Archive for February 2013

BOILING POINT

February 28, 2013

frog

We all know the funny little story:  How do you boil a frog?

You put him in a pot of cool water and then gradually increase the temperature.  He’ll continue to feel comfortable in his water, too comfortable to care about the temperature change.

And then the water reaches boiling…and he still hasn’t hopped out.

And then — I don’t know — I guess you can eat him then.

pot lid on

That funny little story is meant to be an object lesson for us, of course.  But I was thinking,  if the story  were about a human in that pot,  there’s a point where just as he realized things are getting dangerously hot — you slam the lid down on the pot.   That will finish him off!

I just came home from class tonight.   I took the class through a couple of those cities that St. John writes about in the book of Revelation.

sardis

That’s the ruins of Sardis.   It was once a prosperous little city with a thriving  Church.    They had a good life.   No perils were mentioned.  No persecutions, no difficulties.   They had a reputation of being a good Christian community there.

Then the Lord says:  “… but you’re really dead.”

The Lord would know.

So how could that happen?  How could they not know what trouble they were in?  The answer lies in the “remedy”  that the Lord told them about.   He says:  “Be watchful!” (Pay attention!)   (Observe!)  “Strengthen the things that remain.”  And:  “Repent!”   Or else you’ll die.    Judgment will fall suddenly “like a thief in the night.”   Like the lid slamming down on the pot of boiling water.

We can say:  “Complacency leads to death.”

There is no Church at Sardis anymore.   They couldn’t pull themselves out of the danger they were in.

I think about that frog.   I think about Sardis.   And I think about America.

lost   Recent articles have been written about how many rights we have lost in the last couple of years that had been guaranteed to us under the Bill of Rights.    One man on the radio said he printed out that list of rights lost, and it was 18 pages long.

As a nation, how could we not know the danger we are in?   How soon will that lid be slammed down on us?

It happened to Russia.

It happened to Germany.

“MONTSROUS CRYING OF THE WIND”

February 27, 2013

Today’s title is from a famous poem of  William Butler Yeats.

storm in blue

 Tuesdays postings are often a little dire and troubling around here, and so,  after yesterday’s acknowledgment of the moral mess we’ve allowed in our nation, it might be a good time to look at us, more deeply,  through a poet’s eyes.

And so, today’s posting is dedicated — with most gentle regard — to the My Friend Who Professes to Dislike Poetry:   We arise from the same generation, you and I, of whom Yeats writes of here.

child dancing

The name of this poem is “TO A CHILD DANCING IN THE WIND.”

Dance there upon the shore

What need have you to care

For wind or water’s roar?

And tumble out your hair

That the salt drops have wet;

Being young you have not known

The fool’s triumph, nor yet

Love lost as soon as won.

Nor the best labourer dead

And all the sheaves to bind.

What need have you do dread

The monstrous crying of wind?

There’s something for everyone in that poem. 

It’s for those  who know but don’t know what to do.

It’s for those  who don’t know because they choose not to.

It’s for those who are immature of mind and want to be led along, as children,  by the Monstrous Crying of the Wind.

child in prison

William Butler Yeats –  he nailed our poor, sad century, and the stormy shores we walk upon.

SOMEONE’S REMAKING US

February 26, 2013

Phooey.   I want to talk about making more ice cream here at home.  I want to talk about the new video of Cooper skiing down the long slopes at Squaw Valley, all by himself –  at 27 months old.   I want to talk about the great new snowstorm we’re having today and tomorrow.   My new birdfeeder with the suction cups.  My new bookshelves. . .

But it will all be meaningless, if we don’t once in a while pay attention —

So, it’s Tuesday again.   My day for a hats off to the “victors”  of 11-6-12.    Very slick!   But I have a question:

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And then:

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Here is the Edelweiss:   “…small and white,  clean and bright….”        We learned that it was the national flower of those who call Austria their Homeland.

eidelweisses

How can things be changing?

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I was a public schoolteacher when these changes were imposed.

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Here are the actual pictures that were used:

G grandma

And this little guy:

G boy

How about a Mom?

G mom cr

Gentlemen,  this is called “desensitizing”  —

G preg

This is inhuman,  dehumanizing,  and evil, to use these images for “practice.”

There is one more question we should be asking:

 

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However, as we all know:

rulers-statism

“Eidelweiss,  eidelweiss,   every morning you greet me

Small and white,  clean and bright,  You look happy to greet me.

Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow,  bloom and grow forever.

Eidelweiss, eidelweiss,   bless my homeland forever.

eidelweiss

I’ve never played that song on my piano without getting tears in my eyes.  I don’t exactly know why.

