Archive for June 2010

PERSPECTIVE, A PYRAMID, A PLATE OF COOKIES

June 30, 2010

Perspective:

We’ve seen many photos of this, just perhaps not from this angle.

From a distance, in an overview, we’ve seen this great pyramid on the plateau of Giza many times.  It looks smooth and majestic, and I always want to climb to the very top and look around.    But I’d have to  start from there, in the photo, at the bottom; and then climb up  large stone steps.     In the blazing heat.     Close up, inch by inch; it would be difficult.

It’s not “how you look at things.”    It’s not “just do it with a smile.”   It’s not “have fun climbing!”   It’s not “things will get easier as time passes.”   That’s the long view, the pyramid from a distance.  

I’ve always found real participation in life is much more like those individual stones to climb.   I love climbing things, but I know that each of those stones can scratch you, cut you, break your fingernails, be a barrier that you have to go around, be hard to get up onto, trick you into a false step so you fall back and lose ground, threaten with collapse onto you, let loose a trickle of gravel that falls into your face, and happily tumble down with you holding on to it!   (Do I sound experienced?  Ha!)

But still we must climb.  The stones let you feel your strength. They might give you a feeling of accomplishment.   They might provide a place to rest.   They might…might…allow you to reach your goal.

You know what I mean by “stones.”   They are things we must deal with in our everyday life.   If it doesn’t feel that difficult, then I don’t think you’re climbing.   At least not up.  

I do many little happy things during the day, taking the long view, seeing the nice pyramid in the distance.   We need to do that sometimes.   I made these chocolate chip cookies a few days ago.  

One of the first “happy” meaningless little pleasures I’ve done since Suzy died.   I couldn’t eat many of them.  The last time I baked them  Suzy was at my side, physically, and mentally in my mind as she always was.   Since she has gone, my mind has been alone, without her.   From a distance, as an idea in my head, these cookies looked so good, but up close, each one was a reminder that I eat these cookies… so alone.

Today two – two! – friends, who don’t know each other,  each told me that they had to or are about to have their pet “put down.”   I know how they feel and I know how they will feel as time goes on.   It will be one of the hard stones that they have to climb.  I can climb it with them if they want me to, and maybe together, we can rest on one of the stones and talk about how a “plate of cookies” can be a sad thing.

My two bereaved friends remind me of the reality of sadness and aloneness.

This is not depression or despair.   It’s just the power of the difficulties that we have in this life.

Photograph, 1879

Bernadette Soubirous.   Saint.   Poor.    So poor her family was given an empty jail to live in.  Uneducated;   so “dumb” she couldn’t learn her catechism with the rest of her friends.  Clumsy and ignorant – and saintly –  she was ridiculed and disliked by the other nuns in her convent.   

She had perspective, though.   Each day she embraced the stones she had to climb.  She was one of the few people who saw the Virgin Mary, at Lourdes, and afterwards.   Eventually she asked if she could have some happiness, a bit of an easier life once in a while.   Here is Heaven’s answer:

She would not find happiness in this world, but only in the next.

The next world, where there will be no tall stones to climb.    They say she became beautiful at the moment of her death, and her body retains its beauty today.  Her face was a testimony to the reality of Heaven and to the perspective obtained by a life lived with God.

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WHAT’S IT – 10

June 29, 2010

Here’s a frivolous What’s It.   My next two are deadly serious, so I’m just going to relax and have fun with this….Hope you don’t mind.  I already know the answer to this one, but it sends me down a little pathway of interesting questions:

I’ll just make them little.   They change colors, not in sync with each other:

And….Christmas!!!!

I’ve said before I like pretty colors;  more specifically, I like lights inside of colors.   It could be some neon signs or Christmas tree lights or  … remember this What’s It?

….and…

I don’t know what those last two are.  They were photographed in different states, in different years, and they’re up in the sky and no one knows what they are.

I even like lights “inside”  flower petals…

I tagged that as  “lighting problems”  but it doesn’t seem like much of a problem   It’s light inside of pretty colors that I like.    

Mankind can make some nice soft colors, but I’ve noticed that Nature trumps even our best efforts. I remember driving in the city one night and  enjoying the pretty multi-colored city lights;  then I rounded a curve on the Interstate and there, just above the city was a Full Moon.   I couldn’t take my eyes off of that creamy golden orb that seemed to glow.       Light within color!

