Archive for September 2010


September 30, 2010

Well, it’s  a  Morning Glory.

It’s for me.    It’s the flower for the month of September.     This is the only one in my whole garden that blossomed.

So that’s me, saying good-bye for a few days.    I’m heading northward for a 90th birthday party.    I hear the Fall colors are at their peak.     From beauty here to beauty there and back again soon!

God willing.    Deo gratias.


September 30, 2010

Okay.    Yesterday I was having fun thinking about animals and totems.    A few weeks ago I was commenting on my Grandma’s superstitions about if a bird flies into your house it means someone is going to die.  And I had been dreaming of birds, but they weren’t actually in my house.    Some close friends of my friends and of my family died then, same number of the birds…

A few nights ago, I had a dream of three birds rapidly flying across the room at me – but I woke up and kind of batted them away and they passed by and “went out the other side of the room. ”   Zoom!    That kind of a dream.

Three birds flying through my room,  I could hear their wings, that’s what woke me up….And I mentally refused their message.   

Today the sun was out, and shone just right on the window so that I could see an outline of a poor bird that had hit our window.     That’s what I thought.   I went closer to see how much of the outline of the bird I could see.  I reached out to trace the outline — and the outline turned out to be on the INSIDE of the window.     You can feel a gummy or waxy outline with your fingers,  most definitely on the inside of the window.

I can’t explain this.

My Grandma was wrong to be superstitious…..right?


September 29, 2010

It’s Signs:

He is collecting Original signs, usually metal.  He has a few more there, by the door that goes into our house from the garage, but I don’t have them in my camera yet.     He’s especially “proud”  of the one on top of the door:

I think he has a “special” sort of humor for that one, knowing how I feel about bears —  the symbol of the things I fear.      Now, every time I come home….my home has this…name.

It reminds me, though, of the ancient practice of totems, assigning (or attaching oneself to) an animal that is representative of the qualities one might wish to have.    

Or, as children would put it:     “If you could be an animal, what kind of animal would you want to be?”  

Go ahead.    Go ahead, I tell myself.   Choose an animal!    It might reveal something I’m thinking about.

I know I should choose something unattached and free, like a soaring eagle…or something beautiful like a tiger or majestic like a lion……but I always used to choose an elephant.    Intellect and ancient wisdom, I think, and a tight clan-like society.    

Elephants give me a longing for something.

I know they’re just wild animals, but I think of all the wild animals in the Bible, and most are used to illustrate for us some qualities or characteristics that enhance the lesson:  The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness;   Samson’s riddle:  “Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.”   (Judges 14:14) ;    the Stiff-Necked Donkey;   the thirsty, panting hart;  the hissing, fire-breathing dragons of Isaiah’s warnings;   the strange, uncontrollable leviathans of the ocean;  the eagles and the sparrows;   the  mighty horse that is a “vain thing” to place your hopes for safety in (Psalm 32:17);   and even the lowly ant of Proverbs 6:6, where King Solomon tells us:  “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, and learn….”

And I never walk alone in The Spruce Tunnel without fearing that I’ll see one of these:

Perhaps living in the Black Bear Lodge will force me to face my fears.    I think that’s what “totems” are for.

the night after the night before

September 28, 2010

Found the balloons –

Not sure why all the other debris didn’t show up….

Oooooohhh….not quite ready for prime time.   I don’t know what happened to “the morning after the night before.”   I don’t remember the morning…   38 hours of constant steady motion and busyness….and it’s not over….

I mean to thank everyone for a wonderful birthday celebration this year.  Starting last week, my friends, my classes, the food, the presents, the cards, the e-mails, and the good wishes.   But what I remember most is all your smiles!  All – of – your – smiles!   I see each one and count myself a very lucky person.   A very lucky old person now – ha!

