a photoblog of God's handiwork.

Colors of Spring

Over the past couple weeks, the Arrowleaf Balsamroot bloomed across the hills on the 20-Acre Wood.  This is generally one of the first wildflowers to blossom here, and it always brightens up the scene through the woods.  Evidently the Cheyenne Indians boiled the plant and drank the resulting “tea” to help alleviate stomach pains and headaches.  They also made flour from the seeds and ate the root of this plant.  We haven’t yet put this plant on our menu, but it might be interesting to try it to cure a headache sometime.

Backlit Arrowleaf Balsamroot (spring 2011 photo)

As we were getting ready for church last Sunday morning, I spotted a Glover’s Silkmoth perched on the tire of our car.  This is only the second time I’ve seen one in the last eight years, so I put him in a temporary detention cell to photograph later in the day.  The adult only lives for a short time, as it is not able to eat, so I took a few pictures and then turned it loose to complete it’s life-work.  The images don’t do a very good job of communicating the size of this moth, but they are typically very large.  This fellow/lady was about 4 inches across, from wingtip to wingtip, although it wasn’t very cooperative when I asked for it to display full plumage!

Glover’s Silkmoth 1

Glover’s Silkmoth 2

Glover’s Silkmoth 3

The entire purpose and goal in life for the adult Glover’s Silkmoth is both simple and focused – to mate and lay eggs.  A single job to accomplish, in a very narrow sliver of time.  And to help keep on the task, the moth doesn’t need to waste time eating or anything else.  With purpose and direction, the duty is diligently executed.  For people, it isn’t quite that simple.  We have a lot of distractions in our lives, and often struggle to find purpose and direction.  Let me share a short anecdote along this line of thought:

When he was 88 years old, the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once found himself on a train.

When the conductor came by, Justice Holmes couldn’t find his ticket, and he seemed terribly upset. He searched all his pockets and fumbled through his wallet without success.

The conductor was sympathetic. He said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Holmes, the Pennsylvania Railroad will be happy to trust you. After you reach your destination you’ll probably find the ticket and you can just mail it to us.”

But the conductor’s kindness failed to put Mr. Holmes at ease. Still very much upset, he said, “My dear man, my problem is not ‘Where is my ticket?’ The problem is, ‘Where am I going?’ “

This story may evoke some empathy for the state of an elderly man, and it probably elicits a bit of a chuckle at his response to the conductor.  But at the end of the day, the predicament Mr. Holmes was in is a question that we often ask ourselves.  Where are you going?  By that, I mean to ask if you know what your purpose here on earth is.  If you think you know what your life goal is, and how you are going to get there, what is the basis and value of that plan?  Are the benefits of attaining your stated purpose temporal and/or for personal gain, or is it a lasting investment with an eternal context?

From a Biblical context, our purpose seems nearly as narrowly focused as the silkmoth’s; we are to honor God.  Granted, honoring God is a simple statement that can be defined in a number of ways, but specifically we are to love and obey Him.  One of the key ways we show our love for Him is to love those He created.  Numerous times, and in numerous ways, He tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is something I thought I was doing (most of the time), until I dug into the topic a little more.  In the recesses of my mind I probably already knew this, but simply tolerating or humoring people is not the same as showing God’s love to them!  To share His love, we need to serve the needs of our neighbors.  At times this may require offering something material or tangible, but it may also require time, attention, listening or comforting.  Jesus Christ showed us how this looks in application, as there were times He fed people who were hungry, healed those who were sick, taught people yearning to learn, and comforted the lonely and outcast.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21).

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4 responses

  1. That’s so sad that the moth can’t eat. But I really like the concept you drew out of the analogy. Sometimes, I think it would be easier if we were like the moths and just had a set purpose that we knew perfectly well and would do without hesitation. But then we’d be just like another animal. God is so wonderful in giving us the choice to be diligent enough to seek out His plans for our lives. It makes life much more mysterious and exciting, too!

    May 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    • Free-will is a double-edged sword, and learning to control it is beyond our ability alone. Thank goodness the Holy Spirit is here to help us, if we will only allow Him! As for the moth, yes, in a way it is sad, but then the future generation is provided assurance of survival!

      May 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm

  2. Thoughtful post on life’s purpose, Ken, which draws a parallel between the arrowleaf balsamroot and the Glover’s Silkmoth and our lives. Although we have many talents and abilities to make ourselves useful here on earth, we have one predefined purpose, as stated in a famous quotation in the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” It really is a simple roadmap, and there ought to be no “confusion” as to where our destination is supposed to be. Thanks for sharing the train story with the last Justice Wendell. Beautiful pictures of the arrowleaf balsamroot and the Silkmoth! I liked the “backlit view of the yellow flowers — stunning against the pitch black background.

    May 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    • Amen, Dee! For something so simple, it is amazing how badly we can complicate life in trying to determine our purpose! Thanks so much for your comments and encouraging words!

      May 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

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