Archive for January 2013

ICY CREAMY WINTRY GOODY

January 31, 2013

What else?   Ice Cream!

SAMSUNGThat’s my Christmas present this year – an electric ice cream maker!       Thanks, Son!

So easy to use.    Just five simple ingredients:   organic milk,  thick organic cream,  non-GMO cane sugar, natural vanilla extract from Mexican vanilla beans,  and a pinch of Himalayan salt.    (That makes it Health Food!)

SAMSUNG

You mix all the ingredients together,  chill them for a while,  turn the machine On,  pour the mixture  into the chilled ice cream maker,  and….just wait.   Then it comes out nice and solid like this.
The hardest part is to get the ice cream out of there.

SAMSUNG

Everything sticks to everything,  everything gets covered with ice cream.   And it’s hard and stiff.    Somehow I managed to get the ice cream all over my cabinets, my floor,  the sink, a kitchen chair,  several towels,  my skirt, my shoes….

But some of the cleaning up was fun –  What would you do with a paddle like this?

SAMSUNG

Yeah- straight up,  into your mouth!

I’m going to have to do this again soon.   I’m practicing, you know.     Found out Cooper enjoyed his first ice cream cone at Grandma’s house!

SAMSUNG

There’ll be more…..

Advertisements

UP A GREEK MOUNTAIN (again)

January 30, 2013

 

SAMSUNG

 That’s Greek Mountain Tea, simmering in the pot.  I’ve written about it before when it was new to me.    It gets simmered, then cooled, then covered and slightly simmered again to bring out all its delicate flavors.

If I’m not doing it right, and if you’re a little old Greek lady or a little old Greek man living on top of a little Greek mountain,  you’re welcome to instruct me in the proper method of brewing this tea.  But for now, so far,  this seems to work.

SAMSUNG  It usually makes a light amber liquid which smells like a meadow of flowers and light grasses.   The taste is both subtle and full,  with a hint of natural sweetness, as though the bees left some honey behind.

You need a certain amount of unrushed time to drink this tea, and you need to have a quiet space to experience its goodness.   It’s that special!

Son came over for a visit last night, a visit to give his Mom some time before his flight out to the California mountains.    He had had a busy, successful day of last minute errands with many surprises to his advantage.   It was fun – and energizing – to hear about his day.

And then I made the tea.   And we relaxed and talked some more,  and as we sipped, the enjoyment seeped in, and our thoughts turned to simple pleasures and an unspoken sense of gratitude, for all was well.

 

 

 

 

I’ve made soup and ice cream and orange cookies.

11-6-13 WHO WON?

January 30, 2013

 I think this man won: 

hrushchev shoe

 

I was there….I mean I watched this on the television news shortly after Premier Khrushchev took off his shoe at the UN and pounded it on the podium.   EVERYone was talking about it!   I was a girl, not quite what they were starting to call “teenager”  (a term meant to divide families into opposing and competing demographic groups)   but I was well aware of what this man was telling us.

And we didn’t believe him.  

1.   The Soviet Union was an atheist nation;  America was a nation of Christian values.

2.  The State ruled over Soviet Russia;   in America we had a constitution which said that every American citizen was equal before the law….(and for those of you who have been taught to disagree,  we changed bad laws that didn’t conform to the US constitution.)     Our constitution guaranteed our liberty.

3.   The Soviets were a demoralized nation;  crime and black markets were rampant.   America was largely a moral nation;  nearly everyone was law-abiding and worked hard to get ahead in life.   Our  entertainment reflected our common moral values.

4.   The Soviet socialists had crushed Russia’s economy by their control-from-the-top.   America had a regulated but free market, and our economy was growing.

5.  The Soviet education system was inferior to ours;  American students consistently scored highest among all industrial nations.    Highest.  Number One.

So we didn’t believe him when he took off his shoe, pounded the podium, and said this:

Khrushchev words

And we didn’t notice as the socialists systematically, quietly, and effectively destroyed our nation.   A nation cannot have a strong economy without moral integrity, practiced in common, in public, and upheld by laws and a trustworthy judicial system.

We can observe that the public culture here in our country no longer reflects the moral and ethical standards still held my many Americans.     Who took over our entertainment and information media?   Who fed us a steady and shocking diet of immoral movies, books, and music?    Our health, infant mortality rates, our moral behavior, our work ethics, our educational achievements have all plummeted within a few short decades.

Not my opinion.  You can observe too.   you can check the statistics.

We no longer can even tell what’s happening to us.

These photos came from an email that’s being passed around and was finally forwarded to  me   Ironically, the words on the email illustrate our fallen standards:   The name Khrushchev was spelled a few different ways,  none of them correctly.  I can hear a  (socialist-inspired) teacher say,  “”Spelling?  What does it matter?”     I know;  I was a young teacher in a government school when we were told that spelling and grammar no longer matter.    To my astonishment,  the older teachers rolled over and obeyed.