Back to today’s What’s It;  we have four of them actually.

They’re all changing colors, slowly, from one color to the next.  They are supposed to be way down there, floating in our pond.

Hubbie couldn’t bring himself to actually put them in the pond.   (Something might happen to them – even though that’s what they’re made for.)    So we have three on our back deck railing and one sitting in our birdbath.     Oh, well.   

Lights like this are pure and clean and soft and gentle and pretty.

We are creatures made to experience Beauty, in whatever way we uniquely, individually  recognize it.    Beauty nourishes our souls.

Maybe my question should be:   Beauty….what’s it?

GOOD ANGER

June 28, 2010

FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST:

They are destroying the inside of a church.   These things happened in the 1500’s in England, in the 1790’s in France, and in the 1960’s in our country and many others.   It occurred many other places too, but as an armchair historian I’m most interested in these three locations.  

They destroyed not only the physical objects, but they destroyed much of the teachings, the practices, and the piety of ordinary Christians.   They still call the churches by the same names, but obviously these churches are not the same.   If they taught the same thing, they’d look the same way.

That’s my 100-mile marker.   It’s a game I play, as I said before in here.   If I fill up the gas tank at a certain gas station on Saturday night and set the trip odometer to zero, then  7/8 of the way home from church on Sunday I pass this 100-mile marker at the same time that my odometer turns to 100.

Lots of miles to go to find a church that is the same as it was before.   But so worth it. 

“Therefore, stand fast, brethren,and hold the traditions which you have learned…”    That’s what St. Paul admonished the Christian in Thessalonica.  (II Thes. 2:14)     Rather than smashing what you’ve been taught, hold on!

In the traditional liturgical calendar yesterday we were given a portion of the Gospel of Matthew to consider, the part in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus warns about getting angry  with our fellow man.    (Matthew 5:21-26)

I know I was not the only one who heard the words of the Gospel and the words of the sermon and thought, “Oh, man, I’ve felt anger like that before!”    “I sure felt that someone deserved to be called that name!”   And then, “Yikes!!!   Hellfire?”   Could expressing such anger, calling someone a Fool, really lead to Hell?   And haven’t I…..?

Yes, Jesus speaks of Hell.

But then our priest, so full of gentle teaching, went on to explain that these are expressions of anger that come from hatred of the person we are angry with.   Hatred is opposite of the eternal love of God which we must receive and live within and express outwardly to others.   So…I don’t really feel hatred like that.     That would make Our Dear Lord so unwelcome.

And then the sermon went on to relieve us all.  He said there are indeed some kinds of “anger” that is a good anger.    One is the frustration and annoyance we feel about circumstances that is quite natural to feel.   Another is the personal hurts that come quickly to us, without thinking, when someone has committed an injustice against us.

These are normal human responses, but, as St. Paul says in Ephesians 4, “Be angry and sin not….”  or:  “do not sin in your anger.”   Anger happens.   But at that point we bring forth our virtues, stomp down the pride, let humility grow….and the situation takes on a calmer perspective.   

Not easy!  But possible!     

And then there is a third kind of anger that is “okay.”   It comes from zeal for the Lord, from understanding that there are certain things due to God our Creator, but people say and do  all kinds of outrageous things against God, and that kind of thing ought to make us feel a righteous anger.      And then we “do not sin” but we can do some things:    Pray.  Make reparations.   Old-fashioned terms like mortifications and penances on behalf of the one who so grieved God’s majesty.    And with great prudence, teach, instruct, be an example.   Drive 100 miles?

I’m wondering if the measure of our anger is proportional to the amount of our Love for God.

WHAT’S IT – 9 RIDDLE ABOUT GOD

June 27, 2010

“Can God make a stone so big that He can’t lift it?”   

Answer:    ” No.   But man can.”   (Humans can make a stone too heavy for humans to lift.)

There’s one.

There’s one of those stones used in building, lifted up – up ! – onto foundation stones.

They used many of these stones to build a giant temple or something.   The stones were ancient when the Romans got there, and then the Romans added the smaller stones on top  —  which are themselves  much larger than the men in the photo.   The Romans used some pretty big stones, but they didn’t come anywhere near the size and weight of the more ancient stones.

Actually, there are men standing in all three photos.   It’s just that the stones are so huge that the men are hard to see.  

