Archive for June 2011

CENSORED HORROR

June 28, 2011

Horror Week in the Spruce Tunnel…this week.   Maybe.

I’ve written many posts in these past few days, but I haven’t posted any of them here.    My friends and family don’t know anything about these issues –  they are not hearing about them – and so maybe I want to engage in a little censorship myself.    Horror is not a polite topic.

So….

I wrote a few posts ago about being distracted.   I wrote how I inadvertently walked near a mother redwing blackbird’s nest and she drove me out of there with her persistence and determination, while I just walked around aimlessly  (for a  while), thinking about making a decision….

 I was distracted by my thoughts, and she wasn’t; and she accomplished her aim – to get rid of me.

I wrote of that little incident because I know I have been deliberately distracting myself lately.  I walk through the Spruce Tunnel and reflect on the events surrounding me,  and I ponder, ponder, ponder how the news that I read is soon going to crash into my personal life…..

But I’d rather keep on going as I always have:   fussing about my house and yardwork;   enjoying good ol’ Mother Nature and my friends and my favorite activities;   working hard at my studies and my Bible studies;   and seriously preparing for my turn to die, when I will follow Hubbie across and through that Great Divide.

That should be enough for any person.   Right?

T.S. Elliott wrote:  ”  Humankind canot bear too much reality.”

He is the poet who wrote  about “death’s other kingdom” in The Hollow Men, which ends like this:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

I know what the “whimper” looks like now.

I don’t really know if that’s how the world will the  end.

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THE ULTIMATE SNUB

June 26, 2011

When we were teenagers, the big daring question to ask was:  “What if you gave a party –  and no one came???”

And then came the horrifying realization that it could really happen!!!     Aaiiiiyyy!!!

Once when I was a teenager, I was a “victim” of some unjust snubbing.   It was just one of those things, and I had plenty of friends who warned me about it and who gave me all kinds of advice about what I should do to “get back at them”  –  which I never did.  So except for an unpleasant memory, I came out of it pretty unscarred.

But that experience helps me understand today’s Gospel lesson in Church.    Jesus tells a parable about a man who planned a great dinner party, sent out invitations, and when everything was ready….no one wanted to come.

They all had things they’d rather do.   In spite of the planning and work and gracious desire to share his goodness with friends and loved ones, they snubbed the man.

That’s what I can connect with.  Each time I’ve planned a party in my home,  I looked forward to friendship and companionship and sharing what I have with others.    I’d work hard to get everything ready and looking just right.

I’d often take a picture of my table – just to show my Mom and share my anticipation with her.

And then came that final half hour before the guests came.

 Just a little hint of “what if no one shows up?”   I haven’t spoken to any of the guests for a couple of days!  (But they already said they’d come.)    No one’s called me today!  (They’re probably on their way.)   (And even if one or two don’t make it,  there will be many others who do come.)     And my friends always came.

(Maybe I was just a little “scarred” from that teenage experience!)

So when you remember that Gospel reading today, on this 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, think of the Man who gave all His time and attention,  His effort and His life, just to invite us to His table so that He can share what He has with us – forever!

A snub is a snub – no matter Who we ultimately snub.

Too busy for Him –  the ultimate snub.

FOUR LETTER-F WORDS FOR FRIDAY

June 24, 2011


You know it was a good party when your guests end up on your back deck doing a chorus line dance!

Sometimes a Bible study class just has to celebrate when a particularly long course of study has finally been completed.  

Today we “studied”  that wonderful exemplar of Christian values, the movie:  “The #1 Ladies Detective Agency.”     Highly recommended!  

And especially enjoyable when accompanied by some delicious pizzas from our local Italian-family owned restaurant!     Everyone expressed astonishment at how good these were!

Funny thing, though.     It wasn’t the location, the movie, or the pizzas that made the party.       It was the four letter-F words  —   (please read that phrase carefully!)  —

It was our Friendship,  our Fellowship, our genuine Fondness for each other, and our willingness to put aside our concerns for a while and have some Fun.

