Archive for the ‘Holidays’ category

A PHYSICAL LOOK AT ST. VALENTINE

February 14, 2017

St. Valentine!

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We have St. Valentine’s Day.   A cute,  fun, innocent opportunity to show affection for our friends and “sweethearts.”        Teachers use this day to teach their children to have respect and caring for all their classmates.    Other people enjoy a reason to share fond feelings with some activity like special meals,  special notes and cars,  special . . .   smiles.  make your Mom or your Grandma or your aunt feel special!

So many times in the New Testament we’re reminded to show love and affection and tender caring for each other.    Jesus is gone now, for the moment,   and we are to be His hands,  showing His love to each other.

This was a common  remark from the Roman citizens about the early Christians:   “How they loved one another!”

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Among these early Christians were bishops and priests who both taught and modeled the love of Christ for their people.

There really was a man named or nicknamed “Valentine.”  (“Valentine” for “a valiant man.”)     The story has come down to us that  he converted many to Christianity during the second half of the 3rd century;    that  he worked among the young soldiers of the Roman army,  teaching them and marrying them to their “sweethearts”   so that, as Christians, the young man would live honorably with their wives.

 

. . .  Thus angering  the Roman officials.   He was beaten and then beheaded.   His relics were rescued, saved, and honored – and passed around!    An important part of his relics ended up in modern Ireland.

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How do we know what he may have looked like?     Today there are experts in facial reconstruction, starting with the skull, and knowing how the tissues and muscles fit upon the skull.

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So now we have a pretty close idea of what St. Valentine may have looked like!

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A real, actual,  historical man.   A real, actual saint.

Love is real.

 

 

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FUZZY MOON

November 15, 2016

My photo of the Super Moon:

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It wasn’t quite dark.   It wasn’t too high in the sky.   It was a little misty,  a little hidden behind branches, and it wasn’t super-sharp clear like some great  photos  I’ve seen on TV.

But I decided I like my photo anyway.

Soft and indistinct.

Like a lot of the things I know about.    So much I know about but don’t have a clear sharp understanding of.

Maybe I’m weary.  Maybe I’ve been reading too many of my favorite action-adventure spy-vs.-spy special forces kind of novels — where there is a lot of death and dying.    Maybe I’ve seen too many mean-spirited and violent people in the protest videos in the news.  Death and threats of death everywhere.

And now the coming of Thanksgiving week,  where birth met death in our family in 2010.  Cooper was born ,”untimely,”   unexpectedly premature,  but in time to be placed in Hubbie’s arms,  in his hospital bed,  as he lay dying.

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Little Hand Holding Big Hand

We were “indistinct”   about that too.   Perhaps supernaturally protected from too many acute emotions,  like the soft, comforting lighting on the way to Hubbie’s room.

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Hospital Hallway

I don’t understand much about death.  I know we have to go through the process of death in order to  get to Eternal Life.    I know there will be a horrible state of affairs for many who die,  but a wonderful and glorious state of affairs for those who have come to know their Creator — before they die.

Our Creator didn’t create death,  but He made provision for all of us who have to face death.   Stick with Him,  on His terms,  and we’ll be all right.

But what is this process that causes so much grief and loss and uncertainty?  And people who bravely say they don’t fear death —   are they kidding themselves?    Even some of our greatest, most good and holy saints have gone through periods when they fear their own imminent death.     It’s a Crossing Over, leaving everything behind that we know,  into —

The Bible says don’t be looking into things that are above your understanding.  It’s  okay if things stay fuzzy and unfocused.

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So,  maybe death is one of those things.     It happened in our family at Thanksgiving time:  Hubbie (and devoted father to my children);    and then  my own Mom just before Thanksgiving a couple years after.

We’ll probably engage in our usual  “remembering” this year,  trying to make sense of something that was never meant to be but is a common experience of all humans.  There can be much that is beautiful and true  after our death.

Best left indistinct and unclear, I suppose,  because if we give ourselves too many answers,  we won’t be open to the loveliness of Eternity that a loving , caring God has provided for us,  as it comes into our lives.  Our thoughts can hide his thoughts.

I can know that the full moon was 8% closer this month.     The last time it was this close was 69 years ago.  the next time will be in the year 2030.     But that doesn’t help me know the beauty of the soft golden glow of a misty moon, and be touched by the wonder of it all.

