Archive for September 2011


September 28, 2011

(No, not those” Guns&Roses”…..I don’t do music after 1820, remember?)

It’s my real birthday. . . and a Ruger and Roses. . . .

    Nobody knows me better than my own kids!

Thanks, guys.   Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks!


And what’s up with Google today?

Son sent me a text this morning and said “Check out Google’s homepage.”     Is it their birthday too?



September 25, 2011

At least that’s the way I saw the game, through blurry feverish eyes.  ( I found out why I had such an energy drain last week, the one I wrote about a couple posts ago.   101 fever these last two days.   I guess it takes a lot of energy to stoke up a temperature like that. )

Nevertheless, blurry eyes or not, the Bears did fight the Bears today.   They earned lots of penalties giving us a lot of reverse yardage.    And it would be awful nice if the Bears could find their own quarterback — and give him a little protection.    Jay Cutler threw more good passes than bad ones, but the rest of the team seemed to be doing their own thing.   Two different passes actually bounced off of his intended receivers.

 And it didn’t help when the officials joined the other team too and called back a Bears run into the end zone with a flag for an Imaginary Holding.  That’s not just a sore Bears fan talking.  It was called on perhaps # 29, of which the Bears didn’t have that number out on the field.  Or perhaps it was called on # 21,  but every time the camera showed # 21,  he was nowhere near enough any other player to do a “holding.”    Maybe more cameras will magically  find what the ref saw, because the announcers sure didn’t.

So some days are unexpectedly tougher than others,  but we WILL bounce back.    I hated to cancel class for tomorrow, but if I didn’t,  then the next week I’d show up and probably all the rest of you would be “missing.’

So long for a couple days.   Moving these fingers over the keyboard takes a lot of energy.   Got to save it up for . . . .


September 24, 2011

SATURDAY!  And   “This is your life” as the old television show used to begin.   Or at least,  I look at this and see my life.

It’s an empty football field, of course.   Before the game.  Full of expectations and possibilities.    It’s up to me to prepare, to make the game plan, to put the people in, and to pay attention!   Football is a Full Participation sport — even for the fans!

I wondered if a football field were worthy to be compared to something so precious as our life spans.   My wonderings were mixed up together with my current rereading of the life of St. Francis Borgia.

He was the cream of the crop of young Spanish knighthood.   He was self-disciplined and worked hard to achieve excellence in many of the skills that were expected of him.   He participated in the life around him (as far as his devotion to Our Lord would allow), and he used his keen intellect to draw lessons from the various activities of state, of courtly life, and sports.  His writings are full of wise and helpful advice that begins with observations from the world around him, a world which he soon turned his back on.  Much of his advice weighs heavily on my shoulders, probably because I need it.

But St. Francis is right:   If we live in the spirit, as St. Paul says, then we should always be drawing upon the Spirit, as St. Thomas Aquinas says.   It’s important to keep referring to spiritual things.

So, by the example of St. Francis de Borgia,  I can  look at an empty game field and look for meaning.    I had another chance to think about that today.   At first I was disappointed that the football game I wanted to see today wasn’t on television.   Instead I had to look at this:

It started out with an empty field.   But as the game progressed,   the Internet program put in little cartoon football figures, in the appropriate team colors — you can see them down at the far end zone —  and moved them around as the plays were made.   The lines for the downs were drawn.  Other lines showing the length of a pass or a drive appeared, and play-by-play statistics were shown.  It was really quite good!

It was like the football game was being created as I watched.

I think I can look at an empty football field and know that a  game is going to be played, and, if it’s more than a football game,  I’ve got some responsibility as the game unfolds.

“Football is so worthwhile.”



September 23, 2011

Really tired off and on today.

I mean to be efficient and   do the things I should,  but if it’s not “scheduled” and I don’t have to be somewhere at sometime,  in the in-between times,  there’s a huge energy drain.

Had a nice class this morning;   came home and…what…did I sleep?    Had a really nice visit this evening, said good-bye, and now I feel like the kitten in the picture.   I even have an open book nearby.

I know fatigue is common to us all from time to time.    Common  — it just doesn’t feel right.   I suppose it’s a reminder that this is just a temporary body, and this is just our temporary home.

