Archive for April 2011

RUSHING “WATERS”

April 28, 2011

Interesting day today.   I looked out across my back deck and saw this:

Well, the pond is just the same, a little higher than usual with all our heavy Spring rains.  But it’s the creek back there that caught my attention.    Can’t put videos up, but that creek is rushing by.   It’s quite higher than usual and has gone way beyond “babbling” and is approaching a little steady “roar.”

And then – remember the ducks from yesterday’s post? –  in a blink of an eye, I saw a duck go floating by!     Thought I was seeing things.

Later in the morning I looked out again and – zip! – another duck goes speeding by in the creek which is now a mini-rapids.  

I think they’re playing!

Sorry – it’s hard to get a good photo of zipping ducks – but they’re in there.

And me, being me, I never just see what I’m looking at.   I’m thinking of speed, how things go rushing by, how much time has passed since the events of last Fall, when Hubbie “zipped” away.    How fast time zips by…..

….And the ducks were enjoying their play in the zipping water…..

And then I got a knock on the door….and a delivery:

Yes, I find my pleasures too.   As time zips by, as my life rushes onwards,  this is where I’ll play:   Sunday Sermons of the Early Church Fathers.  What a treasure ground to play on!

The next Parables Class will be studying the Parable of the Ten Virgins….it’s okay to find pleasure in this world, as long as you keep the Journey’s End in mind.   And then pleasure seems like play indeed.

Thanks, Ducks, for the fun lesson!      LIfe is short!

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SPRING WATER

April 27, 2011

Still thinking of Easter Wednesday’s lessons involving water.    It’s been a very bad week of thunderstorms and worse in our country.   Here, we had quite heavy rains for a while today.   It’s Spring.    The water in the earth is renewed;  the rivers run cleaner;  the ponds and lakes are refilled.  

And some are very HAPPY about it!

The CHASE is on!

Skidding around the corner!

She almost gets away!

But they finally settle down, and have a “nice swim” together.

And they find a place to rest – and to face life together:

I’m glad they chose my back yard. . . .

EASTER WATER WATER WATER

April 27, 2011

 Today’s Readings in this Octave of Easter seems to make a lot of reference to water….which intersected with my attention to water today anyway.

First:

First we were reminded that after Moses rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt,  he led them through the waters of the Red Sea.  A rather frightening prospect to the Israelites as they stood at the brink of the Sea.

Second:

Then we had a Reading from the book of Acts in which Peter speaks to thousands, after the Resurrection,  “Repent, therefore, that your sins may be blotted out.”    Peter and later Paul teach that baptism is a sign of having repented, dying to this world, and “passing through” the waters of baptism on to the “other side”  where our life with Christ begins.  

And finally, the Gospel:

Jesus appears, after His resurrection, to the disciples, who have gone back to their fishing careers.   Jesus gives them instructions to “let down the nets on the other side,”  illustrating that there are many more “fish” to catch, and that their true occupation is to be Fishers of Men, for God.

Lost souls are “fished” out of the waters and led through the waters of baptism,leaving behind their old lives, walking in new and everlasting life.

 Myown small thoughts of water…in the next posting.

OBSERVED

April 25, 2011

Observed on Easter night:

Psalm 138:  1, 3,5,7   –    Lord, Thou has tested me and known me….Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off….Behold, O Lord, Thou hast known all things….Whither shall I go from Thy spirit?   Whither shall I flee from Thy face?

Just sayin’ .

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL

April 24, 2011

 

 

Thank you, Hubbie. I saved it so I can enjoy it with you again…..

OUR “EASTER DUTY” – A SMILE AND A NOD

April 24, 2011

I came across this prayer during the busyness of this morning.  I “agreed” with it.  I gave it a smile and a nod.

Jesus, my Risen Savior,
Conqueror of sin and death,
I adore Thee.
I acknowledge Thy Supreme Dominion
over all things, and especially over
my own body and soul.
My life and all that I have are in Thy hands.
Do with me what Thou wilt.
To Thee alone all life, all glory, all praise
for ever and ever.   Amen.
After the appointed time (of Lent) in which we examine our relationship with God, acknowledge our need for a Savior, and relive the events of the last days of the Savior, Christendom instructs its members to do their “Easter Duty.”   That is, repent, confess, and then commune with Our Lord as He prescribed it.  

But it was never the intent of the Church to “instruct” us to go through the motions.   That’s what a Pharisee would do, he would do all the right things.    And he would look at that prayer above with a smile and a nod.

