Appealing

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is APPEALING

Have you heard that new singer, McLeod?
He’s able to draw quite a crowd
with his lyrics appealing
infused with such feeling
He soon has his audience wowed.


And on a quite different vein, in her last letter my penpal from England feels sympathy for the birds at their feeder when she writes: “…by the end of January the UK will be affected by an icy blast from Siberia, which will send our temperatures plummeting to -5̊ C.”

I watch our local birds fluttering around the feeder this morning – English sparrows, I might add – all puffed up, bravely facing our chilly -33̊C. However, our predicted high today is a more appealing -24. I guess our sparrows have had over a century and many generations to adapt to our climate, though.

Mini-but-Mighty Lion

The lion, tail twitching, silently stalked across the plush savanna. He’s spied a nut-brown orb hidden behind one of the dining room table legs and was approaching it with utmost stealth. His mind had turned it into a young warthog at a water hole and he was the ravenous beast of prey – though really he wasn’t all that hungry. Nevertheless, he was determined to capture and torture this hapless creature that dared to lie around so nonchalantly.

As he crept closer, the orb – actually a hazelnut dropped during the nut-cracking party two evenings ago – seemed to lie there helplessly awaiting its fate. The lion, tabby rather than tawny, reached out a paw and gave the creature a tentative tap with its paw. Did it have sharp fangs? Would it rear up and do battle? No. Not even a squeal. Rather, the hard-shelled thing lumbered under the table and hid in the shadows. Cowardly creature! Tearing it to shred was going to be piece of cake.

His strategy now was simple. With a flying leap his front paws landed on the creature. The blow would have crushed the spine of a true warthog, but this pee-wee brown thing was made of sterner stuff. It skittered away again, and the lion – mini but mighty – gave chase.

With a whack from his huge paw the creature rolled between two shoes. All the better! Here was a challenge. However, while he was wrestling the pee-wee mouse – for it was a baby mouse now – from between the running shoes, gnawing at the laces in his hunger and frustration – or just for fun – along came the Person of the house and ruined his adventure. As he rose into the air he saw his prey escape under the toe of one shoe.

The Person had scooped him up and was cuddling him. “You can’t tear my running shoes to shreds with your sharp little claws. Let’s see what else we can find for you.”

The lion, though he was ever so fierce, knew better than to wrestle with this tall tree of a Person, so he submitted to the indignity of being carried away to a chair and petted. As soon as he was released from captivity he leaped onto the savanna below, remembering his pee-wee mouse and those wiggling shoe laces. A moment later, however, a silvery ball began to move through the plush pile savanna.

Just as a gazelle grazing on the plains of Africa would catch the attention of his lion and tiger cousins, even so the glittering ball caught the mini lion’s attention. Back and forth his eyes flicked. Back and forth his fluffy tail lashed. His back rose in an arch as he slowly stalked the plump creature. When it suddenly made a dash to safety under a footstool, he gave pursuit. And when it darted out again, he was on it!

He’d come back and cuddle later. Right now he was the fierce hunter and there was tantalizing prey about.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: NUT-BROWN
Fandango’s FOWC: STRATEGY

Is This Our Year?

I’ve been thinking for awhile about a story from the Bible and the warning Jesus gave to the people of his day. It was on my mind again this morning, then when I saw the Word of the Day ChallengeWARNING – well, this is the perfect prompt for sharing my thought!

In Luke Chapter 12 + 13 Jesus gives various signs of “the end,” and tells the disciples they need to be ready, watching, and doing the will of their heavenly Father when the Master of the house returns. Then he tells them this parable of the fig tree:

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”

Luke 13: 6-9

The owner of the vineyard took note of this tree that wasn’t bearing fruit in its season. In fact, it hadn’t given any fruit at all for three years. So he said, in effect, “This tree is taking moisture and minerals from the soil, plus the time we’ve already spent on it, and giving us nothing in return. Chop the thing down and let’s use the space for a tree that will be more profitable.”