Yeah, this is Tuesday,  the day of the week that I like to remember the socialist election of 11-6-13.

Anyone still fighting back?

(SEPTUAGESIMA) THE MOST AND THE MANY

January 29, 2013

When you follow the LIturgical Calendar of the past almost 2,000 years, you get to live through the drama of the Life of Christ.   You get to participate with all your five senses, and each day has a plan and a purpose and is leading somewhere.

purple

So this week we enter a new section of the Calendar, and now the color is Purple.   It’s the color of sadness, among other things.   Sadness and seriousness,  and sad because you become  serious about things.

This time of the year starts out with three Sundays that begin our gentle slide into Lent.  With reference to their distance from Easter, the Sundays are called Septuagesima,  Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.   Although they are not really 70, 60, and 50 days before Easter,  they are named so in honor of the First Sunday in Lent, which is about 40 days from Easter.

Each of these Sundays and their six days following bring to our memories three men who are associated with the first three Ages, or Epochs, of human history.   No, don’t put a “date” on these epochs.  It’s the human experience that is important.   This week the man whose epoch we consider is Adam.   The First Age of humans.

The Straight and Narrow:

Narrow way bl wh

The story of Adam (and Eve) instructs us in the reality that from our very first beginnings, although we were meant for Paradise, instead, we just didn’t maintain our paradisiacal Communion with our Creator, we would rather be our own gods.   “Ye shall be as gods,”  we were told –  and we listened to that seductive voice.

Our first parents, in our names, in our stead,  lost it all, lost all graces, and since they could not pass on to their offspring what they no longer had,  every subsequent human being was born “graceless.”

And not many seem to want to get back in God’s “good graces.”

The Broad Path away from God

narrow way not

So our Readings on this past Sunday,  this Septuagesima Sunday,  both end like this:   “But with most of them,  God was NOT well pleased.”   And the Gospel:   “For many are called but few are chosen.”

Human beings.   God is not well-pleased with most of them.   God wants them all, but few can be chosen, not many.

purple sq  The color purple sets us thinking.

A WARM WEEKEND WITHDRAWAL

January 27, 2013

(Just look at the pictures.)

About that word “WARM” in the title of this post, it was pretty cold outside, but I knew  how to build a warm fire inside:

SAMSUNG

Gather some newspapers….it was sad, but….and put them in the fireplace, and then bring in some kindling….this feels really sad….and then light a rolled-up newspaper and hold its fire towards the back of the fireplace to help get the draft started.

SAMSUNG

And then all the paper flares up really bright white….

And I’m remembering these instructions because Hubbie taught me how to do this….and he loved to have a fire in the fireplace, and I’m thinking I wish he could share this one….He’s the one who gathered the kindling for us.

SAMSUNG

So the draft gets going real well.  See the flames standing up stiff and straight?   The warm air is being pulled up the chimney, pulling the flames upwards too.

I add the big logs,  the ones Hubbie chopped when he was still feeling well.

SAMSUNG

And then it’s a perfect fire.     It’s going well.   And I sit back and feel the warmth, watch the flames, and it’s good, and I have no one to share the experience with, so that’s the reality, and I get on with my thinking, and….things are going pretty well.  Like the fire,  it’s going well.

But it’s good to withdraw sometimes.  “Take stock,” as they say.  See how you’re doing.  This is the first week I’ve used the fireplace in two years.   It’s pleasant.   It’s comforting.   But I didn’t know I’d feel so sad.

So just look at the pictures.   I didn’t know I’d write all  this.  But if you did read the words,  think of friends you know who are doing pretty well, and don’t say anything, but just know sometimes they have things to think about and need to withdraw a little, and it’s all right.   We all do this.

If we’re all friends,  we’ll all understand.

If we’re part of that mystical Communion of Saints,  all related to Christ,  then we’ll have a kind of deep knowing that springs from lovingkindness and patience.   “Weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice….”

One day it will be all rejoicing.

TAP, TAP, TAP, AND TAP

January 25, 2013

ch hand making

Have you ever seen the Sign of the Cross made sloppily?   Made with too much familiarity?   “In the name of the Tap, Tap, Tap, and Tap.”   I read today a beautiful scene about making the Sign of the Cross from a historical event, mid-19th century, about 1858,  in France.   I’ll copy that little portion later here, below.

child making

But right now I want to elevate  the “Tap, Tap, Tap, and Tap” to the level of the actual reality of this gesture which is a  bridge between our everyday lives in this material world and the true reality of our lives in the eternal heavenly realm.

children making

Those who like to debate and argue and present their own points of view seldom have room in their hearts to humbly hear what simple  Christians are saying.  The “Talking Heads” of our day usually have hard and empty hearts.  And willingly so.   They have “hardened”  their own hearts.

