Archive for March 2013

(HOLY) SATURDAY SPRUCE WALK

March 30, 2013

I sought peace today, and a little distance from all the things that stirred my emotions this week.

I’m used to seeing lush greens of this park in summer.   Or even the many grays and blacks starkly delineated against a background of white in the winter.   But today was “in between.”   Not quite winter anymore,  but not yet spring.  Unsettled, like me. SAMSUNG

I entered the pathway that would take me to the Tunnel.  Holy Week was much on my mind.   The unjustness of what must be, at Calvary, and my part in it.  I thought how the Crucifixion is not yet over as men still smite and mock and blaspheme Jesus by their words and actions.   I want it all to stop…but when it stops,  there will be no more “chances”  for people to change their ways and follow Him…and what if the people I know will have missed their last chance?

I came to tall trees in the park.    They’re not the spruce of the Tunnel,  but they are tall and even and orderly. . .

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I was thinking about the disorderliness of our leaders.  Those who should preside over our nation and govern according to its laws …but disregard those laws and do what they want.  Those who should preside over the Church and govern according to the laws that have been passed down to them…but also disregard those laws and do what they please.   Unexpected , unpredictable disorderliness.

Then I came to that fateful bench, that last bench before the dark opening to the tunnel.

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It will always hold the memory of Hubbie’s last visit here.   He had to rest already, though it had seemed like he wanted to come to the park.  Then he waved me on and said “You take your pictures, and I’ll just sit here for a while….”   Which I did, unknowing, unthinking….

My mind today was still thinking of all the unknowns ahead, because I don’t know the meaning of anything, really.   The future seems like that black entrance.

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But even a row of dead leaves seemed “pretty.”   I don’t mean death is pretty.  Or maybe death in nature can look attractive because we know these dead leaves will give way to new life . . . .

And to remind us of everlasting life waiting for us —  an evergreen, announcing its green life in the midst of all the grayish-brown of this in between season:

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There were other colors, almost out of place.   A purplish-blue branch curving out of the ground, back down to the ground.

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Greenish yellow moss on a log.

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Many things to see, but you have to stop and think about them.

“Yum-yum”   —

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We’re still not at the Tunnel.    Many obstacles along our pathway.

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Long puddles that are fun to stomp in, but these have slippery ice under the water. Not all fun is safe.   I wish we could understand that.

We come to the “guard rails”  that tell us we’re close to the Tunnel.

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I wrote in here once that guard rails seem confining,  but they actually give us freedom to live and move safely, once we understand the boundaries.    My biggest surprise was to discover that the laws and rules of the Church gave me a sense of unbounded freedom; a true paradox!    “Learn of Me,”  the Crucified One said, “for my yoke is easy and my  burden is light.”    That was not a lie.  He is the Truth.

I grew up in the Hippie era and watched many of my friends knock down those guard rails and live in “freedom” beyond law and traditions and the wisdom handed down to us.   Remember this next time you see an “Aging Hippie” – many  Hippies never lived long enough to become “Aging.”    And many of those who did grasped onto the power centers of our nation’s government, schools, and media,  and it is their rebellious, arrogant voices that we hear every day.   They have a spirit of lawlessness that will lead us into destruction.

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So at last, we come to  the Tunnel, a patch of snow at its entrance, reminding me that we’re still “in between” seasons.   In between, unsettled, not yet knowing what kind of spring and summer it will be.

The cool, quiet air of the Tunnel takes me…..the dimmer light softens me….I can’t think in here.  I just be.   I walk more and more slowly, making my time in the Tunnel last as long as possible.   It’s so much bigger than I am.

I hope you have a place like this,  a “tunnel” someplace where you can let go and slow down for a while.

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There is light up ahead.  That would be the end of the Tunnel.

Before I get there, I look around, to the left and the right, and notice that the giant spruce trees are thinning.   There are not enough to make any more tunnel.

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Everything on earth has its limits, as  this little spruce forest has its limits, and I will soon run out of “tunnel.”

I just walked through it for about twenty minutes.  That was my part in the Spruce Tunnel today.   I doubt if I’ve changed anything, but I have observed and reported.

I’m not going to change anything in the world either.   That’s not quite my mission, as far as I know.

This Holy Week has been harrowing, emotional, and instructive, and it has made me more sensitive to the world around me.    I’m ready for Easter now.

THE DAY OF THE (VERY) LAST PASSOVER

March 29, 2013

Why is this “The Last Passover”?

moon

A small fact, but an important one about the Last Passover.   That day on which the Last Passover occurs is two of our calendar days.   That is,  the Last Passover occurred from Thursday evening as the sun went down until Friday evening,  just as the sun was going down.  This 24-hour period was the last day of Our Lord’s life.

This Friday evening we enter  the period of time when the stillness of the Tomb spreads over us.  The reality of death, the horrible wrongness of death that any of us knows who have ever watched a loved one die.   It’s just wrong…it wasn’t meant to be.  The awful dark finality of death was sensed by all the friends and followers of Jesus.   And by Mary, His  Mother.

