impossible seperation

“Wherever an altar is found,
there civilization exists.”

Joseph de Maistre


( guillotine located in the Museum of the Basilica of the Holy Blood / Bruges, Belgium / Julie Cook / 2011)

There is nothing like a good ol revolution followed by the feeding frenzy of the lopping off
of heads to turn one’s thoughts to say, a more conventional path to life….
Or so it seems to have been so for the author of today’s quote.

A life, shall we say, consisting of the anchors of morality sprinkled with a steady dose of
conservatism….particularly if one was previously giddy over a life of anarchy and wanton
enlightened liberalism.

Yet it seems that time and time again…
man precariously rides the ever swinging pendulum of time,
swinging both left and right….
as he works to swing himself ever closer to living life simply fast and furious
while claiming to be both footloose and fancy free…

However the pendulum will always come back to the elephant in the room…
that being…. man verses a Divine Creator…

Deny and decry as oft man does….
As ego and pride take center stage as the masters of all that is,
societies will continue going to hell in a hand basket.

All the while as everyone is busying themselves… trying to separate the notion of morality
from Western Civilization’s Christian / Judaeo lynchpin….
which is like trying to separate the moon from the night sky….

It has always seemed to me completely inconsistent that existentialism should deny the
existence of God and then proceed to use the language of theism to persuade men to live right.
The French writer, Jean-Paul Sartre, for instance,
states frankly that he represents atheistic existentialism.
“If God does not exist,” he says, “we find no values or commands to turn to which
legitimize our conduct.
So in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us.
We are all alone, with no excuses.”
Yet in the next paragraph he states bluntly,
“Man is responsible for his passion,” and further on,
“A coward is responsible for his cowardice.”
And such considerations as these, he says, fill the existentialist with “anguish,
forlornness and despair.”
It seems to me that such reasoning must assume the truth of everything it seeks to deny.
If there were no God there would be no such words as “responsible.”
No criminal need fear a judge who does not exist;
nor would he need to worry about breaking a law that had not been passed.
It is the knowledge that the law and the judge do in fact exist that strikes fear
to the lawbreaker’s heart.
There is someone to whom he is accountable;
otherwise the concept of responsibility could have no meaning.

A.W. Tozer

Te Deum

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers, you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever. Glory to you in the splendor of our temple; on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depth; in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

Te Deum
(taken from The Divine Hours / Prayer for Summertime / by Phyllis Tickle)

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(stained glass widow Our Lady’s Church /Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk , Bruges, Belgium / Julie Cook 2011)

The Te Deum or “God we praise you” is a latin hymn to be sung at times of rejoicing to God the Father and Christ the Son. There are numerous translations.
The following is taken from the Treasury of Latin Prayers: Te Deum, also sometimes called the Ambrosian Hymn because if its association with St. Ambrose, is a traditional hymn of joy and thanksgiving. First attributed to Sts. Ambrose, Augustine, or Hilary, it is now accredited to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (4th century). It is used at the conclusion of the Office of the Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours on Sundays outside Lent, daily during the Octaves of Christmas and Easter, and on Solemnities and Feast Days.

(a common translation used in Catholic services)
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

All Saints Day

REJOICE we in the Lord, keeping holy-day in honour of all the Saints: in whose solemnity the Angles rejoice and glorify the Son of God. (Ps. 33) Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for it becometh well the just to be thankful.
Glory be.

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–Text taken from the Common Book of Prayer, 1928
–The stained-glass window, images of Saint’s George and Michael, Church of Our Lady / Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk in Bruges, Belgium (Julie Cook / 2011)

Update on Martha: Soon to be making those big decisions–Which Glass ?!?

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We’ve waited all day for word. Surgery ran later than expected, but she’s finally out, in ICU and seems to be as ornery as ever—-probably more so than usual—here is to Martha, recovering rapidly and getting back to the big decisions of life— as in choosing which glass for which wine at De Florentijnen in Bruges, Belgium….

Thank you to all who have offered prayers and good wishes, for not only Martha, her surgery and recovery but for those who have offered me and my small family support and prayers…for those of you who have tiny families such as ours— you understand the importance of the greater community of “family”….prayers will continue these next few days of initial recovery and for rapid healing….Blessings and Peace

“What is my poverty?”