On reflecting on our party today,  I can see that it wasn’t only the movie that demonstrated Christian values.   It was this wonderful group of people.    You see, all those “F” words really require humility…enough humility to place the other people ahead of yourself, with a willing open heart.    

For  example,  and more specifically,   some of the people didn’t know many of the others, but they were open enough to comfortably allow their friendship to develop into fondness.  (What a beautiful sight!)   Another one wasn’t really in the mood for fun,  but she eventually allowed the fun of the group to enter into her heart so she could add her particular wonderfulness to our group.  

And the Fellowship part.    If you took all our resumes and shuffled them all up,  you wouldn’t be able to find a matching pair among us!   We don’t have the same backgrounds at all.   But I think I saw that in all of us,  what we did have in common was a bond greater than human understanding;  and that is we all share our faith and love for Our Dear Lord, and a desire to please Him and exalt Him.   

His Heart For Us

 

“Jesus is the Reason”…for this party.  

P.S.  –  That’s not us in the chorus line up in that first, topmost photo. . . .

DON’T KNOCK A BIRD BRAIN

June 22, 2011

I learned a bit from a bird brain the other day:

I had an errand to do.  I drove to a place that makes outdoor cement objects, and I wanted to pick out an urn or some kind of thing to plant flowers in to place by Hubbie’s grave.    Older graves looks so “settled,”  and so “civilized.”    A new grave looks like nobody cares – yet.

I wandered around in the field where all the cement objects were scattered about, sort of on display.   I got distracted.   There were no really nice decorative cement planters, but there were some really nice statues….something I’ve always wanted for a certain little “cove” in my backyard….

As I stood and stared in all 360 degrees around me, I began to notice a very perturbed Objector!   I think I had wandered close to a nest of a redwing blackbird.    She was doing her best to scare me away.   She seemed both frightened and angry but she was certainly very determined.

 I took many photos but most of them show only a blank sky – she was buzzing me from all angles.    Dive-bombing, actually.   I was her target – and she was very focused in her actions.

Yeah…..well…..No need to stay any longer.      The mother redwing blackbird was making me uneasy.    I had sort of made my decision….  Not the one I came for, but another object that struck my fancy and will not be used out in the cemetery.

As I drove away, I  was a little perturbed at that bird.   I wouldn’t have hurt her!    It used to be when we were children we’d insult someone by calling them a “bird-brain.”      But I couldn’t  help comparing my “brain” that afternoon and this particular bird’s.    I was the one that was a little unfocused.  I was the one that was a little unspecific about what I wanted.   I was the one that drifted around, choosing something that wasn’t quite on my To-Do list.   

I was the one that didn’t complete my mission.   

I was the bird-brain that day.

What a lesson this mother bird was in focus, determination, persistence, and success!!

 

Father’s Day Evening

June 20, 2011

Hubbie was a man of tradition.      Each time and season of the year is marked with some tradition of his.      This is the Father’s Day Tradition:That is a bag of small fish that he is holding, destined for our pond.    Many years ago he worked hard on the pond in May and June – and then decided we could use more fish in there, fish that would be fun to watch all summer long.

So on Father’s Day we all knew what to get him!      And on every Father’s Day thereafter.

Including today:

Daugher was “here” if only in spirit — and that’s her bucket from Kappa Delta days.    And that’s a bag of new goldfish.

67 of them.      As you might know….    Although the nice young lady at the pet store didn’t know why there were tears as I said the number…..

This year Son took over….

He picked a place where the little guys could feel safe among the water weeds…..

Then it takes a while to mix the waters and coax them out….

And wait to see if Hubbie’s new pets will take to their new home…..

And at last they feel like exploring, just a little bit.

So there you are.      Summer has begun.    Some traditions will not have to change around here.

 

Father’s Day Morning

June 20, 2011

 Got a nice surprise this morning:

Hubbie made that rectangular frame around a little garden area in the front of our house and then carefully picked out the kinds of decorative plants he thought would look nice in there.

In the two corner areas he planted some nice flowers last summer – which shriveled up and died within a couple of weeks.   I hated to see how disappointed he was.  We thought up different reasons why it could have happened and decided that the “sludgy” dirt from deep within our mulch pile probably resulted from too many acid-laden oak leaves that weren’t good for this kind of plant.