 

 

Lengthy discussions do not usually bridge the gap to the reality of a man’s condition. 

st paul at athensSt. Paul, very well-educated, able to debate with the philosophers in the Agora near Mars Hill in Athens,  discovered this same thing:  that obvious knowledge, sound arguments, logical presentations do not often win men to Christ.

He left Athens and moved on to Corinth, where he was able to think about the cold reception he had just received in Athens.  He had an insight, then.   He formulated a plan and it proved to be successful for bringing the reality of Christ’s Redemption to men who are needy in their unredeemed condition.

St. Paul knew Who had made the first “Sign of the Cross”

ch christ on the cross

We find his words in I Corinthians 2:2 –  For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.   “Among you” –  i.e., you guys,  you Corinthians, and everyone else from now on.

ch using He taught the preeminence of the cross of Christ….foundational to the Christian message,  foundational to our Redemption, our Salvation, our relationship with our Crucified Lord   And the followers of Christ then and now physically, visibly have made the sign of the cross on themselves, on each other, on the things around them to affirm that primary Act of Justice, Mercy, and Love for the human race.

 

From the first centuries of Christianity the Sign of the Cross was an affirmation of their faith in Christ.

ch lutheran makingIn the 200s AD,  the 3rd century,  Tertullian bears witness to this common Christian gesture.  He  tells us that Christians made the Sign of the Cross upon rising, as they were dressing, upon entering or leaving their houses, going to the bath, sitting down at table, and in fact before taking any significant action.

 

 

The Sign of the Cross is a statement of faith:

cross sign

Thus, the Sign of the Cross is more than an action. It is a statement of faith in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.  It is followed it by “Amen,” which means, “Yes, it’s true!” I would stake my whole being, my whole life upon Christ who died on the Cross!

So here is the beautiful scene I read in a book * tonight:

(In the presence of the beautiful lady standing before her, ineffably beautiful in snowy-white robe and lovely blue sash) Bernadette is about to cross herself.  She cannot.   Her arm hangs down heavily and lame like an alien burden.  She cannot stir a finger. . . .Her powerlessness to lift her arm seems to have a special reason. 

And, in fact, the lady standing before her in the niche does now raise her hand with  its beautiful, fragile fingers slowly, almost instructively,  and over her entire countenance makes a great, almost gleaming sign of the cross such that Bernadette had never seen a human being make.   And that sign seems to remain floating in the air.  

At the same time the lady’s face grows very serious, and this very seriousness is another wave sent out by that loveliness  which leaves the beholder breathless.   Always hitherto Bernadette, like everybody else, merely tapped forehead and chest carelessly when making the sign of the cross.  

Now she feels a mild power grasping her hand.   As one takes the hand of a child and guides it when one teaches a child how to write, even so that mild power guides Bernadette’s cold  hand to make that great and inexpressibly  noble sign of the cross upon her forehead.

And now the lady nods and smiles again as though a thing both important and very precious has been accomplished. . . .

For the rest of her life,  Bernadette Soubirous was known for making the Sign of the Cross, so sublime and beautiful that it seemed like a great witness to the Infinite Love and Mercy shown to us on that Cross one day, long ago.   And her gesture made many stop and think. . . .

_________________________________

The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, a Jew in 194o,  taking refuge from Hitler’s armies in France

SLOW DOWN FOR JACK FROST

January 23, 2013

 

Wow!

Apocalypse

Even the Earth’s apocalypse can be beautiful!!

My classes have begun a study of the book of the Apocalypse in the Bible, also known as the book of Revelation.    As people have noted,  this is the only book in the Bible that comes with its own blessing,  just for reading it!

But that’s where I had to stop and slow us down a bit.    First,  what does that “blessing”  mean?    And, second,  what does it mean by “read”?    To the second point, for today, the actual words say   “Blessed is he who reads and hears the words of this prophecy.”

speed reading

“Reads and hears” are together for a reason.   With apologies to Evelyn Wood,  words written on a page were not be meant to be speed-read over,  with the hopes that training will help the speed-reader to speed-comprehend.   Hah!

Words on pages (paper, parchment, papyrus, clay, wood, stone…)  were meant to be seen one at a time and translated into “spoken-ness”  which, whether silent or out loud, the spoken-ness would enrich and clarify the meaning with the appropriate associated cadence, emphasis, and “pregnant pauses,”   as we used to say.

Well, at least with the book of Revelation, read it as though you were reading it out loud.   Otherwise,  going too fast,  you will miss so much.

SAMSUNG

That’s the “SLOW DOWN”  part.    Here is the JACK FROST part:   I was running in from the garage yesterday,  (yes, running)  hurrying up with my tasks …  (yes, hurrying)  … when  I glanced down as I passed my front door and noticed this, what you see in the photo above.