The family party  – with a call from San Francisco –  with the four of us will be very memorable, if only because we “did it our way” —  all day, spontaneous, enjoying what each hour offered.     For one thing, it’s nice to have a son who is not only an experienced chef, but a Meat Lover too!   Flat Iron Steaks,  Canadian Salmon, and orange roughy.

Also kind of nice to have a son that can at least GROW things in his own garden – things to eat.  I’m trying not to think of these as Charity Tomatoes,  especially after Son had  tasted one of my thumbnail size mini-tomatoes: 

That’s a lush bunch of basil behind those cheery looking tomatoes and a few concord grapes from the grape vine – very sweet and rich tasting.   I don’t think his grapes will make it into wine this year.

My thanks goes to the Bears too –

They knew what to do with a football — how great is that!   Your team is televised on your birthday — and they win!

The “party” was over about 3:00 a.m.    I’m thinking, if I get any older I won’t be able to have parties.   

I could go on with happy little details, but the things that make me happy are the small and precious things, and I’m sure you all have such things in your life so you know what I mean.  

There are things we are given to make us happy.   Our delight in them is thanksgiving to Our Lord.

Deo gratias.


September 26, 2010

Imagine, that you’re …

…a  young man, 19 and a half years old;  married for almost two years, and  wondering if he can meet the pressures of adult responsibilities.   There is not enough work, post-World War II  for all the young men coming home from the war, and he still has to live at his parents’  house and now his young wife did what young wives will do:  get pregnant.

Then on Sept. 27 not long after supper, it is Time!    The wife’s “water” breaks, the mother is yelling out orders, but they’re all 45 miles away from the nearest hospital.  

 The mother-to-be, the dad-to-be-, and the grandmother-to-be all jam into the old 1940 Chevrolet, and take off down the narrow two-lane highway in the dark evening.   The Dad is being urged to Drive fast!  and  Pass!  Pass!     He lays on the horn each time they come up to a car, and he swerves into the oncoming lane to get around the cars, and it’s quite a wild ride…and then another car is in the way, and he lays on the horn again — and passes that car — and the horn stays on…and on…and on…for the next five miles the horn is blaring out…and into the ears and nerves of the people in the car.     And the young man is so embarrassed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               So the young man takes a chance and stops the car;  opens the hood and rips out the wires to the horn.    Problem fixed.     


 As fast as they can, they proceed on to the hospital near the shore of the beautiful Lake Superior.      They’re all helped out of the car.

The Old St. Luke's Hospital

 The nurses take the young wife;  the young man and his mother are taken  to the nearby waiting room where they sit down, take a breath….and out comes a nurse with a little baby girl for them.

Two years later…


This is me,  two years later after that evening, still loving water and speed and big blue autumn skies.  I had just run to the water’s edge and was probably being told to  “Stop!”     Heh Heh….

My dad is now 21 years old when this photo was taken.  I’m sure he was beginning to realize that that wild ride to the  hospital was only the beginning of the worries I’d give him.
Funny how my Dad was able to laugh about all that last night…so many years later.


September 26, 2010

Here is a very important man, a very busy man, who lived not too long ago.   It is Padre Pio, a saint now.    When Padre Pio  became “famous” in his own time, he became busy with the thousands who came to see him every day.  

And yet — he kneels at the railing before God like any other human being. 

For many, many centuries, on this day, the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, people hear these phrases read to them from the Epistle:   “…I give thanks for you…for the grace of God that is given to you in Jesus Christ that in all things you are made rich in Him… that nothing is lacking to you in any grace…..”   (I Cor. 1:4-8)

God gives us everything we need.   Not everything we need for anything we want.  We have everything we need, every grace and help from God, for becoming holy.  

Even Padre Pio knelt humbly before God at the altar railing to receive what he needed.     Holiness comes from our Holy God.


September 25, 2010

After this summer’s experience with tomatocidal deer and poison ivy with kudzu genes, I planned to not have a garden next year – or maybe just a polite nod to gardening with a pot or two on the back deck.

