Archive for March 2014

COME TO JERUSALEM – LAETARE!!

March 30, 2014

We are offered a little “break” from Lent today.   Those who have kept Lent diligently will understand;  those who have not…well, you may understand:

Pink

The first prayer of today, the Introit, says “Rejoice, O Jerusalem!!   Come all you who love Jerusalem … rejoice  … and exult!”

Of course,  “Jerusalem” does not mean precisely the geographical place called Jerusalem; it means rather what happened there to make it a place of rejoicing for all of mankind.  Mankind’s only hope…no other given.

The following is a photo from a video that was sent to me by My-Two-Friends ( thank you very much!) that shows what it is that happened in Jerusalem.

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It’s too good to be true, we think!    We think that because we know subconsciously that such sure salvation is too good for what we deserve.   But the remembrance of the Resurrection is coming in a few weeks, and we’ve been taking time to prepare ourselves for our participation in this too-good-to-be-true historical event.

The deep purple of Lent turns, temporarily today, to the happy rose pink of a new existence for us.   The artist who painted the giant mural pictured partially above is Ron DiCianni.    The details in his mural are eye-opening.    His explanation of his painting is a like a history of the Gospel story, and you can hear it here, on this video.


Rejoice!!   It’s all true!!

THE MOUNTAIN WITHOUT SLIDING ROCKS

March 29, 2014

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Still thinking of the fun I had on Pike’s Peak (that I wrote about yesterday).

pump organ 2
But today is today,   a Saturday in Lent, so I went to the piano and played some thoughtful Lenten songs.   I came across a song my Grandma and I used to sing, side by side, at her old pump organ, (Grandma had a bench, not a little stool like in the photo);  and then the words jumped right out at me as a kind of antidote to what I had written in the last posting about living on the “sliding rock pile”  of today’s uncertainties.

I give you tonight just the lyrics about, not Pike’s Peak,  but a different mountain:

There are things as we travel this earth’s shifting sands
That transcend all the reason of man.
But the things that matter the most in this world
They can never be held in our hand.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary
I’ll believe whatever the cost.
And when Time has surrendered and earth is no more,
I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

I believe that this life with its great mysteries
Surely some day will come to an end.
But faith will conquer the darkness and death
And will lead me at last to my Friend.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary
I’ll believe whatever the cost.
And when Time has surrendered and earth is no more,
I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.
The song is sung slowly, thoughtfully, like a meditation, until you can finally realize that “cling” is a good word,  not a bad word;  it’s a good word that requires a lot of courage,  much like Rudyard Kipling wrote:  “If you can keep your head while everyone around you is losing theirs. . . .then you’ll be a man, my son.”      Courage, to think for yourself and choose not to follow the crowd, that has nothing solid to grasp on, slowly sliding down the mountain.

If you don’t know the melody and would like to hear it sung,  I can’t recommend any group better than the Gaithers.  You can find them on YouTube here.  

Enjoy!

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“If”    (By Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

OUR WORLD OF SLIDING ROCKS

March 28, 2014

For Friday, in Lent:

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The reason that we take time out, in  Christendom,  to mark Fridays is because of this short verse from the Bible:   “There is only one Name, given among men,  by which we must be saved.”

Saved.  Saved from what?  Traveling to Pike’s Peak is a good place to start thinking about this world.

Pike's Peak

The first time I was there I was expecting a “mountain top,”  like solid rock and firm soil.   I was so surprised to find that the top was mostly small broken-up rocks.   Of course I walked all over, every place I could, looking out in every direction over the edge, way down into the great valleys.

My parents were forever telling me to stay closer to them because the rocks under my feet were slipping and sliding against each other.   I suppose if I did get it wrong, the rocks under my feet would begin sliding down, taking me along for the ride!     Maybe I was challenging that mountain top, wondering how far the sliding would go, feeling the thrill of a little danger.

There was no sure ground to stand on, on the edge of Pike’s Peak.   It kind of feels that way, now, in all the world around us.   I don’t need to list all the things around us that are crumbling, all the things that we are at the edge of, nearing the precipice; we can study all the dangers in the banking world, in our economy, the world-wide build-up towards war, the failing health system, growing crime of all kinds, an inability to come together to solve our problems….

When the ground is slipping under your feet it’s hard to come up with solutions.   Fridays point us to the only sure ground we have – the one Name given among men,  to save us:

cross cling

The paradox is that as we acknowledge our weakness and “cling” to the Cross, we become stronger.    It always works.  It’s always worked throughout the last two thousand years.    As individuals we are not alone at the foot of the Cross, and we find firm ground there.  we find the  Rock,   not shifting sand, not sliding rocks.

That’s a much better way to face the problems of the world.

cross cling hand

Christ is the Light of the world;   the King of the world;   the Light and Wisdom of our minds;   the Savior of our souls;  the sure Foundation that never fails.

Even as the world is sliding down on the broken rocks.

 

 

 

SAD THOUGHTS FOR SPRING

March 27, 2014

March.  Halfway through Lent.  Sad to think of all our sins.

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It snowed today.   Again.   (Didn’t I write that a few days ago?)   Winter is having a hard time letting go of us, but soon Spring will be here.  I’m already having thoughts of two of my favorite activities:  gardening and traveling.   They are somewhat mutually exclusive, though.  You have to be home to take care of your garden.