We have special equipment to lift the largest sized train engines today, in the rare instance that we need to lift a train engine.   Engineers have calculated that they would need to surround one of these large ancient stones with at least 20 of these engine-lifter machines in order to even slightly lift the ancient stone up off the ground.   (Never mind transporting it anywhere, like back to its quarry, miles and miles away.)

Apparently humans have hewn building stones that are larger than we humans can lift.

We’ve all played around with that “riddle” in our adolescent years, some of our friends with a smirk on their face, using it as a “proof”  that the idea of God is unreasonable.   But the question is not really a riddle.   The question contains within itself an internal contradiction of logic and is therefore a nonsensical question.

Faith in God is not “unreasonable.”  Faith perfects reason.

But it was much more fun to think about it as a teenager — before I studied logic.

Oh –  the giant building stones?   You can find them in a region called Baalbek in Lebanon.

A “SPARROW” FALLS at TERCE

June 26, 2010

“Dominus custodiat introitum tuum, et exitum tuum….”   so we say in the Office of Terce.*

The psalms given at Terce are the thoughts of Jesus as His passion begins in earnest.   Traditionally, Terce reflects the events that begin in that Third Hour of the Roman Watch, starting around 9:00 in the morning until noon.    Even something that happened at 11:45 a.m., for instance, is still recorded in the hour of Terce.

If you think about what happened during that time, that will give you an idea of the mortal danger that Jesus was in on Good Friday morning.  It had begun.  There is no backing out;  there is nobody to stop the process, nobody to save.

Do we have similar times today when events were put into motion that couldn’t be stopped?   Yes.   The middle of summer, Germany, 1938.   The middle of summer, former U.S.A.**,  2010.   

Yes….I think that’s right.

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“Dominus custodiat” – the Lord   keeps you,  watches over you; lovingly cares for you.   Those are inspired words;  truer than true, more true than we even realize.   Jesus most likely recited this Psalm because he knew they were true for Him, even at this horrible hour.   No, the horrible things would not be stopped, but He, the Christ, Son of God, will come through it under the watchful eye of the Lord God.

There’s a little bird up there in the photo, standing on our deck.  Just a few minutes before he flew smack into our window.   His wing and body print is still there on the glass.    I watched, heartbroken, as he sat on the deck, stunned, with his wing stretched out at a funny angle.   He struggled to bring his wing in closer to his body.   I knew the worse thing for him would be my own nursing attempts. 

He finally got it in and he was able to stand on his feet, tiny little thing.  Then he rocked back and forth trying to do something.   I couldn’t watch the whole process.  I checked back later and he seemed to be just resting, resting, resting…and then the hot sun came out.  
The end of the story is that he flew away.   Maybe with a sore shoulder or something, but he came through it –  this time.   But I was left wondering at how much pity I had for this tiny little creature.  I was tense and my stomach felt tight.   Concern, pity, compassion, caring about the outcome.

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I wondered, then…could our guardian angel look on us with that much love and concern for us?  Many of the angels?  The saints?  Does our Dear Lord care about us getting through life that much?   Of course!   What pain there is in loving someone…watching him move about through this life.

“…introitum tuum, et exitum tuum…”  “… in thy coming in and going out.”  Coming and going!!!   I do a lot of that.  

It took a long time to get through Terce today.  It’s not because I was inattentive;  it was because I was very, very attentive.  I felt like sending upward a little word of apology: “Sorry I’m repeating myself so many times…”  But in the process of thinking things through, I discovered I had two misconceptions about “comings and goings.”   Two errors, really.  That’s another post. 

But for this one,  I just wanted to remark “Dominus custodiat introitum tuum , et exitum tuum. ”     We are His little sparrows.   (Or chickadees, as the case may be.)

*  Terce from the Little Office of the B.V.M.

**  I use the word “former” merely to reflect a current reality.   More and more I read in European news and comments that “Americans have an Elected Dictatorship.”   That phrase seems to sum up what I’ve observed.  We don’t quite elect the dictators; we elect the front men whom the dictators choose for us.  

We’ve been hoaxed, we’ve flown smack into a window, and we sit here stunned and vulnerable.

The Christian Faith remains the same.  The fortunes of politics, war, and even one’s own country are as shifting sand under our feet.

MARTYROLOGY – JUNE 25

June 25, 2010

(Friday today.)   “….that through his Passion and Death we may be brought to the glories of His Resurrection….”

Ever see a photo of this before?