 

 

 

UP FROM THE SLOUGH

February 24, 2013

The words of the Gospel for this 2nd Sunday in Lent are so tragically foreign to us in this culture, in these times.

transf

“After six days….Jesus took Peter, James, and John…..and went up to the top of the mountain….where He was transfigured…before their eyes….”    From about 50 A.D.  to about 1950 A.D.  we’ve had good teachings which delve into the supernatural and spiritual meanings of this event.  Such teachings are able to nourish our souls and help sanctify our lives

We can still find these teachings, but we live in a difficult world today.   We live in a darkened, cynical, wicked, despairing world.    If the Transfiguration occurred on a mountain top,  we live today in a polluted moral pigsty that depresses our souls, our minds, our emotions, and our hopes.

We live in a slump.   A swamp.   A slough.   The Slough of Despond.

trans slough

The phrase is, of course, taken from a classic piece of English literature.    To know this literary work is to understand much about the greatness our country was known for.    No need to avoid it because of your politics or religion;  it transcends both.  This literary masterpiece is the allegory called Pilgrim’s Progress.

And the Slough of Despond affects us all and we need to climb out of it or else we will be destroyed, painfully.

“After six days…”   The six days of Creation gave us a beautiful world with many delights that link us to the power and glories of our Creator.   After our Fall and the pollution of our souls and our world,  the Gospel news is an even more beautiful link to our Creator-Redeemer.

So, in the Gospel today,  “after six days” we are asked to ascend upward with Jesus and to see Him no more as a man, a great prophet and teacher, but to see Him in His glory, as we move our minds from this physical world upward to the spiritual world that exists around us.

transf mt

There is Mt. Tabor in the distance, where the Transfiguration likely happened.  It seems so far away to our eyes, in the distant misty horizon — yet it exists!   It’s worth the mental effort and the spiritual climb.  It will enliven and then nourish our souls, and prepare us for a happy future life everlasting.

We’ve become familiar and comfortable with the life below, on the plains in front of the mountain, but there is a consequence:  that’s where the Slough of Despond is — and the name of those plains is Megiddo.

Where the battle of Armageddon will be fought.

HOW I TREAT MY FRIENDS – 2

February 24, 2013

Another little self-mocking title….but I did it again.   I am so “welcoming”  to my friends who’d like to stop in after a long trip. . .

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. . . .but I make them work for it!

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All that power-shoveling I did yesterday didn’t help my guest much after the snow plows went through.    My-Friend-With-The-Camera, whom I’ve spoken of before, left his home five hours away,  and when he arrived at my door, first thing he had to do was ask for a snow shovel.

SAMSUNG

Well, he eventually was able to get his car in the driveway and begin enjoying our visit.   We had a nice talk,  including a very exciting topic….he is, after all, My- Friend- with -the- CAMERA.    He had brought this new wonderful camera of his, and shortly after he sat down, I looked up and saw –

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Yes indeed;  two friends taking pictures of each other!

When he first got this camera, he sent me two photos:  one was a photo of the trees across his back yard, and the other was a giant close-up of a squirrel, down to the last whisker, fine hairs, and a dot on its nose.    The squirrel had been way over there on one of the tree limbs,  but this camera brought it up right close.  So my friend showed me all the features –

SAMSUNG And demonstrated…..

SAMSUNGHe took that picture of a portion of a calendar on the wall across my kitchen,  a tiny, tiny little box on the calendar page showing the following month.  I don’t read that box very often;  it’s too small.   And then my friend was just plain boasting!   –

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I think he saw my delight, so he zoomed up on that “Monday”   and presented a big giant M.   Wow!   Nice camera!

Why am I taking so much time with a camera and a snow shovel?

Time.

It doesn’t matter about the snow shoveling or what kind of camera.   It was the time that my friend gave me.   He took the time to help me out with that hard-packed snowplow snow at the end of my driveway, and he took the time to show me the details of his camera.   Once again I’m the recipient of the time and attention of friends, and I’m just bursting to pass it on to some of my friends.    That’s the way it works.

Starting with my most distinguished friend.

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SEMI-LUDDITE IN A SNOWSTORM

February 22, 2013

SAMSUNG The snowstorm made the birds unhappy today.   That puffy white thing is suppposed to be their bird feeder.   But I  just love big snowfalls!   In my world I can admire the snow while sitting in front of a warm fireplace,  with a good book in my lap, low lamp on in the dim winter afternoon light.

 

But that wasn’t Hubbie’s world after a snowstorm.   He saw work to do.

Snow driveway

Hubbie used a giant snow scoop.  He loved it and said it did a better, faster job than anything else.  It’s about 30 inches wide and can scoop up an enormous amount of snow in one swipe across the driveway.   I could take a swipe,  but then it was too heavy for me to do anything with the snow in the scoop.   Can’t fling it!

snow scoop

About eight years ago, as we were noticing that Hubbie’s strength was faltering,  I bought him an electric shovel.  In spite of my Luddite tendencies,  it sounded like a great idea.   Hubbie never took to it.  It’s been in its box for several years, way in the back of the garage ,  where the spiders are.