Yikes.  That’s about where I was going to leave that prayer.    Instead, when I read it again,  I realized that each sentence can be an entire sermon directed at me….so much to learn…so much to appreciate….such a great Savior to adore!  

This is where our “Easter Duty”  should take us!    Step by step to adore Him for ever!

DAY minus 1 – DEAR ADAM

April 23, 2011

Dear Adam,

I am your God, Who for your sake have become your son.  Out of love for you and for your descendants….

. . .The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the fiery sword that was turned against you….

  The Tau over the skull in the above photo of the “signature” of St. Francis comes from this very connection of Christ’s work on the Cross redeeming all the sons of Adam.   The Righteous who mourn for sins were to be marked with the Tau, the Greek letter whose shape is the Cross.

Exekiel 9:4 – And the Lord said to him: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem: and mark Tau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof.

DAY minus 2 – Travels

April 23, 2011

John 13:33 –  Simon Peter said to Him: “Lord, whither goest Thou?”   Jesus answered him:  “Whither I go thou canst not follow Me now;  but thou shalt follow hereafter.”

Peter will follow the Master through the pathway of Death…and so will all the Master’s disciples. 

But for now, the day after the Crucifixion, Jesus had some Place to go:

Whenever we say the Creed, together or alone, we say “…crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into (hell)…”

“Hell,”  an English word that is trying to interpret the idea of “the place of the dead”;  or more specifically, “the limbo of the Just.”     Heaven’s  Door has arrived and will lead the way to Heaven for all those who had the Messiah in their hearts, loving the One Living God-Most-High, obeying His commandments, and trusting in His mercy.

Jesus, the Messiah, “introduces” Himself.  

Meanwhile…..

Peter, who cannot go with his Master just yet, is in mourning, and waits in sorrow and tears with other disiciples, gathered around the Mother who has just the day before been given to us all.

DAY minus 3 – SPIKE AND SPEAR

April 22, 2011

 

Today, for Christians, the story gets personal:

In the movie called The Passion of the Christ,  the director, although a skilled actor himself,  chose to appear only once in his movie:   In the above scene,  that is his own hand that holds the spike that is driven into the hands of the Savior.    

Sinner that he is,  he chose that scene  to acknowledge to the world that it is his own sins which drove the spike into the holy, wounded flesh of Christ.    The Christian Church has always instructed us to see “the spike”  that way.

And there is this today:

The spear driven into the side of the Savior, right through to the heart.   

The spear, the long lance,  was thrust with all the strength of a Roman, Gentile soldier.    Tradition has given us his name as Longinus, but we don’t  know his name for sure.  And that is a good thing, because then we, following the example of the director referred to above,  can substitute our own names…..

Spike and Spear.    Christ offers up His life for the whole human race,  for every human.   And every human drives in the Spike and wields the Spear.

On Good Friday it gets personal like that.   The only help for us is to remain close by, at the foot of the Cross.

DAY minus 4 – MAUNDY …

April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday.   Maundy Thursday.  

We celebrate it in a variety of ways.  Jesus gave His most beautiful sermon on this evening.   If you want to know why He thinks He came here to earth,  you can read it in that sermon.   (You can find it in the Gospel of John, chapters 14 through 17.)

This meal begins His last 24-hour period on earth.   He said things, He did things, He started things, and He gave us a way that we can receive Him into ourselves during our life on earth.   And if we receive Him, we do our part to fulfill His prayerful request to the Father in Heaven:   “That they may all be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us….”  

This is participation in the life of the Divine Trinity.    Glory and Love and Peace, beyond our understanding.

Maundy Thursday.   Mandatum.    The Latin word that means “a command.”  

Do it.

Those who do, shall live.   Forever.

DAY minus 5 – SPY WEDNESDAY

April 20, 2011

 

Doesn’t take   much to get us to turn our backs on the Lord…to betray Him…to reject Him and seek out something else that seems more valuable to us…

We’re on the search for something that pleases us.  We search discreetly, secretly, tastefully, hiddenly;  and we often hide from ourselves that we are turning our backs on Him,  on the lookout for something for us…..spying out the territory.

Like spies.

Looking secretly for an opportunity to betray our Lord’s loving attention to us.

Like betrayers.

Never admitting there might be a Judas in us.

Spy Wednesday.    A solemn day of recollection and self-examination.