Oh, maybe that’s not the best angle.   It’s St. Peter’s Square, Rome, where people crowd around to see the pope go by in his “popemobile.”    But look at the columns behind the crowd, and specifically, above the columns are those famous bigger than life-size statues.

Here’s a different view of those statues:

Thanks to my Friend-With-The-Camera who was studying in Rome for a while, we can see views of the city we don’t normally find on post cards!     I’m glad he climbed up there somehow.   I’m looking at the many “little” statues in the upper right, on the curved wall.

One of them represents a man who appears in today’s reading from the Roman Martyrology.

The Martyrology is a book that is meant to be read once a day, preferably at the beginning of your day.   Each day’s entry lists the martyrs who have died on that day sometime in the past.    The effect can be  heartwrenching and sobering and motivating. 

As I said yesterday, it’s like a military officer briefing his soldiers before they go out once again to battle.   On my more attentive days the Martyrology makes me want to “put on the whole armor of God….”   because each of us must “take up our cross” and follow Jesus into the next world.

So, by way of a sample, here is the middle portion of today’s Martyrology, June 25.  

“…At Alexandria, St. Gallicanus, exconsul and martyr who had been honored with a triumph, and was held in affection by the emperor Constantine.  Converted by Sts. John and Paul, he withdrew to Ostia with St. Hilarinus, and consecrated himself entirely to the duties of hospitality and to the service of the sick.   The report of such an event spread throughout the whole world, and from all sides many people came to see a man who had been a senator and consul now washing the feet of the poor, preparing their table, serving them, carefully waiting on the infirm, and exercising other works of mercy.   Driven from this place by Julian the Apostate, he repaired to Alexandria, where, for refusing to sacrifice to idols, at the command of the judge Raudican, he was put to the sword, and thus became a martyr of Christ…..”

There.     That’s it for his whole life, in today’s reading.    Here he is:

He gets a large statue.   But, oh, if only he would “get” much more attention in my life.   A “high and mighty” acclaimed senator and consul!    And then he became known for his actual, humble, personal, service to the poor and the sick.  What a difference it makes to love Jesus and follow Him!  

Whatever we have coming in our near future, I’m no senator to be able to change  or mitigate things, but I know I have the same potential in me to do the things St. Gallicanus did, personally, on a one-to-one basis.    He was merely a soldier, obeying the commandments given to him by his beloved Leader.

A GOOD HEART INTO THE DARKNESS

June 24, 2010

The sky is nearly always interesting on my hour-long ride home from church on Sundays.   As the seasons change,   I may drive home in the bright sun, or in the darkness, or into  spectacular sunsets over the endless fields of beans and corns and black … cows.   Meat cows, I think.   The ones that give milk have white patches.   Our teachers took us city kids to the museum where we could see live cows, so I know which is which!

I like writing posts about little, inconsequential things.  But every time I do that, I also feel the weight of all the things that I know but that I haven’t presented to everyone.   I’ve not been “appointed a watchman”  as in Ezekiel chapter 3, but, still,  I worry that my friends and family are not prepared for what is coming.

Here is a photo from a recent ride home from church.  (Oh, it’s kind of little, from my cell phone.)  –

All the way home I was driving into that bank of clouds, from horizon to horizon.   It seemed to be cut straight across, flat like a table, and oh, so thick and dark – and ominous.

I’m reading an interesting book now.   I’m not recommending it.  In fact, reading it may be a confessible offense…I’ll have to think about that.    I’m reading it because it’s a high-tech action-packed hard-hitting realistic military adventure book.    It’s called The War in 2020, and the hero has a kind of hard-earned warrior decency that I…like to read about.  Very masculine.

I will probably throw the book away when I finish it, but there are sentences I want to remember, so my bookmark is a large sheet of paper on which I can copy some memorable things.

The  F-117.   The Night Hawk.

Here’s a thought from the book that I keep going back to, spoken by a soldier who has seen too much, but who is taking part in a briefing for the younger airmen,  just before a huge offensive that may not turn out very well.
They are young men who don’t realize how much there is to lose in this life, and he comments on their innocent optimism, and decides not to tell them what the reality is:   “BEST TO GO WITH A GOOD HEART INTO THE DARKNESS.”

A good heart.    Courage.   Confidence in one’s abilities.   Well-trained.   

“It’s best to go with a good heart into the darkness.”  