There is grief which fills them with invisible intense pain, but all is not still and dark within because at the death of a loved one, a needed one,  there is instead of swirl of thoughts, random, unconnected, each thought vying for a brief moment of attention before giving place to another thought and another….

And that’s why we remember these next 24 hours and designate every Saturday to try to sort out those thoughts with our hopes and our faith.   Skip over these Saturdays, these Last Passovers,  and our hope and faith lose a bit of their substance.

So what had happened on the Last Passover?

The disciples did not throw on their Sunday-Go-To-Meeting robes and walk over to the building that held the cenacle and seat themselves down at the Lord’s Supper.   Thursday of that year,  Thursday afternoon,  there was preparation:  announcing a suitable place, gathering the meal, recalling the purpose of this most unusual meal for the Night That Was Different From All Other Nights.   It was an afternoon of preparation, but also centuries,  more than a millennium of preparation in the hearts of the People of God.

Generations later this meal will be given the new name of “seder” – a “seder meal”  –  with different rituals, different meaning,  but at this particular time it was called Passover, the Pasch.

passover lamb

And it would be the very last one, because the Passover meal always pointed us back to the very first one, done in a hurry, standing up, and eating the roasted lamb who had given its blood to display on the door frames the faith of the people.   And then God’s just judgment on a wicked land would Pass Over the faithful People of God.

Each Passover pointed back to that first one, and also forward in time to the one in which it would be the Lamb of God sacrificed, offered to God on the altar called the Cross, and then . . . consummated:  Consummatum est, Jesus said….

Holding bread

And now we don’t have Passovers anymore because we re-enter the reality of that Last Passover by the exact means which Jesus taught us:   holding Himself in His own hands, He pronounced:  This is My Body.    He prepared His disciples, charged them, ordained them to do the same, throughout time, until he should come back to us.

Holding bread still

Every “Passover meal,”  every “seder meal,”  denies the meaning of the Last Passover.

Other things happened on this Last Passover:  the bewildered and ill-considered statements of the disciples;   the much neglected Last Wishes of Our Lord;   the misunderstood act of footwashing;  the fateful despairing decision of Judas;   the casual walk to the Garden for more prayer;   the sudden arrest by the soldiers with wobbly legs;  the sham trials;  the official pronouncement of the death sentence for the Innocent One;  the cruelest of deaths that completed all the remaining prophecies about the Messiah. . .

But there’s no hurry.   There’s more of Friday and all of Saturday to think about these things.    “The evening and the morning were the” next day.

 

THE LAST PASSOVER – AN UNANSWERED PRAYER

March 29, 2013

This is the scene of some of the final hours of the day of the Last Passover.

calvary 3

It’s familiar, unfortunately, because “familiarity breeds”…you know…and if not quite “contempt,”   familiarity certainly breeds spiritual blindness.   Maybe a little “boredom” too that makes us tell ourselves that we know all about this.

I like to tell my classes that there is so much more to the story, any story we are studying in the Bible, but especially this premier foundational one of the crucifixion.    Growing spiritually is like using a corkscrew –  every time you go around in a circle, you don’t end up at the beginning,  you spiral down a little deeper into the cork, into the meaning of the teaching that has come down to us.

Think more.  Read more.  Ponder and meditate more.   Allow more to come into you. . . .

And here is what I learned for this year’s Good Friday:  On this day,  it’s  almost as though God the Father loved each of us more than His own Son.

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And this is the book I’ve been reading and thinking with.  Jesus Crucified, or the Science of the Cross in the Form of Meditations.  The authors are Pierre Marie and Jean Nicolas Grou. And here is the startling thought from their meditation:

“God, having sent His Son on earth, would seem to have forgotten His Divine Sonship and given all His love to men,  and all His care to their salvation.   To save them (humans) from everlasting death He condemned His Son…to death.  

“”He willed that our Lord’s life should be spent teaching them and showing them an example of all the virtues.  He willed that, in order to save men from the bondage of sin, Our Lord should be throughout His life their Master, their Model, and their Servant.

“But not only that He should spend His whole life in the work of salvation for mankind, God went still further and condemned Jesus Christ to die, that He might gain eternal life for all men.   He willed that He should consummate His life in sacrifice on the altar of the Cross and become the expiatory victim of our sins.

“The Son of God, in His mortal agony,  asked His Father to let this Cup pass from Him,  but His prayer was not answered.”

And so we have Good Friday.    Deo gratias.

A THOUGHT FOR WEDNESDAY B/4 THE LAST PASSOVER

March 28, 2013

 

Might be a good day to ask this question:   What do you know about “selling out”?   How many ways can you think to sell out your moral principles,  your friend,  your Lord?

 

Today is Spy Wednesday, referring to Judas who received money on this Wednesday before the Last Passover.   We know the story….moneybag

 

Today reminds me of a conversation between some people that I was with, many years ago.   I wasn’t part of it at that moment,  but I overheard them say something like this:

“Are you free this Thursday?  Want to go with me to see (the new movie)?”    I won’t name the movie.