It’s Friday.   Thanks be to God, that because of Friday   ths is our temproary condition.    He experienced our weakness, and He understands us.    He knew all kinds of weakness, tiredness, and faitgue, and at the end, He had bone-crushing, physical exhaustion.

On this day  we contemplate His Passion.    I haven’t had such extreme exhaustion as His, but maybe this  immense tiredness I feel can help me imagine. . . . My offeringto Him  for this Friday.


September 22, 2011

And one of my little peeps had a bad one.

I almost thought I had seen a leaf flutter to the deck and then rise partway up again in a breeze before falling down again —  but, no,  I couldn’t deny it   It must have been a bird.

So,  looking down from (my) eye level, there he is on the deck,  recovering from a collision with my sliding glass doors.

I felt sorry, responsible somehow.  I try to keep my windows dirty and unclean,  (Ha!)  but I know that collisions happen, and this seemed to be a big one.   A collision with injuries.

During the next hour, I kept checking back every once in a while:

Just checking back and trying not to think too much about it, but thinking about “collisions” in  general.    Objects can collide.   We drive “defensively,”  for instance,  so we can avoid one.    In the world of ideas,  ideologies collide.   Political goals collide.    Religious myths collide.   Wills collide.

It’s common for things of differing characteristics to meet up with each other.  Sometimes learning ensues.    Sometimes there’s a confrontation.    But if we’re not careful or not wise, the confrontation can lead to a collision.

It’s important to pay attention because in most collisions,  something, someone gets hurt.

Just ask one of my little peeps.

Oh, the little guy finally picked his head up and hopped a few inches away.

Since we had just heard last Sunday that Our Good God, Present Everywhere,  keeps his eye on the sparrow, and values it,  I thought of commending this little finch’s recovery to the aid of St. Francis.  It was the least I could do.   But before I could think that through,  I heard a funny, croaky “peep!”  and the goldfinch had flown away.

“Birdbrains”  aren’t always so lucky.


September 20, 2011

For my military friends out there, this is a sit rep  (with a sat map)

For my non-military friends,  “Where do YOU live?”

If any of us live anywhere under the curved lines, then we may have a surprise at the end of this week.

On the other hand, most of the time when these things happen,  they surprise only the sharks and the whales.   And one time it was the Inuit who were surprised…in the Yukon Territory.    Not many news reporters traveled up there to ask “how they felt” about it.

Well,  “it” is the situation we have at hand this week.     A few years ago,  “we”  sent a big satellite into our Upper Atmosphere to collect data and do some research.    But sooner than we expected,  its orbit began degrading,  and the whole satellite is on its way to the earth’s surface.

Terminal velocity.

Somewhere under those curved lines.     When asked exactly where it will impact,  NASA’s answer is “We’re really never confident.”

But they will give us, oh, two hours’ warning.




September 19, 2011
Don’t sneeze!  — 

 It’s  “yellow flowers”  (taxonomy disregarded),  for sure,  and it brought back fond memories of childhood.    We played in acres and acres of this stuff on the edge of the Illinois prairie.     It was six to eight feet tall,  growing thickly up and down huge mounds of dirt left there by abandoned construction projects. We cut narrow interconnecting pathways through the stiff “yellow flowers”  and waged “war” or “fought the Indians”  or chased the bad guys, or just played hide and go seek.

And then, when it got dark,  we returned to our homes,  to sprinkle billions of pollen speckles on our parents.   My poor father!  Five minutes after I entered the house,  his face swelled up into an unrecognizable mask and he dove for the one and only room in our house that was air-conditioned.

I wasn’t going to write about “yellow flowers.”   I want to tell you about a Sunday afternoon walk in the Spruce Tunnel this past weekend.   I left church with a lingering sense of quiet awe.  Everyone there also  seemed to be at peace, with an underlying sense  of gratitude for what we had just taken part in….an almost two thousand year old rite that  allows us to fully enter that One Sacrifice of Our Lord.     There was holiness there, reverence in us, spiritual restoration.   I didn’t want to end it just yet….so I stopped off at the Spruce Tunnel on my way home.

I started down the pathway that led to the Tunnel.   This time the walkway was littered with signs of early Fall.   Old twigs that had finally let go of their trees;   many yellow leaves, the early-turners,  the first colors we often see when the amount of daylight lessens each year.    That made me thoughtful.

