sinking ships

Democracy requires common ground on which all can stand,
but that ground is sinking beneath our feet, and democracy may be going
down the sinkhole with it.

Pat Buchanan


(Canterbury Cathedral)

I grew up in a very large church in a rather large denomination in an
increasingly large city.

The Cathedral of St Philip.

A beautifully large Episcopal, southern Gothic, church reminiscent of something that
should have been found somewhere in the UK rather than Atlanta, Georgia.

The Cathedral is the diocesan seat of the North Georgia chapter
of the Episcopal Church in Georgia.

The Episcopal Church of America, in a nutshell, is a part of the World Wide Anglican Communion and is basically a sibling to the The Church of England.

Many consider the Episcopal and Anglican Churches kissing cousins to the Catholic
Church. And perhaps there is a good bit of truth to that as we are each liturgical
churches that follow a similar service format with very similar
creeds and doctrine.
Yet whereas the cousins are related, they are also different.
The cousins have a pope and we have the Presiding Bishop in American and the
Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK.

Confused yet?

It is not my intention to give a history lesson here as I’ve done that in the past.
I don’t want to have a theological discussion as I’ve done that in the past as well.

But what I do want to do is share a bit of sad frustration that just might have
finally found a slight ray of hope.

Have you ever found yourself on a sinking ship?
Probably not, but stay with me for a minute…

It is a ship that is actually on fire.
In the middle of a moonless night out upon a vast body of water.
You know the ship is burning as well as sinking…
plus you know you need to get off ASAP!

Problem is there are no lifeboats, no fire extinguishers…
the water is dark and cold as well as shark infested.
Your options are limited.
Things just aren’t looking too good.

I have felt this way for a good many years now.

Both The Episcopal Church and the Church of England have become that sinking
ship.

It’s a long story which I suppose got really going in the late 60’s
and early 70’s.

We may remember that we were coming off a very difficult time in the country.
Vietnam had been a mess, women were burning bras,
demanding equal rights, demanding the right to abortions,
while the youth had enjoyed a “season” of open and free love as we had witnessed
the demand for birth control and open sex.

That was also about the time women were wanting into the priesthood.
Then came the openly gay and practicing clergy.
Then came the approval of same sex marriages within the church.
Ad nauseum it goes.

I’ve spent my life as an ardent Christian and ardent church member who has always
clung to God’s word…as in His word is actually the final word…

As His word has been and will continue to always be that final word….
Yet that Word is basically being chopped to bits by the church…..
while the sinking has been hard.

That is part and parcel as to why I quit attending long ago as
I found it increasingly hard to reconcile myself with leadership of a church body
that made decisions that I believe run counter to the Word of God.
Yet my heart remained with the liturgical church.

I am a person who has always liked, as well as admired, those lone voices among
the noise.
Being a person who actually yearns for such voices.
Because I believe those voices speak of our hope.

The voices of those who stand alone in the desert while shouting to the moon
and back as to what is Truth.
Those who speak Truth while the entire world is losing its mind and running
like freaking lemmings to the cliff.

Think John the Baptist.

Think the early Christians persecuted by Rome.

Think even Winston Churchill in our more modern times.

Think anyone who has seen the reality of the times and dares to speak up
by saying so.

I’ve just recently happened upon the blog of an Anglican priest who just so
happens to be one of those lone voices.

A single thread of sanity found in the middle of the madness.

His name is Gavin Ashenden and he is the former chaplain to the Queen…
a position he held until he could no longer support the direction in which the
Anglican Church was going…
that being to the cliff with the other lemmings.

Yesterday Father Ashenden posted a column by the a catholic priest, Fr Ed Tomlinson,
which has hit the nail squarely on the head for both these kindred siblings and cousins.

For you see what is happening in the Episcopal and Anglican Churches is just
a reflection of what is actually taking place on a larger stage.
It is a reflection which mirrors what is actually happening in both the
United States and Great Britain as a whole…
as we are currently watching both our Governments capitulate to all things
Politically Correct, those things deemed holy only by man and a blatant
refusal to acknowledge the Christian foundations of Western Civilization.