Instant delight!   And a little laughing at myself for all the rushing and running I had been doing, nearly missing this delightful reminder of a favorite childhood winter phenomena –  Jack Frost, we used to say,  drawing pictures on the window.

Yes, of course I know about the crystalline structure of ice, and the fractal growth of the crystals along a flat surface….etc.    But  it’s so much more than an explainable scientific phenomena,  it’s truly a work of art, from nature to our intellect, where resides our ability to recognize and find pleasure in beauty.

A beautiful tree?

SAMSUNG

Flowers in a meadow?

SAMSUNG

Something else?

I slowed down to see the pretty things from all angles.  Then I slowed down enough to get the camera and take many photos. And to think about it….whence comes beauty?   whence comes our minds and our hearts?…our intellect?…why does it seem so important?..

.why does it make me smile, inside?…

why does it make me want more? …

 

A SAD POLITICAL NOTE

January 22, 2013
It will soon be “Tuesday” — the day I sometimes remember another Tuesday, November 6, 2012.  

“If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.”   (Proverbs 29:12 KJV)  King Solomon wrote that, a man who had seen “everything”  and has preserved some of his observations for us and for our benefit.

 The events that occurred today in our nation’s capital will probably be a short, boring footnote in someone’s future history book,  if even that.    The dreary details of the demise of a republic are already well known.

 Few will remark on the irony of January 21st being followed by January 22nd.    Not the days; not the numbering; but a gala inauguration followed by the anniversary of the horrors from Roe v Wade.      The King’s court celebrating themselves while thousands of children’s lives are put to an end.

  In my state, two classrooms’ worth of children are put to death every single day.

  Those who are dancing tonight are telling me I have to keep paying for this.

  What comes next?

SASSY TO HIS MOTHER?

January 21, 2013

Occasionally it happens that the  Sunday Gospel Reading for the Church is the same Gospel Reading for the new version of the Church, and so it happened today.    That’s given me an extended amount of time to concentrate on it, from Friday morning’s class to all day today.

The Reading concerns the familiar story of the Wedding at Cana, and the Changing of the Water into Wine at that wedding.

Cana containersSomeone at the wedding brings to the attention of Mary, the Mother of Jesus,  the embarrassing situation that the family has run out of wine for the guests.   Mary goes to her Son and tells Him simply,  “Son, they have no wine.”      There is no suggestion as to how to fix the problem, as is proper for her role as intercessor.

It is Jesus’ response at Cana that brings out the “teacher” in me.

“Woman,  what … to … thee … and  … to … me ?    (A translation of the plain Greek words, without adding any interpretation.)

This strange (to our ears)  question is meant to allow Mary to consider what His help would mean, from now on, to her,  to Him,  and also to their relationship.   A miracle performed in public like this would mean the initiation  of His public ministry,  it would start the ball rolling concerning His public work as Messiah.  He would no longer be the son of a private woman of Nazareth.    Her role would change,  His role would change,  and their relationship would enter a spiritual significance for all of us.

But though He asks His mother to consider the implications of His help, He doesn’t call her “Mother.”   He calls her “Woman.”

Turns out that in calling her  Woman,  He was telling her the answer to His own question.   And,  actually, He was probably confirming her knowledge of the answer.

eve crushing head

Mary now becomes the Woman prophesied to us all at the close of the Eden Paradise.    That subtle, shining, lying Serpent-Thing that had beguiled our first parents would be the continuing poison to our human race,  “biting our heels,”   (Genesis 3:15)  but it would be one day crushed in the head, overcome, defeated by a Woman and her Seed.     As the consent of the first Woman allowed sin and condemnation to enter our world,  so one day the Second Woman, the Second Eve,  would, by her consent,  bring the Victorious Savior  of the human race into this world, ultimately crushing the Enemy’s head (power).

No;    saying “Woman”  wasn’t being sassy or disrespectful.   It was acknowledging her high position, singularly prepared and graced to bring about a Savior into this world.     Jesus would have known.   He was her Creator and her Savior.

 

 

JERUSALEM AND THE NEW JERUSALEM

January 20, 2013

The subtitle of this blog posting should be:  “Separated and Reunited

I didn’t think I was such an emotional person,  but it turns out I can be pretty much overwhelmed by emotions as anyone can be.     Short story:  I came home from class Thursday night – without my cell phone.   There was nothing to do but endure a tense sleepless night, waiting to get up early enough to go back to the classroom,  hopefully locating my phone, then hurrying off to my “early” morning class, five miles away.