 Actually, all the foliage showed signs of “late maturity.”    (Is that like me?   Not old age yet, but…..)   I thought of seasons, cycles, life spans, living on an Earth which has been doing this longer than I’ve been around;  and it will go on without me, long after I’m no longer around.   ( Sure am glad I had just come from church!!)

I walked further along and came to the “yellow flower”  (strong, pungent, “allergy” smell)  area:

“Yellow flower”   matures  when the year “matures.”    After things reach their peak, then they start the ending of their lives, of course,  but it can be beautiful like the (yellow flower)   plants.   (Apologies to Dad who still sneezes because of them.)    I’m still in a dreamy, thoughtful state of mind;  yeah,  I’m maturing, but  there’s life in me yet!  It’s good.      Maybe some of you know what I mean.

But then I turned a corner and came up to this:This is Hubbie’s bench,   He and I were here about a year ago.     Fall had just begun, and I didn’t know what was coming.    He said he “felt better” when he moved around a bit, short walks, and I encouraged him to come out to the Spruce Tunnel with me, just for a “short walk,”  a slow walk.   And he made it as far as this bench.    I took a photo of him, and he caught his breath there  as I danced around, taking other photographs….

I stopped there for a moment at the empty bench.  “Talked to him,”  of course.   Prayed much for his soul.    And got even more deeply thoughtful.

Let’s get “analytical” here.   Intellectualize the experience.    Part of the maturing process is integrating all your experiences….facing, accepting, coming to terms with.      But it had changed the mood, just slightly.

So I continued on, trying to  experience interesting things alone.Hadn’t quite reached the Tunnel yet, but there were plenty of interesting things to catch my attention.    I began to notice things, silly little things.  So many patterns and colors.   I was fascinated with this tree formation:A triple trunk tree.   Very dark wood.

And not fifteen steps later…I guess they like to grow in trunk groupings.   All those five tree trunks come out of the ground as one, and then split out a couple of feet above the ground.  I know so little about trees.   I have a good memory, but an odd mental block when it comes to naming trees.   I kicked around many little green balls that fell from the black walnuts.    Tried to identify the odd grayish hue that the green leaves had taken on.

I was fastening my mind onto trivial things on purpose.    It’s the trivial things that get us through the day sometimes.   It’s good.   It’s paying attention to details.    I kept wondering, though, about Hubbie’s bench.    Is it okay to remember so acutely his presence there?

I walked around another curve in the pathway,another bench, a bench with a little “message;    and I gave myself the answer:It’s another bench that Hubbie used.   But my eyes were just drawn to that branch, just like it had been carefully placed there….    not a bouquet exactly, but a branch at the end of its life-cycle.     It’s just a normal little thing in nature, in the Fall,  but I told myself. . . it’s fitting. . . it’s proper. . . .move on now. . . .

And continuing on,  the pathway took me a half-minute later into the Spruce Tunnel.

The sun was coming through in little “dapples.”      Funny little patches of  light.      I chose to walk alongside the paved  pathway, on the bare ground.  I heard that’s good for you, to walk on the soft dirt.     It’s healthy.    In the Tunnel I could smell all kinds of life, ancient growing things deep down in the earth.    Fresh and rich, the smell of musky brown.     My body was demanding more oxygen than it normally needs, so I was drawing that smell of the forest into me.      I’m alive like it’s alive.

And everyone who comes here is part of this living too.

How fun !!!!    Young people, Scouts, maybe,   just beginning their experience with the Spruce Tunnel;   learning to make a shelter in the forest — the same way shelters have been made by people who lived here long before we did.

We come and we go and the “yellow flower”  shines golden year after year.

(I hope some day the point of this Sunday afternoon blog will overshadow the scientific inaccuracies.   We all face – in common –  the sense of our own life cycle.)

HIS EYE. . .

September 19, 2011

All right.    Two days have gone on without me.    Soon to be three.   I’ll catch up soon

Meanwhile, a little something to think about:

Little birds, like a sparrow.  They seem to be able to find enough food, anywhere.

The Gospel appointed for today brought back memories of that wonderful old spiritual:   “His Eye Is On The Sparrow….. ”   (They used to play that on the radio!)      The little birds do not work or worry, but God has arranged it so that they are fed.    And from the Gospel:  Fear not, you are of more value than the sparrow.