But I think I know which will win out this year, which will take more of my time, because there is a very big problem with outdoor gardening:

CHart  ChemTrail CO MPONENTS

It is a sorrow of life today, that we have poisoned our air and our soil.  This chart shows with what and how much.    Doesn’t matter where this scientific sampling was taken.  It’s all over the place.   The big farming corporations are doing something about it – they have invented a seed that can grow in soils that are high in aluminum.  These artificially manufactured seeds will still grow — while the plant is taking up the aluminum.  Too bad humans are damaged when they ingest aluminum.

Where does the aluminum and the other immune-system destroying substances come from?   Well, sometimes I can step right outside my door and take photos like this from my front porch.

Chemtrail grid bldg

Sometimes they’re stripes, but this is going to be a sort of grid pattern.  I’ve seen neater ones.  I’ve even seen great curves and circles.     (These are not “flightpaths.”)    Sometimes I zoom in and take a picture of the airplanes doing it,  but they’re always just painted white.  Including the windows.  And they have no identifying numbers or letters (which is illegal, but nevertheless…)

I saw some of these when I was flying one day.  I looked out my airplane window and saw these trails close up –  they were giant loops, like a Slinky stretched out, only about thirty or forty feet tall.    That’s the way they come out of the nozzles on the planes that are spraying the chemicals on us.

Sometimes the chemicals just fall in great “curtains.”

I found some close-up photos of these planes in action.

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Good people have “gone down”  trying to fight these things.   Just remember all the chemicals in that chart that are routinely found within these “curtains.”

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It’s so sad,  but we can’t stop them.  Our Rulers are international.

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So I think I know what I’ll be doing more of this summer.   Why would I grow a garden outdoors?

Sadly,  I’ve taken out some of the words for this posting.

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Not to attract their attention, you know.

A LITTLE “DIVERGENCE”

March 25, 2014

I took a little divergence for a few days.    I diverged off my main road. Took the exit ramp, so to speak.March fireplace

This is where I went. It’s Hubbie’s television room, the other side. That’s a photo of him in the oval frame – in his U.S. Calvary uniform, ca. 1870.   That’s our tribute to “The Custer Massacre,” as that framed newspaper page puts it, an interest he and I shared. There are photos of some of the main characters in that event, books, some Indian artifacts, little horse figures . . . .

And the fireplace is a “tribute” to our single digit temperatures. Again!! Our local weathermen on TV are beginning to act a little shame-faced and apologetic.   But it’s okay.

I needed to get away  and “sit before the fireplace,”  staying warm,   and then think awhile. Fruit of my thinking may come later, in a few days, but for now I want to write about “divergence.” It surprised me that I could take such a “divergence” from my everyday life, taking several days off to relax on a comfortable sofa, reading, dozing, observing, thinking, sleeping, reading lots more, just being generally “unoccupied.”

We all feel the need to be doing something, be something, according to our ideas of who we are and how we get on in life. But sometimes you need to draw back a bit and see what’s around you – send out scouts, like Custer’s army did and like the Indians did. What’s going on? Who’s there? What are they doing? What must I do? How must I act?

Which brings me to the new movie “Divergent.” I just might could recommend this movie. It’s no artistic achievement with beautiful cinematography, superb acting, remarkable screenplay, or whatever, but it’s a thoughtful movie (based on a series of books for teens, I know).

The world of the movie Divergent is an interesting dystopia, located in time after some devastating “war” and located in place in a devastated Chicago – the place I knew well as a child. Society is divided into Five Factions, each faction made up of people who have the same quality.  One quality per faction, which is what adds intensity and urgency to the act (the art ?) of self-identification.

Society expects you to test out as (or choose to be) in one of the following:     Abnegation, people who help others; Truth Tellers, those who see into the truth of the matter and are therefore trusted to adjudicate wisely among people; the Erudite, those who know and understand things; Amity, those who live in harmony with the natural world and can effectively produce the food and fabric needed by all; and the very necessary Dauntless, who are strong, courageous, bold, and are needed to protect this society from . . . those outside, I guess – the unnamed threat from outside.

And where would you fit in? What kind of things test you, to give you self-knowledge? What is your best main quality that characterizes you? What is your place in society? What is your usefulness in this world?

But.
What if.
What if you don’t fit in to any one category?

What if you “diverge” from an easily identifiable category? What if you don’t base your life on “conforming”? What if you have your own ideas of how you can be of use to others? What if, instead of the State defining you and using you, you felt you were a free and independent thinker?

What if you think the Majority should not trample on the rights of the individual?

What if you think children should be educated freely and liberally, but not indoctrinated?

What if you believe that people have a right to freely express their thoughts, their philosophical and religious beliefs, in public, on an equal footing with all other citizens?

If you don’t fit in to any expected and identifiable category,  then you are a Divergent, and you are a threat to the social order (set up by the State) because you don’t conform and you can’t be controlled.   You are unpredictable (to the State).

Yeah, I took a little ‘divergence” for these past few days, just to see what’s going on, just to get an idea where I am at variance with the trends in our society.

“At variance with” is one of the definitions of “divergence.”

I believe I discovered I am a Divergent.

WHERE IS MADAME DEFARGE?

March 20, 2014

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(Is it okay to be fuming angry during Lent?  )

anger guy

“If you want to control a nation,  you control the flow of information.”

“He who wants to control must control absolutely.”

fleur 30

Marie Antoinette is preparing for yet another vacation – to China.   By all estimates,  the vacation will cost in the tens of millions of dollars.  But that’s okay;  she isn’t paying for it herself.   However, she is taking her children and her servants, a large entourage of assistants, so she won’t be alone and unsupported.

She has decided that NO record will be made of this vacation, no reporters allowed on this journey.

We have no need to know any more than we’re told. . . .