DAY minus 6 – THE END APPROACHES

April 19, 2011

Nothing lasts forever, here on this planet.    Not even the big beautiful temple that was the center of worship  in  Jerusalem, which was the center of the world: 

 I’m “lying low” today.  I think it was something I ate.    I think it was a melon.   Every time I eat some, I feel sick for a while, but I keep thinking they’re good for me….   Irrational.

So I had time today to think of Jesus, and His last week on Earth.   He wasn’t “lying low” but rather making Himself known among His people.   “He came unto His own….”     Just as the Passover Lamb was chosen a few days ahead of its sacrifice and lived among the family, making itself known and loved and part of the family, so Jesus walked among the people of Jerusalem, teaching them things they would have to know; old things are passing away,  soon He will make all things new.

It was while standing in front of the huge and beautiful Temple complex that He taught His friends that even this, too, will fall some day and be nothing but utter rubble.     When His astonished disciples asked when that would be, how would they know it’s about to happen,  Jesus told them there would be some signs.

The signs would be unrest and wars and lots of information about unrest and wars; there would be confusion and fear;   there would be earthquakes and storms;  droughts and  famines;   and, as His youngest disciple, John, would continue on later in the vision gives to him,  there would be wars and economic collapse,  crop die-offs,  animal die-offs, fishkills, poisoned waters and oceans…..

I’m still a little tired…..just…you can read the newspapers…..  Looks like it’s all there.   Not “throughout history”  but now,  all at once, and with modern technology and communications, the whole world  experiences it all at once, all together, and it will feel like it’s happening to all of us – as never before.

The Lamb of God Who has come to His family has only a few more days to live….Good Friday approaches quickly.      We need to know these things.

DAY minus 7 – Paschal Moon

April 18, 2011

So hard to work with this looking over my shoulder.   And me looking over my shoulder at it.

It is the Paschal Moon.     That full moon that comes at the time of Passover,  also known as the Pascha (Greek) and the Pasche  (from earlier English) which is from Pasah and Pesah ( both Hebrew)  which means “pass over”  — it all ties together.

The Jewish Passover which is being celebrated right now, this week, looks forward to the same Event which the Christian  Holy Week (ending in Easter)  looks backward in time to celebrate.   

It’s the same Event.      How nice to have the same Paschal Moon to mark the week, until Time ends and we see the Paschal Lamb with our eyes.

This same Moon is rising again tonight  through those same trees right now, as I write.  

See,  even if I didn’t remember to look for the Paschal Moon – or this Paschal Week – it would have arisen just the same….waiting for me to connect with it.

DAY minus 8 – DUMB ROCKS

April 17, 2011

This 8th day before Easter is a day for a King.

There is much meaning to be found in the events that we remember today, many lessons that would be fruitful;   many questions that we could ask of ourselves that would be helpful for our spiritual growth.

But I just want to think simply on the facts of the day:

Jesus. the King of the Jews,  the King of Kings,  the Son of God, the Son of Man, Ruler and Creator of All Things had entered the City where God had placed His Name –  Jerusalem.  A spontaneous swell of acclamation rose from  the people and they proclaimed Him….

What?      Blessed.   Blessed  King….Who has come in the Name of the Lord.     

What is that?   The Pharisees  weren’t so sure.   They were leaders of people and they appealed to Jesus, leader of  some people who followed HIm.  The  Pharisees told Jesus to keep the crowd under control…tell them not to be so emotional….tell them to hush.

Jesus, knowing more than the Pharisees knew, said, Not so.    If these people remained quiet, then the very rocks and stones would cast off the muteness of their  nature and proclaim the glory of their Creator.  

 It is the nature of rocks and stones to be dumb (which means mute);   but stones are real,  and Reality and Truth is One.      And Truth will be manifested.

So, of all the questions that I could ask myself about the events of the day, I hope my answers lead me to do my part, proclaim Who really is King…..so the rocks and stones don’t have to.

DAY minus 9 – WHADDYA WANT?

April 16, 2011

Saturday evening falls quietly these days.  I think that may be true for many, many adults if this is not your “date night.”  You’ve finished much of what you wanted to accomplish on this weekend day, and the rest of the family has settled down for their choice of evening activities.   The week is coming to a close, and things are quieting down for a little while. 

In times like this, inner thoughts come a little closer to the surface.  We sometimes hardly dare pay attention to little questions like….