Even when we hop all  around, twittering, not quite knowing what’s going on, not quite understanding the meaning of it all, not comprehending the beautiful magnificence of our existence. . .yet we are valuable to God, and so we exist.

A “few” centuries ago,  St. Augustine commented on today’s Gospel:    “That we live on this earth is His gift, Who gives us what enables us to live.”     (Published in Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers,  Vol. IV,  p.92)



September 16, 2011

While I’m still thinking about Rome,   this issue keeps coming to mind.   As a historian, I understand the process.  As an American, I just…don’t.

(Remember your  Roman history from  high school?)

It took about 200 years after the formation of the Roman Empire for the Romans to forget what a unique and precious identity they had as Romans.     The Empire was made of various religious and ethnic groups, of course,  but the citizens were all Romans, sharing a history, a culture and a language.    Even their borders….you were in the Roman Empire – or you were outside of the Roman Empire.   And the borders were protected.

But the Empire worked only so long as there was an awareness and a bit of pride in being Roman, and only so long as the Romans felt it important to uphold standards of morality and social responsibility.

  No,  they weren’t a perfect, puritan-like, sinless society.   I’m merely talking about shared values which include civic pride,  civic duty, civic responsiblity, and an understanding of natural law by which to rule society in society’s best interest.


What happened within 200 years back then in Rome?   Things went quite well.   They were safe, secure, and relatively prosperous.    But then there were those who wanted to be even stronger, more secure, powerful, and way, way more prosperous – even at the expense of those old-fashioned values.

As the population let go of high moral and civic standards  and as the economy began to falter under the corruption and greed of those officials who promised everything and those who elected those officials who promised everything,  the whole internal structure of the Empire began to fail.    The Roman sense of officium  became associated with the word “officials”  that we know about today;   government officials;  bureaucrats.

So where do you go for more help?  for more money?   for more political support?   Surely you don’t want to reform.  Surely you don’t want to return to those old, sterner social values.  No, you go outside the borders and you hire foreign workers,  you employ mercenaries to guard your interests, and you pay foreign leaders to be your friends.

Seems our own newspapers are repeating Roman history.  From recent newspaper articles:     The Germans have a military base in the United States.   The Danish have a military base in the United States.    The Russians have a base in Tennessee.    Of course, the Chinese are being granted 50 square miles of American soil in Idaho to build their own private city.    And now, this week – Presidential Executive Order #23954:

 By the stroke of this pen the Japanese are now authorized to build a military base in Marysville, Ohio, complete with 2,500 Japanese soldiers,  armored personnel carriers,  tanks,  and armaments…..The base will be, legally, by international law, Japanese soil.     Not American soil.    As with all those other foreign bases within our borders.

Back to the days of Rome:

Foreigners don’t care about being Roman.    Foreigners would rather the Roman Empire not be so strong and powerful.


September 15, 2011

A 4th century party game gone Wrong  ( — I mean, Right)

Coins of Emperor Julian

I was reading the (daily) Martyrology this morning which lists briefly some of those who have died on this date because of their Christian witness.   The word “martyr,” of course comes from the Greek word that means “to witness”  or “to testify.”   Today I came across the name of St. Porphyry.  He lived under the time of St. Julian the Apostate, an emperor of Rome who left his Christian faith and thought maybe he and the Roman Empire could be more powerful with the help of the ancient gods of Rome.

Along the way he developed the cruel, mocking, irreverent humor that we see in today’s most popular “comedians.”

He and Prophyry were putting on a show one day, mocking the Christians, blaspheming God.  In one skit that was meant to be funny,  they went through the motions of ridiculing the sacrament of baptism.   Really funny.

They must have imitated a baptism exactly and it must have been time for the Heavens to turn the tables on them, because something happened inside of Porphyry.  His heart was opened and his mind was illumined by the truth of the holy sacrament:   It really is a holy act which touches deep down into the soul of a man with the power of the Living God.

It was the Truth.   Porphyry witnessed it, and he bore witness of it to Julian the Apostate, who promptly commanded that he be beaten.  Julian probably assumed that at some point Porphyry would say something like – “Just kidding,  I was just taking the joke too far. “

But he couldn’t, and he didn’t.  Porphyry was granted the grace of being an eyewitness to the truth of baptism and of the God Who Saves.  The beating didn’t stop until he lost his earthly life that day and gained his eternal life.