The ship is on fire, it is sinking fast and those of us who know better,
have got to get off ASAP but there are no lifeboats….

Below are a few key points from Fr. Tomlinson’s column along with a link to the
full post:

“Highly political synods shattered Anglicanism’s fragile unity.
Catholics should take note”

“A former Anglican Chaplain to the Queen, the Revd Gavin Ashenden,
is spearheading a revolt in the Church of England Synod over the thorny issue
of homosexuality.
Anglicans are talking openly about schism.
Catholics the world over should be watching very carefully.”

Anglicanism’s real problem has always been a theological schizophrenia –
the result, perhaps, of it having formed to appease a lusty monarch rather
than to preach a creed with clarity. Ask a hundred Anglicans what
Anglicanism actually is and expect a hundred answers.
The Church of England isn’t, really, one Church at all.
It’s an Erastian umbrella organisation holding together,
by virtue of the Crown, a huge range of competing theologies.

“And it didn’t take long for the liberal lobby, strengthened by trends
in society and over-represented on the bench of bishops,
to realise synod worked in their favour.
Did the Holy Spirit say no to women priests in July’s Synod?
Fret not: table the motion again in February, then repeat ad nauseum,
until the Holy Spirit finally gets the message!”

The second development which disrupted Anglican unity occurred when the
Book of Common Prayer became optional not mandatory.
You are what you pray: lex orandi, lex credendi.
With the shackles removed, parishes started to go their own way.
Today, there is almost no common ground between an evangelical parish
on one side of town and its liberal counterpart on the other.
This represents a massive problem for the Church of England:
how can you bring people together in love when there is zero shared praxis
between them?
The situation has become so grave that the Lambeth Conference can no longer be held,
due to deep divisions even at the level of the episcopacy.

So it is that the Revd Gavin Ashenden finds himself embroiled in this final
battle for the soul of modern Anglicanism. He and a few others are making
their last stand against the powerful modernist liberal consensus
that dominated the most recent Synod.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/07/26/the-lesson-of-anglicanism-liberalism-will-tear-you-apart/

So I am somewhat hopeful when I read the tales that there are a few lone
voices still out there that have yet to be silenced by the masses…voices who
know the truth for what it is….
God’s Truth…

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ;
and He will reign forever and ever.”

Revelation 11:15

prayers for Coach


(Coach Tim Criswell /courtesy Joe Garrett’s blog / 2014)

Spending a 30 plus career in one place, in one school,
affords a teacher the opportunity of sitting back and watching as a lot of
folks come and go…
An endless sea of students who come in in the 9th grade in order to “serve”
their four years only to then pass through and on come graduation.
Some students will stay all four years while some will not…for a myriad of reasons.

There are also a lot of personnel changes that take place within a school
as folks transfer, move or change careers…
With the front doors of the school becoming almost like a revolving door for change…
Because in a school, nothing stays the same for very long.
Which is just part and parcel of life, the cycle of learning, moving and growing.

I was fortunate in that I worked in a small city school system.
I was the art teacher for 30 plus years at the city system high school.
Our school system employs a lot of former students as well as community members who
have lived in Carrollton or in Carroll County all their lives.
I was actually the outsider all those many years ago.

I was afforded the gift of meeting and working with a wealth of varied individuals.
Some of whom came and went in due time while others stayed, as I did…
forging a lifetime of teaching on one single campus and within one single school.

Those who do such, staying in one place for so very long, find that they actually
become the extended family of their colleagues.
As one actually spends more waking hours with fellow educators than with
one’s own family.

I remember when a new wet behind the ears, fresh out of college, young man
was hired to coach basketball.

At our school football was a long established dynasty…a well known program
throughout not only the state but throughout the entire nation as state titles were collected like Easter eggs and players went on to the NFL…
while basketball was only a mere footnote.

His name was Tim Criswell..and like so many other employees, Tim was also a graduate
of his new employer.