“Well, I’m free, but I don’t want to see that one.”

Why not?”

“Uh…I just don’t go to movies like that;  you know, with a lot of sex and stuff.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.  But I don’t think this one is too bad.  It’s got some really big stars in it.   Besides,  I have two free tickets, it won’t cost you anything.”

“Free tickets?”  

“Right, I mean…if you want to….”

“Well….I guess.   Okay….”

There followed smiles all around, and then some gentle teasing from the ticket holder:

“Gee – you’re cheap!   Six bucks and you toss out your moral objections!”

And….they both laughed.

Well, that bothered me, because I go places, I’m with people, I belong to some groups, and there are times when the conversation goes to things that are morally questionable –  actually, morally downright wrong.

So,  Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver to betray his Lord.   In my small world,  no one walks around with a bag of silver;  no one would accept outright  bribes,  but I know we can accept other payment too:   Approval.  Companionship with people we maybe ought not to be companions with.   Reputation:  by saying nothing,  by appearing to go along,  we preserve our reputation as a Nice Guy, we’re harmless, we’re acceptable.     Sometimes I’ve noticed, in my small world,  in my small life,  it doesn’t take much to continue to be “approved.”   A very small reward indeed compared to the moral principles that are being nailed to a cross by silence.

QUI TACIT CONSENTIRE.   About time we start demanding to get our Latin back — or else we could not heed this warning:  qui tacit, consentire.

THE TUESDAY BEFORE THE LAST PASSOVER

March 27, 2013

Lamb so littleWhat happened to that little Passover Lamb that was selected on Palm Sunday?

I am a day late for writing today’s post.   Apologies, but I had a big dentist appointment today – a tooth extraction…My teeth come out easily,  but I was inordinately stressed out about this appointment.   My anxiety must have been contagious because even the young dentist began to look nervous,  and when it was quickly and painlessly all over,  he was so obviously relieved that we all laughed.   (Or at least I tried….)

Nevertheless,  it’s not Tuesday anymore, but Tuesday’s deeds must be written.  It must be written because we have all done it,  we’ve all taken part in the events that happened on the Last Tuesday before Passover.

I celebrate with Christians who already know that Our Lord Jesus is Savior because He is the one and only Passover Lamb, to which all previous Passovers pointed.   And because He is Savior, the only Savior of the human race,  He is Lord.   He is worthy.

There’s a wonderful old hymn with this line:   “If He’s not Lord of everything,  He’s not Lord at all.”     Keep those words in mind when we look at what happens on these days before Passover.

The family’s lamb has been selected, as we marked on Palm Sunday.   ” Hosanna!  This is the Lamb we will have!”

lamb here is ours

The lamb stays with the family for a few days, taken into the heart of the family.  And then it is taken to the rabbis to be pronounced spotless, innocent of blemish or defect,  and suitable for sacrifice.

Rabbi inspecting

In every generation, we examine the things in our life, inspecting, judging, testing, deciding.  During this last week’s of Jesus’ life, He Himself was tested and judged like that, and no matter how tricky or clever or penetrating the questions were that were put to Jesus near the Temple,  they could not honestly find anything wrong about Him or His teachings.

Jesus in court

The message of Christianity is that Jesus is the one required Sacrifice of Peace between Creator and Creation;  that we are lacking and not He;  that He is good and perfect and full of love and are for us

Nitpick the evidence.  Inspect the teachings.   Test and try the spirit of the Lord.  But at some point, sooner better than later,  we must pass beyond the doubting and questioning of this Tuesday before the Last Passover.   A Christian makes Him Lord, once and for all, and rests in Him, because we find Him Lord of everything.

We have found the perfect Lamb of God.

HUGE DEMONSTRATIONS!

March 26, 2013

Wow!     There are HUGE American  demonstrations in support of marriage these days!

demo

I guess someone forgot to inform the mainstream radio and television people.

I was wondering about that, because I know in other countries there have been  huge outpourings of support for marriage.  Have you heard about them?    In France there have been two that I know of, each one calling out hundreds of thousands, including same sex couples who support traditional marriage.

So —  our country had a big demonstration too, in Washington D.C.

Whew.  Good.  I wouldn’t want the Good Lord to think we’re making up our own rules.    There are Four Things that will get his attention.  Know what they are?

Four Sins That Cry Out to the LORD For Vengeance:

1.   Murder of the innocent

2.  Cheating a man out of his just wages

3.  Oppressing the widows and orphans (and others who need our help)

4.  . . .The sin that we are being bullied into accepting in today’s society.    If a “majority” of people seem to want it in “scientific” polls,  then does that make a wrong a “right”?

Our  Rulers are using this great Fourth Sin to hammer our society apart.     Many thanks to the hundreds of thousands around the world who protest!

 

 

TUESDAY’S TRIBUTE TO TOLERANCE, 11-06-12

March 26, 2013

Nothing “happened” on 11-06-12,  nothing new;  it was just a setting of the cement;  a solidifying or an ossification of the direction our country was taken in, after the Takeover of a few decades ago.   I’m so sorry, my friends, in other nations.   We were not vigilant.