I’d love to know more about his story.   What I want is a good eyewitness to Porphyry and Julian

St. Porphyry is just one of many stories of martyrdom throughout the centuries, and continuing and probably accelerating in number today.   They are all giving witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

How much more, then, should I be asking for a “good eyewitness” to Him!   How much more should I want to know and understand Jesus, when He lived here on earth!    I have the Gospels, I have the whole Bible, I have the traditions and teachings of the Faith…and I do indeed have one very good eyewitness who remained close to Jesus and witnessed His whole life here and who felt what He felt….as only a mother knows her son.

I know from experience that a son lives in his mother’s heart….he is always there.    I know that Mary is the best eyewitness to Jesus that we have.

And I know that the name of her eyewitness story is:  “The Seven Sorrows of Mary.”   September is the month that we examine  The Seven Sorrows of Mary and September 15 is the day for it on the Liturgical Calendar.      Eyewitness to the Life and  Passion of Christ.   Just so you know.


September 13, 2011

Actually, humor is all around us, just waiting for us to recognize  it.

I was coming out of a parking lot today, just across the street from my favorite gas station:

There was a gasoline tanker there, filling up the big underground tanks.    I had seen one of these tankers on my trip in August, and as I passed it on the road, I had read the company name on the side — and promptly burst out laughing.


The name of the company that transports our gasoline is:   “Crystal Flash”   !

I mean…..I hope not!!


September 12, 2011

So….. this goes with the previous posting:

My-Friend-With-The-Camera also sent a close-up of the Harvest Moon from his back yard.

Staring at the Harvest Moon is a great way to start practicing inacitivity for a few moments.

We’ve all got one tonight!    I love September!


September 12, 2011

Northern beauty from My Friend With The Camera —

 This scene is far away from the Spruce Tunnel, way, way up north where my Friend-With-The-Camera lives.  It was probably taken from his back deck – and that means he can sit and stare at this scene anytime of day or night, in any season, just by walking out his back door.

Looks like he caught the Harvest Moon hanging over Lake Huron.

I stopped to pause and think about this photo that I just received via email tonight.   I paused with it because of something Son said to me this weekend.    We were having a phone conversation, wandering around many subjects, probably talking about what we “accomplished” in the past few days and how people – we – are always trying to accomplish something.   Keep busy.   Get things done.  Be active.

Sometimes my days seem like all I’m doing is checking off a giant To-Do list.

Son very wisely asked, Why?   Why is staying  busy and  accomplishing things a measure of how well our day went?   Why do we look for the quality of our life from among the things we do, and how quickly and efficiently we have done things?

We talked a bit about the joy of just sitting.   Or taking a nap in the middle of the day.   Just drinking a cup of tea (coffee/ice water) and doing nothing else while we’re drinking it.

Funny how if you do things like  that once in a while, after a few minutes, if you pay attention,  you can sometimes feel gratitude bubbling up just beneath the surface.     If you can stop and “be” for a while, then things are all right for the moment.

We are human beings, not human doings.

I knew that.

Thanks, My-Friend-, for that beautiful picture and Son for the good thought.


September 11, 2011

This new insight has been rattling around in my head all day today:

Here’s a Sunday School picture of today’s Reading….  I usually like more realistic  pictures, but this one has some additional elements that I was thinking about.    The Gospel Reading concerned the Ten Lepers whom Jesus healed, and the return of the Samaritan, back to Jesus, to give him thanks and praise.

The lessons are familiar to us:  We teach children about gratitude from this story;   we learn about obedience to the things Jesus tells us to do and we learn about the meaning of faith in what Jesus can do.

But in today’s sermon I heard this thought:   The Ten men were told to “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  Then, after that , as they went on their way in obedience, they were healed.    I don’t know;  if I had a terrible, fatal, disfiguring disease and I found myself cured,  I’d feel pretty happy and grateful.   Like the picture shows those men in the background.

Gratitude isn’t the only lesson to learn here.

The priests were a part of the culture of those days, and  familiar  to those ten men in their everyday lives.    There were certain protocols to follow if you think you might be cured of leprosy.  The priests would inspect carefully and then declare you cured,  or not.   And if cured, then there were certain rituals and sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.