Well, God has given to our country a King (with Mighty Pen)  and a Queen (with Magic Money Purse).   Subjects we are.

We  have No Need To Know.    Apparently we accept this.

knitting

Sighhhhh…  Where is Madame Defarge when we need her?

Where is our Madam Defarge?

(Don’t look to me.    I knit  sweaters.)

RAINY DAY – DOWNWIND

March 19, 2014

Our snow is disappearing.     This little critter  on my back deck is probably getting tired of snow too.

Squirrel snow eating

It’s raining on our snow today.   It’s a soft, gentle rain, like a fine mist.    But maybe not so gentle.  I wanted to check to make sure, so I took my Inspector out to the table on  my deck.

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I didn’t expect this…..   I mean, I was in a gentle, mellow mood;  normal background radiation is 20 – 30 Counts Per Minute, as I’ve shown here before,  but my table was reading 124.  Kind of an abrupt  end to my mood.

Maybe there’s “something wrong” with my table – so I went out to the railing where the birds eat:

SAMSUNGWorse.

Where the squirrels eat. . .

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Further down the deck railing:

SAMSUNGIt’s not a “misreading” or an “aberration.”    It’s consistently high, just outside my back door.

I came in –  I know you’re supposed to take off your shoes when you come in, take off your outer clothes.  But I didn’t.  I wiped my wet shoes on this little green carpet:

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56.    56 on my slightly damp indoor rug.

But not away from the door –

SAMSUNGMy kitchen floor was normal.

I assume the rest of my house is normal too, but I didn’t test anywhere else.

My eyes were slightly burning.  They feel  “thick,”  like maybe they’d be a little red.  I had looked up into the sky when I was outside, as if to ask, “Where is this rain coming from?”     I got a faceful.

As soon as things dry up, the Counts come down rather rapidly.   But the Counts don’t count every kind of radiation that comes down in the rain.      I wonder what we’re getting from that second release of radiation from Carlsbad?      Two big plumes in about a week and a half, released into the atmosphere.

Normal background radiation is about 20 -40 counts.   Life doesn’t seem normal anymore.

 

 

A TALE OF TWO PATRICKS

March 18, 2014

It’s a little past St. Patrick’s Day, but the observation of two Patricks in still timely, I think.green shamrock

(A tip of the emerald hat to Miss Eastman,  Miss Collins,  Miss Corrigan,  Miss Fitzpatrick,  Miss Skelly, Miss Beahan, and Miss Martin …the pretty, young, single, Irish Catholic teachers of my school days that I referred to a few days ago.   One Irish teacher per year!   thanks for your prayers.)

Whether we’re Irish or not,  it’s always fun being “Irish”  for this one day of the year.    As I traveled to class on Monday, March 17th,  I passed by more people wearing the Green than I’ve ever seen before!   Green hats and sparkly “bow ties” and socks and pants and jackets. . .all happy, all going somewhere.

green spartyTruth be told,   I was driving through our campus streets where the school colors are also green –  and we’ve just won the Big Ten basketball championship.    The students had plenty of reasons to celebrate!

I celebrated later in the day.  Watched a replay of a part of a parade.  Enjoyed the bright green of the Chicago Canal.   Even made some genuine Irish colcannon to accompany a bit of corned beef.

Most people I know did “something” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

But the man.   It’s the man we celebrate.   Who on earth do we think this Patrick really was?   Something about Irish whiskey?    Something about Guinness?  If you’re really being historical,  something about snakes?   Lucky four-leaf clovers?   Three-leaf clovers?  Lucky Charms?

Build yourself an image of the Patrick of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

That’s one Patrick.

On Monday I decided to refresh my memory on the real Patrick,  born in England in about 373 A.D.    A Catholic.     Lucky thing for him too, because before age 20 years, he had been captured by Irish pirates, enslaved, escaped, and recaptured three times.

During one of these times of slavery he was sent out alone into the wilds to tend flocks for his owner, and it was there that his  Catholic faith sustained him, gave him fortitude, courage, hope, as he lived among pagans where human life was a cheap commodity,  good for material gain, good for sacrifice, good for killing.    Long nights alone under the stars, in constant prayer,  taught him wisdom and insights which would serve him the rest of his days.

Later,  with that wisdom and with maturity, he became a priest and spread the word of the Catholic faith to what is now France and western Germany and on into parts of Italy.    Made a bishop, he was sent to Ireland, just about where he had started from.

green ireland

But not with bad memories, nor fear, nor trepidation, but with eagerness to bring to his former captors the good news of the Triune God, our Savior, to whom he prayed day and night, reciting daily the 150 Psalms, and more: canticles, hymns, praises.    He slept on stone.  He stood in cold water while he prayed.   He mortified his body in every way, to train his soul to regard the things of heaven.

This man, this real Patrick, converted much of the Ireland and helped begin its centuries-long course of steady faith, itself sending out many missionaries around the world.    St. Patrick spoke and wrote with a kindness and gentleness he gained by denying kindness and gentleness for himself.  His was a disciplined,  focused,  and profitable life.

His writings are easily accessible on the Internet today.   They are full of wisdom and good sense.  They are full of testimony to the reality of God and of His love for us in this life.  And his writings are full of Christian admonition to prepare us to enter the next life, safely.

I can hold the two Patricks in my mind.   The one is fun, though inconsequential. The other, the original Patrick is real and much more worthy of the short time we have here on earth.    The day for his celebration falls within Lent;  I think that tells us something.