So today, as I began shoveling our latest snowfall,  I thought of that “power shovel.”  I was curious to see whether I could actually learn to use it, get it to work. Nevertheless,  I shoveled enough behind the car to be able to back the car out of the garage,  and then with rake, digging shovel, and broom,  I pried the big box out of its back corner, carefully dragged and dumped the contents into the snow,  and kicked the box away – way, way away….

Snow Box

(It had spider webs in it.)

I buried the power shovel with snow,  then took a broom and swept off all the snow and hopefully all the other things sticking to it.  The box said “Simple to operate!  Just plug it in!”    Found an extension cord, plugged it in….

Nothing.

I replugged it in because the shape of the hole where the cord prongs go into seemed smaller than the prongs on the end of the cord.   I know there are different gages for electric trains….just hoped not here.

Then I replugged the cord into our outdoor house socket, because that had seemed loose the first time I did it.

Then I worked on the two bright orange button things on the power shovel itself.  One button for the thumb,  one grip-shaped button area for the fingers.   I tried every combination of order,  and just as I was putting it down to walk away, the thing came to life….but I nearly dropped it and it stopped.   So that was a clue.

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With a little practice I got the right combination of which set of buttons you squeeze down on first.  It was kind of fun.   It shoots the snow away about thirty feet, but then, of course, you have to watch the wind direction.   I didn’t, and my cell phone had to spend some time on the heat vent indoors.

Snow mailbox

I power-shoveled a path to the mailboxes, but there’s no snowplow,  so no one was actually going to be coming for a while.

Nice to see the driveway cleared off.   But the thought struck me that by the time I got the new shovel cleaned off and figured out,  I could have had the whole driveway shoveled – the old-fashioned way.

Snow Shovel 300r

But it was a little bit fun entering Hubbie’s world of “new inventions.”

HOW I TREAT MY FRIENDS

February 21, 2013

Ah.   That’s a bit of a self-mocking title.    Here’s my friend:

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Really.  He’s a very good dear friend and I love him and I love his whole family and he’s a good friend of Son’s too.    He worked on my dryer last night,  because the air vent is all discolored and I was afraid of a dryer fire.   He “serviced” my furnace – and since he’s a professional HVAC man,  I don’t worry about what all that means.   And then he went to work on my hot water heater.

He thinks that because I’m a widow,  a fairly new widow,  that I might need a man’s kind of help around here.

What he doesn’t know is that when I’m alone at night and hear all these strange motor-things working in my basement, I worry about them.  I don’t know if the noise they’re making now is different from the noises they always used to make.   I don’t know why a fan seems to be working harder now that I ever remember from before.  I do know that it’s been a long time – I think –  since anyone has “serviced” these things.     And I do know that dryer lint starts house fires, and I can’t find my dryer lint.   He doesn’t know that I think about things like that when I’m alone –  loud clunking noises and basement flooding and furnaces blowing up. . . .

He didn’t know all that, for sure,  but he’s a friend,  he’s a professional,  and he  had been planning to do all that, just because he can.

I can’t thank him enough.  I can’t praise him enough.   And the worst thing is:  I couldn’t pay him last night from my purses or my checkbook.    He wouldn’t let me.

I was wondering about all this  while I stayed upstairs, working in the kitchen last night.

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Yes, there it is again:  ingredients for homemade ice cream.   Organic cream,  vanilla,  cocoa, sugar…….  Mixed it up with a whisk, and it looked like a bowl of deep, rich melted chocolate ice cream.     Then I turned the ice cream maker on and poured the mix into the cold mixer as it was spinning around.

SAMSUNGGood recipe.   If I had bought that brand in the grocery store,  I’d look for that brand again.   Ha!

And when my friend was done, Son and I sat down with him and the three of us enjoyed the ice cream, and we cracked open pecans and talked and laughed together. . . .   What a nice feeling of friendship.

I couldn’t pay him with money, he said.   But I’m working on some other ways to pay him.

And so it will continue with friends, I think.

This may be the way of our future for most of us in this changing world.

 

 

 

TUESDAY SALUTE TO 11-6-12

February 19, 2013

 

I’m attempting to confine my political observations to only Tuesdays, in recognition of the peril this country has put herself in on certain Tuesdays, every four years.  These Tuesdays have finally worn away my optimism.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately  about the thousands of new federal regulations,  hundreds of personal exec. orders signed and laws proposed that control our every activity and then surveil our every move.

RULERS statism

Statism is the opposite of the republic the Founding Fathers envisioned for us.  However, they knew we’d not be able to keep it once we became less vigilant,  less educated, and less “Good.”    Self-government and freedom is not for the lazy, ignorant, and immoral.     So, yeah…they knew that.