I won’t go into the details of his now near 30 year career…
I won’t talk about the persevering and hard work that has garnered awards, titles
and a wealth of accolades all of which “Coach” has managed to bring to the house of Trojan.

Because accolades and titles mean nothing when you consider the countless number of
lives of an army of young men who have been made the better because they played
under and worked alongside “Coach”
For Tim is a man of great integrity and conviction.
A man who any parent would want as an influence as well as role model for their child.

Tim is now in the final years of a long successful career of both coaching and
teaching.
He and his wife Dawn are looking forward to his retirement.

Saturday morning Tim and Dawn were out riding bikes on the new Green Belt that
circles the city of Carrollton—a 17 mile loop providing a place for walking,
running and riding bikes.

What exactly happened is still a bit unclear but there was an accident.
A serious accident.

Tim had to be life flighted to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital’s trauma unit with
extensive injuries…
broken ribs, a punctured lung and severe head trauma.

He is currently heavily sedated as the medical team works to keep the pressure
in the brain from swelling beyond what is considered to be safe numbers
as the pressure is fluctuating like a see saw of up and down.

They are holding off on needed surgeries due to the fluctuating pressure.
They are debating putting a plate in for one of the ribs,
meshes to help stop blood clots from traveling from the legs to the lungs
as well as surgeries to alleviate the cranial pressure.

He has developed a fever and pneumonia and is currently being given antibiotics.

I am asking for you to please join me for prayers for Tim, Dawn and
their three sons.

Dawn reported last night on the CaringBridge update page that one of the doctors is apparently a strong Believer who told her that the specific prayer currently
needed is for the pressure in the brain to back off….

So I am in turn humbly asking that you all will join me by adding Tim to your list
of those for whom you pray.

I ask that we join together..in turn asking our Omnipotent Father to draw ever
closer to Dawn and the boys as He wraps His arms around Tim’s battered body.

I ask that there will be healing for Tim’s broken and bruised body
as well as for Dawn’s anxious heart.

I’ll will provide updates or you may visit the CaringBridge site to register in order
to read the updates.

https://www.caringbridge.org/

paradoxes

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

Niels Bohr


(wild morning glory deep in the Georgia woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

Paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition
that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

My intent was to have written about something else today…
but as God often places something in
my way forcing my hand or forcing my change in direction,
there was no getting around the change
in thought.

My first thought was to talk a little about yesterdays’ brouhaha…
that current national obsession that was playing out on every television channel or news outlet
such that there was an actual news story, I believe it was true but who knows anymore, that
bars in D.C. opened up for a morning run providing a watering hole venue for folks to line up and come watch the hearing
(I should say the Comey hearing but’I’m actually sick and tired of hearing the fellow’s name…
as the nation’s obsession is not my own)

The news camera panned the bar—jam packed full with folks,
some who admittedly were ditching work, happily imbibing…
For others, who knows why hanging out watching television in a bar on a Thursday morning
seems productive…yet perhaps I should not be surprised to see so many youthful ones
who obviously have no where to be at 9:30 on a Thursday morning in the Nation’s capital
but I suppose I digress.

Then my second thought was to offer an observation also from yesterday.
The UK had a big election yesterday…an election for a possible new PM and new government.
I think that sort of thing ranks up there with our own election as these first cousin nations
are that important to one another…
However, when I went to read the BBC on-line the most front and center news story was not the
UK’s own election but what was happening in the US with the hearing.

I first clicked on the world news…the US shenanigans was the lead story
I then clicked on European news, again, the UK election was not the lead story
I next clicked on UK news…the lead story was not so much election outcome as it was
other matters which danced around what was to be the outcome….

How can the BBC put off their own election…
the story of a leading global power’s election while
opting to focus on the American hysteria?

Thirdly I thought I’d write about the story of the small Missouri town that has had a
60 foot cross donning the center of their town square since the 1930’s.
For the past 87 years this small Missouri town has held every Easter sunrise service
at the base of this cross, in this city’s central park, since
the time the cross was first erected.