But look!
These are cherry tomatoes  Nos. 15 – 17 –  just about as big as my thumb, but…sweet and juicy!   Maybe they’re of the “Mini-Tomato”  variety.

And look!

While I was getting some split pea soup ready to cook today, I realized I had used my last onion yesterday….with the game starting, no way would I take off to the store just to buy an onion.  

In need of an onion, I thought of all the onion plants I put into the ground in May….and just a few wisps of a couple stalks left, under the poison ivy vines…IF I were an onion I’d be hiding underground.

On a whim, I asked Hubbie about that.  To my surprise, he said, “They grow underground.”   Like a “root vegetable”  ??!!!!!      

When he said YES, I grabbed my little shovel and dug and dug until I found them!   (All two of them, so far.)  

(They never say on the package WHERE to find the vegetables when they’re ready to harvest.)

I dangled the onions in front of Hubbie’s face and said – “Look!   I’m doing this again next year!”

Pea soup – with a little bit of onion….

And plans for next year’s garden….


September 25, 2010

It’s “green” in Spartan country today.   
 After a bit of a heat spell last week, high winds brought Fall weather.   It’s finally cooled down so we could wear proper clothes today (as the photo above).  

Fall brings so many changes – in weather, in diet, in activities, and soon in colors.    Streets in our neighborhood are showing early signs of change.

Some trees have a good start:

And other trees are just about “done”:

 It’s going to be pretty around here soon.

I probably won’t be traveling to Florida quite yet, as I thought, but I’ll be traveling way  north next week.   When we get back there will be very little “green” left, but lots of colors.


September 24, 2010

   Gloomy Gus talks about fish today:


Meet my fish-man at the butcher shop:

Nice guy.  I see him often on Friday on my way home from my morning class.

“Fish on Friday,” the saying goes.   By suppertime I had forgotten it was an Ember Day and cooked Canadian  whitefish with a Mango-Mediterranean Salsa….not exactly in keeping with “severe penance” — but I’ll think of something later.   And I’m not sure if mango goes with “Mediterranean,”  but I threw in some fresh pineapple for good measure, and whatever you call it now, it was good.

Nice Scottish salmon.

I’m talking about fish because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to purchase it for my family. I would never buy “farm-raised” fish, after having read fairly widely in that area.   And now the high levels of poison in the Gulf seafood and up around the eastern coast of North America makes that fish unsafe for my family.   I’m hoping northern Canadian waters will be safe, northern European waters safe for a while longer,  and Pacific fish should be okay – away from the Chinese coastline.     Safe food is getting more and more expensive each time I go to the grocery store.   

And I’m talking about unsafe fish by way of introducing the new section in the right-hand column.   I’m done talking to anyone about it.    If you’re interested, you can read for yourself, and you can start with the links there.   You can keep on going and going and going.   If you’re a scientist, there are numerous studies to read, posted on the Internet, with long lists of dangerous carcinogenic chemicals found in “unprecedented” amounts in samples taken from the waters of the Mexican Gulf.   Air quality samples are coming up showing the same danger.

My family in Florida is breathing this air…so I’m interested.   It’s going to be increasingly difficult to find safe seafood.    And I’m going to be watching my fellow human beings dying of diseases, including ones coming from mutated viruses and bacteria.  

Pleomorphism, anyone?

If you read the first link in the new section, real soon, you’ll notice a story about Louisiana’s eighth graders being “re-educated” by our government about how safe the fish is.    They are being told that their parents are filling them with scare stories.   Don’t believe your parents.   Believe your government.

Well, click here, before it’s hard to find.


September 24, 2010

Two Fridays today….

…Draw near to the Cross.

“Draw nigh to the Lord and He will draw nigh to you….”    (James 4:8a)

It’s Ember Friday, as well.    We observe the change of season from summer to autumn, acknowledging  our dependence on God, and marking the day with “severe penance,”  abstinence, almsgiving (good time to send in those donations you meant to give….), and good works.