I’m not optimistic that “we, the People”  can reverse course, because while Statism has grown incrementally, inexorably,  we’ve been distracted with all kinds of temptations, and “we the People”  don’t want to give up our ________   (you can fill in the blank with your own list).

There is introspection and appropriate sadness during this first week of Lent.  For hundreds and hundreds of years, The Readings for this First Sunday in Lent has been The Temptation of Christ.   We know the story well.

satan

Satan, the Adversary,  the Enemy of God, doesn’t have to disguise himself in front of Christ.  Whatever he may look like, visually,  he is far scarier and more hateful- and evil-looking when seen spiritually.

Okay, here’s an old painting, slightly less dramatic.

satan tempting christ

We heard a pretty good analysis of Temptation after the Reading.  Point #2 was that a temptation will always offer something that is genuinely attractive to the person.   But a temptation is a temptation to something bad.

And so I loop back to  “we the People”  don’t want to give up….so many things that feel good but are so bad for us.  It’s tempting to just let things slide, let them do whatever they want in “Washington”  because we “can’t stop them anyway.”

Statism has increased;  we have decreased.

sad christ

We have been decreased.  We have been diminished.

I know, as a student of history, university-trained, the only Source of optimism and hope for building a future with peace and freedom for all is that Man up there in the picture.     If “we the People” can lay aside our new-found bigotry against Christianity, I think we can find our strength, our humility,  our proper fear, our hope, and the grace of God.

“America the beautiful…God shed His grace on thee….”

 

WEARING SPIDERS

February 16, 2013

 

This past week has been an unusually interesting one.

spider web asteroids

Now,  I hope I can make my point clearly enough, because my mind is still wrapped up in irrationality, and I’m not sure if I can write through it to come to a point.

Wearing spiders.    I mean that.  It’s not a metaphor. 

Those of you who know me, know that I have an irrational fear of spiders.  Beyond all ordinary caution, behind all “dislike,”  when confronted with a spider my body jumps first, then my mind registers a spider and loses all touch with rationality and proportion.   A kind of primal fear explodes like an evil force that makes everything disappear except for the locus of menace in front of me.

And that underestimates my uncontrollable reaction.  

It’s how I broke my foot a couple years ago.  (A spider “did it.”)

So, one day I was washing my clothes, and it was time to put the clean clothes into the dryer.  I calmly opened the washing machine top, as usual,  and then SLAM!    My body slammed the top down hard enough to make it bounce…and a split second later my brain registered a huge live spider on the inside of the lid.

And then it registered the fact that that living spider was probably now down there among my clothes.    Ten minutes later — ten minutes that are lost to me now — I came up with a plan.   With the knobs — on the outside —  I turned  the machine on with the highest water temperature and the highest water level and for the longest time.

And when that was cycle was done,  I kept the settings, but this time I dared to slightly open the lid and pour in laundry detergent.   Lots of laundry detergent.   And when that cycle was done I did it twice more.

And all the while thinking of what was happening to that huge spider-body.

I’d never be able to find it now.   Good – I wouldn’t be able to see it.  But very bad –  those dissolved spider cells were now distributed all over my clothes.

Would I ever dare wear these things again?

I’m hating to even think of that day.    That’s enough of that.

Now, to a slightly related point.   See that chart of asteroid paths above?  It’s supposed to represent the 3-dimensional “sky”  above us.   If you extend the tiny arrow pathways,  you get intersecting lines….like a …. 

…Web.   

Which got me going on this topic of Fear.

There is a lot going on in the heavens above that we’re mostly unaware of.   These past several days have turned our attention to unusual things above, things beyond our control.  We’ve had North Korea’s nuclear test, and though it was underground,  we read analyses of their capability to deliver missiles overhead – to us.   We had the pope’s announcement of his stepping down, followed by one (or two)  lightning strikes onto St. Peter’s in the Vatican.   We had several bright meteors this week, ending on Friday with the huge meteor explosion over a populated area in Russia, then followed by an unusually brilliant blue meteor flash and trail over San Francisco.  

We get the feeling of future changes, of uncertainty,  of not really knowing what to prepare for.  There is the fear of unexpected – and unwanted – changes.   Any day we might do something “ordinary,”  like lifting the lid of our washing machines, and all of a sudden the world delivers a nerve-shattering event that may change the course of our lives.

There’s justifiable fear, there is motivating fear,  and there is irrational fear. And we all know that if there were no fear,  there would be no opportunity to act with courage.  And courage grows with usage.

To my own children I would say:  You’re in charge of your own fears.    You will experience fear:  whether it’s bombs or meteors coming down on us, whether it’s the machinations of our rulers coming down on us occasionally; whether it’s the thought of God coming down on us, looking into our souls….   Face your fear, think it through,  assess what you’ll do, what you can do,  and then get on with life.