Lovely.

Loveliness ahead.

There is more to human life than scientific knowledge.

DAY 9 – A SUCCESSFUL PUSHBACK

October 30, 2016

(Happy Interlude Topic #2)

You’ve seen the photos during the past few decades:

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Devil’s Night !!

It’s a not-so-fun night of mayhem and madness – and arson, first held in Detroit on the night before Halloween, and then spreading to other “inner urban”  city arenas.   I don’t know whose brilliant idea it was to start the tradition,  but it has resulted in the loss of many businesses and homes, and when you add the gunshots,  loss of life too.

Every October 31st we’d wait to hear the news of just how bad it was during the night before.

Well,  this year I woke up to the Detroit radio station having a discussion  about something new.  “Angel’s Night.”    This is a grass roots type of activity started by some Detroit citizens who were tired of having their hometown trashed in reality and by reputation;  so  a group of them met together and made a plan.

For the past few years,  and this year,  this group forms citizen patrols, in coordination with the Detroit City police,  and they inform residents of safety tips for October 30th, including keeping outdoor house lights on all night.

Whatever all the things are that they do,  it’s been working.   Crime is down on October 30th, and little or no arsons committed.

That’s all.     Good citizens rising up to fight against crime in their local area.

Push-back.        They pushed back against the criminals.

And it’s working.

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We can do it!!

“WE DECLARE”

July 4, 2016

“WE DECLARE”    —     You might start a sentence that way if  you want to be emphatic,  definite,   and to say something of importance.

We did.   We did!

Americans did, and we’ve acknowledged that Declaration on July 4th ever since.    It’s a real  holiday!     And we all spend some time figuring out what we’re going to do on this holiday to show our happiness and thanks for our nation.

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A  “few”  years ago I had my first baby on this date!    Happy Birthday,  Daughter!     She has all kinds of plans for today.    She and her little family live near Lake Tahoe,  on the shores of   beautiful Donner Lake, and so her house will be filled with all kinds of friends – all day, she said! –   coming over for birthday treats, BBQ’s,  hot tubs,  swimming,  and then morphing into Fourth of July fireworks . . . .   Whew!

And me?   Well.     Well, well, well.    Here in the Far North I was informed by Daughter in the Far West,  thousands of miles away,  that MY fireworks have been canceled!

Huh?, I said.

Sure enough.   When I checked our local news source on the Internet,   our Fourth of July fireworks have been postponed to . . .   New Year’s Eve!      Too dry here now,  so I guess we’ll have to wait for our snow cover.    Can’t burn snow.

So that leaves me with a quieter Fourth.   I really “took a holiday”  and did whatever I wanted to do.       I planted my roses today.    They are red, white,  and –  uh,  purple.    Purple roses are nice.   Enjoyed a patriotic, spy-versus-spy, American special ops action adventure type of book.        (Cold Shot by Mark Henshaw)      Read as long as I wanted!

I had some time to brush up on what this is all about.      Revolutionary War stories.

cake we declare

This is where our Founding Fathers did  our “declaring.”    As far as I know,  we are the only nation that started ourselves out with a declaration that we are going to be a nation.  And then there’s that responsibility to stick with the idea,  to uphold the principles and values were used to create this nation.      “A republic,  madam,  if you can keep it,”  said Ben Franklin.

Here are the famous words of John Henry Lee,  the representative from the colony of Virginia:     “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of a right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

That did it!      The colonies declared their separation from the British Crown.    Kind of like stepping off a cliff and knowing you’ve got to fight to survive the Fall in order to become a nation.    Someone had to write out this Declaration;  the job fell mainly to Thomas Jefferson,  but all the representatives weren’t satisfied until they made it plain that they need the Almighty’s help to survive this Leap off the cliff and to come up stronger together.

And so this line was added:    “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

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As we battled and scraped our way into young nationhood,   everyone knew we needed God’s help.

Our Founding Fathers were somewhat more confident then, after that declaration was completed and began to be signed.   The day was July 2nd.