And then with a whole lot of happiness and possibly life-long gratitude, the ten men could continue on with their lives, just as they had expected to before they had gotten sick.

But the one man didn’t do that.     Before he got to the priests in the Temple, he reversed himself and went back toward Jesus.   It’s this reversal that reoriented his whole life towards Jesus.

Did he realize that the other priests could only confirm his cure, but that Jesus was the One High Priest of God who had the power to not only affirm the cure but to also produce the cure?    Did he realize that his thanksgiving to God could be given to the Son of God standing before him?

What he perceived, however veiled was his understanding,  is that Jesus is the Source of our Light and Life and of our health and safety, body and soul.     All praise and glory and thanksgiving to our High Priest from Heaven.    This grateful ex-leper perceived that it’s a Whole New Day with the Son of God present among us.

If this tenth man had gone on to the other priests to offer his thanksgiving,   he would have been choosing  life as usual.    Instead, he chose to orient himself anew toward Jesus, Son of God, our Redeemer.

The thought rattling around in my head?    Every moment of every day I should be orienting myself toward Jesus, returning to Him, choosing to make Him my center,  as this man did;  otherwise it will be a whole, dreary, ordinary “life as usual.”



September 10, 2011

Time is so precious.     Time is too precious to leave it to someone like me to lay down important activities haphazardly in each day.   I know there are many guides and self-help books to help organize each day so important things aren’t missed, but for me,  I choose to lay myself down squarely in the middle of historic Christendom,  where, through the centuries, useful and important traditions have developed.

Like this one, today, on Saturdays.

Lovely, beautiful, joyous Rose.    Roses of many colors, but always, when we take the time to look closely, there is a stab of startling appreciation deep in us, like a tiny thrill of joy for the beauty of it.

The centuries-old tradition for Saturday is to be aware of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, most particularly as she and the Apostles and disciples experienced the deep sorrow of the Crucifixion.   Sorrow and grief and loss for a real event that occurred.    There is no doubt that Jesus was really dead and gone, and for them, on  into the day following the Crucifixion,  He is still gone.

Was there hope in her heart that the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, 33 years before in the Temple, would  come true and this would all mean something important and marvelous in the End?   Was their faith in all their hearts that the strange sayings of Jesus could actually point to a reappearance?     “No sign will be given to you except the Sign of Jonas.”    “In three days I will raise this Temple up again….”     “I leave the world and I go to the Father.”    “Behold, I go to prepare a place for you…”    

Hope and Faith can bring beauty and joy into the worst of circumstances.

Hope and Faith are virtues that Mary, the Mother, had, and her severe sorrow cannot erase the beauty of the graces with which God filled her.    The Angel who had come to her hadn’t called her by the name “Mary.”   He had called her by her heaven-known name:   “Full-of-Grace.”    (Luke 1:28;   modern English does not treat the original Greek very well.)

Full of Grace, gracious and beautiful with the reflected Beauty given to her from God, a soul made pure by her own Son, her Savior.     Very fitting that a rose, a breathtakingly beautiful flower,  should be her symbol and lift up our hearts to our Creator.

Those of you in Friday’s class will recognize that particular pink rose.   And how are you doing with your “rose practice” ?

Happy meditating while your pencil is working!!



September 9, 2011


These hit me in the face this morning…just about before I fully woke up.   I was reaching into the refrigerator for some orange juice, opened the freezer door instead,  and I was confronted with five vertical feet of fluffy sparkling white palm fronds!

(We have a side-by-side;  it’s easy to mistake the doors in the early morning.)

No packages of frozen meat, frozen vegetables, frozen anything.   The entire opening was covered with a layer of these hairy, frosty branches.    It was creepy and beautiful all at once.

And I did wake up.

Slowly an explanation formed in my mind.   It was all frost.    I must have left the freezer door partly open last night, and all night long the big spiky branches of crystalline frost were forming.   As domestic “surprises” go,  this one is a pretty minor one.  No damage to repair, just a little wiping down with a warm cloth.  I wish I had had the presence of mind to take an actual photo first, but at that point I hadn’t quite reached a state of “imperturbability,”   that detached, objective state of mind that I wrote about a few postings ago.

It seems that as soon as you think of a quality that you lack and one that is possible for you to cultivate,   the Good Lord sends you opportunities to practice it.