Scene of the crime

Scene of the crime

Uh — I think I did.  I have some very, very clean clothes.   And I wore them.   

 

 

“NON-INTERSECTING”

February 14, 2013

Astronomy can be a lot of fun – especially when it approaches your own back yard!

I’m sure you’ve heard of this by now.

DA14 path

This little 150-foot wide rock will fly by a mere 17,000 miles away at its closest point to us.    That should be about 9:30 A.M. tomorrow morning for my location.   (The times on the chart look like UTC.)

Lots of interesting things could happen,  gravity-wise, trajectory-wise,  calculation-wise —  but not so we’d be able to notice. 

Still, it’s nice to know there’s going to be a little excitement going on above our heads.

WHAT NINEVAH DID

February 14, 2013

Ninevah (Ninive)  —  the wicked capital of ancient Assyria, whose immorality threatened to spread southward to God’s people

Ash girl

(Not just a few ashes on the forehead, but covered in “sackcloth”and sprinkled with ashes)

The Mission of  Jonah to Ninevah:

[4]And Jonas began to enter into the city one
day’s journey: and he cried, and said: Yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed. [5] And the men of Ninive believed in God: and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least.
[6] And the word came to the king of Ninive; and he rose up out of his throne, and cast away his robe from him, and was clothed with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
[7] And he caused it to be proclaimed and published in Ninive from the mouth of the king and of his princes, saying: Let neither men nor beasts, oxen nor sheep, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water.
[8] And let men and beasts be covered with sackcloth, and cry to the Lord with all their strength, and let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the iniquity that is in their hands.
[9] Who can tell if God will turn, and forgive: and will turn away from his fierce anger, and we shall not perish?
[10] And God saw their works, that they were turned from their evil way: and God had mercy with regard to the evil which he had said that he would do to them, and he did it not.

The king “got it.”     He clothed himself in sackcloth and ashes.

By Executive Order, a nationwide fast was declared, extending to every living thing.

MARDI ON!

February 12, 2013

 Mardi on!  Mardi-Party on!  Mardi Gras party on!   Because there’s a reason for it.

Mardi Gras is in your mind, but, of course, there are many ways to express it.  Join a crowd of people in New Orleans!

No mardi gras

Or a parade in Rio!

mardi rio

Consume all the “fat foods”  on this “Fat Tuesday” – Mardi Gras.    Eat the 1000-calorie Polish pastries that are so popular around here.   Or  mix up all your rich ingredients in the pantry and eat buttery, creamy, pancakes!

pancakes

Or have a pancake race!

mardi pancakes

(I’d have to see that in person before I can comment.)

But it all stops at midnight, doesn’t it.   Because Mardi Gras is a day of the changing of the seasons.   We move from one season to the next.

Sandles in the snowJust as it makes no sense to ignore the seasons of our natural earth and wear fur coats in the summer and light shirts and sandals outdoors in the winter,  so it makes no sense to ignore the passing of the seasons that people (who are far wiser than we are)  have discerned and practiced.

What season are we leaving?  One of joy and anticipation of the Christmas season;   of joy and wonder and the birth of the Holy Infant;  then the joy and happiness of the young family,  the young Holy Family;  the giving of adoration and gifts by Shepherds and Magi (the Jewish world and the Gentile world);   the fulfillment of all the hopes and dreams represented by the Laws of Moses:  the circumcision;  the redeeming of the small Son back again into His parents arms by the small sacrifice in the Temple;  the visions of glory and purpose by Anna and Simeon. . .

And, now, underlying the partying, we put away the rich decorations and trappings and food of that happy season called Christmastide,  and we begin to ponder the reason the Christ Child came to us.  His purpose;  His fate;  the cause of it all.

Man on stairs

Partying is a Season,  not a way of life for human souls.

Man in prayer

Happy is the man who knows himself. . . .  And knows what to do about it.

man in confessional

For this day is also called Shrove Tuesday.   Men are shriven, today.   Those sins which stand in his way are connected actually,  supernaturally, and sacramentally connected to the Christ Child who came, such a little while ago.

It seems to me that those who fully repent and are prepared for the penance of the Lenten season are the ones eligible to fully celebrate today!   Mardi on!

PAPAL RESIGNATION & COINCIDENCE

February 11, 2013

(No photos today;  let these words conjure up pictures in your own mind.)

Objectively speaking:

Today many of us woke up to the news of the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign soon.  This is not a “shock”  as some news commenters are suggesting,  but it is a surprise, in the sense that, oh – it really happened and today is the day.   The pope has been giving hints for quite some time now, so, no, this isn’t a shock,  and a couple popes have resigned before.