So:  Today’s Tuesday Tribute is to TOLERANCE!

“IF TOLERANCE IS TOLERANT FOR ONLY (___) PREFERENCES,  THEN IS IT TRULY TOLERANCE?”

I’ll write that again, with the blank filled in, multiple choice:

IF TOLERANCE IS TOLERANT FOR ONLY (liberal, socialist,progressive,  sodomite, criminal oligarchical…)  PREFERENCES,  THEN IS IT TRULY TOLERANCE?

Can you come into my home or into my group or into my private organization and dictate your preferences to me?

It appears to be that this is what the debate today  rests on.

We haven’t “lost our minds.”      We have lost our Vocabulary.    The Intolerant Ones who want to tear down Western Civilization and the values that made it possible have control over our national, public Vocabulary.

“He who controls the Vocabulary controls the debate.”

Can you explain your values?   Can you set forth a logical explanation as to why those values are important and effective?    Can you discuss why those values are helpful and healthy for all human beings?     Can you withstand the onslaught of Intolerant words and accusations – and not back down?

Who has control of the words you’re using?

How defeated are we after 11-06-12?

 

THE MONDAY BEFORE…RICH, RICH, TOO RICH

March 25, 2013

Rich, rich, too rich:

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Cream cheese,   heavy cream,  mascarpone (a sweet and creamy Italian cheese),  sour cream, sugar, and a very rich vanilla.

Nothing sounded better for my next homemade batch of ice cream than:  Cheesecake Ice Cream!   And it turned out well.   The richest, creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had, and it actually tastes like cheesecake.

The first bite is delicious.   The second bite?  Mm-hmmm….rich again.    Third bite…eeeoooh……A fourth bite?     I think not.    I don’t eat rich foods and now I remember why.   I think it’s possible to be “too rich” after all.

Certainly, being rich has its downside, and when it comes to spiritual matters — if you understand that the spiritual world is the real world, the true world, the one that will last forever — riches in this material world can be a definite handicap.

Every time I thought about today being the Monday before the Last Passover, I thought about three things:  that fig tree, so abundant in leaves, but so lacking in fruit;  and then the moneychangers in the Temple,  so rich in coins, but so lacking in prayerfulness;  and then that cheesecake ice cream,  so full of cream of all kinds,  so lacking in  nutrition.

The only two important things here are the fig tree and the businessmen working their business within the Temple of God.

fig tree

The Lord Jesus was hungry on his way into the City.  The fig tree had had time enough to make fruit, but all it produced was an abundance of leaves.  It was its particular judgment that it had to die.

And the moneychangers in the Temple?

Jesus driving

They had found a way to meet the money problems of the many pilgrims, they made a tidy little profit on the currency exchange, and they were good at what they did.

Like the fig tree,  they had an abundance of things that do not matter.  For them the Temple was not a house of prayer, but a house of misplaced monetary profit.

And the Lord Jesus drove them away.

On this Monday before the Last Passover,  the Lord  looked around and saw into the truth of things, and then He eliminated the spiritually unfruitful.

 

THE SUNDAY BEFORE THE LAST PASSOVER

March 24, 2013

 

On this day, Sunday. . .

Palm Sunday sign

. . . .  the Sunday before the Last Passover, the Sunday of what we now call Holy Week,  a crowd of people noisily and joyfully acclaimed Jesus to be their choice….Hosanna!   This is He  who comes in the name of the LORD!   This One is the Son of David!

And while they hailed Him with palm and olive branches, with their robes cast down, and with their jubilant acclaims,   others in their families and others in the Holy City were also making a choice.

Lamb so little

It would be Passover soon,  and it was the time to choose their Passover animal for sacrifice   A lamb, best of all, if you could afford one, for your Passover sacrifice and meal.    A perfect, gentle, little lamb, meek and mild. . .

Palm Sunday is a day for choices. but for  pondering what it is you are choosing.

 

TUESDAY’S TRIBUTE: TWO MAPS

March 20, 2013

With no intentional connection to  last post,  The Handwriting on the Sand,  I’ll continue my  Tribute to (Tuesday)  11-6-12, when our Rulers openly, blatantly defied vote tallies and federal law.    Indeed,  Rulers can do anything, include re-write and re-present reality.

Map #1 –   (shown on national television this week)

MAP Israel MIssing

Those of you not used to reading maps,  there is a country in dark blue to the east of (to the right of)  the large gray shape representing the Mediterranean Sea.     Notice the rectangular shaped chunk taken out of the dark blue country?

Well, no respectable Muslim visitor would acknowledge that Israel has a right to its own borders, I suppose.     Not if he has to obey our Rulers.

 

How would you feel if that were done to our country?

Map #2 –

Oh, it has been done.   We’re left in dark gray:

MAP of la raza

If you live away from our border states, you might not understand how serious this is, nor how well our American schoolchildren know this map.

I don’t think our Rulers much care, because they’ve already given North America another name and shape.     Economically speaking, of course.