What is coming for us?   How does a Christian  prepare?    How do we keep a Good Heart so we can do what we know we must?

 I’ll start with tomorrow’s Martyrology, next posting.     It would be good time, now,  for everyone to become familiar with this daily book.     We could consider this our Briefing Book.

A BRIEF COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

June 23, 2010

Ha!  But it’s not my “commercial.”  I’m doing it on behalf of our local friend, Ronni, the owner of The Potter’s Vessel.

This is where you can buy the finest traditional books and beautiful “visual aids” for your faith.  She has done her best to serve our spiritual needs, but the sad reality is that she can no longer stay in business:

She has much left in her store.  I was just there today.   (She now has the contents of my savings account too.)    I learned that whatever is not sold by July 2nd she will be responsible for — as in paying for out of her own household money.  

Her store doesn’t look like much anymore.   Earlier, she had to move to the side entrance of the larger building:

  However, inside !!    It’s a real gem inside!

(Almost the same view, but I want to give her a lot of my space today.)   She is well-stocked.)

Please share the news, share the pictures.  If you will ever need gifts of a religious nature in the future, this would be a good time to buy ahead (and stock up!)     If you’ve ever wanted a nice religious picture, they are 40% off this week;  50% off next week.    If you’ve ever wondered what the great saints and Doctors of the Church have written,  or how to enter some of the greatest devotions of past centuries that nourished the Faith through time, then The Potter’s Vessel probably has something waiting for you right now.

If you’ve ever wanted to be part of the movement that is reversing the tide of trivial, insipid, shallow, unsatisfying trend in religious writing, Ronni’s store is the place to begin.   Really.   You, in your own private life, are the only person who can improve your intellect and your spiritual life.

So….since this is a “local” announcement,  then, locally, you know where I live.    My intersection would be at the Big X.  Ronni’s store is just about two miles further east, along Grand River.  Can’t miss it!   It’s beginning to look like an abandoned building!

Days and Hours Open:

Wednesday 10:30 – 6:00

Thursday  12:00 – 7:00

Friday  10:00 – 6:00

Saturday 10:00 – 3:00

“GOLD” PROGRESS NOTE

June 23, 2010

We’ve had several thunderstorms, strong winds, lightning and thunder crashes, and falling branches over the backyard pond ever since we put in the Father’s Day goldfish.

Happy to report to you, all Hubbie’s kids, that they didn’t seem to mind at all:

Bigs and Littles, all happy together.

Littles and turtle…apparently all right together:

So.     They’re going to be fine.

FATHER’S DAY GOLD

June 22, 2010

It’s a Tradition now, for Father’s Day.   It starts with a discussion and ends with an inspection.

The discussion:

Our kids know just what their Dad likes best:

                                              Gold!

Then there’s the climbing down and putting in:

One at a time, it takes a lot of courage to leave the pretty blue shelter:

And we noticed an interesting thing this year.  An “audience” began to gather to watch the big event.   See those older, bigger goldfish in the upper left?   They gathered quietly and patiently watched as the little ones entered the pond.

The big guys never did that before.    We were intrigued with their need to witness what was happening.   They followed the little guys as they began to swim out away from their entry point.

The little guys are at the upper left;  the big guys are keeping watch nearby….and the turtle, light grayish near the shore, wants to hang around too.    The light on the surface just makes it so hard to photograph them.

Then it was time for the Inspection:

So…..for the rest of the summer, our pond will once again provide us with tranquil entertainment.  

Some people sit and watch the grass grow….

But the Father’s Day Gold Tradition gives us another alternative.   It’s great to watch all the residents of the pond in the evening as things get dark and quiet:

WHAT’S IT – 8 “PI TALK”

June 21, 2010

Some pi today:

And no, I don’t have an answer to “what’s it”?

It’s just that  22/7 is so much more satisfying in terms of resolution, or closure, than 3.1415926535897932….. on and on and on ….

I speak of the value of pi, of course.   I understand the concept of a decimal value “going on forever”  BUT,  like converting the fraction 2/3 to decimals:   Eventually – eventually ! – you’re going to have to stop holding your breath and “round up” so you can put an end to it!   0.666666666666667.   Ahhhh.    Period.  

You can go on forever with the value of pi too.    (But I don’t like to think about it.)

However, I thought this was an elegant way to represent the value of pi.