The mayor recently received a letter from an out of town atheist and freethinking
organization that has threatened the town with legal action if the cross
is not removed.
Up until the arrival of this letter, the town has never had a single complaint
regarding the cross.

The group who sent the letter claim that this cross is in
direct violation with a separation of church and state and will sue the town
if it is not removed.

The mayor and city council has responded…the cross will stay.

So whereas I had a good bit I wanted to chat about and share…
there was another story that seemed to trump (there’s that word again)
all other stories as it is a story that should give every last one of us pause before
we continue with the important things that we seem to think are so utterly important….

Things such as watching hearings, standing in long lines in order to drink and indulge
while ditching work in order to sit and watch said hearing…
a hearing that was really much to do about nothing,
while others write threatening letters, while even others of us concern ourselves with
matters that truly pale in comparison to the bigger issues of life, living and dying.

Two day’s ago, a church bus was enroute from Huntsville, Alabama to Atlanta’s airport.
The bus was full of young people, high schoolers and their leaders, who were preparing
to fly out to Botswana in order to spend time working with children there in Africa.
A little more noble effort then hanging out drinking and watching TV…but who
am I to say…

It was mid day and the sun was shining…a low humidity Chamber of Commerce kind of
Georgia day.
The church bus was less then five miles from the airport when tragedy stuck.
There was a lane change with the bus having to overcorrect after striking a car in the
adjacent lane.
The overcorrection forced the bus into the medium, flipping it upside down while it
then fell in the path of the opposite lane’s traffic, where it was hit again.

Both directions of Camp Creek Parkway, the road leading directly into the airport,
were closed as a 17 year old young girl was killed and 21 other were injured,
some seriously.

“Life changes so rapidly on us, you know?
One moment, things are fine.
The next moment you’re dealing with things like this.
It’s just tough,” Fulton County Fire Chief Larry Few said.

The young girl’s family shared her picture with Atlanta’s Channel 2 news and offered a
few words about their daughter.

And she loved the Lord with a love that was tangible,” Harmening’s mother said.
“It’s what she lived and breathed for.”

Sarah’s mother read her last journal entry on the bus and said it gives her comfort.

“That God has called me here and he has done this for a reason,
so I know he’s going to do incredible things,” her mother read.

A friend shared some of the final words Harmening….

“This is such a great reminder; we are like a wisp of smoke.
We are only here for a moment and it’s not about us, life is not about us,
it’s about God,” said Harmening’s friend Claire.

So whereas I thought I had some things I wanted to share or discuss or focus on—
It seems as if they weren’t nearly as important as I had thought….

Because there is much wisdom found in the words of one’s friend who reflects on the
loss of a young life….

For none of this thing we call life is really about us now is it…..

Jesus said to her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

won’t let nobody hurt you….

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me.
Of course we will hurt each other.
But this is the very condition of existence.
To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter.
To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


(two plovers wandering for a meal / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

Songs always seem to just pop into our heads do they not?
Current songs, past songs, songs from childhood…
Songs for singing, humming, shouting…
As it seems that songs, as well as music in general,
is a very real emotional part of what makes us…us.

Walk into any grocery store and there is music being piped in throughout the store.
Elevators, restaurants, stores all serenade us with background music and song.
As there is some really powerful psychological magic taking place with those
songs and music choices…what they say about us as consumers and what they say
about us simply as people..is perhaps that they showcase how we are actually wired.

So for whatever reason, the Pretenders song, “I’ll Stand By You” popped
into my head as I was just getting my first cup of morning coffee.
I was having to travel over to Atlanta to met with the nice gal at the cemetery
as it seems that in my overwhelming and chaotic time since Dad’s death—
I forgot one little detail.

I forgot to pick out, and of course pay for, a grave marker.
Or actually I thought I had just told her that I’d take something matching
the other family members already there waiting on dad….
but it seems it does’t work that way.