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You can look in the right-hand column for a link to some more “funny”   maps;  it’s under the Heading “Interesting”  and it’s called Strange Maps.

THE HANDWRITING ON THE (SAND)

March 19, 2013

Yes, I know, the saying actually is “The handwriting on the wall.”     The saying means there are obvious signs that not only is something wrong,  but your time is up!    Things are going to come to an end — a pretty bad and well-deserved end.

Party’s over!

mene luridThe saying originated during a great and lavish banquet held by Balthazar, acting ruler of the great Babylonian empire.   The word was that for 70 years the Jewish people would be subjected to imperial rule, and then their God would somehow rescue them.

Pah!     70 years is up!  It’s over!  And no God appears.    And that’s what the big banquet was all about.  And to show how remote and powerless their God is,  Balthazar ordered that the sacred vessels used in the worship of this God be taken out of storage and used for this profane and  blasphemous banquet.

Kind of an “in your face”  move.

mene

And then –  the banquet was interrupted.  A supernatural hand appeared and wrote some words on the wall in the banquet hall.        “You’ve been weighed in the balance scales and have been found wanting.”

In a flash Balthazar knew that the God of Abraham,  Isaac, and Jacob is indeed God-Most-High, and he had been scrutinized,  and he, Balthazar,  does not measure up.    Judgment upon Balthazar and his empire.

We move forward in time a little bit.    The Word of God is no longer “on a wall,”  but comes down from Heaven,  incarnate,   Jesus, the Christ.      And men come to Him with a test and with evil in their hearts, and with the desire to destroy him with a question.    No matter which way He answers,  He will be in trouble with one authority or another.

They present to Him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery.    This is a great sin against any society, for it rips and weakens that part of society that the marriage belongs to.    She must be punished.    Shouldn’t she be?    For the good of all?

Jesus sand first timeThe Omniscient Word of God knows all – the whole scoreboard, all the moves,  all the players, all their records.    All…their records.

The Son of God, the Word of the Father,  bends down and produces some words in the sand.

There is no account of this story that tells us what those words were.   There are some good guesses.    These men who dishonor and blaspheme God by their thoughts and intentions can see a few of the words.   The words are personal, as though this Man whom they are testing has already tested them — and has found each of them “wanting.”

Jesus in the sand

They begin to realize they have been mistaken about Jesus somehow.    His words can “somehow” penetrate into their most secret, private thoughts, and the words become their Handwriting on the Wall.

I wonder about these men sometimes.     They left, one by one.    Where did they go?     Did they meet again together, survivors of some supernatural encounter they couldn’t accept, and did they brush it off as “of no consequence”?    Did some of them or even one of them realize they had an encounter with the Living God,  whose righteousness and truth finds them lacking?     Did any become humble and seek God’s mercy?       Hard hearts or repentance?

We can move forward again in time.   Say,  about two thousand years.   Same  Living God;  same Christ;  same Lord and Redeemer of humans.     And now we know:

There is Handwriting on the Wall.   There is Handwriting in the Sand.

There are some Words for us.

A FROZEN SPELL

March 17, 2013

The children of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe met the Beautiful White Witch and came to understand that she had the whole of Narnia under her spell.   The result was a beautiful, bluish-white frozen world, cold and inhuman, of course,  nearly motionless, but oh, so soft and still.

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That was my backyard a few days ago —  and perhaps tomorrow if the worst of the weather forecast comes true.

The scene captivated me…..it seemed soothing and tranquil.

SAMSUNGThe scene to the left shows my garden area, now all quiet, producing nothing, I guess,  but peaceful and at rest.   After two very busy and nerve-grating weeks,   I needed this.     I needed to stare at this “winter tableau”  until I felt all quieted down inside.   Frozen.  Stopped.     Stopped for a while, to let myself catch up.

SAMSUNGSo I’m about four days behind in blogging.   Four days behind in lots of things.     I just needed to take a breath first and let things settle down.    I stayed out on my deck for a long time that morning, letting the cool frosty air flow all around me in a gentle breeze, and in and out of me as I breathed in the crispness.

I would have liked to have stayed motionless there, all the rest of the day, staring at the winter scene as often as I wanted to.    So I set up my day’s work,  my laptop and my books and notebooks, at the kitchen table where I could glance out frequently and keep that quiet stillness sustained. . . .

But the birds were busy.

SAMSUNGI’m not sure they were being as fanciful as I was being.   I’m not sure they were “indulging themselves”  in a little snowy mental getaway.    They were being practical.   And noisy.    You’re going to have to eat.    (If The Lady would remember to put birdseed out on the railings.)    You’re going to have to be watchful.    You’re going to have to build nests.    You’re going to have to….fill those nests.

You’re going to have to get on with life.

I understand Narnia was released from the spell of that White Witch.

FRANCIS FOR FRANCIS

March 13, 2013

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much…”  (James 5;16)

st francis at prayer

St. Francis de Borgia.   A man of profound personal holiness;  of a great and well-trained intellect  placed at the service of the Lord Jesus Christ; a man of humility and self-sacrifice;  skillful reformer and administrator;  first successor to St. Ignatius Loyola and commander of an army evangelists and teachers;   loved and admired.