That photo from above:

….is this, in graphical terms, to help you see pi:

Someone went to a lot of trouble to produce an elegant representation of pi in … crops.*

         
I do like math.   They say everyone has a math ceiling, at which you’ve reached your upper level of understanding.   I ran out of teachers before I found my math ceiling, but that isn’t saying much.   When my father moved us off-planet in high school and college, there weren’t too many math teachers around beyond calculus, and then I got too busy with other subjects. 

Here is an example of Euler’s Theorem (in a field of crops):

 Somebody already overlaid the red and blue zeroes and ones  to get you started.

Or, with some graphical aid in chart form:

 If you look up Euler’s Theorem on wikipedia, you’ll get a headache, but just look at the beauty of it!  It’s elegant, whether pictured on a chart or whether placed on the earth’s crop fields.

    
If you really, really like math, I have a clock for you!

Just figure out the answers and you’ll know what time it is!

Enjoy!

*  For those of you who watch television and think you know who does these crop circles,  “Dave” died several years ago, and poor old Doug isn’t quite capable of these things, even if some bored math majors gave him the blueprints!   The hoaxed ones are so easy to distinguish from the “real”ones, whatever the “real” ones are.   (That was “Doug and Dave”  whom the BBC presented to us by way of “solving” the mystery.)

(I wonder if I should enter this under the “Gardening”  category…..)

GRATITUDE

June 20, 2010

Give thanks to God for all things.

 Sometimes giving thanks is easy;  sometimes it’s an act of the will in  sheer obedience.   In all circumstances it is the right thing to do.

Two encouragements from the ancient Scriptures * and  thanks to the Jewish elders who recorded these words:

“Now therefore our God we give thanks to thee, and we praise thy glorious name.”

“Give ye glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

“Gratitude” is not traditionally one of the Virtues, but it opens the way to the Virtue of Humility, without which the other Virtues would not find a home in our soul.

* From the first book of Paralipomenon, also called I Chronicles, 29:13 and 16:34

WHAT YOU MISSED IN CLASS TODAY

June 18, 2010

From the Bible:    (Pardon the coarse language.  It’s a “cultural” thing.)

22:1     |  joH’a’  ghaH  wIj  DevwI’:
22:1      jIH  DIchDaq  Hutlh  pagh.
22:2     |  ghaH  chen  jIH  Qot  bIng  Daq
 SuD  tI yotlh.
22:2      ghaH  Dev  jIH  retlh  vIHHa’  bIQmey.
22:3     |  ghaH  chenqa’  wIj  qa’.
22:3      ghaH  Dev  jIH  Daq (the)  Hemey  vo’
  QaQtaHghach  vaD  Daj  pong  chIch.
22:4     |  ‘ach  ‘a’  jIH  yIt  vegh (the)  ngech
  vo’ the  QIb  vo’  Hegh,
22:4      jIH  DichDaq  taHvIp  ghobe’  mIghtaHghach,
  vaD  SoH  ‘oH  tlhej  jIH.
22:4      lIj  DevwI’ naQ  je  lIj  naQ,  chaH
  belmoH  jIH.
22:5     |  SoH  ghuH a  SopDaq  qaSpa’  jIH
  Daq the  Daq  vo’  wIj  jaghpu’.
22:5      SoH (anoint)  wIj  nach  tlhej  Hergh.
22:5      wIj  HIvje’  qettaH  Dung.
22:6     |  DIch  QaQ  je  muSHa’taH  pung  DIchDaq
  tlha’  jIH  Hoch the  jajmey  vo’
 wIj  yIn,
22:6      je  jIH  DichDaq  yIn  Daq  joH’a’
  tuq  reH.

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Of, course, if you follow the Jewish numbering of the Psalms, you’d have to change those 22’s to 23.  (In our common American culture, that’s usually called  The 23rd Psalm.)

We had a smaller Friday morning class, due to many schedule conflicts and an illness or two, but I didn’t want you to miss some of what we talked about.   Yes, we nearly finished the Gospel of Mark.   Mark, chapter 16, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.   Mark, the Hemingway of the Gospel writers;  the Cliff Notes version.   You don’t read Mark 16, you take it phrase by phrase and then your mind lights up and says, “I know what he’s referring to!”  The mind delights in knowing “the rest of the story.” 