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(photograph: Wooden sculpture of the Virgin at Calvary, 15th C. Flanders/The Gruuthuse Museum (adjacent to the Church of Our Lady) Bruges, Belgium/ Julie Cook/ 2011)

August 18–Daily reading
Our Poverty, God’s Dwelling Place
How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich?
Poverty has many forms.
We have to ask ourselves, “What is my poverty?”
Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner,
lack of security, lack of safety, lac of self-confidence?
Each human being has a place of poverty.
That’s the place where God wants to dwell!
“How blessed are the poor,” Jesus says (Matthew 5:3).
This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty.
We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it.
Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land in which our treasure is hidden.

Henri J.M. Nouwen
Bread for the Journey

I was so taken by this entry from August 18th, in my Henri Nouwen daily devotional regarding poverty. When I think of poverty, I immediately think of a lack of food, a lack of shelter, lack of income, a lack of housing…I think of people who are struggling with the basics just to live and survive—
I don’t often think of the more intrinsic issues when I think of poverty.

Why is that?

Is it because of our Government’s defining of poverty, which seems based on income, or the lack thereof?
Is it because when we see people sleeping on park benches or in cardboard boxes in the middle of our urban world we equate that with Poverty?

According to Henri Nouwen, we all have areas of, or issues with, poverty.

That was/ is a powerful revelation for me.

Just because someone may have a secure job, a steady source of income, all of which insures the purchasing of food, clothing and shelter, which are met or are even exceeded, does not make them immune to poverty.
Just because someone has a nice home, a nice car, nice clothes does not exempt them fro Poverty.

Perhaps it is an aching heart, a void in one’s life, ill health, isolation, fear…all are forms of poverty. Places within our very being that find us “in need of”…

But there in those secret, or obvious, places of need dwells the Divine—our God, who seeks to fill the voids, the lacking, the needs…there, in the void, is the healing.

But first we must admit the void in order to begin experiencing the healing, the blessing, the Grace.

May I examine those areas of poverty in my own life rather than ignore them or deny their existence. May I find that healing Grace. May we all recognize the empty areas, the void within, our areas of need and find our God dwelling within…..
Amen.
Amen

to wander far from home

“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
― Charles Dickens

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(photograph: Bruges, Belgium/ Julie Cook/ 2011)

Isn’t this a lovely place? A beautifully inviting home…neat,cheery, pretty, and very welcoming. Just looking at this courtyard home makes me want to call it my own. Never having seen it before nor having ever visited here before, something about this place immediately makes me feel “at home”.

The idea of home means many different things to many different people. It may be a certain place, a particular building or city— it may be the people associated with what forms the idea of home. I think we all have a deep perception of what forms the foundation, the concept, of home–as that is basically formed from childhood. Those early formative days were hopefully, for most, days of feelings of security and belonging. Sadly I do know that not all children experience that sense of security and belonging. However,despite the good or bad initial formative years, we all have some innate desire for, or longing for, regardless of childhood, …. Home.

Have you ever been at home and yet—feel that home is actually somewhere else? It’s as if some other place “out there” is calling out to you but you just don’t know where….have you ever traveled being so excited about the start of a new adventure and yet equally excited about finally returning to “home”?
Happy going and happy coming…and yet there still remains an underlying yearning….

I have always known that yearning. Maybe it goes back to the adoption…maybe not. How can a person have so much fulfillment and still think there is more you ask? When I was in High School I read the book Something More by Catherine Marshall.

I’ve written about Mrs. Marshall before. She became a rather famous Christian author during the 6o’s and 70’s. One of her early books Christy , a story based on her mother’s experience as a teacher in the backwoods of the Appalachian Mountains, was the basis for the 1994 television show of the same name, staring Kelly Martin. The story of a young woman who leaves behind her comfortable life with her prestigious family in Asheville, North Carolina, during the early 20th century, in turn venturing into the foreboding Appalachian Mountains, as a young single teacher, wanting to work with some of this country’s most impoverished and superstitious people.