St. Francis de Borgia, pray for one of the sons of your Order, Pope Francis, who has been placed at the head of the Church in this darkest and most challenging of centuries.  May the qualities found in you grow and become evident in our new pontiff.

Instuare omnia in Christo!

May God aid this man with your prayers and with the courage of St. Francis Xavier and the zeal of St. Francis Assisi to rebuild and restore the glory of Christendom.

 

PAPAL CONCLAVAL TIMING

March 12, 2013

 

“Beware the Ides of March.”  

The ides of each month fall somewhere around the 15th and 16th day.    It’s now the 12th of March.   In a few days we’ll be in the Ides of March.    In a few days, we are told, the cardinals in Rome may have picked the next pope.

Really?    Do they have to do it near the Ides of March? 

“Beware the Ides of March.”     This quoted phrase comes from Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s dramatic telling of the events surrounding the removal of Julius Caesar from office – either to save the Roman republic or to end it, depending on your point of view.   Julius Caesar didn’t exactly know what was about to happen,   but he was aware that something was not working well in his government, with his governing,  and he was given a true and friendly warning:   Something is about to happen.  Soon.   “Beware when you get to the Ides of March!”

It’s fun to know the story of Julius Caesar in the context of the Roman history of his day.  You can’t help but take sides.   And you can’t help but feel that there are forces of history that are stronger than the wills of individual men.   Fate?    The hands of the Roman gods?   The Providential Working of the Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who was preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah just a  few short decades later?

Timing:

And what of the Vatican today and its governance during a time of great trouble? ( The “trouble” that is made up of evil deeds,  deception, wrongful governance, betrayal of the Catholic people, their confusion and drifting in spiritual matters, powerful voices which intend to destroy the Faith that came down through the ages, the attempt to obscure the Powerful Person of Jesus Christ,  the heartbreak of the faithful,  the apparent ineffectiveness of the good leaders. . . .)

Will the new pope continue (or allow to continue) the path of destruction,  still calling it the New Springtime?   Or will the new pope do battle against all that has wounded the Church?    As with Julius Caesar,  you can’t help but take sides.  

Is the timing of this conclave  a portentous unfolding of prophecy?

Or is this timing just another humorous coincidence of occurrences like the papal resignation, the lightning strikes and comets and meteor explosions and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions….and the approach of the Ides of March.  (as reported in yesterday’s post)

 I started out yesterday’s post with this:   “(This might be a humorous posting.”   And today I say:  “Ditto.”

IT’S NOT FLEAS! BUT IT MIGHT BE THE END OF THE WORLD

March 11, 2013

This might be a humorous posting.   (But you never know what impact your words are going to have!)

I got a call from a good friend who watches over me from time to time.  She had read yesterday’s posting and called to inquire how I’m doing with “God’s littlest creation.”   She asks me,  “You’re  not having a problem with fleas, are you?”

No!  

virus It was God’s even littler creations….like microscopic.    I just didn’t want to come right out and say I was sick.    I’m better now.    And I’m NOT even itchy!

About ten years ago my uncle was still alive, and he would occasionally send me  Forwardings that he thought were interesting.   Sometimes I would email back and say,  “Wow, that was really good.   I’ll email that to (Hubbie).”    I’d never get a reply, but after a while he’d send me another Forwarding.

One time when we were on the phone together, he asked me very cautiously,  “Are you two still together?”  and very gently,  “Are you divorced?”

computer talk

No!    But because I mentioned that I was going to email the interesting message over to Hubbie’s computer — which was sitting right in the next room! —  it sounded to my uncle as though we were living in separate houses!

A long time ago when I was very young schoolteacher,  I set my six-year-olds to some task, and since they were quiet and busy,  I began to do a little work at my own desk, with pencil, paper, and ruler.   After a few minutes I got up to walk around the room, just to check to see if they were doing okay.    The class was very, very quiet.

teacherFinally one little girl raised her hand, and when I walked over to her desk, she bravely asked me, “Mrs. R., why do you have that ruler in your hand?”

Well.    With a little understated humor,  I looked at her seriously,  and quietly said,  “…You know….”

I had such a good, well-behaved class for days afterwards!     Many years ago, in schools,  kids didn’t take a chance with only a hint of humor like that!     Did they really think…..?

Well, I’ve been wanting to share some Random Thoughts from the Spruce Tunnel concerning the current papal conclave.    I wanted to be careful with my words — but I’ve been mighty distracted with a series of occurrences which, though serious,  taken together and added up are beginning to seem downright ridiculous.     So,  don’t get me wrong.  I like a little fun once in a while.   I’m smiling.

It started a couple months ago, before the pope announced his abdication.   He was at the window of St. Peter’s square, making a gesture of Peace to the world, but letting go a beautiful white dove.    And then reality struck –  nature took its course.

dove attacked

From out of nowhere,  a seagull flew in and nearly hit the pope, and then turned and attacked the dove – presumably bringing it down somewhere out of camera range.   Hard not to make a comment about that!