As this summer winds down, and the Category called “Summer Silliness’  will go unused until next  year,  it’s good to enter the next season by taking stock, taking inventory of where you’ve come from, how you’ve progressed, what you’ve learned.

And I’ll get  to test my new goal of imperturbability  tomorrow – during the Football game.    (heh)


September 8, 2011

Succeeding generations, even up to this day,  highly exalt this woman and sing her praises.    She was known by everyone in her time for her extraordinary, breathtaking beauty, and also for her goodness.    She walked humbly before the One God-Most-High, and she did all things well,  with kindness, with skill, and with solicitude for her people.

This is Esther, who  became Queen to the  All-Powerful King of Kings and she was beloved and highly-favored by  this King.  When her people came under vicious attack and a ruling went forth from all the highest authorities of the realm  to annihilate every Jew,  Esther,  moved with compassion and pity for her own people,  dared to come unbidden into the court of the King, her husband, thereby risking her own life, for this was a great breach of courtesy against the King according to the custom of the Court.

However, the King granted audience to his own well-loved Queen, and Esther interceded for her people with boldness and wisdom and understanding.   She imparted to the King a thorough knowledge of the situation, and the King was moved by her love and pity for her own people.

A royal decree cannot ever be rescinded.   It is what it is, and it stands.   On that certain terrible day, the orders would be carried out to kill every man, woman, and child of God’s own Chosen People.  But the King also took action to destroy the Enemy of the Jews and to provide a way for them to save their lives – if they fought back.

Thus, through the intercession of Esther, the Queen of the Greatest Kingdom on Earth, the people of God were saved.

This event is remembered every year in the joyous celebration of Purim, in the Spring,  in which  the enemies of God’s people are put down with insults and ridicule, the King is remembered with gratitude, and Esther is highly honored and praised.

Why this particular Bible story today, Sept. 8?    Because Esther is a foreshadow of the Woman who was to come, the Woman promised to us way back in Genesis 3:15,  the Woman through whom God would come into our world, taking on human nature, human flesh, through her.

This is the day chosen for the birthday of the Mary, Mother who bore Jesus.   Another Esther, and a  greater than Esther.

Remember and honor Esther, through whose intercession her people were saved.   Think on her beauty, her humility, her obedience, her faithfulness, her compassion, her love, her willingness to sacrifice her own life on behalf of her people — and then remember, a “foreshadowing”  is always lesser than that which is foreshadowed.

Thousands of prayers, poems, hymns, and writings and paintings have been produced in the last 20 centuries to attempt to understand the beauty of the Woman who said Yes to God.

For my Lutheran friends, here are just a few of the words of Martin Luther concerning Mary:

No woman is like you. You are more than Eve or Sarah, blessed above all nobility, wisdom, and sanctity. (Sermon, Feast of the Visitation, 1537).

[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures. (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521).

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees . . . If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother. (Sermon, Christmas, 1529).




September 7, 2011

It’s still standing!

It’s the pane on the right, but  you can hardly tell.       I said last time that I wasn’t going to draw any lessons from this little window event, but I knew that wouldn’t last.

See, it’s a double-pane window.   The outside is shattered into a thousand little pieces, like this:

The “assault” came from the outside and it affected, shattered, wounded,  harmed the outside of the pane.   When I stand inside the house and look out through the window, then this is all I can see.

But the whole window is still standing, because the inside layer is untouched by what the outside world did.     The exterior is battered but the interior is sound.    This has been on my mind, turning round and round, because of the saint that Christendom presents us with today, for our consideration and edification.   If we so choose.

St. Lawrence Justinian, known to himself as Lorenzo Guistiniani.      It is he who kept the whole state of Venice within good Christian influence in the early 16th century and is probably responsible for laying the foundation for the strong faith that helped defeat the enemy at Lepanto a few decades later, an important victory we’ll all revisit in a few weeks.

From his youth he sought Goodness and he sought Wisdom, and nearly despaired of finding it anywhere in the world.   Here are his stunning words* –

“Come, all you who are drawn by the desire of Unchangeable Good, and who seek It in vain in this passing world.  I will tell you what heaven has done for me:    Like you,  I once sought with feverish eagerness;  and this exterior world could not satisfy my burning desire.  But, by the Divine Grace, which fed my anguish, at length, She, whose name I then knew not, appeared to me, more beautiful than the sun, sweeter than balm.