…..What do you want?   (Whaddya want?  in today’s title)   Are you happy?    What would be on your Top Ten List of things that would make you feel satisfied and content?  

I think we have a few desires in common.   Love, to feel loved,  would be pretty high on our list.    Inner Peace.    Friendship, companionship, safety and security.   Approval.  Yeah, we need a sense of approval,  a sense that we are on the right track or at least we know we’re getting there.   Competence;  the sense that we are competent to order our world and to make corrections when necessary.  

Those kinds of things.  

Personally,  there is a spiritual  dimension to all those things on my list.   Love from God and for God;  Peace with God;  His companionship and friendship;  the grace to want to make things right with God as I go along, and the means to do so, etc….

I think Random Thoughts from The Spruce Tunnel during this coming week will have two orientations, the usual, ordinary everyday world around me, and also the spiritual as I get ready for Easter.

So  the title of today’s posting,  Day minus 9,  is a countdown,  the ninth day before our Easter celebration, using the common cultural term for the day of Resurrection.  What exactly did happen each day of the last week of Jesus on this earth?  

Well, I wrote much about what happened in the couple days before the first Palm Sunday,  “The Worst Kind of Blindness.”     What we  remember from this day is the healing of the blind men on the Jericho Road, specifically the one named Bartimaeus.

To  follow up on my Top Ten Most Wanted list question above,  I was just “randomly thinking” today how strange it is that when Jesus came to a sudden stop in his walk and confronted the very persistent blind Bartimaeus,  He asked him ‘What do you want?”  

Well.   Of course.   The man is blind.   The Man is the Son of God, known to work have worked miracles.   And Bartimaeus’s answer is — Oh, I don’t know….just sitting here on the side of the road…typical Saturday night….nothing out of the ordinary…. hadn’t thought about it….

Well, no.  Bartamaeus knew his need.   I need to see.  I want to see.   And Jesus gave him his sight.

But there’s a spiritual dimension to the timing of this miracle;  it’s  a kind of introduction to the week that is to follow.   The funny thing is, the closest, most faithful disciples of Jesus went through this week with Jesus….but they didn’t catch on to the lesson of the timing of this miracle.   They would have to learn the hard way that each of the events that they “saw” in Jerusalem during what we now call Holy Week took place in ordinary times and places,  but there is another kind of “sight”  waiting to be opened in them…and in us.

But, first, it would be helpful if we knew what we wanted, knew what we needed,  and like Bartamaeus,  knew Who can satisfy every need on our list.

Whaddya want?

GLORIOUS STREAM

April 15, 2011

I think I’ll stay with a theme of “beauty” for this posting, as in the last posting.   And a big thanks to My Friend With the Camera for sending this photo….

And a big thanks also to a young lady, full of faith and holiness, for the following words which this photo illustrates so well:

(Speaking to her older sister who became her loving mother):   I was between six and seven when I saw the sea for the first time.   I could not turn my eyes away…its majesty, the roaring of the waves, the whole vast spectacle impressed me deeply and spoke to my soul of God’s power and greatness.

One evening, at the hour when the sun seems to sink into the broad expanse of waters, leaving behind it a trail of light, I sat with you on an unfrequented rock and let my gaze linger on this path of splendor.  You described it as an image of grace illuminating the way of faithful hearts here upon earth,. 

Then I pictured my own soul as a tiny barque, with graceful white sail, floating in the midst of the golden stream, and I determined never to steer it out of the sight of Jesus, so that it might make its way swiftly and tranquilly towards the heavenly shore.

The two girls had time to ponder.    The older sister felt responsible to inspire the soul of the younger sister.     And God gave grace and beauty to feed their intellect and to gently coax their hearts towards Him.

I’d like to keep my own little sail on that Glorious Golden Stream.

The author of these words, as you may know, is St. Therese of  the Child Jesus and of His Holy Face…..a name which suggests she has spent her days contemplating two aspects of Our Savior as  He comes to us.

A BEAUTY BREAK

April 12, 2011

I’ve been working very hard physically (outdoors) and mentally (all my other work)   today.  How about a little beauty break?

Actual recent discovery last week from Palomar in California and Keck in Hawaii.    A star blew up far, far away and the resulting explosion looked like this.

They’re calling it the Red Square Nebula. 

Astronomers can figure out size, distance, location, and some of the main elements that give the nebula its  red color.   What they don’t know for sure  is why the nebula formed a box-like structure.     Some are speculating that it developed its “symmetrical and bipolar” shape because its location in deep space (5000 light years away) is an area of stillness, unperturbed by objects and movement around it.

