan.
Joshua 3:9-16 (HCSB)
9 Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” 10 He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites 11 when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.” 14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho.

In spite of all these miracles, we have to remember that Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and Joshua did not divide the waters. God did. They were simply the people who God worked through to make these miracles happen. It is like when someone asks for prayers for healing, and they give credit to their pulling through to the people who prayed. We must always remember the One who answers prayers. We must pray, certainly, but it is important to remember the One we are praying to, the author of healing.

Careful in that car

There’s something about driving that makes you forget what you’re doing. It is easy to get lulled into a sense that driving is more like watching a movie or playing a video game than real.  Perhaps it is the climate control so you don’t have to experience the weather.  Perhaps it is the good suspension that smooths out every bump so you don’t experience the road.  It is easy to forget that the other cars on the road are real and filled with people. It is easy to forget that one wrong move and someone will die.


The most aggressive drivers on the road are those who drive large trucks, like Ford F-150s. They are so high above and removed from everyone else that they seem to forget that there is anyone else on the road. These vehicles are very sturdy and give a sense of protection to the driver, but result in a sense of threat to everyone else, because the driver often drives as if he is the only person on the road.


I think it’s a good idea to have a car that has lightweight doors that make you realize how fragile and how thin your protection is between you and other cars. I think it’s a good idea to have a car that doesn’t have quick acceleration so you don’t feel you can cut off other drivers. A slow car makes you wait for an opening rather than forcing one. I think it’s a good idea to think of your car as a two thousand pound weapon. This way you will be considerate on the road.


When you ride a motorcycle you are fully in the elements. You are made aware of every moment and everything has to be done very carefully and mindfully or you will get hurt. The same is true for bicyclists or walkers.  The less you have between you and others, the more careful you have to be, but also the more considerate.  Imagine how many fewer accidents there would be if everyone drove as if they had the same level of protection as a motorcyclist.


What if we all had one 800 numbers on the back of our cars saying “How am I driving?” How many of us would get complaints? What if police pulled people over for driving well? How many of us would get stopped then?


Here is a prayer to be said before starting your car:

Lord, help me to remember to be careful on this road. Help me to remember to look out for the safety of myself and for others. Help me to drive in a way that would bring honor to you.  Amen.


I love finding trees that grow around obstacles.

The ones that I find the most are hackberry trees.  They are considered “junk” trees – large weeds, a nuisance.  Normally they are scraggly bushes, but when you cut them, they sprout out even more branches, like a hydra.  Your choice then is to let it grow as is, or to dig it up.

Here is one I found at a Persian restaurant off White Bridge Road in Nashville.  The restaurant (Hot Kabobs) is not there anymore, but I bet this tree is.  Look how it has grown around the chain link fence.



Here is one at the Mercy Convent in Donelson.  There is a back part of the property, next to a farm.  This is not part of the normal area for retreats, but I was on a wander.  There was a metal wire that was used to show where the property line is, and this tree has grown around it.




Soon it will have totally wrapped around it.

The stumpy tree

This tree has been through a lot. It is part of a pair in front of a house.

tree bare

They are a short walk from my house.

Here are two pics taken early in June 2016. They are full and vibrant.



The electric company was going to come by soon and trim them – I’d seen the marks they put on the trees. Some get trimmed, some get cut down entirely. They trim every four years and do it based on the rate of growth for that species. If the limbs will be in the lines, they have to cut them away because they will tear down the power lines during a storm – or become energized. A worker told me that trees have a lot of water in them, and can transmit the electricity. Touch the tree, and you are touching a power line if the tree has its branches touching the lines.

Here are the “after” pictures, taken 6-20-16

Bird eggs

Here is my collection of bird egg pictures.

Found in my back yard a few years ago – right above my favorite place to sit.

Found at the Hermitage library, on the walking path near the airplane wings sundial.

Found in a bed of plants under a sign at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

Found May 27th, 2015, on a walk in Old Hickory

Pretty little corner

Is it possible to miss a place more than a person? It is acceptable to say that the garden is more beautiful than the gardener? The creator made the creation. Surely the beauty of it is a reflection of the beauty of the one who made it.

I once was part of a debate on an artist page, where a customer was dismayed to see that so many artists used their art as their profile pictures instead of a head shot. He wanted to see what the person looked like. I commented that the outside of the person is arbitrary. We have little control over that. But what a person makes, their art, comes from the inside. That is their true face. That is what they truly look like.

I am coming to realize that there are things in my life that I will never see again. They pass, or change, or go away before I realize it. The moment is gone. The chance to really notice it is over, and will never happen again. Places that I loved as a child, that I spent a lot of time in, are no longer available to me. People move, or die, or stop being friends. Places burn down, or get remodeled. Change is the only constant.