But it is a historic event.   The election of a new pope is of great importance to the world,  in one way or another,  if only because he is the symbolic Lightning Rod in the battle between good and evil,  between the One God and the enemies of God.   A new pope will bring consequences,  whether you are in the Church or not.

That’s my objective opinion.   Here’s my Subjection opinion.

Subjectively speaking:

The resignation was announced TODAY –  Today, February 11th, ,  of all days.   Today the Church celebrates the remembrance of the visitations that occurred in Lourdes, an obscure village in the French Pyrenees!   Is this a coincidence?   Or a divine message?

Think about it.  What is Lourdes known for?  Why do hundreds of thousands,  millions, of people travel to Lourdes, and what do they hope for?

Well,  we know the oft-repeated facts of the story.  Bernadette Soubirous.   Simple,  uneducated Catholic girl in post-Revolutionary (Progressive-Modern) France.  She sees a “beautiful lady”   whom she hears, telling her some things that are  above her understanding or knowledge.   The miraculous spring that begins to flow.  The healing properties of the waters of that spring.  Many thousands of cures documented,  and up to 200, now (or is it almost 300)  closely examined “official” cures that have no known medical-scientific explanation.)

But there is another equally important “message”  given to young Bernadette, given by the “beautiful lady” with much sorrow and many tears,  a look of such compassion and concern on her face that should make us take notice.   The message that came was this:   “The world is sick.”    “The world is sick with sin.”   “Pray, pray, pray.”   “Pray much for the world.”  “Pray and do penance for the world.”

Throughout the Bible,  sickness has been used as a metaphor for the corruption and death that sin produces on our souls.    Leprosy,  for instance;  a virus which produces the slow rotting away of flesh.   –  Equally,  sin produces the slow rotting away of the life of the soul, until we just feel sick and tired of it all, hopeless, nothing really matters, and then…anything goes.   Whatever “feels good,”  whatever feels right;  no one has a right to stop you.

And you don’t hear the echo of the Shining One’s words:  “Do it!   You shall be like gods!”

(Until judgment.)

We are pointed to one big question:    Undeniably,  the waters of Lourdes have produced physical (and sometimes spiritual) healing.   Can the God who caused the physical waters to heal also heal our world spiritually?

So, I look at the coincidence of the resignation of this particular pope on this particular day and ask myself two questions:

 1. Is the world really sick with sin?  

2.  Could our prayers really help the world?

Papal resignation;  the day we remember Lourdes;  the arrival of the Lenten season. . . .

“OUR SACRED RIGHT”

February 5, 2013

As quoted by Boethius:    “The citizen who has chosen to establish his home there (in Rome) has a sacred right to not be driven away.”

Germany globe

An interesting article today and repeated in Jihad Watch  German schoolchildren are being harassed and bullied in their own schools by non-German immigrant students who are Muslim.

student  The native German students are showing the behavior changes that come with being victims of intimidation, and there is no help for them:  School failure, school dropouts; German families having to move away from their homes to find a safer corner of Germany to live safely.

Intimidation spreads:

As one European  commenter says,  This should cone as *no* surprise. We’ve already seen this in Britain, Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, and many other places.

During Ramadan there are regular reports of the Muslim students spitting into the food of the Christian children – because Muslims don’t eat in the daytime during Ramadan.

We hear you,  Christians and non-believers alike, in the land where Christendom once existed.   Our media and our school and government officials do not tell us and do not do anything about your problem but the word is getting out.

Good coffee percolates slowly.   You are much more important than a good cup of coffee –  let’s hope something is percolating and it doesn’t take too long to rise up and solve the problem.    Since I am not a warrior nor a politician nor a public personality,  I leave it to the “experts”  to find the solution;  because we are told that not all Muslims want to turn the world into a global caliphate.

If good men “do nothing,” —   you know the rest of Lord Acton’s warning.    Or perhaps this,   derived from the words of Boethius:   “I see good men terrorized into helplessness…and evil men encouraged to risk any crime…because they can get away with it.”

It is our sacred right to live in freedom where we are citizens.

SAINTS AND THE SUPER BOWL

February 4, 2013

Just — Phooey ! —  on this year’s Super Bowl.

a big football

I’ve been anticipating this Super Bowl game for a long time.  I watched all the playoffs, gathered recipes, shopped, cooked and baked, and took all the food to  Son’s house. I was going to enjoy the game on his huge television.   A little “party”  started to form, seven of us, coming and going at various times.   I was really into the spirit of the day, and since the Bears would not be playing,  I looked forward to just enjoying two good teams play a really good game of football.

Well, if you like football, you saw the same game I did, the same players, the same plays…it was all good.   But, personally, as I watched the game, the commercials, and a small bit of the horrific sexual display at half time, inside of me there developed small feelings of dismay, disappointment, and disillusionment, and they grew to such a degree that I was quite overwhelmed and heavy-hearted.   This is the culture I live in?