As She appeared, how gentle was her countenance, how peace-inspiring her voice, saying to me:  O thou, whose youth is all full of the love wherewith I inspire thee, why dost thou thus pour out thy heart?  The Peace thou seekest by so many different ways is with Me;  thy desire shall be amply fulfilled, I promise thee, if only thou wilt take Me for thy Bride. . . .

. . . As I wished to know her name, her dignity, her origin, She told me She was called the Wisdom of God; and that at first invisible in the bosom of the Father, She had taken of a mother a visible nature, in order to be more easily loved…..

Through Her, the peace I once sought is now the cause of my joy.   Hear, then, all of you;  go to Her in like manner;  for She makes it her happiness to reject no one.”

If that doesn’t send you to the Book of Wisdom,  I don’t know what will!    In Wisdom, of the Bible, we read further that Wisdom delighted to play among us humans on earth – Wisdom delights in us! –  and then, she “took of a mother”  and at  midnight came down to Earth to live among us — and to make it more easy for us to love Her – in the person of Our Lord Jesus.    And there, in this wonderful book, it says that the man who rises up early in the morning to go out and seek Wisdom, will find that She is already on his  porch, waiting for him.

And we, who search for Her, the Wisdom of God,  God as Wisdom,  find Her by going “out” deep into our interior lives, where She waits for us with Peace and Joy, as St.  Lawrence Justinian discovered.

It’s the Interior life that brings Peace –  That’s imperturbability when you’re stressed, battle-scarred, and wounded…    Like my window.    Like me and my window.

*  The words of St. Lawrence Justinian are taken from Gueranger’s Liturgical Year,  Book V,  volume 14, p.139.


September 5, 2011

It’s going to be all right.

I had just gotten off the phone with Son.   We had both decided this was going to be a better week than last week.  At least for me, much better.   No scary dental procedures.   No scary appointments with attorneys and financial advisers.     Just a few normal challenges this week.

I went over to the rocking chair in the front room by the window to sit down and call my Dad in Florida.   He’s  in a hospital right now, and I like to check up on him frequently.      I looked through the curtains….I tried to look through the curtains. . .

I couldn’t see through my lace curtains!    Instead there was this “pretty” pattern in the glass window.     3 feet wide by 6 feet tall.    It took my breath away.     I’ve lived here for….well, for decades…..and that window has always been there for me.      After last week, I didn’t need any more “surprises.”

But it’s surprisingly “all right.”      You see,  I did it.    I was mowing the lawn this afternoon.  I know enough  not to let the grass come blowing out towards a house or car or anything that could be injured;  but I was going around a tree, in a circle.   And something rushed out from under the lawn mower faster than my eye could see.   I heard it hit the house, but after a brief inspection,  I saw nothing.

Until this evening,  as I went over to the rocking chair, ready to turn the light on,  to make that call to my Dad.

The entire window has fractured into thousands of tiny portions.     It’s really an interesting pattern,  but it keeps making tiny little crackling sounds, like delicate popcorn popping in the distance.   The temperature is supposed to get down to 48 degrees tonight.   I wonder what that will do to the little fractures.   I ought to be okay, though, because that’s a double-pane window.    But I’m going to be walking softly for a while.   No thumping.

I’ll make that call to my Dad tonight.   And then make another call to the glass company tomorrow.

I don’t have any “lessons” to draw from this.    No analogies.   Just an interesting little challenge.



September 2, 2011

It’s this.   It’s the ball  . . .

Same ball, same game.    A little “odd”  that only half of this household watched the game tonight.

Can a person be an audience of one?     Can a person watch the game without sharing the great plays?   the long  passes?   the missed passes?   the fumbles?   the interceptions?   the points scored?   the punts blocked?  the yards gained?   the ‘bad’ ref calls?   the personal stories of the players?

Can I contain a whole football game within me?     Do I like the game that much?   What do I like and what do I do and who am I?

Hubbie missed the game.   I’m feeling a little odd tonight.

I hesitate to post these thoughts tonight.   But then again, every reader will be asking these questions some day.   It might not be about football, but it will be about anything you like to do, you, yourself alone.    What is so important that you would make it a part of your life, even if there were no one around  to share it with?