So here in Mark 16 we have in rapid succession the finding of the empty tomb, the repeated disbelief of the Eleven until they actually had Jesus walking and talking to them, in their midst.   There is a short Mark-like verse about Jesus reprimanding them for not believing until they saw…which is kind of ironic since they’ll soon  be working with lots and lots of people who will believe that the Gospel is true, without ever first seeing Jesus.  

The first apostles would have never had the motivation had it not been that they had seen their Risen Lord and received the Holy Spirit to guide them and strengthen them.

Then, in Mark,  we come to the Great Commission, to go out into ALL the world, into the uttermost parts of the world to preach the Gospel. 

And my way of demonstrating what “uttermost” means…

… as that Psalm 23 above demonstrates, even as far as … beyond to earth, to the ….Klingons?  

 At least we can be sure of this:   The Gospel is for “all the earth.”   It’s meant to be known by everyone, not just the Christians.

There is a whole world out there waiting to know what we know.   And remember,  the “23rd” Psalm tells us we have a Shepherd.   That means we are the sheep.   The Klingons took great offense at that.

FRIENDS WITH THE GARDEN NOW

June 16, 2010

I guess “garden” means anything out there in the back yard that comes up from dirt.  So….I was out in the “garden” again today.

It really, really, really helps to have pretty tools, including a little gauzy ribbon on the handle.   It’s about the only civilized thing out there.

And it really, really helps when you put into the dirt something pretty that you can see right away.   (I “believe” in my tomatoes and peas and onions and garlic and green peppers.  I have “faith”; I just can’t see them yet.)

Much improved little corners in the back yard.

I’ll just keep putting them in all over.

Some little guys to keep the roses company:

Under the red roses were many beautiful cream roses, but the next morning they were all gone, all eaten down, with the stems cut neatly across.    At least “someone” doesn’t like the reds and pinks….I’ll enjoy those.

So the mud/blood/aches/bugs/mosquito-bites/dirty clothes  was all worth it today.   Nothing but praise for the idea of a “garden.”

Flowers make this world bright and pretty.   Flowers change … everything.

TRIED IT AGAIN

June 15, 2010

DirtWateryMudStickyClayBlackStreaksOnClothes;DirtyDirtUnder
FingernailsBugsStuckInEyelashesAndFlyingOntoTongueMosquitoes
DrillingIntoEveryBoneItchingDeeplyHotAndJointAchey;CutsAnd
ScratchesBloodOozingIntoSweatAndWaterPailFilledWithBitsOf
PlantsAndSeedsAndMilkweedFluffInhaled;InOverHerHead;
Here’sMudInYourEye…..

Yep.  The Lady tried gardening again.

I buried some more seeds and little plants.   The  earlier vegetable wannabes aren’t any bigger than when I first got them out there, but at least they aren’t dead.

Potatoes:

Not the green part;   I buried all the potatoes in the brown part.

I could start a good famine.

WHAT’S IT – 7 – SECRET SIGNAL?

June 15, 2010

While I’m feeling “curmudgeonly” this week, I think I’ll get this one out of my system.   It’s been brewing since about 1995 when it was first called to my attention.  

See if  you can “see” the Secret Code or, worse,  the Secret Signal.  You might want  to go back to Marshall McLuhan, but it’s not necessary.  There are actually three answers.  

And the three answers beg the question:  Why?    For that, I have no answer, no comment. But  it’s part of why I don’t watch television anymore.  I just sat down one day with the remote control in one hand and the camera in the other – just to see if it was still happening.

Small screenshots from the TV:

Even children’s shows are affected:

Games shows, I think:

Religious people are not immune to the orders:

Cooking shows (and kitchen decor):

High school classrooms:

And updates of old-time TV shows:

Count them.   Count the colors we are permitted to see.    Blue.  Orange,  Green.    Three (although  goldenrod/schoolbus/orange counts as “one”).    It’s funny to watch the color of men’s ties….

So what’s it all about? 

Blue.   Orange.    Green.     What’s it?

 

WHAT’S IT – 6

June 14, 2010

What is this?

Or, what was this?

I just came home after a few errands which took me on some residential roads and some commercial roads.     I didn’t see any of these.

June 14.    Flag Day.   

“The man who will not act until he knows all will never act at all.”   (Jim Elliot)

That used to be the flag of the American republic.   Or it was the flag of the American people who lived in the United States of America, a republic.   