   “SAINTS AND THE SUPER BOWL”

No, not the New Orleans Saints who probably wished they could have been played in the Super Dome last night.   The saints are two whose existence I didn’t even know of until I entered the Church.    And they have something to say about football –  or at least my love for the game.

Of personal interest to me was that each of them, somewhere in their writings ,instructs us on the enjoyment of professional ball games.   Believe me,  these two guys have more knowledge of this world than nearly all of us do, who live now in this benighted era.

So one is St. Francis de Borgia, if you’d like to look him up (or better, read his biography) –  and he confessed a youthful love of both bullfighting and of something he called football.   The other is St. Francis de Sales,  who spoke of the enjoyment of objectively harmless entertainments, such as playing cards,  dancing, attending the theater, and watching ball games being played.

A summary of their advice:   Enjoy,  if you are so inclined;  enjoy, if you must;  but enjoy with a spirit of detachment.   Keep some distance, because there are far more worthy and needful things which must occupy our minds.    I guess today we would say: keep things in perspective.

Both men tell us that as we mature in mind and spirit,  the importance of these games will lessen, and we will not want to give our leisure hours to something so inconsequential as the pleasure of a ball game.

I learned some things yesterday, during the game.  My eyes and ears were wide open, and I saw what I saw and heard what I heard.   And now, sadly,  it’s going to be easier to “detach”  from my enjoyment of football games.

Phooey on that.

 

A SCANDINAVIAN ON A SATURDAY

February 2, 2013

ice berg bluish

Icebergs are beautiful in their ethereal blues and greens and shades of white, floating elegantly on and in the sea.   My ancestors would have known them well, living along the northernmost seas. But icebergs, in all their proud majesty, sail the seas alone.   Sometimes alone, together.  I’ve known families like that, even whole villages.

This Scandinavian is learning the lessons of her Faith…slowly.   It’s not easy to change, and not at all easy to share feelings with others.   It wasn’t our way to turn to others in times of need.

icebergs

Each day of the week, in the Church,  is an opportunity to recall, review, and relearn lessons, a little more deeply each week.   Even if you do not share the Faith,  you can share the emotions of this day, Saturday:   A grief that surpasses all understanding.   A fear that surpasses all hope.  You’re hanging onto your faith in things by a thread.   Many of us have been there, or almost there,  or at least we can imagine that some day we could be brought to such a circumstance.

It was such a time, almost 2,000 years ago,  when two main figures, and several others were gathered together, in privacy, hidden away,  watching and waiting for some relief from an incomprehensible turn of events.

Crucifixion the three

Just the day before, just moments before death,  Jesus had spoken to His mother,  but calling her by that title, “Woman.”   Woman, the Second Eve,  the Woman whose offspring would crush the Serpent’s head.   Jesus gave her, this Woman, to the care of His youngest and most tenderly-loved disciple, John.

“Woman, behold thy son.”   And to John He said, “Behold, thy mother.”

Mary and Apostles  Why not names?   Because the Woman is the Mother of His spiritual Body, the Church, and the Mother of every soul who is called to be in the church.   That is, every soul.    And because it is not “John” who has received this Woman who is now his mother,  but all of us, every one of us who is a tenderly-loved disciple.

 

And so that’s why all the new Church gathered themselves around her and around John, in this new relationship, to mourn together,  to grieve, and to wait with small seeds of  hope and faith, feeling strength from each other, feeling hope and purpose growing among them, and  wating, wating in trust.   Jesus had said   “I will not leave you orphans…”    “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And now, throughout the centuries, up till now, many centuries later,  we know He didn’t leave us, but we wait.  As things grow very sad and dangerous at times,  we turn to each other and encourage each other, as we wait and wait for His Second Coming.

That doesn’t come easy to some of us,  but we are wrong to stay proud and separate, like so many icebergs.

A LADY, A GENTLEMAN,& THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

February 2, 2013

This was written on Friday evening:

A LADY, A GENTLEMAN, AND THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

I want to write this down – for me.      I want to write it down before it slips into my memory under the category of “Ordinary.”    It wasn’t ordinary,  at least not as it happened.

Little errands today here and there, self-discipline applied to get those errands done, and a little pleasure in having them done.    Last on my list, I thought, was to return some books to our local library.   And then…I couldn’t help wandering the shelves a little, and allowing a few more to fall into my hands.   I didn’t feel rushed.   It was just a pleasant diversion at the end of my To-Do list.

On my way home I realized I hadn’t checked the library copy of the Wall Street Journal.   Now, that doesn’t come under the heading of pleasure reading , at least not necessarily, because there is so much I must learn.    It’s an educational project for me.    Hubbie had worked hard to create a small, very small, inheritance for our children, and it’s now my responsibility to maintain it and perhaps improve on it a little.    I have much to learn!