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2nd SUNDAY IN LENT – PRAIRIE DOG HOLES AND THE UNSEEN

March 16, 2014

“The unseen reality, veiled, as if by a cloud….”

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Imagine, if you can,  the bright happy giggles of a two-year-old looking at something extraordinarily funny! holes

Well, that’s not what I expected when I showed these photos to my little grandson.    I had been traveling across Nebraska (en route to his home in the mountains)  and at a rest stop I got out of my car and came across these prairie dog holes.

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I took the pictures because the holes were fascinating – to me.   Were there really prairie dogs inside?   If I took a big stick and poked it into the hole, could I reach one?  Would I make one “squeak” if I touched him?   Or would he come out at me, biting and scratching?

Fortunately for me, there were no “long sticks”  lying around.  There aren’t too many trees along I-80 in the middle of the Great Plains.

cowboy off horse rt 90 I knew prairie dog holes can be killers.   Many a man has lost his life because his horse had stepped into a hole, at full gallop,  stranding the man on the open prairie, days and weeks from any help.

So what on earth did my little grandson “see”  when he looked at these pictures and broke out in uncontrollable – and infectious –  giggles of delight?  What was he thinking was inside?    Now I laugh too at the “unseen”   things these holes could contain.

My mind wandered in Church today, during the Readings, right over to these holes.   I was listening to the Gospel reading about Transfiguration of Jesus – an unexpected, unexplained experience reported by the three disciples who walked up a mountain with Jesus .

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They  were given a glimpse of the Unseen reality of Jesus, true Son of God.    Jesus was “transfigured” so that some of His divinity shown through; and after a while,  after a scarcely comprehended divine message was perceived, a luminous “cloud”  came over the area –  fear came over the disciples – and then after a reassuring touch by the Master,  all heavenly reality became Unseen again.

Just like it is for us now.    Unseen reality.

Just like the little footprints and claw marks around those holes made me believe in unseen prairie dogs,  so is there subtle evidence of the reality of Heaven nearby, though unseen.

And one more thing:

Mass unseen things

Jesus gave a glimpse of unseen realities to His close friends in order to strengthen their faith, if possible,  for the ordeal that lay ahead, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension.   And now today we have His  Presence,   veiled by the outward appearance of  the molecules of “bread” and “wine”;  veiled, again, as if by a cloud.      Veiled and  Unseen, but He is still with us on (some)  altars.

It’s enough to make one “giggle” with joy and delight!

WHAT I WON’T TELL MY CLASSES

March 15, 2014

So. . . . .

SAMSUNG. . . . .who made you?

Did you “draw”  yourself?   Did the planet you live on just. . . write you into existence?   Can your existence be explained by the irresolvable complexities of a mind illustrated by  the artist Escher’s  compellingly absurd drawing in the photo above?

My mind is very much on the book of Genesis this week.   Our classes have just started a study of that book –  and it is so stunningly beautiful and vast — allowing room for all the legitimate sciences that mankind has ever come up with –  and there is still more room to discover and hypothesize and explore till the end of time!

As we began the first two chapters of Genesis,  I wished I could have brought in a whole armload of books from our libraries, filled with photographs of tens of thousands of amazingly, breathtakingly beautiful birds and flowers and trees and rocks and ocean creatures and stars . . .   non-living material objects of all kinds;  living creatures of all kinds . . . but I couldn’t bring all those books;  I am left gesticulating wildly in front of my classes, practically levitating off my chair.  I want so much to convey the never-ending beauty of Creation – and the Church’s whole-hearted encouragement of the exploration of every bit of Creation . . . .

Soon we will come to the chapters in Genesis which make brief reference to the vast ages of human civilization, represented sometimes only by a name or by a short description:  this name, representing the age of discovery of this;  that name, representing the development  of that;   the next name, representing  little known planetary events that shaped their time.

But I won’t be talking about this new discovery, recently, in Siberia:

Russian man in there

See the man?  See the man just about the center of the photo standing on the ledge of snow?    He is standing in front of a wall of finely hewn granite blocks, weighing 3,000 tons, some more, some less.   We cannot lift 3,000 tons today.  We have no equipment, no power, no idea how to put such blocks on top of each other.

Another view:

Russian 3 men

Please don’t default to the “20,000 slaves, 20 years, pulleys and ropes”  idea of ancient construction.   That won’t even work for the Temple at Balbek in Lebanon, some of whose granite stones weigh “only”  1,500 tons.

To which age in Genesis does this construction belong?    I have my ideas, but I won’t be bringing these photos to class.    The words in the book of Genesis are sufficient in themselves to increase our amazement, perhaps to humble ourselves when we think about the march of human history.

Here is something else I won’t be bringing in to class:

stego on temple door

You know what kind of creature this is;  it’s one of the types of dinosaurs we call stegosaurus.     It (and other creatures of the dinosaur age) was put on a giant doorframe by the people who built one of the largest religious temples ever found, at Angkor Wat, in Cambodia.    And before western man even discovered dinosaur bones a couple centuries ago!

I’ve seen photographs of museum objects in South America that are perfect depictions of dinosaurs, both statues and drawings – some with men riding on the backs of the dinosaurs.

I’ve seen photographs of lovely woven blankets and coats made in Peru a few thousand years ago, and just recently uncovered as we’ve explored ancient caves and burial urns.   There are pictures of perfect little dinosaurs woven into the design of the fabric; and they are unmistakably dinosaurs.    A little fun mystery to think about – in spite of the inevitable swift appearance of the debunkers –  which don’t always accurately address the artifacts.