September 22, 2010

You may have seen this photo recently.   It’s a photo of us taken from a satellite that was near the planet Mercury.   The large dot is the Earth, and the small dot is our moon, revolving around us.   

We are so tiny, so bright.

Looking at this picture, we can easily imagine the motion of the moon around the Earth, around and around, faster and faster, depending on how far out we are in space.    But, then again, to us who live on Earth, every time the moon goes around us, another month has passed by, and we are “imagining” our time passing by…very, very quickly.   

And what does it matter to the Cosmos?    It matters to us, tiny, tiny specks of life on the planet, each of us coming to life, shining our little pinpoints of light for a moment, then going away, leaving the Earth.

There!    When we die, our little pinpoint of light leaves this Earth.    Upward, we hope, to the Light of this World, to Christ, the Word of God.  

So what does it matter, this short experience of light and life on Earth?

I was cleaning out an old notebook today and came across a quotation I had written down long ago.  “Let us begin to study on earth what we can continue in Heaven.”      What a wonderful thought that is!  I’ve gathered good books around me, and I’m always consciously thankful for each of these books.   I’m thankful for the books, for the sight to read them, for all my notebooks and papers and pens with which to work out onto paper what I’m learning in my head.

But some of these books are so good, I’ll never be able to read them enough, never be able to plumb the depths of the good thoughts in them, and probably never be able to adequately read all the books I do have.     And that’s why I love that quotation above so much.   

I may have only 20 or so years of reading and writing left to me before I must slow down and come to a stop.   Maybe more.   Maybe quite a bit less.    But –   no matter when,  I’ve only just begun!    If I am reading and studying those things which can indeed be continued in Heaven, perhaps in another way, then all the wonderful bits of wisdom which point to the reality of God that I’ve started to understand here will be further developed  . . . forever and ever . . .

All my books… be continued!


September 21, 2010

Yep.    Read the top of the right-hand column:  ” ….a blog of random observations.”       I never know where my mind will go after a walk in The Spruce Tunnel.     I have no idea what this blog is “about” since one posting is not necessarily linked to the next.     It’s random, I guess, and today it’s about pausing to eat really good food.   Like Alligator!

I was taken out for lunch a week or so ago, by a friend,  a friend whom I happen to also work for.   We wanted a nice place to relax and talk.    I had in mind an ordinary family-style casual buffet place where they let you sit for hours and hours – six hours if you want! – and just eat slowly and talk.   (I know this  by experience!)

But we decided on a small elegant little restaurant, created from a lovely Victorian-style house and manned by young chefs with superb cooking skills.    And this was my chance to order Gator Chowder – done right!    If I’m going to taste alligator,  it’d be nice to have a chef prepare it, rather than Uncle Loup-Garou, like I”ve seen on Hubbie’s TV swamp programs.

We each began our lunch with the Gator Chowder.   The flavor was indescribably delicious – truly a treat!    The spices were so good that we didn’t really mind not being able to identify them.   And I had no idea alligator would be so tender and sweet.    And, no,  it’s NOT “like chicken” !   And we wouldn’t give up our chowder bowls during the whole meal.

We had many choices of seats that day.   This is where we were first seated, with a nice view of the outdoor gardens.

And this is another dining room we could have chosen:

Just lovely.    But we decided to sit near an open window, overlooking the bar and the windows to the outdoor dining area.   The sun was pretty bright that day.That’s the edge of our table on the right.   Doesn’t look like a very good place to be seated, but it works really well.  All the young waiters passed by to wherever they were going, so we were attended very well.    ( Although, I had a feeling they were encouraging us to spend considerably less than “six” hours at lunch.)

After lunch we walked around the outdoor area, looking for outdoor decorating ideas:

There was music playing;  it was coming from “all over”  until my friend pointed out to me where the speakers were, somewhat disguised:

And you know me, ever since visiting the home of Daniel Boone I’ve been charmed with dark wooden restrooms with stone floors that look like part of ancient structures:

The little restaurant is built at the edge of a river –

The river doesn’t show up very well, but it was nice to hear it and nice to know it was there.    There is something about being close to water that is very satisfying.