Then as you all know,  the pope made his announcement on February 11th — and lightning struck St. Peter’s basilica –  twice that day.    Pretty dramatic photographs.   Hard not to comment.

A few days later,  Italy was struck by a somewhat minor earthquake,  though big enough to be felt slightly in Rome.

volcano

A couple weeks later,  Mt. Etna finally erupted, spectacularly,  and although that is way south in Sicily, it was seen in the night sky all the way up to Rome.

So nature speaks.   Mother Earth speaks.   How about signs in the sky?

Comet   C/2011  Pan-STARRS   became visible in the evening sky this week.     In a few months,  a second comet will become visible, and perhaps very, very bright in the later summer sky.    Comet:  portents of things to come.    Two of them in one year.

Again, within this time frame of the pope’s announcement,  the small asteroid blew up over Russia, injuring over a thousand people, destroying a few buildings and cars – and putting out communications technology for a while.    Fireballs continue to be seen all over the world.    An asteroid,  DA-17,   had a very near earth flyby;   more near asteroids have been noted, and this past weekend,  four  –  four! – near earth asteroids whizzed by.

No need to listen to prophets and mystics!     No need to hear my comments!    Nature herself seems to speaking –  I just hope with a hint of humor!

GOODNESS MATCHED TO GOODNESS

March 10, 2013

Because my body is busy fighting God’s tiniest creature right now,  I have only enough energy left over to share one new insight from today’s Reading.

Looking up cr

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent we are given the familiar story of the Miraculous Feeding of the Multitudes.     Most of you know the story.  Many of you have learned important meanings from this event, and as you’ve come to understand its deep significance,  you continue to learn more.

Almost 400 years ago,  in 1622,  Christians were reading this very same Gospel lesson on this same Sunday.    And so it was that St. Francis de Sales, gentle preacher,  came to write some remarks that have come down to us today.

The picture above depicts a small part of the crowd that came out onto the hillside to hear the words of Jesus.   St. Francis points our attention to the goodness of these people “who had accompanied Our Lord without any care or thought for themselves, leaving their homes, and without provision for how long or what effort it would take.”

He says:   “They were attracted by the affection and the satisfaction they found in hearing His words.  Oh, what a good sign it is for a Christian to take pleasure in listening to God’s word!”

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The Lord is good, and simple goodness in our hearts attracts us to His words.   Fortunately we don’t have to walk for days out into the countryside to find His word.   But we can come to Him with affection and open minds.

Certainly some of us can’t let go of our worries and anxieties and we work hard to take care of ourselves.  So St. Francis further teaches,  “Our Lord permits us to act;  but when we abandon all to Him, He takes tender care of us, and his Providence for us is great or small according to our self-abandonment.”  We are “fed,’ then, like the multitudes.

Let our attraction to God be simple-hearted and single-minded.    He will feed us with everything we need — as individual souls,  as a society,  as a whole Church.   He will match the goodness of our hearts with His great goodness, as we are willing.

IN A FLASH!

March 7, 2013

 

lightning    “For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.”   (Matthew 23:27)

And when the Son of Man comes,  time will be no more.  Finis.  This Age of the Earth will be no more.    All your chances,  your do-overs,  your  postponements will be gone.  You can’t say “On second thought”  because there is no more time to think again  – and maybe do better next time, because there is no more “next time.”

I’ve been thinking about this verse from the Gospel of Matthew constantly this week.  It was supposed to be a normal week.   A normal hard-working week with deadlines and duties and hopefully a little progress made in the things I”m responsible for –  material, social, and spiritual things.

I got up one morning, ready to start all these responsibilities at my computer:

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Yep.  Just like lightning –  your world can be greatly altered in a flash.

All those words on that Blue Screen can be summarized in one warning:   Don’t Touch Anything!

Not at my level of understanding, anyway.   I contacted my trusted computer doctor and gave it all over to him because he does have the appropriate level of understanding.   I lived in slow motion, then, waiting for the diagnosis.

Three days of partial diagnoses, wondering just how much of my life had come to an end.  All right, I’m good at learning lessons, and there really is only one lesson we all have to learn:    What is this life all about?

We’ve got time, now,  to figure it out, to work for it,  to grow, to learn;   but one day there will be no more time, and all of a sudden, we will present our answers to the Son of Man — who has just come to us.

In a flash. . . .

DELETE THE ICON, DELETE THE “PROGRAM”

March 3, 2013

 

Bishop Fulton J Sheen was one of the most widely loved and respected men in America, not too long ago.

This is an interior view of “his” church, one that he served in for many years.

Church of Sheen before  325x300

It offers a rich and complex array of objects and images for the eye to feed the soul.   20th century Man didn’t invent these beautiful objects and images;  instead, they developed over the long centuries of Christianity in response to the spiritual and miraculous Event that takes place at the front of every church.

In fact, every detail of form and color points in some way to the central Event of the Gospel, made present to our present moment.