Ica-Stone-DinoHere is one of the Ica Stones, discovered a while ago when a cave was opened … We can’t be sure of the timing, because among the many hundreds or thousands of such stones we now find imitations – or “fakes.”   But many of these are genuine.  And they are manmade.   And the dating suggests fantastical ages. . . .

Ica-Stones-Dinosaurs1-450x337

Some of the Ica Stones are so elaborate it’s hard to tell from a photograph what’s being depicted,  but there is at least two-horned mammoth- or ticeraptops-type animal in this one,  and a dinosaur-type turtle-backed creature, and another possible stegosaurus-type creature up there on the upper right.

Not all Ica Stones are imitations made for tourists.   The hands of men made some of these a few thousand years ago – or more! – near what we call the Andes Mountains.

The Genesis of the Bible is a book for open minds, for explorers, for discoverers of great wonders – for those who find satisfaction and joy learning about this planet, our home.  It’s enough that the words in Genesis merely suggests all these things, because once you think you have it all figured out,   you’ve closed the possibilities and have created the details of your own existence.

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There are enough irresolvable muddled-up complex ideas out there already.  I won’t insert my own into my classes.    They won’t be hearing any open-ended theories from me!

(Unless someone asks:  “Have you ever heard of…?”)   

Ahhhh.  let’s discuss the possibilities!

 

 

 

 

 

SPRING SILLINESS IN A CHANGING WORLD

March 12, 2014

Well, it’s not exactly Spring, yet – but this is getting a little “silly.” SAMSUNG

“2-4 inches”  of snow in the forecast becomes 7 inches.    Time to take out the yardstick again – and the snow shovels and mittens and tall snow boots, and patience…patience enough to go 20 m.p.h. on the roads when you need to get someplace.

This is NOT a complaint, however.    The ski trails will certainly be refreshed!

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I woke up to this scene, this morning,  out my bay window.    Everything was softened and whitened and beautiful.   I wasn’t “in charge of” how much snow we’d  get,  but if I were,   I’d have ordered about this much.

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It’s pretty nice looking, but the recent thaw,  then this snowfall, and our next thaw is going to make that pond useless for ice skating.

But it’s a changing world.   Seasons change.  Climates change.   Climate cycles come and go, and we, as individuals, don’t have much to say about it.    The same is true with broader changes in the world of men.

In all  my years of studying history,  I’ve read biographies, autobiographies, journals,  letters,  thoughts,  observations, dreams, and disappointments of people who have lived throughout the millennia.  You can read these things too, they’re easily available in this digital age.

What we’ll all see is that nowhere does it appear that the individual person is in charge of the character of his culture or the political course of his nation or the existence of war or peace. . . .   It doesn’t work that way.   There are bigger things at work in the world as a whole. ***

So then what?

Well, you, as an individual,  are of primary and infinite value and worth.   You have the dignity that comes with being conceived of in the mind of God,   of being deliberately created,   of being loved and wanted,   and of being born into the best optimum time for your journey back to your Creator.

We’re responsible, then, for our own selves.  It appears that we’re not responsible for the overall condition of the world any more than we’re responsible for the amount of snow we get.  In the Spring, no less!,  the Spring that is soon coming.    It’d be “silly”  to think that we were!

 

***     This observation of the world doesn’t preclude the necessity of working to “make the world a better place.”    We are here to keep and to guard and to have dominion;  to be responsible for those around us, to  improve conditions, etc….      But that develops properly  only after and only if we know our worth and we know our limitations.       We are not gods in this world.

As a matter of fact,  if you remember,  it was not God who told us:  “Ye shall be as gods…..”   !!

 

“DID YOU DROP SOMETHING?”

March 11, 2014

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Well, that last posting was a little dire.     How about a puzzle this time?

So.     A nifty little machine we invented goes around exploring new land. . . rocks and soil and dust and sand.    And then it took a picture of something!!

coin on mars

Something round and flat and shiny…with maybe, just maybe a design on it.

Did somebody drop something?

Wouldn’t you love to pick that round thing up and see what it is?

Well, we can’t, because this was a photo taken by the Rover —   on Mars!     According to reports, NASA certifies it as a genuine photo, and says it has an explanation.

It is a “coin” that was “sent to Mars” to be used as a calibration object for the geologists.  Since a penny’s size is well-known,  they can tell how big something is in a picture by comparing it to the penny.    Now, the information from NASA includes the  resolution of the lenses,  “14 micrometers per pixel,” the owner of the penny,  even what kind of penny it was;  the article describes the mission of the Rover, and the successful “finding” of the penny. . . .We are bedazzled with details.

The article does state that the penny was “flown to Mars.”    That the Rover’s remote arm successfully maneuvered the camera  to take a good picture of the penny.    And it said the penny can’t be moved around. . . .

I don’t know.  Is that “penny” lying on some rocks?     How did it get on the ground?    Or is this a Rover selfie?    Doesn’t look like the Rover.   But if it is the side of the Rover,  how did the penny get there?  Did it ride all the way to Mars in that position?      Is it “glued” on?    Doesn’t look like it.    This round object looks like it fell. . .into the dust.

This article answered lots and lots of questions that I didn’t ask,  but it didn’t answer the questions that I have.

 

A KIND OF ANNIVERSARY

March 11, 2014

“When we were still powerless,  and when the time was right. . . .”

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An anniversary is usually a yearly remembrance of an event,  a birth or death or marriage or some thing that happened.    It’s March 11th, today,  and  it’s an anniversary, not of an event but of the onset of an ongoing occurrence, an occurrence  that is ongoing – and even worsening.