Here is a picture of the garden at a family friend’s house. I found this online, after realizing that I could never go there again. They’d moved to assisted living and sold the house. The husband had grown too frail, too ill with Parkinson’s.


We’d spent a lot of time at their house when I was growing up, and after my parents died I visited monthly. The couple here were like extra parents to me, but that has changed. He has died, and she has grown distant. The mourning is many layered.

He was from Iran, but long enough ago that it was called Persia. His name was Mohammed Hosein Rafiee (pronounced Raff-ee-ee) but was sometimes called “Joe”. He was a metalurgist at Combustion engineering. She is named Ellen, and they were married longer than I have been alive. Sometimes I think they stayed together out of habit or inertia. Sometimes I think the house is what kept them together. Neither wanted to leave it.

This is a photo of him that I got from the obituary that was online. Why had I not taken the time to take a good picture of him? I have some, I’m sure, but they are casual snapshots. Why can’t I find them? How did I not know that this was not forever, that he would be gone one day, that everything would be gone?


He called the garden in Persian “Zebah Kenar” – pretty little corner. Ellen made it. He’d designed the house in a very Japanese style, where it wrapped around the garden. Most of the rooms had windows that opened out onto it. In Japan, the symbol for “home” is the the one for “house” plus the one for “garden”. A garden makes a house a home.

Hosein understood this. The soul of the place is the center, the inside, the living part that you work on.

I just found a picture of the garden that I’d taken.

…and after some digging, I found some more. Here are shots of the lovely lantern by the front door.  Almost nobody came in that way, but you had to drive by it to get to the “real” entrance.


The window on the right side is one that Hosein designed and made himself.  He taught himself how to do stained glass work just so he could make the windows for the house.  They do not look like beginner’s efforts.  He chose a difficult design and rose to the occasion.  He never made a stained glass window again after he made the ones he wanted for this house.

I have a fondness for up close pictures and unusual angles.  These were taken near the front door.  The house is very close to the edge of the bluff.  A short walk out the back door and you will fall off a very high sheer cliff face.


Here are some that give you an idea of the shape of the house.  There was a lot of height in the rooms – only a small bit of the height was used for upper rooms.  The living room was quite cathedral-like.


Here is a nice picture of the front door, the lantern, and the windows he made.

I know I have more pictures of the interior.  I’ll add them when I find them.

I found this – from my wedding. The only person I still speak with is my husband. How odd that I thought these people were so important to invite for this event.

and yet more I’ve found, on my husband’s phone.

This was taken on the sly while on a visit a few years back.  This is in the living room.  Hosein is on the right.



The view from their deck.  When they built their home this road didn’t exist  – thus the noise didn’t exist either.


This might be at their house – but then again, it might be at the Choo-Choo.  I wonder what happened to their Koi when they moved?  They surely didn’t take them with them.  Koi live a long time.


We have failed our boys.

We have failed our boys. Every day I see more and more boys who say they don’t want to read. Knowing how to read but choosing not to is the same as being illiterate. The result is the same whether they know how to read but don’t or they never knew how. Every day I see boys who – if they read at all, read far below their age level, only able to read books that have many pictures in them. They are either unwilling or unable to read a book that has only words in it. They choose graphic novels and comic books if they choose books at all. There’s a whole series of books geared towards boys now that are written very simply and have many illustrations in them. It is as if they need training wheels in order to read. It is a disturbing trend.

Then if they read, the subject matter is concerning. Their parents steer them toward “boy” books. “Girl” books are about relationships – sharing, making friends, learning how to compromise. “Boy” books are about relationships as well – dominating others, being a soldier, being in charge. They learn this script too well. They learn that they must control every relationship they are in. They learn nothing about sharing or cooperating. Anything other than domination is seen as a failure. It is easy to see that it is impossible for everyone to be a winner with such a scenario. This sets them up for a lifetime of disappointment.

We have failed our boys. By telling them that “boys don’t cry” we are telling them that they are not allowed to express their emotions. Those feelings have to go somewhere. When you don’t allow someone to cry the feeling turns around upon itself and transforms, metastasizes, goes dark.

We have failed our boys. When we say “boys will be boys” to excuse bad behavior we’re saying that they don’t have to try better. We’re saying that there’s no reason for them to act in a respectful manner. Any behavior that you would want to see in your boy when he grows up into a man should be encouraged when he’s young. When we let boys get off the hook from punching others or pulling on girl’s pigtails (or worse forms of abuse), we are saying that they are not accountable for their actions.

Is all of this why so many acts of violence have happened recently? Is this why so many boys and young men have decided to express themselves, to be heard, to be noticed, by taking a gun into a public place and shooting random strangers? Have we done this to ourselves?

More importantly how can we make it stop?