And that’s where alligators come from!


September 20, 2010

Slipper Chapel at Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine, England –

I’ve been reading news stories of Pope Benedict XVI in Great Britain.   I don’t always understand his words, his writings, or his actions, but some things he says and does reflect the age-old wisdom of the Church and there is truly cause for hope.

Pope Benedict visited Westminster Cathedral, a great religious center which was taken away from English Catholics by the ruling political forces which had revolted from the Church in the 16th century.  Perhaps we could think of the time the pope spent there as a “gracious”  and “friendly” thing to do.   He made reference in his speech there to St. Thomas More, who was martyred for the Faith when his friend, the king, left the Church.

“For the next four hundred years England rose to power, became an empire, and then fell from world power. ” 

Now there is some truly startling comments coming out of the Guardian newspaper, written by their writer Andrew Brown,  and posted on CatholicCulture . org today.  Here are the two significant sentences, starting out with the historical timing of the pope’s visit:

“This was the end of the British Empire.   In all the four centuries from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England has been defined as a Protestant nation.”


“Rebellion against the pope was the foundational act of English power. And now the power is gone, and perhaps the rebellion has gone, too.”

As I wrote in the last post, all authority is from God.   Revolt against that authority and you are left with raw power over others.    What “rebellion” is Mr. Brown suggesting may be gone?   Is this a time for England to come back to the Faith?     All of Britain is starving for meaning and purpose and a way out of the social and psychological and spiritual mess that is afflicting so many — and this is not my observation, but the observations of many other writers.

Like the Prodigal Son, might England return, chastened, yet hopeful for mercy and comfort?

Our Lady of Walsingham waits….

Of this chapcll se here the fundacyon,
Bylded the yere of Crystes incarnacyon,
A thousande complete syxty and one,
The tyme of sent Edward kyng of this region.

Our Lady of Walsingham, for England, since 1061 A.D.   when God sent Edward to be king of the English people.

The faith of the people  is the strength of every nation


September 20, 2010

I wrote yesterday of the blatant ejection of God from the Declaration of Independence by the voice of the Ruling Forces which govern our country.   Weren’t they elected to govern a country whose citizens acknowledge rights given to them by God’s authority?    What went wrong?    How did these Dark Forces enter our nation?

So, I’m gathering my thoughts,  thinking out loud, and trying to recall random things that add up to exactly “what went wrong.”        I start with the existence of God, long-since philosophically, intellectually, logically proven.

If you’re interested, I wonder how you’d state the development of our current state of affairs.  


God is spirit.

God created a spiritual world of beings – whose essence is spirit (and all the accompanying faculties that spirits have, such as intellect, will, understanding….)

One third of the spiritual beings warred  against God, revolting against His authority.    Dark Forces are now arrayed against God, each of these spirits now cut off from His hierarchy, alone and evil.

God created the material universe,  and populated it with living material things.   

God created unique beings, human beings,  which are both spirit and material, and whose physical bodies are compatible with the physical elements of this earth.

God’s governing authority extends into the physical universe.  No matter what form of government among men, authority for that government is an extension of God’s authority.  

Even when a nation chooses its leaders by elections, it’s  so they can choose the leaders who have legitimate God-given authority to govern.

Dark forces wrest humans away from God, any way they can.

In this present century, a new philosophical idea has been inserted into the thoughts of mankind:   it is that authority comes from the population that is being governed.   The people govern themselves without reference to any Higher Power.   The cleverest, the cunningest, the strongest, the richest, the most powerful, the most determined dominate the rest of the population.

Such a government is characterized by the same evil, violence, and disregard for human life that characterize all Dark Forces that oppose God.   