That sounds right.   Great beauty developing out of deep, still, silence, where the Glory of the Creator can touch a point in His Creation.  

 

THE BET IS – CONCLUDED!

April 11, 2011

Several weeks ago I wrote about the annual Bet that Hubbie was pleased to make with me – and anyone else who came to his house in the Spring.    And invariably, every  Spring,  our back yard ice skating rink becomes our back yard Nature Pond.    The fun thing for  Hubbie was making that Bet –  when will the ice be completely gone!!??  

Invariably, once the ice is all gone,  we failed to notice just which day it had completely disappeared.

Well, I’ve been keeping an eye on it this year. 

Living close to nature:   this is such a “natural” way to keep track of the seasons.   (Meaning,  I forgot just what calendar date this photo was taken.)

And then we had a mini-heat wave yesterday;  82 degrees and very windy.    Belatedly I checked the pond ice.   Of course the ice was gone.   Of course I had no idea when it had disappeared.

All I know is the Bet has been concluded.    I won!    I won, as I often do, because I refuse to name a Date Certain, and I always default to “before April 15th.”     “Come on, pick a date;   any date….”     Nope.    Just…”before Income Taxes are due.”

No ice.    So now we have our Summer Nature Pond, a busy, busy place with much to observe and wonder about .    There are critters who live  under the water,  on the water,   under-and-on the water, and probably other mysterious things I don’t really want to know about.

The pond itself changes with the lighting and the weather and the time of day and the seasons.  Here it is making baby waves in some high winds yesterday:

It’s a living place.  And though I look “down” on it from my back deck, it never fails to lift my mind upwards, when I take the time.

I “won” the Bet that I didn’t make with anyone this year.    I won because I wasn’t too specific on the date.    I just don’t think nature is like that, black-and-white and certain.    

But some things are.

PASSION SUNDAY – 2 WORLDS POSSIBLE

April 10, 2011

I’d like to return to my routine of commenting on the Sunday Readings.  

In Christendom, for the past many centuries,  this Sunday has been designated as Passion Sunday.  We are closer to Good Friday now, and our minds are directed to a deeper contemplation of the meaning of the Passion and Death of Christ.

The Readings given to us for this day show us the reality of the  two worlds that are possible for us.  I know that picture was created for the Gospel story of “the Road to Emmaus,”  but I like it, and it also hints at what today’s Readings teach us about those two worlds, the bright one “up above”  and the darker path of the present world.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the people of this world:  “Before Abraham was made, I am.”   Many centuries ago, St. Augustine commented:   “He who spoke was made the seed of Abraham; and that Abraham might be made, He Himself was before Abraham.”

That would work for us too.   He Himself was before us, eternally, in power and glory, so that we could be made.

From  conversations with friends today, I understand that the New Version of Christianity, in all its various denominations,  read the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.   

I’m sure many good sermons were given about Lazarus,  but I kind of like this lesson:    Jesus, after showing sorrow for the way of this world, with its corruption and loss and death, then calls his friend Lazarus from out of the grave, the place of corruption and death.

Lazarus is called out, and we are called out from that same world to follow Jesus into a better everlasting world. 

So Passion Sunday begins the period of time when we think seriously of  Christ’s Passion.   He lived in eternal glory (I AM) and He came down to us (the Incarnation) so that He might lift us up to Him in Glory,  “through His Passion and Cross, into the Glories of His Resurrection.”

ALONE IS A STALKER

April 9, 2011

Sometimes Alone  is an object with a personality that stalks you…just out of reach of your consciousness…fluttering gently for your attention.

Alone is a memory that comes on butterfly wings, ready to take you up and away,  “off in the Wild Blue Yonder…”

My Mind likes hyperbolic comparisons.   

And when it’s done with the hyperbole,  it has gained perspective.

The truth is,  it isn’t I who have gone far away “up into the sky”;   it’s Son and Daughter.   Both are in airplanes these days.  Son heading West, with friends,   for a short vacation .   Daughter heading East….all the way East to the next continent….with her little family, for business conferences.

I want things steady and predictable  for a while, so I can find myself again.   I want “all my ducks in a row” so I can see how I relate to this new world I’m in.    But my ducklings  are flying.     Away.     

I can feel t he fluttering of Alone, but I’m not going to pay attention. 

My ducklings will be back soon….in their proper row.