This is the date of the cracking apart and flooding of Tepco’s grouping of nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, that happened three years ago, 3-11-11, due to an earthquake and a tsunami.             When we say “earthquake and tsunami,”  we focus on two natural disasters that happened,  and now they’re over.

However, the resulting catastrophe is not “over.”   I keep a link to some of the news from Fukushima over in the right-hand column.    I’ll check there soon and add to the list, or delete some things,   because these aren’t links to “old news stories”    They are links to ongoing events, new news stories.

Some phrases from today’s lists of articles:   “It is not under control at all.”     “No one knows what to do to fix this.”       “The cores from three reactors have melted down, out through their containers.”     “This is China Syndrome.”    “Radiation is spewing out into the air and flowing into the ocean at an alarming rate.”   “The black specks found all over Tokyo contain plutonium.”

There is plenty of information “out there”  about the health effects too, and not just for those who live in Japan;   for humans in America.   For seals along our Pacific coast.   For polar bears.  For salmon and other fish who are being photographed with whitish tumors all over their bodies, and into their muscles, their meat.    Starfish, seemingly in pain, in agony, and dying.    And whales….the poor whales who are photographed with huge tumors on their necks and heads and mouths….who are struggling to breathe.     Our dairy cattle who are feeding on pastures contaminated with radioactive particles.

Just.  Read.   Inform yourself.

I wish all this radiation coming from Fukushima was the only radiation we have to consider.    Think of the poor people  in southern New Mexico, now, who were contaminated last week with plutonium and americium, to name just two of the radioactive particles pouring out of the caverns.    Another ongoing event.    Cave-in where the nuclear waste was being stored, right?

I didn’t want to show any “anniversary”  pictures of all these things.   Too disturbing.   But I do have a map of my country…..  It kind of speaks for itself,  but it should shout out at us that it’s NOT ONLY HAPPENING IN NEW MEXICO!!!!

Level 5 EventsThe Red spots are locations of reported Level 5 events –  radiation that endangers human beings.   Our nuclear power plants are aging, cracking, leaking.     Most are older now than they were licensed for.

I really don’t know what to say on this kind of Ongoing Anniversary.

Perhaps I’ll just finish that very first line I put above the Lenten purple of this posting:    “When we were still powerless,  and when the time was right, Christ died for the ungodly”    (Romans 5:6)   We are sure in an ungodly mess.

“While we were still powerless…”   While we were still helpless….”

1ST SUNDAY IN LENT: FINDING THE WILDERNESS

March 9, 2014

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Once more we come round to the first Sunday in Lent with its associated Gospel about the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness.   It’s a familiar story, perhaps made more familiar this year as we hear of the politically correct people demanding that the devil be removed from this scene in a certain motion pitcure that has just  entered the theaters.

They can “take out the devil” — we can’t —  but I’m not writing so much about the devil in this story but about the scene of the action:   the “wilderness.”

wilderness

Lonely;   it’s a place where you are all by yourself.   Barren;   no water, food,  or comfort.     Dangerous:    you can be harmed or killed if you cannot defend yourself.

I know where the wilderness is where Jesus likely endured His solitary fasting, praying, and then spritual combat in the form of specific, subtle, and cunning temptations offered to Him, personally,  from our arch-enemy, Satan.

But in today’s sermon,  we were given an interesting insight that took us beyond the mere physical location of Christ’s ordeal.     We each have a wilderness location within us, and we sometimes call it our “hearts.”       The heart is a wilderness where we alone walk, and where we can use only  what we’ve previously gathered and strengthened in order to survive and to defend ourselves by resisting temptations and making the right choices.

Last summer I naively and foolishly put myself in very dangerous wildernesses in several Western states.   I was in search of hiking adventures, exercise, fresh air, I was in search of dinosaur bones.   I was having fun, but I had totally discounted the  real presence of bear,  mountain lions,   and rattlesnakes.     I had maximized my sense of being able to handle myself and minimized  the very real danger.    I shudder now whenever I hear about someone who has encountered these dangers and come out on the losing end  — and people seem to be very enthusiastic about telling me the stories they’ve heard too!

But just imagine!   We carry such a wilderness around with us all the time!    The dangers are more serious because they are of a spiritual nature.   It is our very own everlasting soul that is the prey!

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“Be sober!  Be vigilant!   Because your adversary, the devil,  prowls around like a roaring lion,  seeking whom he may devour.”   (I Peter 5:8)

Good advice.     Be sober, in this life.   Be vigilant, as we walk through this lifetime.   Our Lord God-Most-High wants us to be saved and safely  living with Him forever.

The connection we have with today’s Gospel lesson is that we and Jesus both have a wilderness.    Ours is a lot closer than I had thought.

UH-OH – A HINT OF SPRING

March 8, 2014

I know I’m supposed to be appreciating our warm weather today.  For the second day in a row, our temperature reached somewhere over 40 degrees.   But, then,  if you had a pile of skis and ski poles, ice skates, and assorted jackets, scarves, and mittens just inside your front door,  you’d understand that “spring”  brings the end of a lot of nice things.

It’s too early to think “rose buds and robins”  but almost too late to get in more winter fun.

Here was Hubbie’s red car last Sunday, parked near little  snowbanks.

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Tomorrow I’ll be there  again,  climbing snow banks to get into church, because it takes more than a couple 40-degree days to turn winter into spring.

Sometimes winter on that red car  just inspires “photography.”   One freezing cold day the car door was covered  with beautiful little crystals,  not from ice but from the salt and sand plastered against the car.

