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Sheltered Reflections #9

By Maureen Kalbus

Sheltering at home, in Marin we are now hemmed in by smoke, haze and unhealthy air, emanating from the lightning fires that are still burning. Seeking masked solace outside in the garden, on the golf course or walks is doubly hazardous. The fringe benefits are the glorious sunsets, as the setting sun is a crimson fiery globe. Looking through our south facing windows, we strain to catch a glimpse of Mt Tam, playing hide ‘n’ seek with the blanket of fog. Miraculously, butterflies, bees and yellow jackets are still seeking pollen, and the frantically flapping hummingbirds are sucking the nectar out of our feeders. Deer are wandering listlessly around: at the weekend a doe had her nosed pressed against a bedroom window! We salvage roses, herbs, tomatoes, and fruit, before they become victims of the smoke. Spending time focused on flowers, plants and creatures, I continue to be amazed by the kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, designs and varieties, reminding me of a childhood hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Written in 1848, Cecil Francis Alexander, who was the wife of the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, would have been inspired by her garden and its back drop in Count Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

“All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small.

All things wise and wonderful. The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings

God made their glowing colours, God made their tiny wings.

The purple headed mountain, The river running by,

The sunset, and the morning That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter, The pleasant summer sun,

The ripe fruits in the garden, God made them every one.

God gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell

How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.”

Over the decades, as I worked with children, I was fascinated by the variety of looks, features, shapes, sizes and personalities among any group. Particularly, I appreciated the gifts and talents with which each one was endowed. As an educator, I sought ways that I, my staff, and colleagues around the world, could discover and develop each youngster’s potential. A lovely poem by George Betts embodies this:

“ At last, we are beginning to understand you. We realise your beauty, your ability, your potential…

A lifetime of excitement, joy, involvement, creativity awaits you…but first we must nurture you.

We must give you the opportunity to accept and value your strengths and your differences…

to accept and value the strengths and differences of others…

The opportunity to actively pursue your passions, your areas of adventure, and your dreams…

to help make our world a better place in which to live, where, as you choose, you may become

the explorers, the inventors, the artists, the poets, the leaders of tomorrow…

But, most importantly, we must help you to become your true “selves”,

to withstand the pressure from outside, and to listen closely to your hearts

so that you may develop your potential, and become what you truly can be, what you really are….

Did you meet your potential? Have you gifts and talents that have lain dormant? Have you pursued your passions and dreams?

In a recent Sunday Scripture taken from Romans 12 v 1 -12, we heard that “We have diff