A joyful  John Adams next declared:   ” The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

Well, I did my “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty”  yesterday,  and now I  can’t wait until New Year’s Eve to celebrate.  I’ll watch all the noise and lights and fireworks on television.    It’s dark here now,  but still light out in California.    Good thing it took a few days to finish signing that Declaration of Independence –

—  or else my daughter would have been born late for her own birthday!

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone!

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Deo gratias!

AT THE ENDING OF A YEAR

January 1, 2016

You know,  a lot of things don’t end at the end of the year.   No serious issues in the world got “fixed”;  none of them ended.     No use to write about those.   We’ll see the same things again.

But closer to home, there were a few “endings.”  Holiday visits ended and the “last day” arrived:

Last chance to play with the new drone:

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Uh, the bright green thing floating in the air.

Last hours in Grandma’s state, ending at the airport.  He’s California-bound:

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Last happy moments with “uncle” –

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The airport walk puts a final end to the visit:

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Last glimpse of our little family,  Daughter in red amidst the Green of the Marching Band :

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Our  Marching Band,  heading to the Cotton Bowl.

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So . . .it’s the end of this year’s football season too.

Kind of wish we had seen more of this:

NYE didn't get there much

38 – 0

Sheeesh.

sad football   Kind of wish we had played while we were out there on the field.  It wasn’t that Alabama was so good  (ahem);    it’s just that we were so . . . not good.     Season’s ended.    Good.

But the game gave us an opportunity for a little New Year’s Eve party.

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(Sorry for the blur, guys — just preserving a bit of your privacy.  )

It was fun being with friends as the year ended.  We watched the painful ending  of our football season together,   along with the ending of the year,  and the ending of any attempts at dieting for a while.   That’s what parties are for ??  !!

And then the little party ended, and all I have is the aftermath at the end of the night:

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Not much food left, pizzas are gone,  glasses are empty, “Sparty”  blanket is empty and alone, and the fireplace is on its last log.

The Old Year is Ending:

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Time to let go and get on with a whole New Year!

And I’d better stop writing now and bring in the extra drinks that were cooling on the back deck;  our “warm spell” is ending too and winter weather has finally arrived.

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TODAY IS LIFE

December 22, 2015

(A little posting of explanation for my absence) –

Almost finished preparations for Christmas.  Just a few more pieces to go:

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But I had a little setback.    Blindsided by a 5-year anniversary.

We think we  “know ourselves.”   But the “knowing”  is really just  familiarity.  After “many”  decades of life,  you’d think I’d know myself by now.   I thought I knew me:

Descendant of Vikings.  Daughter of a Marine.   Rough and tough tomboy, playing football and “war” with my friends.  Emperor Frederick II of Prussia was my hero during high school;  he’s the reason why I drove myself to manly excellence in academics and physical strength and  . . .  well,  flute.  I can intellectualize my way out of anything.  and I thought I was pretty well self-disciplined . . .  .

But I had an unexpected setback.  Blind-sided.  Emotionally.

The 5-year anniversary?    Is this:

Grandpa and Cooper

I write about Hubbie here.    I write about Cooper.    Five years ago,  one of them was just arriving;  one of them was just leaving.   An unexpected early arrival;  a very unexpected early departure.   (Again,  I chronicled all this in the November 2010 archives here.)

So I’ve pieced my life together;  reinvented my household, as all of us have to do from time to time.   Stayed true to the one who departed and “inserted” into my life the one who arrived.

That’s how December began,  with the residue of “feelings”  I had thought I had managed fairly well but had to wrestle with again.

And then I put some old photos up on the wall —

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Yep.   Me.   And Hubbie.    (A “few” years ago.)   December 21st is our Anniversary.

A lot of years were to follow on after that photo was taken.

And then it’s . . .   history.   Just history.

I was a history major at the university.  I still study history,  but somehow I didn’t expect my own life to become . . .  history.

So that’s where I’ve been lately – away from The Spruce Tunnel.    Perhaps I should get back in and get on with things.    Some busy cheery things have happened this month too.

Today is Life.

There are still a few more pieces to fit together in my puzzle.

 

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ADVENT PREPARATION — FOR WHAT?

December 1, 2015

So, it’s Advent,  and we put away the funky dark blue skies, as the photos in my last posting,  and look ahead to the birth of the Christmas child. . .

silhouette wisemen and swirly sky

 

I ended the last post with a reminder from St. Bernard of Clairvaux to carefully consider what we’re expecting at  Christmastime.    Or just exactly Who.  “Consider who he is that comes. . . ,”  St. Bernard said.