Hadn’t gotten around to choosing anything to place in the empty semi-circular places this year….

Then suddenly the plants Hubbie had put there began growing – fast!   Then they seem to bulge at the top….

And this morning…on Father’s Day….theybegan to bloom.

We’d like it if there were a special “reason” in the timing.   It would be like him to give us a little “wink” like this…a wink and a smile.  

What a pleasant memory….

 

 

BACKYARD ENGINEERING

June 17, 2011

This post is for all my family and friends who have ever tramped around in my backyard –  pond, creek, trees, weeds, and sometimes good green grass.   

I just about have everyone convinced that our pond is NOT the source of our summer mosquitoes.  There are far too many frogs, fish, and turtles for mosquito larvae to become anything other than a tasty snack for the aforesaid critters.

But standing water we sometimes have…and that could be a problem.

So Son had an idea a few days ago.    The idea buzzed in his head until I finally said,  “Go do it!!”      Somehow he is able to take a very good “invisible”  idea in his mind and make it become real.

 So he began digging.    You can see the problem here.  The pond had risen so high from spring melt and spring rains that it was slightly overflowing into the grass, forming “standing water” which is good for mosquitoes and not good for green lawns.  

He dug quite a long trench across the soggy grass, connecting the pond to the creek, and building up a little dike in the process to make the pond bank higher.

Then he called me out there to watch the show…..

He had dug everything except for a big clot of dirt which held back the water….and then it was time to let the water go.

 There was a moment when we wondered what would happen when he removed that clot.

The water pushed into the trench and flowed very, very well, taking with it all the pond scum and debris which had been collecting during the hot spring days.  

It flowed so well, we were able to watch the water dig the trench a little wider and a little deeper.   It was getting late into the evening.  We kind of joked, just how deep and wide will it get?  The more water that flows…the more the water will be able to flow!!

Where did the water go?

Down there, in our creek.    It’s official county designation is a “drainage ditch.”    

It’s draining our pond just fine now.    I told Son I’d call him the next morning and let him know if we still had a pond!

P.S.      We do.

REMEMBERING FRIDAYS

June 17, 2011

I used to be quite good at remembering that it was Friday, and remembering what Fridays are for;  that is, Fridays are for remembering what happened on a Friday, long ago, the one we call Good Friday.

Today, in my morning class, we were bringing to a close our long study of the Parables;  it’s been a good study, fun and interesting, challenging and informative.    We ended with the parables of judgment and signs of the times, but at the very end today we wound around back to the Good Shepherd. 

Strictly speaking, the Good Shepherd is not a parable, but it appears on several modern lists of “parables,”   modern minds  being not too specific about the meaning of words…

Nevertheless,  it seemed like a good place to end our study.  

On the way home, the image of the Good Shepherd was lingering with me, and some verses from the Gospel of John in particular stuck out…  And then I thought,  I wonder if we ever thought about the Good Shepherd from God the Father’s point of view!

 

So here’s the verses:    “I am the good shepherd;     the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep…..Therefore does the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again…”   (John 10:11, 17)

I like that.   He came to do what He was sent here to do.    In Him, the Father is well-pleased.   He lays down His life for us, His sheep.

If God is pleased, all is well.

 

CONVERSATION STOPPER FROM ABOVE

June 15, 2011

My friend and I were talking in a parking lot a few days ago:

We tried to continue our conversation but it began to falter….   We just couldn’t compete with the “light show” going on above us.   We stopped and took a closer look:

We just had to stare, wishing it would last long enough so we could examine it as closely as we would like.

But it changed and grew….

This formation was huge above us, and there were more like it filling the sky.

And we just watched the show until it got darker and the streetlights came on….

Reluctantly, we had to leave.

We didn’t have so many words to say anymore, and I’m not sure, but I think we said our good-byes with quiet voices.

 

AC REPAIR

June 13, 2011

Remember a few days ago when it was 96 degrees and my air conditioner broke?