So there I was grabbing a quick cup of coffee before jumping in the shower,
I was focused on Atlanta…
why suddenly the song?
I was dreading the mind numbing morning commute to a city paralyzed by a closed interstate
when this song just suddenly rings out in my head.
“I’ll stand by you…won’t let no body hurt you…I’ll stand by you”

Sometimes, for whatever reason, it is very clear that God directs what I’m to
write about for a post.
He can be very specific that way.
And no, I don’t buy into the notion of coincidence or happenstance.
I believe things are connected and there are reasons beyond my understanding
and I believe in the nudging of the Holy Spirit…

So back to the song.

The sentiment is wonderful and heartfelt.
Something we as parents, grandparents, guardians, friends all adopt
for the people and animals we care about and love.
We want to love, honor, protect and defend those in our care and those whom we cherish.

Any parent will tell you that they try their darnedest to protect and defend
their children….sometimes that means going way over the top…
But any parent who has been around the block once or twice will tell you—
accidents will happen, sickness will happen, bad things will happen
and no matter how much you, as defender, may protest…hurt will happen.

We cannot protect those we love from being hurt in life, no matter how hard we try.

Skinned knees, broken bones, broken hearts…all rites of passage.

The worst being the unforeseeable accidents, illnesses, tragedies that just happen.
The automobile accident, the freak accident, the cancer, the random act of violence.
They all sadly happen.

Does it mean we failed to do our jobs?
…that we could have somehow done something superhuman in order to prevent
the unthinkable?

99.9% of that answer is a resounding NO!
Nothing could have prevented the unavoidable hurt.

And so now, in that unpreventable hurt, we in turn now hurt.
As some of us will never get over that hurt.

Which in turn leads me to think about God—as Father.

That we have a God, who we are taught, loves us as His children.
And yet there has been many a soul who has raised a clinched angry fist heavenward
cursing and blaming this “loving Father” for the hurt…

Our hurt is indeed His hurt.

And to assuage our hurt, He offered the ultimate hurt…

so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many;
and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin,
but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28

“I’ll Stand By You”

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
’cause I’ve seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I’m a lot like you
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
’cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you

And when…
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you

I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

Santa Julia

I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.

excerpt from the hymn
I Sing a song of the Saints of God
Lesbia Scott 1898


(when your name is officially Julia and you see a wine named after you, well…..)

It was a very long day….
followed by the very long exhale from years of burden.

More about all of that later…
As we’re just in the middle of a huge change of life’s seasons…

So late this afternoon, when I was dashing in a store in Atlanta
in order to pick up something for supper,
I spied this little bottle of wine…and since it had my name on it…
well, it seemed like a destiny sort of thing…

Thus in turn, I offer us all a little background lesson on Saint Julia….

Saint Julia

Virgin, Martyr
Patron of Corsica
(Fifth century)

Saint Julia was a noble virgin of Carthage, who, when the city was taken
by Genseric in 439, was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria.
In the most mortifying employments of her station,
by cheerfulness and patience she found a happiness and comfort which the world could not give.
Whenever she was not employed in household affairs,
her time was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety.

Her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues,
thought proper to take her with him on one of his voyages to Gaul.
When he reached the northern part of Corsica,
he cast anchor and went ashore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival.
Julia was left at some distance,
because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies,
which she openly spurned. The governor of the island, Felix,
a bigoted pagan, asked who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. T
he merchant informed him that she was a Christian,
and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail upon her to renounce her religion;
nonetheless, he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her.
The governor offered him four of his best slaves in exchange for her.
But the merchant replied, No; all you are worth will not purchase her;
for I would lose the most valuable thing I have in the world rather than be deprived of her.

Nonetheless Felix, while the inebriated merchant was asleep,
attempted to compel her to sacrifice to his gods.
He offered to procure her liberty if she would comply.
The Saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be,
as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ.
The pagan, offended by her undaunted and resolute air,
in a transport of rage caused her to be struck on the face,
and the hair of her head to be torn off.
Finally he ordered her to be hanged on a cross until she expired.
Certain monks from the isle of Gorgon transported her relics there,
but in 763 the king of Lombardy transferred them to Brescia,
where her memory is celebrated with great devotion.