There is only one Messiah for planet Earth.  It’s a one-time event, and even though it was prophesied and  studied and anticipated for many centuries,  it crept up on us one still, dark night in Israel, and the Impact is still unfolding inside people, because it wasn’t just a Baby.

The Bible says it was the Word of God Himself, leaving His “throne” in one giant cosmic tearing into the physical universe –

  For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course,  Thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction. *

That’s how the Bible describes that first Christmas night.

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What came down to Earth and into the manger was a Fierce Conqueror!  A Mighty Conqueror!  Almighty God!    King of  Kings!      Judge of All Men.

And He came down into this Land of Destruction, with a sharp, two-edged sword, to defeat sin, wickedness, and death itself.

It was in the middle of a dark night,   just as He did long before on the Night of Passover, destroying  a world empire system that He would not allow to continue on, hence the death of all the firstborns.  It was midnight then.   It was midnight in the manger.

It is midnight, now,  once again, in this world benighted  and blinded.

So during Advent we prepare ourselves to properly remember the birth of Christ the Messiah, but keeping in mind, as St Bernard had said,  “… for what end He comes …,”  preparing also for the second phase of His coming to Earth.

Advent has become a time of buying gifts, buying wrapping paper,  buying Christmas cards, buying decorations,  buying holiday food,  buying holiday plane tickets,   and, oh, yes – remember to buy some purple . . .  candles.

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That will prepare you for the obligations of one year’s holiday.

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The prophets of Israel had a larger, much more serious view of the coming of the Messiah.    Our Advent should match the knowledge they gave us.   The Church gives us four weeks;  but God gives us our lifetime, however long or short,  to come to terms with what Christmas means.

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  •  Wisdom 18:14, 15

 

 

 

 

 

NO “DAY” FOR SOME MOTHERS

May 11, 2015


Mothers Day was so much fun for me.  There were flowers, and a “matching”  card, and lots of food, and lemon cake, and helpful things done around the house (that Mom couldn’t do) – but the festivities really began with a mesmerizing hour of the History Channel’s  study of Sun Tzu’s Art of War — Son and I just drank that in  and participated with some of our own ideas —

star wars      And that was followed by the highlight of the day:   Son and I watched together most of the original Star Wars trilogy  (Episodes IV, V, and VI).  That was my request, but it was answered by a genuinely interested Yes!      Anyone who understands this knows what a gem of a son I have.

(Maybe Daughter would have joined us, but she lives across the country and has a son of her own to enjoy — which apparently she did, starting out her day with Mickey Mouse pancakes . . .  well, he’s five years old. . .)

Well, today is the day after Sunday, I get back to routine, reading the news, including news of our fellow Christians.  I often find stories of killings,  burnings, kidnappings of those who had been to their churches on Sunday, in Muslim lands.  I usually cringe, knowing this country chooses not to help,  but I need to know what’s actually going on in the world.

Today, on this day after Mothers Day,  I found jarring evidence of the contrast between the two cultures:  one that used to be based on Christian principles, and the other based upon principles derived from the writings of Islam.    Mothers in their world are not so honored as in the Christian world.

There is, by all accounts,  a video that is going around the Muslim world “calling on Muslims to disregard Mother’s Day and denouncing it as a Christian festival.”   It’s almost four minutes long, the speaker is Ustaz Azhar Idrus who says that Mothers Day is a Christian holiday that is linked to the “Mother of the Church, the Virgin Mary.”

Well, no, not quite.  I think Mothers Day was first promoted by a Protestant lady just after the Civil War,  but the connection to the Virgin Mary is not unacceptable.

So Muslims should not honor their mothers on Mothers Day.

Let us hear the words of the  Ayatollah Khomeini:

“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam.There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” — Ayatollah Khomeini

So, there.

(Perhaps celebrating Mothers Day is another “provocation”  to Islam?)

(Or perhaps our happy celebration of Mothers Day could be a gentle testimony to the love that is taught by the Christian God and His words to love and to honor and to respect our mother, our father,  and everyone who stands near us.)