Sarek 4  Sarek would be quite disapointed with me.    I acutely felt the loss of my phone:   separation anxiety;  worry;  grief;  fear;  sadness;  uncertainty;  restlessness;   desolation. . . .  All quite illogical, of course.  My phone could be no other place –  but nevertheless, it wasn’t with me.    Sarek would be most disappointed and displeased with me.

The night finally ended, and I got in my car without a shower, without breakfast, without thinking about anything but my phone and “what-if…”?        I expected to walk in the office, ask for the key, and then go searching.

Instead,  like a beautiful angel, the secretary got up from her chair, walked over to me, and before I could say a word, she said, “Is this your phone?”

Sarek would be quite disappointed with me again!    I wasn’t just happy,  I was joyful!   And I rejoiced all the way to my next class, but curiously observing how in one split second the world had turned, and all was very, very good.

Now, our Friday morning class discusses the upcoming Sunday Readings, which just happens to concern the return of the captive Israelites back to their home, Jerusalem.  Although the reality was that the city was in ruins, yet God speaks to them at the end of Isaiah   (chapter 62)  with encouraging words of praise for the glory of the Jerusalem which was soon to be – after it was rebuilt.

New Jerusalem descending

No more “grief.”  No more “mourning.”   No more “City of Desolation”  and ruins and waste.     Instead there are words of brightness and joy and praise and crowns of glory as Jerusalem is rebuilt  — and the relief of a Bridegroom who can now possess His virgin bride with all the fullness of his love.

Of course, we realize that prophetic utterances often have two or more tiers of meanings;  one intended for the immediate audience,  the returning Jews, and another meaning, meant for the end of history, the full realization of the New Jersualem, descending from on High.

And here it is (in an artist’s imagination):

New Jerusalem down ont he ground

As the Israelites of old worked hard with their hands to rebuild the city, the walls around the city, and the new version of the Temple,  we in our day “work” spiritually for the Heavenly “New Jerusalem.”     We are the Living Stones of this City, as St. Peter tells us – living, and alive and growing in holiness so that everything in  us brings glory and praise to the Living God.

And then – we will experience the wholehearterd joy of a Bride being re-united with her Bridegroom, who has been waiting for her since their first days of betrothal and promise.

Lesson learned:   On my part,  there should be much more longing and anticipation of joy, looking for Heaven than looking for my cell phone.     Maybe I can think of that short twelve-hour period of time yesterday, when I went from worried desolation to joy and relief,  as a kind of “practice”   for a whole-hearted life of faith.   “…denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly, and justly, and godly in this world, looking for that Blessed Hope!  and the Coming of the Glory!  of the Great God!   and Our Savior, Jesus Christ!!!   (Titus 2:12,13)

A Christian life lived with joy and enthusiasm!

Sarek would understand.

 

 

 

ORANGE SCONES AND COMPLEXITY

January 17, 2013

Scones – simple, but with a little complexity.    Crispy, but soft inside.   Buttery,  but light.   Full of flavor, but mild.   A little tricky, but easy.    (There’s a purpose to this litany.)

SAMSUNG

I had stopped over to bring some objects that Son had left here when he came over for a brief visit.   He had told me that his next day at work would be very, very, very busy;  a real challenge.

He’s a pharmacist, and people have been told to “rush to your nearest pharmacy and get a flu shot.”       “Do not pass Go.    Do not think.  Do not read the package insert.   Go directly to Jail,”  as the classic game Monopoly tells you when you draw the unfortunate card.

So that’s what people did and Son and all his techs were running around, looking shell-shocked, stunned,  frantically trying to keep up with an overload of customers.    I “tip-toed”  back out to my car and came home to make some Comfort Food  to bring in later, at closing time, for the employees.   Which is what made me think of making scones.

Scones don’t have “too many ingredients,” really,  but you do have to handle them with care.    When you’re done with the mixing and the forming,  they must rest a little while:

SAMSUNGNot doing anything.  Not looking pretty.   Just being there, resting.    They are what they are now;  too late to change their batter,  too early to begin criticism.

You can tap your foot with impatience,  but there’s nothing to do until some time passes.

I was thinking of Son as these were being made.      He – and we –  and most of us, I think –  live under the pressure of production and activity and complex issues all around us.   Everything is overly complex.   Too many points to consider.    Too many ingredients in our lives.

I thought about Son and his pharmacy tonight at class too.    We began the study of the book of Revelation tonight.  I had no  more introductions for them, no more preliminaries, no more delays  –   Nope.   I took them straight to… the book of Daniel!  Daniel 12:4, to be exact.    “And many shall run to and fro, knowledge (information)  shall increase….”      That’s what the world will be like at the Time of the End:    People running around all over, speeds faster than living creatures,  and information overload.

Complexities.

But in the natural order of things,  those scones finally got baked.