“Imagine a world without religion”  and then name powerful 20th century atheist leaders of nations.  You can start with Lenin;   Stalin;   Berea;  Pol Pot;  Mao Tse Tung  (old spelling);   Hitler (and no, he was not a Catholic);  these are some of the men which the Dark Ruling forces have put in place as heads of governments.   

Our last hundred years, the most violent and effectively murderous time of human history. 


September 20, 2010

For the first time, I am wiling to admit openly that there are dark spiritual forces at work, influencing our elected officials, perhaps setting the stage for the appearance of  an antichrist – or the Antichrist.  

 I don’t know.

I know there is some insane evil in government, which is why I sometimes picture the Ruling Council  (Congress)  that rules over us this way:

But never so clearly and blatantly does evil manifest itself than in this news article, and it still haunts me.  It’s being reported all over, but I first saw it HERE.     Our nation’s Constitution and laws  were founded upon an acknowledgement of the existence of God.    Many Founding Fathers stated that our form of government can survive only among a moral and God-fearing people.    There is NO separation of God from the public arena in their minds  … because we are free men, endowed with certain rights by that very Creator which they acknowledged — and those rights cannot be “alienated” from us.

…Which is why this news article brings such a startling realization of the un-American views of our present leaders.  The article describes the GREAT DIFFICULTY our Ruler had when reading a portion of the Declaration of Independence on Constitution Day, Sept. 17.

From the news article:     The line (in the Declaration) is supposed to read ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….’

But (The Ruler’s) recitation goes on to say ‘We hold these truths….to be….self-evident…that all men….are created equal….(long pause)…..Endowed with…certain inalienable (sic) rights….life…liberty….and the pursuit of happiness.

The article goes on to say it could have been some kind of “glitch” in the teleprompter, without which our Ruler cannot speak,  but given the fact that a similar  “glitch” also occurred when attempting to repeat an oath on the Holy Bible during his Inauguration, then I’m not sure I accept the author’s excuse.

The author of the article describes the performance this way:       After  (“The Ruler”)  says ‘created equal,’ there is a long pause during which he scowls and blinks several times.  For once it looks like he may actually have opted to not read something that was on the teleprompter.  It looks like he is disgusted and decided it would be better not to read what the (Declaration) actually says.

These guys weren’t perfect, but they had their heads on straight.    They were educated as ‘modern’ people in the last hundred years are not.   At least they know how many states there are in our country.   At least they know that Guam will not tip over if more servicemen are stationed there.    At least they know that if you take money away from the people in the form of excessive taxes (as at present)  then the people will suffer and become less productive.

We’re in real trouble.   Our rulers are uneducated, illogical, and not at all humble before the One who created them.    Perhaps the forces of Evil are so great now that the ruling class cannot even make reference to Our Creator.


September 19, 2010

 Came home from church late this afternoon, opened the front door, and saw –

Technically speaking, I couldn’t walk much past the front door.     I  “went around the other way” and sneaked up on the back of all that –

Yes, two dishwashers, tipped over;  one new, one old.    Today was the day the gentlemen in my life  (heathen, though they are, for not noticing it’s a  Sunday) decided to install the new dishwasher.  

The Son is in the process of declaring the installation a success:

We thank you, Son – lots.   Hope you didn’t work too hard on your day off.

 But  it’s me.    I’m the one who’s exhausted.    I’m the Weekend Warrior.    As in….The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat….  Name every emotion that comes from personal relationships — I’ve had them all in superlatives.    Everything having to do with Faith has been superlatively wonderful and thrilling.    Unexpectedly so.  

 Family life?    Agonizingly uncertain and fearful and sorrowing…..   A Florida road trip coming up any day now.

Sports?   Yeah, the fake-field-goal-sudden-pass-touchdown-catch is still being talked about…and so is the sudden heart attack by  Coach D’Antonio the next day…..I think he’ll be all right.     

And the home life?     Busy.   Busy.   Busy.