Those families who called the remote mountains home were predominantly settlers from Scotland having arrived in this country at varying times–some coming early during the times of the Revolutionary war in the late 18th century as others were products of the mass emigration days of the turn of the 20th century. The Appalachian Mountains were reminiscent to their ancestral homes in Scotland from whence these families originally hailed—allowing them to keep to the very private and traditional ways of life of extreme territorial family clans. The story of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s is but a small example of this bitter family clan history in this mountain region albeit, for them , based in Kentucky

Mrs. Marshall had been married to Peter Marshall, a well known and widely popular young charismatic Presbyterian minister who had served as Chaplin to the US Senate. Sadly Peter Marshall died from a heart attack at a very early age—leaving Mrs. Marshall, a young widow, to care for the couple’s young son. It was during this time when she wrote her first book, A Man Called Peter, a story based on her husband’s life and rising career through the ministry.

She eventually remarried, continued raising a growing family and continued writing. The first book I read of Mrs. Marshall’s, back in 1977, was her book Something More. Her books had a profound effect on me as a high school kid who was truly on a quest for that very thing…something more. It was however one of her later books, The Helper, that opened a new look into an area of Christianity, which even Christians find mysterious and are not fully confident to discuss —that being the role of The Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

To many Christians the Holy Spirit is an enigma. A member of the Trinity given to us, after the Resurrection, to remain as a sort of guide post, marking the way on a spiritual journey. A concept difficult to sometimes wrap our thoughts around. It is said that we are only able to pray because of the deep seeded piece of the Spirit that resides deep within our souls urging us, calling to us, willing us to communicate with our Father……..

So it has been during this life of mine that I have learned truly one thing…that being when the Holy Spirit touches your heart, you are never the same. You will always be restless. There will always be yearnings because a hole has been seared into the core of the heart. Life becomes a quest to quench that yearning. Sometimes the quest is intentional, sometimes it’s that emptiness that just seems to be driving us deeper into what appears to be the unknown–not understanding why we are feeling “empty” or lost, but just knowing something just isn’t quite right.

It is apparent to me that I need to delve further into the role the Spirit is playing in my life. But I am comforted by this particular verse…..

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15 NIV)

Here is to seeking and soothing the unknown yearnings of our deepest interior. Here is to finding our true “home”….

Going no further than the door

“Man goes far away or near but God never goes far-off; he is always standing close at hand, and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door.”
Meister Eckhart

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(Photograph: Burges, Belgium/ Julie Cook/ 2011)

I suddenly stop walking, being pulled back by something that I’m not sure of. Was it something I saw? Maybe it was something out of the corner of my eye…. Was it the lone bicycle propped against the wall? The red door? What about the red door? Where does it lead? Was it the emptiness of the small courtyard, the solitude beckoning me to enter through the arched wall, brushing past the cascading vines…?

The ancient cobblestones..is that what stopped me? What stories do they tell? Who walked here before me? Not today, not yesterday, but 500 years ago… who was here? Will I hear the voices of those who were here? Flemish, Dutch, French, German…how many languages? Who was it that lived here? Who is here now? Something asks, beckons, urges me to pass through the arched wall. Is it mere curiosity? I think it’s more than that. But what exactly? Why stop, why now……..

That same feeling, that same urging is how I often feel deep in my soul. Life is going along as it usually does when suddenly there is a feeling, an urging, a longing. What is it? Why am I feeling like this? I feel suddenly empty and yet I know there is more, so much more…but what exactly, what is it that I long for, yearn for?

I’ve been reading the book A Noble Treason, the story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Revolt. I’ve written about Sophie Scholl before…the young German girl who, along with her brother Hans and a close friend, worked to form an underground youth movement in order to fight against, in a most passive way, the Nazi regime. Eventually being caught, tried in a monkey court and being quickly executed by guillotine. Did the Nazis think that cutting the heads off of 3 young people would silence them better than, say, some other form of execution?

The book takes the reader into the development of Sophie and her brother….into the things that helped form them into “dissidents and enemies of the State”…I was struck by one section that reflected on Hans and his studying the works of the French mathematician, writer, physicist and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal. Pascal had waged a theory about the existence of God “Let us weigh the gain and loss in choosing ‘heads’ that God is. Let us weigh the two cases: If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then unhesitatingly that He is.”

I found that thought most profound.

I wagered a long time ago that He truly is. Now, JEHOVAH – JIREH, JEHOVAH – RAPHA, JEHOVAH €“NISSI speaks deeply to my soul beckoning, yearning for me to come, to enter, to go further. My soul yearns to be satiated….He has beckoned and I must go.

Are you willing to go further than the just the door…..