To blend or not to blend?

“There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy”
― Henry Miller

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(cloudless Sulpher Butterfly on yellow snapdragons / Julie Cook / 2014

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On this lovely Fall afternoon, I was most appreciative of the small gift of a visit from a Cloudless Sulpher butterfly visiting the yellow snapdragons dotting my yard. Here it is mid October, a time when cool breezes and fading sunlight should come calling, yet it still seems as if we are caught in a perpetual season of summer—very warm as the familiar summer residents, who should be long gone by now, are still very much at home.
Hummingbirds, all manor of butterfly, cicadas—all still present and accounted for.

Odd weather indeed.
It’s entirely too warm during both day and night as there is very little color to leaves which are simply falling off, entirely prematurely, before dazzling our sight with the fiery display expected this time of year.

Unseasonal indeed.

Yet as I followed the jittery herky jerky motion of this late season visitor, I was intrigued as to how well my little friend blended right in with the yellow snapdragons. It was almost difficult to distinguish between creature and flower. I suppose it is suitable and most desirable to blend in with Nature when one prefers to dodge predator and foe. . .

And as I pondered the necessity of blending in, I was suddenly struck by the contrast of what it means not to blend in.

Scanning the headlines of today’s news, I was so happy to learn that Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot point blank in the head, almost two years ago to this very day, for simply speaking out against the Taliban’s ban on educating girls, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was this time last year that I had written a post about my hopes that she would win the prestigious award. You can catch that post here as well as the follow-up post:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/building-a-firm-foundation/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/post-script-regarding-malala/

Malala was targeted by the murderous thugs of the Taliban because she chose not to blend in. She chose rather to stand boldly for her belief that education, in particularly the educating of young woman world wide, is a key to ending the vast entrenched thuggery, violence, and fear that suffocates and silences woman and children across this globe. A view counter to the militant forms of Islam running rampant on this planet.

When her school bus was ambushed two years ago by a group of armed men, with a lone gunman entering the bus carrying a loaded Colt 45, all the girls cowered and covered their faces, praying to blend in and hide. . .all except for Malala. The gunman then asked, “who is Malala?” At that point Malala turned to face the gunman as he proceeded to unload 3 rounds point blank at her head. Malala, at the time was 15. Odd that an “organization” such as the Taliban would be so very fearful of a 15 year old girl. . .

Malala could have chosen to blend in as the other girls by lowering her face and covering it with her veil and hands—yet she had made a conscious decision to live her life by not blending in. Despite her youth, I think Malala was well aware of the danger of taking such a bold stance in her corner of the world of intolerance and fear.

I wonder. . .
As a growing secular world, that is joined by the likes of such movements as ISIS, continues to stifle, as well as works tirelessly to silence, and in some cases eradicate, the Christian faith– as Western society continues to brush such a reality aside by writing the worry off as the view of extremist conservative paranoia, do those of us who claim that Faith as our own, have the courage and strength to chose not to blend in. . .have we made the conscious decision, just as a young 15 year old girl made a conscious decision, to stand boldly in the face of fear, persecution and slander and proclaim the Truth?

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4:1-5

Memory

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(an old home-place in the middle of nowhere western Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

The old metal spring frame screeches obnoxiously with the slightest turn and twist.
Eyes blink in the inky blackness haplessly trying to focus.
No street lights, no city glow, just the twinkling of a million stars filling an endless sky.

The mattress thin and lumpy, ancient army surplus, offers little in the way of comfort.
The unzipped sleeping bag certainly not refreshing in the stifling humid summer’s night air.
There’s no breeze, no movement, no relief. . .only the shrill symphony of sound produced by the profusion of an endless sea of tree frogs.

Lying in the darkness, with arms folded under head, staring upward at the nothingness in the tiny musty room, pleasant thoughts race across the expanse of time.
Old wooden planks pop and groan recalling the countless steps which once trod over the roughly hewn surface.
Fading laughter mixes with the steady hum of cicada.

The once binding tie of whispered secrets now mingle together with the rising smoke from the countless crackling fires.
Age old stones, stacked artfully together generations earlier, blackened by years of thick heavy soot, offer a warm, smokey, familiar welcome.

The intimate faces, which form a memorable past, collide in the middle of this darkened night, with the new faces of a current life.
The difference between now and then spans across an endless abyss of time and space.
The experiences of “then”, which make the current moments of “now”, merge mindlessly together resulting in the singleness of one

Lying in the darkness on a hot humid night, with all that was and with all that is, tenderly forming the basis of the dreams yet dreamt, heavy eyes now close as muscles give in to the weariness of time, while a magical dance of a thousand fireflies sparkles, beyond an old broken window, as the singleness of now is made whole by the union of then.