The three pictures above were taken by "The Photogirl" (My Granddaughter, Elizabeth Merwin). Ever since our first photoshoot in the field several years ago, she has displayed what I think is a remarkable talent and an "eye" for beauty. This has been on mind since Thursday because for her birthday she received several things related to her hobby of photography. Each photo above shows me something different. The top one focuses in on the simple things (like a bug on a wire), the middle one emphasizes the beauty of the flower (by making it a close-up) and the third one is of Sandy (one of the family's dogs). I think I like the last one the best because of the use of shadows coupled with Sandy in her bed. This really brings out the contrast of her character, as she is extremely loving and gentle with the family, but with any threats- well, you really don't want to see her "dark side". So, from something as simple as a few pictures, we see into Elizabeth's view of the world- and something about how she sees it. But, how do we perceive our environment, and what are we really like? Not sure, don't know, or simply still looking? You are not alone!!! And what you might discover will probably surprise you!!! Consider the following two passages from the Bible; one from the Old Testament and one from the New....
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 2
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure”; and behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is foolishness”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”
3 I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold of folly, until I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their lives. 4 I made myself great works. I built myself houses. I planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit. 6 I made myself pools of water, to water from it the forest where trees were reared. 7 I bought male servants and female servants, and had servants born in my house. I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all who were before me in Jerusalem; 8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got myself male and female singers, and the delights of the sons of men—musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9 So I was great, and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also remained with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired, I didn’t keep from them. I didn’t withhold my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced because of all my labor, and this was my portion from all my labor. 11 Then I looked at all the works that my hands had worked, and at the labor that I had labored to do; and behold, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was no profit under the sun.
12 I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly: for what can the king’s successor do? Just that which has been done long ago. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness—and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all. 15 Then I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no memory for ever, since in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. Indeed, the wise man must die just like the fool!
17 So I hated life, because the work that is worked under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind. 18 I hated all my labor in which I labored under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. 19 Who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have rule over all of my labor in which I have labored, and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.
20 Therefore I began to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labor in which I had labored under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet he shall leave it for his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what has a man of all his labor, and of the striving of his heart, in which he labors under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail is grief; yes, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? 26 For to the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Luke, Chapter 2
42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast, 43 and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. Joseph and his mother didn’t know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day’s journey, and they looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they didn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Solomon was probably the greatest of the kings of Israel; a man of curiosity, intelligence and wisdom. One who sought for the hidden meanings to everything around him. His efforts showed him the futility of his own strivings and the vanity of life apart from God. He even thought of those who would follow him (verse 19, above) and wondered... In stark contrast, we see Jesus, one who evoked amazement at his understanding of the things pertaining to God; even as a child!!! The difference between the two is their relationship to the Almighty. Solomon chose other gods later in his life, whereas Jesus- well, he followed HIS FATHER PERFECTLY!!! Truthfully, when a child comes into the world, we can only wonder what will become of it. Will it a person of worth or worthlessness? No one knows, but if that person exhibits sensitivity and insight into the world around them- then the chances are very good that they will be a credit to humanity. IF, there is a spiritual aspect to their character and a desire to please God as well- then they are like one of the candles on Lizzie's birthday cake. They shine and shine and shine!!!
One more time- Happy birthday, sweet Elizabeth!!!