 

Well.     The repairman came today.    I trust him explicitly.   He’s a good friend of Son’s and a professional HVAC man.   He knows what he’s doing.

I know he does good work.

The air conditioner is working now.

And it has to keep on working for the next four hours so that the … capacitor can …. something …. so the fan will have enough …. something … so that it will keep going around when … the thermostat does something.

It’s not 96 degrees anymore.    It’s 60 degrees tonight.   And I need to “dial down” enough so that the air conditioner stays ON for the next FOUR HOURS.

Truly.    The air conditioner is truly fixed now.

 

THE RED OF PENTECOST

June 12, 2011

Pentecost brings us the color Red today.   I wear red, I drive red,  I love red flowers!   What would it be like to be within this color?

 

You’ve probably heard some informative and inspiring sermons on this day of Pentecost, so I’ll just tell you a small portion of what I remember hearing:  The love between the Father and the Son engenders the Third Person of this Trinity  – so perfect a force of Love that it is a separate Person of the Godhead that knows and loves and acts…and binds all together with bonds of Divine love.

Today on Pentecost we celebrate the coming down of the Holy Spirit into our world, into the souls of believers in Jesus.     “Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts;  enkindle in them the fire of your Love….”

It’s Divine Love alone which has the power to bind us to God and to bind us to each other.

“The fire of His love…”     No wonder today we are given the color Red to remind us….What would it be like to be within that Red Fire of Divine Love?

 

Q is for….

June 12, 2011

 

Q   is for queasy

 

Self-inflicted, I think.       Hot, humid, germy week, indoors and out….  

I resolve to:

1.  ….throw away leftovers after … three days….(hmmph)

2. ….no more make “soup” with two-week old meat

3.  ….no longer eat salads more than one week old.

4. ….clean my refrigerator.

5. ….make friends with my clorox and lysol and  hydrogen peroxide spray bottles…

My “Q” comes in many fonts.   This one expresses the last few days best:    

 

Q . . .    

 

   Bleahhh.

EVERYTHING’S . . .

June 9, 2011

(…just…see yesterday’s post…..)

 

 

“OFFER IT UP”

June 8, 2011

  

Offer it up. . .

 

Offer it up. . .

 

Offer it up. . .

 

 Air conditioner broke today.   96 degrees.    So far….

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…He leadeth me beside the…..”

….and  sometimes He doesn’t.

 

But, see….I have brothers and sisters in hot, dry lands whose wells are getting bombed by their enemies, and a five- or ten-mile walk under the hot, blazing sun proves to be futile.

It happens.  And we’re all in this together.    In the spiritual realm, I can offer my circumstances today to Jesus on His eternal Cross, to join my little “sufferings” with His.  He’ll know what to do next to relieve and comfort the sufferings of others.

“Offer it up.”     A notion from deep back in to the history of Christendom.   Thanks be to God.

DOWN THE ROAD

June 6, 2011

Sometimes the Road of Life presents some pretty big  obstacles.

Not much you can do about some things.   

You do what you have to do, and then the problem is resolved – or not – and eventually you get past that point, more or less in one piece – or (some day) not.

So…it’s interesting.    Be patient.   Do your duty.   Stay close to your Creator.   Be of good character.    Be courageous.     

Because Life isn’t “getting to the end of the Road.”     It’s keeping on driving on that Road, through one challenge after another.     

And, anyway,  I think there is a whole herd of elephants just ahead.  

 

BEGINNING THE WEEK

June 5, 2011

Sunday eveningPeaceful.  Purple.  Pond flower.

This caught my eye yesterday as I took a walk in our back yard.    Might be the last “peaceful” thing I see for a while.    The week ahead looks to  be very busy with extra work deadlines and classes – and summer yard work.

But then – you never know.

The work week is just beginning.   What will we know at the end of this week that we didn’t know right now?