SAMSUNG Nice and crisp and golden orange.    I was no longer in a hurry to get back to the pharmacy.   The neat little complexities of the scones,   crispy and soft,  buttery and light,  flavorful and mild had slowed me down.      Just for a brief moment, I enjoyed the smell and the texture and the taste. . . .

I delivered them to Son and his employees.

I don’t know yet  if they liked them.   They didn’t have time to slow down and eat them.    They would be working way past closing time.  But that was okay.

Balancing personal time and working time is like balancing human speed with technological speed.   It gets a little complex.

“And many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”

THE CHILDREN MUST LIKE HIM

January 16, 2013

I kept getting asked today,  “What do you think of the announcement….?”     I didn’t want to think anything about it at all,  but, well, here’s my answer:

Socialist and Child

Every single Global Socialist Dictator has surrounded himself with children.     Historically speaking.   And then the Dictators  DO THINGS  to the parents and TAKE THINGS AWAY from them.

I didn’t see the Year  2013 version of this poster on television today, but I hear it happened.

 

TIME OUT FOR A THANK YOU

January 16, 2013

The modern world.      Sheeeesh.     Things are quieting down now this evening….

SAMSUNGWell, you can’t see much of my deck at night,  just the “perimeter lights” along the railing  that aren’t buried in the snow.   But it’s restful to be out there in the dark, the quiet,  the fresh air, once I got rid of the stress of the day.

Because:    I’ve been in Password Hell all day today!     Today was my day to change into the new email program that my Internet provider is insisting on;    and to redeem my “rewards”  from various shopping Websites;  and to install little programs I’ve been  planning;   and pay bills,  and ALL the other things that require you to find bits and pieces of information, like User Name and old, old passwords used only once,  long ago.

What I thought would take a half hour or so took me nearly six hours of increasingly tense frustration.   (I’m usually not like that –  but I think if you use a computer,  you’d probably know what I mean.)

And then I remembered something:

Yes.   No,  I know;  I should have “looked upward”  and said a little prayer, reminding me to be truly grateful for all the good things in my life…..etc., etc.    That helps.    That always puts things in perspective.    But this is a “grace”  too:

SAMSUNGA grace!      A gift!    Those of you who know me will see my name on that bottle!   Literally!    It really was a gift from a dear friend, and I thank her for it, and I had no idea my name is a wine label –  from Lombardy, no less!    Thank you, my friend, for finding it.

Truly, today,  that bottle “had my name written on it” !

It’s so rare for me to take a drink….but it’s a gift, you know.  And St. Paul told his frazzled young helper, Timothy,  to “take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake.”

Or, as we’d say today,   for your “heart.”

Or for stress.

So I took St. Paul’s advice – and mine –

SAMSUNG

Cozied up with a soft chair, a winter shawl, a stack of books, and a little glass.

That’s so not like me.   But it sure felt good.

Again,  thank you, my friend.   I couldn’t have done it without you.

TO ACQUIESCE OR NOT TO ACQUIESCE

January 14, 2013

With a “pardon me” to Wm. Shakespeare,  I propose that if we do not understand the full meaning of the word acquiescence,  we won’t know what hit us, and Mr. Shakespeare’s phrase, To be or not to be, will become rather more appropriate for us, then,  who have not considered the implications of acquiescence.

To acquiesce:    to accept without protest;   to give in without a fight

I thought of this word today when I saw some photos of approximately a million people who were not acquiescing this weekend.

one mil ground levelThey left their homes, came out in the freezing cold, and protested a proposal that their Rulers are going to make the Law of the Land.    Their Rulers want to change the meaning of marriage, and these family-loving French people know what harm that will do to their society.

It’s possible their protests will come to nothing because when Rulers don’t meet resistance from their subjects, they tend to become dictatorial.    A Ruler will increase his authority in proportion to the acquiescence of the people, and  people around the world have been acquiescing for quite some time.     It’s very hard to take power away from a dictator.

That’s just the way it is.

Too much acquiescence in the face of evil or unconstitutional laws could some day make us realize that the question now has changed:

Are we citizens?   Or are we subjects?   To be or not to be…..

THERE ARE DUMB QUESTIONS

January 13, 2013

“Duh,”  we say, when we ought to have known the obvious answer.    Or, as Homer Simpson says as he smacks himself on the forehead:  “Doh!”      Even he knows when he says a dumb thing.

It’s the Octave of the Epiphany today,  and the celebration of The Holy Family – a Sunday rich in possible meditations.    I was going to write about keeping the Epiphany Star within us, and following it during this coming year,  but I am more heavily inspired by our brilliant sermon today.

I’m not sure whether I have any pictures today;  I wrote most of this on the back of my grocery list, waiting in line today . . .   but the thoughts kept coming,  sans pictures.   (You know what Homer Simpson looks like anyway.)   And, then, as a funny coincidence, as I stood there waiting (and writing), I overheard the cashier say to the lady in front of me, “Oh, duh!  I knew that!”