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You’ve got to take time to find ‘beauty”  where it is!

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But in yesterday’s warmth I washed my cars and said a “good-bye soon”  to the ever-present grimy coating.    And then I remembered the other photo I took when I was walking back to my snowy parking place last Sunday.

Palm Trees in the Snow!

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The front license plate?    Ron-Jon’s.    My favorite tourist shop in Florida.  No robins yet, but, oddly enough, I began to remember some happy times in warm weather.

I love the change of seasons.   You try to hang on to the fun of the present season,  but then you can begin anticipating the pleasures of the next.   Surely, this is a beautiful Creation.

Deo gratias!

BEING OUR OWN BEST TEACHERS

March 8, 2014

Before I begin rambling –  I mean writing out some “random thoughts” that the Spruce Tunnel inspires,  I’d better state my point.    Bottom line, summary,  the point is that if you want to know something you’d better research the topic and learn it yourself.    Don’t wait for the experts to teach you.

I learned that in the fourth grade.  I loved my teacher, everyone in my classroom seemed to love our teacher too, and, as far as I could tell,  all the kids in school loved their own teachers.   It was not unusual, out on the playground,  to hear arguments about whose teacher was the “best.”

Nearly all of our teachers in our very large Chicago-area public school were young, pretty, nice,  Irish, Catholic single women.    Nearly all the teachers loved their own classrooms “the best.”    Grade after grade,  it was a wonderful and safe climate to grow up in.

But I single out my fourth grade teacher right now,  Miss Fitzpatrick, because it was there that I learned that although she was smart and pretty and friendly and 100% on our side,  she didn’t know everything!    It was a bit of  a shock ,  but I accepted that it must be normal and all right,  because, well, Miss Fitzpatrick was a wonderful teacher and she always liked us and she always wanted us to learn.

She didn’t quite know how to teach me more arithmetic, so she sent me up to her friend’s room, the sixth grade teacher, and arranged  permission for me to rummage around in the spare old-textbook cupboard and choose a sixth grade textbook I could learn from.  I will be forever grateful for that experience.   And not only did Miss Fitzpatrick not know everything,  she knew she didn’t know everything,  and she was smart enough to know what to do about it!   That was a great lesson to learn.

I learned to not depend upon teachers for everything I needed to know, and, by extension, later on,  not to depend upon college professors, authority figures, experts,  or public figures on TV to know everything either.

So that helps me now when current events are directing our attention to these people:

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She is Ukrainian, and she and I probably share a lot of DNA, since it was my ancestors,  the Swedish Vikings, that first established the empire centered around Kiev.  Knowing the Vikings,  they probably shared a lot of big, strong, blue-eyed, yellow-haired genes in the area.   I wrote about this empire briefly in a posting  called:  WHO  I AM WRITING FOR.  (Yes, it was an editorial decision to not write “WHOM.”)

So, historically speaking,  I have an interest in this region of the world.   And truly I cringe whenever I hear the newsreaders struggle with their lack of knowledge about the crisis in Crimerea;  or Crimm-area;  or Crimmea.

And as our F-15s are circling (and menacing) the region,  as warships gather, as the entrance to the Black Sea is blocked, as soldiers rush against soldiers, and as the U.S. and Europe hire snipers to kill the rebels to make it look like the Ukrainian president is killing innocent demonstrators,   as all this is going on, the newsreaders waste precious air time puzzling over the oddity of saying “The Ukraine”  or  “Ukraine”   —

–and laughing, as though an amusing cocktail party topic is really of not that much importance after all.

If the entertainment/news reports are confusing,  it’s probably best that we all search out what is actually going on over there.

I fear we won’t, though.  I fear we won’t understand the issues arising from history.  I fear we won’t know what hit us. . . .

What if we who have no time for this run out of time?

Learning is serious business.

CROSSING THE BAR

March 8, 2014

Well, it’s Friday today. . . .with a different sort of posting:

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First Friday in Lent, actually, so it’s appropriate, and right, and proper to think of death.    I’ve had quite a lot of it recently.   Not just the almost 300 souls who are missing,  now,  in the Malaysian airplane.   Not just Hubbie, whose death seems so “recent” and all the attendant questions play over and over in my mind.

There was a young mother this week,  four children,  who came down with “flu-like symptoms” and went into kidney failure. . . and died,.     And there is a friend of this family, a good young lady, whom I love very  much, who was also recovering from a “flu”  and was admitted to the hospital this week for kidney failure….and whatever else.   She is still with us.

“Crossing the Bar” –

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I came across that rather shabby sheet music at a used store one day.   I do love these old, old songs that once were played in the parlor, for the whole family to enjoy and perhaps sing along.   The lyrics caught my attention, and without realizing how meaningful they could some day be to me,  I purchased the sheet music.

So, in general,  I know we are supposed to live as if we’re going to die some day.   We are to live as though we will be on our death bed some day, thinking . . . .     It’s hard to come to terms with that idea, but there are those who have thought about it, have “crossed to the other side,”  and have left behind their thoughts for us.   We’re not alone, really.

Here are the lyrics, for those of you who have ever  thought of your own dying:

 Sunset and evening star,

      And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

      Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,

      And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

      When I embark;

   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

      The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

      When I have crost the bar.

You don’t need to live by the seaside among  tides and moaning sandbars  to get the general idea.    The words are actually a poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.    It was a popular poem to memorize and to recite, long ago,  when people entertained each other.

I don’t know what Tennyson’s faith was,  but he did know about the “Pilot”  who will be waiting for us when we, too, cross that great sandbar, over which there is no turning back from our journey into the deep black abyss of death.