However, the caretaker was loathe to do something that drastic. Perhaps he felt some pity for the tree, having tended it and fussed over it from its days as a promising sapling. “Let me try what I can with aeration and fertilizer for one more year. Then if it doesn’t bear fruit, okay, we’ll cut it down.”

When I read these verses recently, it occurred to me that “this year” Jesus talked about represented the time of his ministry on earth. The few years he spent teaching and preaching to the people, calling them to repent and come back to God. This was Israel’s “year.” This was the time for the Jewish nation to bear fruit. Would they received his message? Would they repent and turn back to God –the One who had delivered them so many times before. God was giving them this one last chance to bear the fruit He wanted to see.

The Apostle John writes that Jesus came to his own, the Jewish people, and “his own received him not.” History records that the Jewish leaders and the mob they stirred up finally had him put to death because they hated his message. And God rejected them; not very many years later He allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed and the Jews carried away as captives, ultimately scattered to the four winds.

Another fig tree scene happened not long before Jesus was crucified. Mark 11:13-21 tells of how Jesus passed by a fig tree, stopped to look for fruit, and there was no fruit on it. So he said to the tree, “Let no man get any figs off this tree ever again.”
The next day, as they passed this tree again, it was in sad shape. Peter, recalling what Jesus had said the day before, pointed out the shriveling tree. “Master, there’s the fig tree you cursed. It’s withered away.”
I doubt his disciples caught the symbolism of the fig tree to the nation of Israel until after the events of the crucifixion and the day of Pentecost. Then they would have understood.

Another comparison came to my mind. I’ll write it and hope that it speaks to you. I’ve been thinking about this last year when COVID has stalked the earth and menaced people all over the globe. A lot of us have had to leave our pursuits – jobs, schooling, arts and entertainment, sports events, even going to the polls – and return to our homes. We’ve written about 2020 as “A year we’re glad to see the end of.” We’re looking forward to a time when Covid-19 has been conquered. When most everyone’s been vaccinated, this giant has been laid low, and we can go back to our normal lives.

But what if this was our “year” to respond to the voice of God. What if this Covid “season” we’re in is that “one more year” God is giving our world, the time we should stop, think about him and his word, think about “the end” when the Master returns?

Think of the great issues of our day. Environmental, financial, political, justice, personal. How they fill our minds and cause us no end of worry. But what if this really was our last year? Not that we can just stop caring, drop every concern, let everything slide. But there’s a bigger picture here we need to consider: are we concerned about, and prepared to face, the most important event in the world?

“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.”

Revelation 10:5-6

Jesus tells us to prepare, to watch and be ready. Just in case this is our Year.

Midnight Tales

Our Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is WREST

One definition, according to M-W, is “to gain with difficulty by or as if by force, violence, or determined labor.” Our newest cat, Tuffy, though he’s only half-grown, doesn’t seem to have such great difficulty wresting small creatures from their hiding places, but I’ll use this word in my response. Since the writing prompt is to be a quick, fun thing I’ll offer my little rhyme.

The temperature has turned quite mild recently, to the delight of our cats. They’re ready to rush off to adventures whenever the door’s open. Yesterday Tuffy raced across the driveway, over the big snowbank on the other side left by the plow, and up into the crotch of a nearby tree. Heaven help the birds come spring! Last night when I let Tuffy out the back door he started nosing along the side of the trailer. Before long he stopped to investigate one spot intently.

 Outside in a flash
 nosing in the tall grass
 surrounding our dwelling,
 Tuff found a small swelling.

 Oh, joy! 'Twas a hole
 smelling strongly of mole – 
 or maybe a mouse
 entry into our house.

 A wee mole was stirring,
 his cat nature spurring
 his talon to wrest
 pipsqueak from its nest.

 That sad little creature
 became the prime feature
 in a game of delight
 for Tuffy last night.