Reflection.
Saint Julia, whether free or a slave,
whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout.
She adored all the sweet designs of Providence;
and far from complaining, she never ceased to praise and thank God for all His holy designs.
God, by an admirable chain of events,
raised her by her fidelity to the honors of a Saint, and to the dignity of a virgin and martyr.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints,
a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and
other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

where lies your dependency?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4


(Atlanta’s interstate fire and collapse courtesy CBS46 Atlanta)

There were so many titles for today’s post….
“Atlanta is burning…again”
“The domino effect”
“Catastrophe under, or is it of, the road”
“S’mores anyone
as the camera would then pan to a sea of stopped cars stranded for hours as
they waited to be literally turned around and rerouted from one of the nation’s busiest
interstates.

If you haven’t yet heard, Atlanta was on fire, again, Thursday.

I say again because if your history lessons have failed you,
you may recall that a certain General T. Sherman burnt Atlanta to the ground
as a Christmas gift for President Lincoln during the Civil War.
And that is now the reason as to why the mythical creature the Phoenix is Georgia’s
sacred state bird…that is, besides the brown thrasher.
For the Phoenix is a symbol of how a smoldering Southern city rose up from the ashes
to become a major US metropolitan megatropolis…
along with the world’s busiest airport,
and a horrific gridlock of interstates….
but I digress….

Our son called late yesterday afternoon asking if we knew Atlanta was on fire.
He had seen this during his commute home from work.
We flipped on the television, and sure enough, Atlanta was on fire…
or more exactly a large swarth of area underneath a section of I-85 near Piedmont Rd,
what is known to locals as the Mid town area….
If you’ve ever driven north or south through Atlanta, you’ve driven over this stretch
of road.

This was a Thursday evening, at rush hour.
The interstate in both the south and north bound lanes were shut down as the fire
raged.
The heat so intense, a large section of the interstate buckled under the strain and collapsed–
which may have been a good thing as it helped to snuff out much of the inferno.

And miraculously, no one was hurt.

Still not certain as to the actual cause….
But what is certain, a major US artery is now shut down for travel for who knows how long.

Listening to the various news stations and the reporters who,
as everyone watched in real time, first the fire then the collapse,
gasped in obvious overwhelmed amazement.

What would happen with all those cars now stuck?
What would happen in the days to come?
Where would all the traffic be rerouted?
What about Atlanta’s notorious Rush hours?
How much longer would it now take to get to and from work?
What about all the soon to be Spring Break travelers headed south to Florida?

On and on the mounting panic became palpable as a million questions flooded
the thoughts of everyone….

I had to drive over to Dad’s today to meet with the funeral home in order to gather up
some needed papers and documents.
It was not a pretty picture as traffic was rerouted over to my usual route….
bypassing around the city.

There had also been an early morning crash just this side of the Georgia / Alabama state lines
shutting down all of I-20 east bound. That swarth of interstate closed until late afternoon.
Meaning more rerouting, with all that traffic, with an endless line of tractor trailer trucks,
being rerouted again, to my particular route of travel….
and I have to go back today….
sigh….

And with all this burning, collapsing and rerouting nightmare…it’s all gotten me thinking.
Thinking of our dependance upon our own limited abilities and vision…

Our world, the world in which we, man, has created is so tenuous and superficial.
Yet we assume and even take for granted that it is invincible.
Our massive buildings, our sprawling shopping meccas, our spaghetti maze of roadways,
our expanding bridges, even our modes of travel…
all seemingly built to last…
That is…until there is a bizarre or freakish event of catastrophic proportions…
which in turn sends us, much like ants, scurrying in an endless state of pandemonium.

There are no guarantees.

I can vividly recall watching the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake out in San Francisco…
the quake which collapsed and sandwiched the 880 interstate,
crushing and trapping both cars and people.

It was a horrific reminder of our fragility.
Just as each catastrophic earthquake has been in recent months in central Italy.
Centuries old buildings reduced to instant rubble in the blink of an eye.