 

 

THE GAZE OF ANGELS

June 5, 2011

I’ve been neglectful of Sundays’ Readings these past several weeks of storms, travel, and weddings.    I’ve not been unmindful of them,  just haven’t gotten them over to The Spruce Tunnel.    So,  Mosquito Season in the Tunnel notwithstanding,   here is this Sunday’s consideration – “The Gaze of Angels”:

Gaze:   “to look upon intently with one’s whole attention;  to open up one’s being to the glorious qualities of the object that is before one’s eyes.

I don’t mean to imply here that Cooper is “an angel,”  ( heh heh), but I use his photo to demonstrate what a gaze is.

Intent, with one’s whole being focused on the glorious qualities of the object of one’s attention….

Today is the Sunday after the Ascension.    (No such thing as “ascension sunday,” as you know.)  

Here’s another famous picture of Christ ascending into Glory.    From our point of view, He is leaving us to go into Glory.    However, from the point of view of the angels in Glory,  He is returning to them!

They see Him slowly reappearing, more and more clearly,  up into Glory with them — but now with a difference!!!    The angels recognize Him, but He comes this time additionally clothed in His Humanity.   And from His head,  His hands, His side,  and His feet are streaming rays of Mercy with a magnificent radiance!

What heavenly words of praise come from the angels who continue to gaze on their Majestic Creator as He arrives at His throne…until at last they must change their posture and cry out a New Song!    “And all the angels stood round about the throne and the ancients and the four living creatures;  and they fell down before the throne upon their faces and adored God, saying:  Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”  

(Apocalypse 7:  11, 12  –  The book also called Revelation of St. John the Divine)

Ascension Day!   What a wonderful “day” in Heaven that must have been!

40 DAYS OF “PROBATION”

June 2, 2011

“Probation”   a time of for being proved;  of proving yourself;  of proving you have ears to hear, eyes for seeing, and a heart to understand the teachings of Jesus and the Kingdom He came to establish on earth and leave behind for a while, when He went away.

Ascension Day today!

There are 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension.   40 is an oft-used number in the Bible, and it is a product of 5 and 8;  in other words,  5 X 8 = 40.     5 is the number to indicate Grace;  8 is the number to indicate renewal, or a whole new world, a whole new creation.  

In these 40 days after Easter, the Resurrected Lord walked among His disciples, family, and friends, helping them — giving them grace to understand what His death and resurrection would mean for the human race.   He has established His Kingdom, the Church; appointed a vicar to head the Church in His absence; and revealed to them all the instructions and teachings that they would need to know until His return.  

Did these first Christians prove themselves true to the teachings and instructions?   Could they be?

“Stand by,”  Jesus told them.   “Stand by.  Wait in Jerusalem.  Don’t leave until you receive a Helper.”     

In these 40 days of “probation”  the first Christians did prove themselves worthy and faithful; they – and we – prove ourselves worthy by hearing, learning, and doing the teachings of Jesus, and then “waiting” on the work of the Holy Spirit in us….   He comes!

. . . .but that is “50 days”  after the Resurrection.   Stand by!   

You have Nine Days of Prayer to prepare.

Don’t change a thing!

Stand fast!!   Don’t leave any of His teachings!    “Stand fast, and hold the traditions that yo have received from us, whether by word of mouth or by our epistle.”  (II Thessalonians 3:14)

 

“STICK PARTY”

June 1, 2011

Home again,  from ground level:

 
I thought I’d  check how high the grass is today.

I thought I’d prepare the grass for mowing.

I thought….I’d better use a rake, a shovel,  a little axe,  and a wheelbarrow.

Every single square yard….

. . . .filled with sticks.
While I was  enjoying the tornado-tossed wedding reception a couple of days ago,  50 miles northeast where my home is, my trees were also “enjoying” bits and pieces of the thunderstorm-wrapped little tornadoes.       It looks like my trees have had some kind of wild stick party, throwing all sizes of sticks and branches and limbs around and tossing them onto the grass below – which today badly needs mowing.     

I probably haven’t picked the best day for clean-up.  It’s 72,  sunny,  and very windy.   Feels good,  but I don’t seem to be running out of woody debris anytime soon.  

I think the “party” is still going on.      The sticks are still raining down….

. . . Self-Cleaning tree tops.