And I still have one more job to do, one more  deadline to meet before I go to bed tonight.      I have lots to say about the 17th Sunday After Pentecost, but most of it will remain unsaid.

Stick to it.   Fight the good fight….    Being a Warrior is hard sometimes.    No complaints.   It’s just my turn being tired.

Right in the MIDDLE !!!!!!

September 18, 2010

Come have some  FUN with us today!!!!

 This is what you see when the MSU Marching Band comes straight at you!!!!

The brass blare out….

And the Trombones scream out the Michigan State Fight Song!!!

Then it’s better to step back a bit, so you get out of their way.I love those drums.

And “Sparty”  whizzed by too:

And the band was led by those …  CYMBALS!

And the Color Guard, carrying all the flags of the Big Ten schools  (12 flags in all this year – ha!)    Really some great precision marching:

This was our annual Sparrow Hospital Volunteer Appreciation Day Tailgate Party.   The hospital set up a tent for all the volunteers.    Hubbie turns around to see if I’m following him into our tent.

I am, sort of.  I’m coming.

Plenty of drinks and food….

………and dessert –

  It was  a warm,  misty day.   I’m not sure if it rained while we were there, but the temperature was up around 70.   People kept peeling off their sweatshirts.    And it was hot and dark in the tent.

Of course, there’s always the “college town traffic” to drive through, coming and going.  That’s something else we were “in the middle” of:

Few minutes left to the GAME  Now I have to go see if we’re going to win……Bye!


SORRY  Notre Dame!!! –  We’ve got your “luck” this time!    One heck of a “gutsy call” they are saying.    We’re in Overtime.   It ought to have been a field goal to even the score once again – but a surprise fake turned it into a Touchdown!      The Believin’ came a couple seconds after the Seein’. And we all saw a rare smile from Coach D’Antonio.


September 17, 2010

It’s Friday today.     Normally I would post some kind of picture of the cross to visually remind myself why we pause on Fridays to think of our Redemption.    But I won’t do that today.    While searching my files for gruesome archeological photos like the one I used in the last posting,   I came across another one  that seems appropriate for a Friday.

The morning class was studying James today,  somewhere around the middle of chapter 4.      After reprimanding some of the Christians for their behavior towards one another, James then tells them that once they understand what they’ve done wrong it’s appropriate to feel remorse; to feel so sorry sometimes that they are brought to tears.    The Son of God Who loves them came here to die for just those kinds of things that they had been doing wrong:

James 4:8a, 9 –  “Draw night to God and He will draw nigh to you….Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into sorrow.”

The photo seems obvious, once you identify what it is.    It’s a  human ankle bone, with a large spike driven through it.   It’s dated  approximately a couple thousand years old.    Crucifixions are an actual form of execution, from several  hundred years B.C. up to the present day.   

But never could we have imagined that the Good God of Love and Light and Supreme Holiness would have willingly come to earth to subject Himself to this most cruel of human deaths.      

“Draw near to God….”       Draw near to the Cross….

It’s a sign of God’s tender mercy for us, arising from his Eternal Love.


September 17, 2010

J’Accuse….   So begins one of the  most famous letters ever written —  and one of the most significant.   As a matter of fact, if we re-called to mind ( or learned ) the issues of L’affaire Dreyfus and considered the implications of that Affaire, we American’s would probably be in a much better situation today to rise up against those  who rule us with injustice and deception,  robbing us – literally – of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

But we don’t, as a nation, show any signs of rising up to defend ourselves right now, as the U.S. Constitution instructs us to do.

Archeologists discovered and studied  this Viking skull.    The man died fighting,    as you can tell by the hole in the side of his head.       I think about him once in a while.   Did he rise up and fight and die honorably, defending himself and his family and his land?   Or did he die because he wasn’t ready to defend himself when he was being attacked?   

It makes a difference.

Interesting that the US  Constitution is a document guaranteeing our freedom and the USS Constitution is a battleship that fought, successfully, to defend our nation against the enemy.