It matters not the disaster…
It matters not if the victim be historic, modern, structurally sound or state of the art..
Nothing that we put our hands to, which we arrogantly assume is built to stand the test time,
will in turn do just that…last to kingdom come…
All will eventually give way to ruin…

For all of our ingenuity, our hutzpah, our try, try again mentality and and our plain
ol good intentions..
none of it will last….
for it will all pass away, just as we shall pass away to the very dust
from which we were formed in the hands of the Creator…

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

No ifs

“Everything in this life passes away–
only God remains, only He is worth struggling towards.
We have a choice:
to follow the way of this world, of the society that surrounds us,
and thereby find ourselves outside of God;
or…
to choose the way of life,
to choose God Who calls us and for Whom our heart is searching.”

Seraphim Rose

img_1599
(remembering blooms / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Don’t say it Corrie!
There are no if’s in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety—-
Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!”

(Betsie ten Boom to her sister Corrie during the German occupation in Holland)

Laying awake each night now at 3AM, my mind shifts back and forth between Dad
and to the current unrest sweeping this Nation of ours.

I lay there wondering if this will be the night that the phone will ring commanding me
to hurry to Atlanta.

Trying not to think about that,
trying to settle the rising nervousness,
I shift my thoughts to
what is currently taking place in and around the country…
as I have a growing sense of real concern.

I had grown up during the Vietnam War…during the Civil Rights movements,
all the while, having grown up in the South for heaven’s sake…
I know all about news and trauma…
bad news, troubling news…
complete with its pictures and individual stories…

But this is now all different…
this is not a war weary Nation,
this is not a Nation learning how to be both black and white…

No, this is not ‘that’ Nation…

Rather this is an angry Nation….
angry for all the wrong reasons….

So I found myself now turning to read a story that I had known about for most of my life
as the book was first published in 1971. I should have read this in high school or
even college but for some reason, I never did…

It is Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’
The story about an unassuming 50 some odd year old Dutch Reformist spinster’s
work with the Dutch underground’s resistance against the Nazi juggernaut…

A story I knew but for whatever reason had yet to read.

I began the book about a month ago.
Reading a page or two each evening…as much as I could muster after spending
each day with Dad.
I now find myself immersed in the story written by a woman who could have
been my friend.
Her writing is such that one feels as if an old friend is merely reliving
a tragic episode of life.

While I currently hear and see angry people, mostly women, screaming like
crazed individuals at television cameras about Nazis now taking over this country
all due to the election of a new president…
And after reading Miss Ten Boom’s story,
I am again keenly reminded as to who the actual Nazis really were and that they,
along with their leader Adolf Hitler, have nothing in common with our country’s current
new presidential administration.

But more importantly I am profoundly reminded about what it means to choose a life as a
true follower of Christ.

Corrie and her entire family had been arrested by the Nazis when it was discovered
that they were working as part of the Dutch Resistance.
Corrie and her Sister were subsequently beaten and imprisoned,
eventually being sent to the Death Camp Ravensbruck.

At one point after enduring severe brutality, hardships and heartbreaking loss,
such that my mere words fail to recount, Corrie is struck by her sister’s Christian focus.
Despite deprivations, ill and failing health as well as being treated no better than
herded cattle, Betsie sees God’s hand….
Where Corrie only had seen evil and hate,
here was her sister Betsie, who had endured so very much seeing not so much hate and evil
but rather humans, much like herself,
who were also victims…
victims of the same evil…just like them…

“This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it.
Perhaps only when human effort has done its best and failed,
would God’s power alone be free to work”

And there in the dark and frustrating silence of those wee morning hours…it struck me
Are any of us truly living the life of what it means to follow Christ…
to honestly follow Christ…not the Christ we imagine or model in our own image…
not a Christ who places limits or demands…
Not a Christ who has all of life’s endings working happily to
our own personal fairytale closure…
but rather the real Christ, the God made man whose words were pointedly specific and seemingly,
as assumed by much of mankind, as harsh and almost impossible to carry out…

Or are we simply following our own focus…deferring to our twisted idea of how
a world should run according to the Gospel of self…..

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21