Well, I had forgotten my daily dose of financial information.   Occasionally, though,  after a busy week, on a Friday afternoon I’ll indulge myself with the purchase of a Wall Street Journal and a little sweet treat.   Although I told myself I could save the money, $2.69 didn’t seem like too much of an indulgence,  and there were things I needed to know.

I drove to a little convenience store on the way home, and walked right to the newspaper section – which they “conveniently”  have right across from the donuts section — way too convenient.    There was one copy of the WSJ left, and I bent down and snatched it up.

But as I stood tall, I felt a little “disturbance” in the atmosphere around me.   Just a tiny insertion of emotion.  I turned my head and saw a very well-dressed man looking puzzled as though life had slightly startled him.   He was staring at my Wall Street Journal!

Fair is fair, right?    I’m the one who held it in my hand!    Well, I had been equivocal about it anyway,  and it seemed his expectation about the Wall Street Journal was stronger than mine.   But he was a gentleman,  and we both felt the humor of the situation.    We said something or other, and then he said he really only wanted it for Section 4, for the crossword puzzle.

Huh?   I didn’t even know the WSJ had a crossword puzzle!

Now who would buy a WSJ crossword puzzle on a late Friday afternoon but someone who was also in need of indulging himself in a little well-deserved, week’s end  pleasure!    He most likely deserved it far more than I.   I held out the paper to him, intending for him to have it, but he took the paper and said,  “Here, I’ll show you. ”

I promptly disengaged Section 4 from the rest of the paper and said, “Here,  please take this home, I won’t need this section. ”    He so much wanted that crossword puzzle that he actually looked a little pleased…” Okay,”   he said, and then as he walked away,   “but I’ll pay for the whole paper.”

Nooooo!!    I got the best part,  the most valuable part.   Didn’t I?

But so gallantly did he make that statement  that he made it seem as though I would do him an honor by letting him purchase the whole paper.     I’m confused.   That isn’t fair to him.

But he truly was a gentleman.   And I wanted to stay in his world.   And a lady honors a gentleman by allowing him to BE a gentleman.

I just want to remember this encounter, the way it felt today;  the way it reminded me of a pleasant, respectful encounter between a lady and a gentleman.

FRIDAY: CHRISTMAS, CROSS, AND COLISEUM

February 1, 2013

What is The Spruce Tunnel all about?  Truly, we lurch from food, family, and fun to serious matters of society and of the human soul.   Read again, to the right:    it says “random observations.”

 The Long-Awaited One:Manger long awaited one

Today,  this Friday,  happens to be the Eve of the Purification,  that day when the last of the events of the Christmas season is remembered.   It’s been Forty Days since the birth of Jesus,  Forty Days since the Mother gave birth.    She comes, now, to the Temple on this 40th day to present herself to God, to give a small sacrifice of thanksgiving, and to resume her everyday life.

As we leave the Christmas season, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the serious, adult understanding of the purpose of Christmas.

Cross in the manger

This “Holy Infant, so tender and mild” grew up to teach us His way,  the Way of the Cross;  to “take up our cross and follow Him.”    Since He is not of this world,  the world will not like Him very much,  nor will the world like His disciples.   The world gave Him his Cross, and there is one for all who follow Him.

Human Rights Watch regularly, frequently reports attacks against Christians because they are Christians, occurring around the world, on every continent.    One example comes from a particular Sunni group in Nigeria which:
“…..specifically targeted Christians, including bombings of churches. There have  previously been instances of victims having their throats slit in  attacks.

“During a Christmas Eve service last week, (2012)   gunmen attacked a 
church in northeastern Yobe state, killing six people, including the pastor,
before setting the building ablaze.” 

According to  The BBC report,  “15 killed” . . . .

There are groups which can keep you informed.   The Human Rights Group is one;  Voice of the Martyrs is another good place to check out.

Is there a great outcry from around the world over deadly Christian persecution?   There can’t be; there couldn’t be.   The system of the world,  the culture of the World,  the society of the World, the kingship of this World gave to its Savior His Cross.

It has always been that way, because this World belongs to another, and only a few will be ransomed out of this World.Coliseum w lions and Christians

Today happens to be the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop,  martyred under Imperial Roman rule, at the Coliseum.   On his way to Rome, he knew what his cross was going to be.   His biggest fear was that his beloved friends would somehow find a way to intercede for him and prevent his execution.

He knew that his cross would become his crown in the next world.   He had chosen the Way of the Cross, not the way of this world.

Choose the good, the lasting way,  the Way that leads you home to the One who loves you best.  It started at Christmas,  then it offers us our cross and our crown.