The Pen may be mightier than the Sword (or ship’s cannon), but if we don’t rise up and use our Pens – or their equivalent –  in the defense of liberty, does that make the need for the  Sword more likely?


September 15, 2010

This is a story with a very sad ending.   

Today is Wednesday:    Christendom pauses to consider the Seven Sorrows of Mary,* which are seven specific events in the life of Jesus, as seen through the eyes and heart of Mary,  knowing that her beloved Son must suffer and die for the sins of us.     


To the Passion of Christ is added the  bitterness of knowing that few would understand the Cross and few would even care to understand.    Mary would also experience this bitter reality through the filter of her motherly heart, and she is rightly called “Miriam” (Mary) which means “bitterness.”   Yet the suffering was a channel of grace and ultimately the way of Peace with God and peace and understanding among people.    

I keep thinking, this year, of how the name Miriam created a temporary friendship between me and a lovely young Somali woman who was delivered to this country from a dangerous place in Ethiopia.   The name “Miriam” became a bridge between us two women who were otherwise separated by age, culture, and language. 

It doesn’t matter how she came to be deposited right next door to me, but I went over to meet her.   I found a very pretty, shy, feminine young lady who was being very dignified and brave.   We had very few words in common, but she was able to respond to me somewhat only because she knew what kinds of things I would most likely be saying.   That wasn’t really “communication.”

 She was all alone.   I persisted over the next few days.    She had many needs.   It occurred to me that she might could have had some religious experience, so I set about to inquire if her religious needs were being met.   The host family had no idea.    She was thought to be Christian, but no one was sure.   While we were doing our friend-making sign language type of talking, I took out the crucifix around my neck so she could see it.    (we’ re cautioned to not treat our crucifix as jewelry, so I usually have it inside my clothes.)     

Her eyes lit up at the sight of the crucifix and she nodded and smiled.   Ahhhh.   Christian.    But:  Orthodox?  Eastern?   Coptic?   Catholic?       I went home and printed out some religious photos and icons.  The next time I visited, I showed them to her.   She didn’t say anything until she came to an Orthodox icon of Mary, and she said so clearly:  “Miriam!”    She looked so happy.  She kissed the icon and seemed to be saying  a short prayer.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending.  

Yes, she knew and loved Miriam.   And so did I, even though I call her Mary.    I took her to our Cathedral for Mass one Sunday, where I saw her beautiful and holy way of worshiping God;  and I was ashamed of the behavior and attitude of the nominal Christians all around me.  She was bewildered, but we didn’t have enough words in common so that I could make excuses….or explain that America is a “religious” country with very little faith in the Holy God.    We are nice people, but we are not reverent before God.   Maybe there is no explanation.  
I eventually took her to our wonderful Orthodox priest who just happens to be an expert in linguistics.    He spoke a little to her and then turned to his bookshelf and took down a Bible with an alphabet I didn’t know.   It was her language.   I took her to Mass there a couple of times, waiting in the back until it was done….

And then I lost her.   Everyone assured me her individuality and culture would be respected, but she was turned over to social workers, foster parents, and that most hideous institution of all, the American public school.   She was given tight jeans to wear and tight T-shirts because that’s what the girls of the school wore.   She was introduced to bad music, bad movies, bad food, bad company, and bad behavior.  

She became pregnant and I went to her wedding, held at a church without a Mass,  but I don’t think she is married anymore.  

The bitter reality of sin has changed a lovely young woman into a degraded modern parody of womanhood.  But I don’t think it’s permanent.  I can’t think it’s going to be permanent.   

It was Miriam who gave her some of her first experiences here.   It is Miriam who understands the bitterness of sin and distance from God.    It is Miriam who intercedes for those who ever have called on her name.

I did eventually leave that cathedral…..


*The Seven Sorrow of Mary:

The prophecy of Simeon
The flight into Egypt
The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple
The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross
The Crucifixion
The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross
The burial of Jesus