This is a view of Bishop Sheen’s same church building today:

Church of Sheen after 325x327

Bishop Sheen is gone.   And so, apparently, are many of the voices that should have been carrying on his work.    They have been silenced by the same “spirit”  that has given us the gray box buildings that were constructed for people to live in all over Soviet Russia and Communist East Germany….and anywhere that socialism has spread.  Mass-produced gray buildings for the “common man.”  It helps kill the individual human spirit by removing those things which would elevate the spirit.

And your living quarters becomes a thing of stultifying, low-grade horror when you return to it each evening.

In a church building this “spirit” becomes “iconoclasm.”  –  the removal of any beauty,  decorations, symbols, and objects that point us to the world above.

The removal of all “icons”   is the removal of the meaning of the icons.  

I Chronicles 16:29 –  Give to the Lord glory to his name, bring up sacrifice, and come ye in his  sight: and adore the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

____________________________________________________

If you need to make a case for beauty in our churches. . . .

In the “spirit,” then of St. Thomas Aquinas:  

Objection #1   You don’t need all these costly carvings, paintings, and statues in order to worship God.  Can’t you worship God anywhere?

Soldiers

Yes.  See above photo.    You can worship God anywhere –  as these soldiers are doing in a time of great danger and necessity.    Based upon what your intellect has learned and experienced previously,  you can worship God on your sickbed,  in your garden,  all alone at night…anywhere at all.      But it’s in a church, carefully and beautifully arranged, that your intellect learns and then experiences the truth of why we worship — and  Who….

Objection # 2    –   You don’t need all these costly carvings, paintings, and statues;  wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on the poor who need food and clothing?  No.   The anonymous hordes of “poor” we are told to pay for are individuals who have souls that will live in the next world forever.   They too need to have the opportunity to  experience spiritual realities as much as you do.    All the icons in and around a beautiful church feed their souls; and, indeed, such encounters with  beauty and holiness may be more appreciated because of the stark contrast with the harsh realities of a life of poverty.   Where else could they find such riches, freely given, but in a church?

(Their material well-being is our duty, as individuals.   )

Objection #3  –  You don’t need these costly carvings, paintings, and statues in order to learn the complexities of your faith.

Yes.   You do.

WINTER WINNING

March 2, 2013

The pond in my back yard makes us feel like “winners” sometimes in the winter.    My neighbor works hard to groom it for the perfect ice skating rink.   I often enjoy the sounds of thunks and plinks and steel scraping on ice and assorted human sounds  coming from the hockey games out there.

Theyre really serious about getting the perfect surface.  I look up from my desk and see them working hard.   With a tractor.  On the ice.   Whatever it takes!

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I noticed the pond tractor was collecting a little audience.

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The surface froze nicely, and everyone enjoyed a little ice skating for a day or two.

And then the weather changed:

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A couple inches of snow on a warm day and the surface got all pock-marked with little craters as the wet, heavy snow fell off the tree branches.   Even when that surface freezes over again, it won’t be good for skating.    The Winter won this round.

So back to work this evening:

Tractor at night

Can’t hardly see that red tractor by the blue flashlight  but it slooshed around out there for a couple hours in about two inches of black water covering the slushy ice.      This time every thunk and crack and boom sounded dangerous,   but the tractor is gone now.  I think it drove off okay.

And the weatherman promises freezing cold weather for a while, and we can feel like winners again.

You win some, you lose some.   And find fun in  it all.

 

TEARING THE EAGLE

March 1, 2013

It appears I haven’t yet gotten over my Tuesday Tributes (to 11-6-12) or else there is so much more popping up this week that I can’t wait until next Tuesday.

Face X'd for his 'Privacy'

Face X’d for his ‘Privacy’

 

So my big question is:     Why is this man tearing up our American Eagle?   Who does he think he is?   No. The better question is: Why are we letting him do this?

Second Question: Why is this quotation popping up all over the Internet today?

Quote of the Day:

“Your children’s children will live under Communism. You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept Communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism. We won’t have to fight you, we’ll so weaken your economy until you fall like ripe fruit into our hands.” -–Nikita Khrushchev, 1959

I was alive when those words were first spoken to us and I’m alive today as I observe their meaning. I hate those words. They are the words of a victor over the defeated ones. In Khrushchev’s mind, the State shoul rule over the people and direct them in all their activities.

It’s Friday today, the day when Christendom reflects on the Crucifixion. I think that gave me some perspective on this week’s news events. I’ll put it together next Tuesday, next Tuesday’s Tribute to 11-6-12.

Meanwhile, many of you will go to church in a couple days and hear the parable of the Fig Tree. A landowner is inspecting his property and sees this big Fig tree – lush green leaves, but no figs. He tells the gardener he’s been watching this tree for a few years and it never fulfills its purpose – never any figs. Cut it down!

The gardener says –  No, wait.   Give it a little more time.   Give it another year.   Then if it’s still not producing figs – as it should – then we’ll cut it down.

 

A word to the Eagle . . . Go find your gardener.   You  might have a little more time.