Today, outside interests and foreign interests  dictate to our legislators what bills to pass – “and don’t bother to read the bill, we’ve already got it written for you.”    Global interests  put people into the white house for the past twenty years and tell those people how to appear to govern.   

The white house itself governs through “czars” which are unelected and unapproved by either the American people or by their representatives.   And this crop of czars are fully committed to radical marxism and have each made statements in speeches, interviews, and videos that are directly opposite of the values of American people.    They don’t believe in protecting Life.   They don’t believe in Liberty for us.   And they sure don’t want us to pursue our own idea of Happiness.

So….if a country is dictated to from the top, down to the people, then what kind of government does that country have?  

I know!   A People’s Republic !!

And…so……what is that historical object in the photo?????

(Again)    “The man who will not act until he knows all will never act at all.”   (Jim Elliot)

BEWARE THE BEAR: 3rd Sunday Post-Pentecost

June 13, 2010

A good start on the season of Pentecost this year!    From Advent to Corpus Christi we’ve looked carefully at all the aspects of our Redemption.   Hopefully we understand more this year than the year before, having  matured and deepened our relationship with our Redeemer.  

Now that we are Redeemed, we must be cautious and watchful over our souls and look more deeply at the teachings Jesus left us with .   The Epistle for today:   “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, being strong in the faith….”

That’s what this Time After Pentecost season is all about:  building up our faith for the spiritual battles we must wage within us and also against the dangers from without.  Be sober, indeed.

We do have an enemy.  He is God’s enemy first, and because of that, he is ours. He really does roam this earth looking for souls to devour in any way he can, just like a Roaring Lion.

(Okay, that’s not a “lion” in the picture, but that angry bear on the prowl is my version of the dangers that lurk everywhere in life’s journey.)  See, in my experience, the bear gets you when you didn’t know you walked into hs territory.     You are in the greatest danger when you didn’t know he was there.  “Be sober, be vigilant…”

 Today, in the Collect, that prayer that gathers us out from our private prayers and into our collective worship, today, we address God, “the Protector of those who hope in Thee, without whose aid nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase Thy mercy towards us, that under Thy direction  and care, we may so pass through the blessings of this life as not to lose those which are eternal.”

As in our Gospel reading:  Little lambs can stray…..   I like this picture of the Good Shepherd in our Gospel lesson because the little lamb doesn’t seem to understand the danger he is in.  Jesus has to explain it to him:

 
Sobering thoughts. 

Back to that Epistle:   “Be humbled under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt you in the time of visitation.   Casting all your care upon Him, because He has care of you…” 

The Time after Pentecost:  The Season of the Prowling Bear   (The Roaring Lion)

WHY I GO TO CHURCH

June 12, 2010

Because He wants me to.

FRIDAY – WHAT LOVED?

June 11, 2010

We do our best with images to help us focus.   We give our best skills and materials to the best of ideas.    Today is  Friday, June 11,  The Feast of the Sacred Heart. 

Christians know that when humans die and stand before God, He will rightly say to each of us, “You are judged, you are found guilty,  but I have died in your place.”   The motivation for such an Act arises out of the very being of God Himself, that is, He is Love.   With a pure, unadulterated, abiding love, He loves the humans He has created, and He, Jesus, came to Earth to effect our salvation.

This is what we contemplate most especially on Fridays.   Not only on Fridays, but most particularly on Fridays.  

There is no other….

In spite of that popular and deceptive bumper sticker, there is no other religion or philosophy on Earth that knows a god or a leader or a teacher who has loved us humans so much that he puts aside our own judgment and take it upon himself instead.   Nor could there be.   

“Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.”   (Acts 4:12)

Christians know instinctively that even if the nails of the cross dissolved or popped off somehow, Jesus would have still remained on His cross for love of us, in order to “consummate”  the preexisting plan for our Redemption.

Again, the motivation?    The pure and abiding Love of God for us. Even if that’s all you knew, it would be the best starting point for thinking about God, for meditating on God, and for contemplating the vast, endless Love that pours out on us.

The origin of this Love?   “What Loved”?   In the last many centuries, we humans think we “love” with our heart.  And so we understand as best we can that God has a Heart of Love for us.  A Holy Heart.  A Sacred Heart. 

That is the beginning point of today’s Feast of the Sacred Heart.   We do the best we can with images to help us focus.   Eventually those images become dear to us, as an entryway for communion with the Living God Who loves.

“What loved?”    His Sacred Heart.