And it’s through the Abyss of Death that those who follow Jesus Christ will follow in His footsteps, to His place, where we have no right to be because we are  sons and daughters of Adam’s fallen race.

But this Christ, this Son of God became Son of Adam….  and “paid for”  our right to follow Him all the way,  crossing the bar, into His home.

Sunset and evening star  . .  . And one clear call for me! 

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  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.   (St. Paul, the book of Romans,  teaching us the theological reasons for Christian hope.)

No real fear for what’s on the other side.   He did it first.    And that’s what Christendom thinks about, on  Fridays.

THE LOGIC OF LENT

March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday today.

Purple Ash Wednesday

Whether we hear it in a church or we hear it from the movies,  we’re familiar with the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”    Meaning our bodies are composed of the elements from the earth, i.e.  dust, mud, various minerals, etc.     Meaning, also,  when we die, our bodies will decompose back to its elements. . .

But there is a philosophical logic at work here.  We were made —  and never mind the exact “process” for now —  we were made from out of the “dust” of the earth, and after the willful Fall of Adam,  part of the consequences of our failure is that we go back into the earth, literally and materially.

From out of the earth;  then back into the earth.   

The same logic pertains to fasting and penance during this season of Lent.   Using Biblical language, the first act of prideful defiance manifested itself when Adam and Eve  “ate” from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.   This first great sin was accomplished by “eating.”    If we are to show our sincerity in repudiating prideful disobedience,   then we “oppose”  our sinful tendencies by fasting, which is the opposite act.

Indulging in our “eating” desires;  or refusing to give in to our personal desires.

Again, we have penance and mortifications (little self-denials):   we sin with the use of our physical bodies;  and so then we deny our bodily impulses, bringing our desires under control, freeing us, then, to listen to a higher calling from the One God-Most-High who calls us back.

Deciding to be a better person, deciding not to sin,  is a nice human thought.     But “resolve” itself accomplishes nothing.     Strength is needed , persistence, and manly courage.      There is stern, hard work involved to produce the Good Soil in which the Word that the Sower sows can take root in us.

 

THE MATURING OF A LENT’ICIAN

March 5, 2014

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“Too late smart!!”   That was one of my Finnish grandma’s many pithy sayings that summarize life’s harsh truths.    She was neither harsh nor bitter – but she did have some hard-earned wisdom.

What do you call a practitioner of Lenten duties and devotions?   How about a Lentician?   (Lent’ician)     Good enough for me.

For much of my early years I had no idea the word Lent even existed.   Once I began a serious study of history, I could at least have given you a definition.   In my early married years it was scarcely a blip on my mental radar screen.   Something “superstitious” people were worried about.

Then one year, a couple days before Easter Sunday,  I was washing dishes at my kitchen sink, looking out the window.  It was a warm sunny spring day, and the kids would be coming home from school soon and would be playing outside….so then I could concentrate on getting dinner ready for Hubbie….

And while I was washing and thinking,  the light dimmed.  It seemed to dim all over, not just outside.   But of course a small cloud had to have passed over the sun, because I was not “superstitious” and even though the thought came to me that some people call this “Good Friday,”   and check the time and, yes,  it was 3:00 in the afternoon, and the remembrance of this Time, the personal re-entering of this Time is important to some people …  I wasn’t one of them, that year.

I’m glad for that little cloud, if that’s what caused the temporary dimming of light inside my kitchen.    I think it was one of those many tiny baby steps that brought me into the Church….such a lifetime of gentle leading!!!

I became more personally involved in Good Fridays after that,  and then I began to understand the importance of Lent, because you can’t go smack into Good Friday and Easter, just as you are.

I got a little smarter in my “later years”  as Grandma would have recognized.

Each passing Lent my mind grows more and more,  to apprehend even greater significance for this time of year.    I keep saying, I didn’t know!  I didn’t know that before!    Am I ready to “do” Lent right even now because there’s so much I don’t know yet?

I feel so “immature” about this.  Perhaps that’s a sign of maturing?

I feel so dumb about Lent.  Perhaps that’s a sign of getting smart?

Too late smart!!!    That’s oddly encouraging.

At least Grandma thinks it can happen!

 

KIND OF FUNNY; KIND OF NOT

March 4, 2014

I had to “go into town”  one day recently.

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Notice anything funny about that road?     The snowplow driver kindly gave me a track for my right tires and the middle track for my left tires.   And the oncoming cars have a track for their right tires and . . .  the same middle track for their left tires!

We were given a  road with three tracks.    No problem with “all that traffic,”  but eventually a car will come along and we’ll both have to make some adjustments in where we thought we could drive.

I’m glad I took that photo.    Most of the time it makes me smile.   But I get thoughtful too.   My classes and I have recently been discussing how much like a journey our lives are meant to be.   We’re moving forward on whatever kind of road we’ve been given, and it is well that we stay alert and make “adjustments” as things come our way so that we stay on course and reach our goal.

I’m not the king of the road!

Our roads are taking us into Lent now.  Maybe that’s why I feel pensive tonight.    Lent offers much  for us to learn about becoming a good driver.   I don’t want to wreck my “car” and wind up short of the goal.

Standing at the “end of the road” surely is the Son of God who waits for us:  “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.  And he that hears, let him say, Come.   And he that thirsts, let him come;  and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.”      (Thus reports the fifth to the last verse of the whole Bible.)

The road of life upon which we make our journey.    Come along.    It’s kind of fun;  kind of funny;  but kind of serious too.