The Gospel Reading appointed for this day is the familiar story of the boy Jesus becoming “lost” from his parents, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, an event so deep in meaning that we still meditate frequently on it with the aid of our Beaded Gospel.

Well, maybe just one picture:

Jesus in the Temple

When Mary and Joseph finally caught up with Jesus, what did they find Him doing?    Sitting among the scholars in the Temple, as a child at the feet of the experts,  but yet asking questions that made them astonished at His wisdom.

How did they experience the wisdom of this child who is Wisdom itself and the Word of God?    By hearing His questions.    What kind of questions those must have been!   His very questions instructed the instructors!

Now, we are not “Wisdom Herself” but Wisdom is the Son of God, the One who makes His abode with us.   We as humans are endowed with dignity and value, and among the faculties we are given is our Intellect.   We can know, we can understand, and we can increase in knowledge and understanding and wisdom.    Along the way, to facilitate this increase, we ask questions.

Good questions.   Worthy, serious questions, based upon what we’ve already come to know and based upon our final End, “to know, love, and serve God in this life, and, in the next life,  to be happy with Him forever.”

With that in mind,  you probably can figure out what are dumb, idle questions that have no lasting purpose and what are wise and worthy questions.

Well, we may not “astonish” anyone with our questions, as Jesus did,   but we sure can make God pleased with our questions.

Keep asking!!

A FINE SUMMER DAY – IN JANUARY

January 12, 2013

Remember all those last minute outdoor things you wished you had gotten to before winter fell?

Like picking up sticks on your lawn, and raking those last leaves, and planting some daffodil  bulbs for the spring, and cleaning up areas for more planting in the spring, and washing your cars…….?   Well, I did that today.   All of that.    Our weatherman gave us a summer day today, 58 degrees in the Far North in January!

SAMSUNG

Makes quite a tall brush pile – ready for the fireplace, if our Rulers let us use them this year  (you have heard about the new EPA regulations, haven’t you??) –  and the lawn now looks nice.

Found a lot of debris to clean up and then planted some crocuses and daffodils near the little garden boy…..

SAMSUNG

And St. Joseph will have some daffodils and bright red tulips nearby in the spring — if I did this right.

SAMSUNG

I may just be feeding moles and squirrels,  but the weatherman gave me another chance to try my luck with flowers.

I am inordinately proud of this space:

SAMSUNG

I don’t know why,  it just was quite a job to clean it out, and take out all the dead sticks and limbs, except for this one.    This space has not been cleaned out SINCE WE BOUGHT THE HOUSE….(a very long time ago).    It’s going to have daffodils in the spring too.    Maybe.

SAMSUNG

Notice the little brook in the back.   I didn’t have to use any headphones and MP3 players.   That little brook babbles all day and all night and makes a most comfortable, soothing background sound.

When I was done with shoveling, raking, digging, cutting, and trimming,  I really needed to clean up.   Somehow my cars beat me to it.  The Big Red Car had gotten itself salty and dirty during these past few weeks.

SAMSUNG

Compare front door, back door;    I like the shine.  It’s for Hubbie.    It’s his car.

I even took “Baby” out of the garage.   She hasn’t been out since……well, since the first snowflake fell.    The roads get so  muddy and dirty in the winter, you know.

SAMSUNG

She wasn’t dirty,  but she does get dusty in the garage.     Some day I’ll get over the “new car syndrome.”

I avoided the news today.    I avoided the Internet.   I avoided most electronic noise (until the football games started!!)

There was such peace of mind doing little everyday things, things you’d never take the time to write about.

CALLING SANTAYANA

January 10, 2013

Epiphany,  that season of the year when the words “Wise Men”  are on our lips.    Sometimes it seems, however, that we have a tendency to pay “lip service”  to the idea of “wise men.”

George_Santayana  This seems true in the case of George Santayana,  a very wise observer of American life, indeed.   Although the wisdom in his remarks, his thoughts, his books and essays are easily available,  we somehow seem to “use” him for one easy quotation:

“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”  

Good enough quotation, though,  if we only understood its importance and heeded the wisdom.

So,  I peeked at the news today, something that is always unsettling.

With that “unsettling” motivation,  I borrow shamelessly from the Natural News people and present a list that they themselves have borrowed:

Read history:

Gun confiscation leads to mass murder by government (“democide”) As firearms instructor Paul Howe wrote recently, history teaches us harsh lessons about government disarmament of citizens:

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

Maybe just that one quotation – if we don’t know history, it’s going to come around and hit us in the back of the head again –   (something like that)  is enough for us right now.   If we pass this test,  we may be able to continue on as a nation and – freely –  read more of George Santayana.

 

 

 

TUESDAY – AFTER EPIPHANY – THE STAR

January 8, 2013

I told myself to confine my observations of our Rulers to just “Tuesdays”   — in memory of the day….well,  last  Nov. 6, anyway.  Let us become aware. . . .

So I came across this picture today.  I’m sure if you get your news from the Internet you’ve already seen this,  but for those who haven’t,  I’ll show it here:

Same Star

A “star”  — that bright, inwardly-illuminated object shining in the midst of the darkness.      With this description we can extract many of the object lessons from the story of the Wise Men on Epiphany.     Each word draws our minds to the small, precise, pinpoint of bright holiness that invites us to focus our attention on the tiny Infant King, born into a world of (spiritual) midnight. . .  .

Alas, today, our Rulers give us a different kind of star.   They tell us, “Forget the Holy Child;   He is no king;  He is one of many; nothing unique.”   Let us hide the religion of God among all these religions of men.

There is one political system promoting that idea and it is quite imperious about it.    Its symbol is at the top of this modern star.

 

 

EPIPHANY: HOW ARE YOU CALLED?

January 6, 2013

Como se llama?      No,   I’m not asking “how are you called,”   (what’s your name)!      I’m asking how are you  called to pay attention to something very important.       When your Creator really wants you to know something,  what are the ways that He can use to get your attention?

It’s Epiphany today, a day of so many bright surprises.  The God of Israel makes Himself known to the Gentile world!   He reveals,  He manifests,  He shows Himself to the Wise Men, representing all the world outside of Israel.   They receive their “epiphany.”

night skyThe “wise men’ were the scholars in their land.    They studied the natural world,  and it’s the natural world that God used to call them to Him, to see Him lying in a manger,  an eating trough,  in the town of Bethlehem,  “the city of Bread.”    It would all make sense in future years,  but for now it was important that these diligent seekers of Truth be called.

God still calls us through the wonders of the natural world, and we ought to know . . . .  Romans 1:20 –  “For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen,  being understood by the things that are made;  His eternal power also and His divinity;  so that they are without excuse….”

The natural world does lead us to a knowledge of God, if we’re  open to it.   The Wise Men were seeking Truth in the natural world,  God called them through their knowledge of the stars and planets,  and they responded.

There is another way to hear the calling of God.   It was the way the Shepherds were called that Holy Night of Bethlehem.

night shepsThe shepherds were not scholars,  but they were humble, pious,  God-fearing people,  who sought only to do well before the eyes of God, and to rejoice in knowing Him, and to wait for His coming.   They knew God existed,  they knew His heavens, they knew his angels, and they waited for His Messiah.

Isaaiah 66:2b – God says:  “But to whom shall I have respect but to him that is poor and little and of a contrite spirit and that trembles at my word?”

And so God called them through what they knew.  Their call to the Holy Infant came with a glorious invitation sung out by powerful heavenly beings singing out the beautiful praises of God’s glory.

So, now,  what’s our calling?  Where do we find our information?     What are we looking for?   When we get our invitation,  will we respond in a worthy manner to enter God’s Kingdom?

The Church, in her wisdom,  gives us a whole Octave of days to think about this.  Perhaps in this time our insight will increase, and we will be ready for our callings in this New Year.

A STEP FURTHER THAN THE WISE MEN

January 4, 2013

Well, it’s been Friday today.      I’ve been aware of it all day, doing what I ought to do on Fridays, and even learning some things new.   However, the day is almost done, and I really ought to be writing the day’s thoughts while it is  still “the day”. . . .  Hmmm.  Maybe a “doable”  New Year’s Resolution here.

So – Epiphany is coming up!    I’ve moved my three Wise Men figurines   a tad closer to my manger scene, as I suspect many of you have done so too.    The Wise Men are on their journey, and they are approaching.

Wise men afar

Illuminated –  enlightened –  by the Light of the Star,  they don’t merely remark upon it in their books and journals,  they feel a desire to follow it.   And now they approach Jerusalem,  the City of David, where they will check in,  alarm the authorities, and travel on to Bethlehem to find the new King.

This first Christmas is their time.  Their circumstances.   Their knowledge.  And their choice to respond to the grace of God, which enlightened them.    More about them in the next days.

For us, now, today, Friday,  this is our time and circumstances, and as we look around us, we know why the Infant was born.    The Wise Men will not return to Jerusalem again,  but we must.   We must go to Bethlehem and then follow the Infant King, accompanying Him on His appointed journey, all the way back to Jerusalem, just on its outskirts, to Calvary.

Cross for Friday

Sometimes darkness descends onto a life, a nation, or the world, and at Calvary, the full manifestation of that darkness was acknowledged and then defeated, and after Calvary,  the grace of enlightenment can enter.

We just have to go that one step further than the Wise Men did.