understanding

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe,
but rather, I believe in order that I may understand.”

St. Anselm of Canterbury


(Galileo surveys the night sky of Florence / Florence, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

“So when we pray, we must stand in His presence, on His level.
We must see His suffering in the same way that we see His greatness,
and as we picture His compassion.
But we must also remember that that suffering,
that greatness and that compassion will one day judge us.
We shall be weighed in the balance by them; and if we are found wanting in any way,
we shall hear the words:
‘Depart from me…’
‘Go elsewhere; go to those who refused to be my friends.'”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 53
An Excerpt From
The Prayer of the Presence of God

wonder found in the details…

I live and love in God’s peculiar light.
Michelangelo


(close up of a thistle / Julie Cook / 2017)

Yesterday, my friend Colorstorm over on The Lion’s Den
( https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/well-this-is-deep/ )
offered a post complete with a rather informative video clip regarding the depths
of the ocean.

An amazingly informative little narrative that is not only factually full but is
actually quite humbling.

And in keeping with this humbling mindset,
last week CS offered a clip about the majesty of the earth.
The clip offered an interesting perspective of a flat planet vs the more familiar round.
Yet no matter one’s thoughts on flat or round—the earth is beyond words.
The sheer majesty of the natural planet is so much greater than man’s capacity for
adjectives….

And now CS has offered a clip of equal magnitude when considering the depths of the ocean.
The clip does not focus on pretty pictures but rather indisputable numbers,
facts and comparisons.

It is estimated that only 5% of the ocean floor has been adequately “mapped” by man.
Meaning that there is 95% of the world’s oceans that are a vast unexplored mystery.
And since the oceans of this planet cover 71% of earth’s surface…that is
an awful lot of unknowns….

So as I pondered and mused over the fact that our God,
the Creator of not only the earth, but of all that is within…
that the Creator of all the oceans and seas that cover this earth…
is so awesome,
so amazing,
so beyond man’s mere limited comprehension…
that even the creatures of the darkest depths are provided illumination and
that even the most mundane and cursed of weeds of the land is topped with a glorious crown…

For His attention is not only full of the big, the vast, the deep and the wide,
but it is in the tiniest of details that we actually see His true nature…
that of an endless loving compassion…

No one is like you, Lord;
you are great,
and your name is mighty in power.
Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
This is your due.
Among all the wise leaders of the nations
and in all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

behold the Lamb….

“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.”
― Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation


(a lamb on the cliffs of Slieve League / County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

In death there exists a mind crushing silence.

For we long, nay need, to be in the presence of the living…
of those who breathe, who have movement and who are warm to one’s touch
That is the reality of our moment in present time.

It is our comfort…it is what we know and what we take for granted.

Yet to be in the presence of that same once living life which in an instant no longer breathes,
is now rigid and stiff and frighteningly cold to the touch,
is to be in the presence of overwhelming nothingness…

There is a suffocating moment of panic as the primeval reflex of run and flight wrestles
to take hold. We are choked by the need to escape.
The innate sense of racing from the black void of nothingness, desperate
to find the sensory fulness of the living…
because it is in that single moment of reality of loss that complete isolation is frighteningly found…as well as  utter
aloneness– all of which crushes and squeezes the senses of our present living…

Death is an endless void.
For in death we see what was and is now no more.
There is no light, no breeze, no warming sun,
no thoughts of tomorrow.
For tomorrow’s thoughts are of a life without.

In Death we are without and it is in that “without” that our brains labor to process…
for the very processing of the concept of loss and death is more than our reasoning can contain.
Death and its finality is a reality that we can only process slowly, even if then…as time, emotion
and physical wellbeing swirl into the forefront of survival.
Because it is Life of which we know and we hold on tightly to the knowing of the presence of that thing thus named Life.

Yet Infinte Wisdom, in compassion for man and his utter isolation found in  Death, offered a lifeline…as the concept of Hope was now to be returned.
The now endless rope of Salvation anchored permanently to Forever.

The stillness and darkened cold, along with the endless emptiness were vanquished by a thunderous ray of Light…as Life walked free leaving Death discarded in a tomb….

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning,
the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this,
suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground,
but the men said to them,
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?
He is not here; he has risen!
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb,
they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James,
and the others with them who told this to the apostles.
But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to
them like nonsense.
Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb.
Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves,
and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

A Maundy Thursday example of love

“Preach the Gospel at all times.
When necessary, use words.”

― Francis of Assisi


(Mother Teresa’s bare feet)

I’ve used this image of Mother Teresa’s feet before in a previous post—
it was a post for a previous Easter that touched not only on the notion
of Jesus’ example of the washing of feet, but it explored our obsession with health,
wealth and all things fit and beautiful.

Like hands, feet are a good indicator of the type of life one has lived.

Rough, calloused and gnarly…
or
smooth, soft and pampered…

I tend to like the first notion…as in rough, calloused and gnarly being signs of
at best, a life really lived to the fullest….
or
at the least, lived to the best of ones abilities as
things had perhaps never been easy nor comfortable.

I find there is more character to be found in the rougher, harder, calloused side to living.

Following that evening meal of so long ago, a chain of events had been set in motion
and there was no turning back…
hope no longer remained in avoiding the inevitable.
I imagine everyone in the room that quiet night had a sense that things were to be
different very soon but as to exactly how, only one knew for sure.

The mood was somber…and not just because it had been a meal intended to
commemorate and reflect upon the struggles of a people from a previous time,
but rather because the master of ceremonies
himself was obviously melancholy as his thoughts were far removed.

Just as I know other types of jobs and services stress this same sort of approach,
in education, teachers are constantly reminded of the importance of leading by example.

Don’t just tell it or say it….
Do it and show it!!!!!
This so others may see.
Visual and tactile learning create a most lasting impression.

So Jesus set out that evening to do that very thing…
one more time…
to lead by example.

The point wasn’t just to wash feet.
Feet, as important as they are, are considered pretty lowly.
They aren’t the prettiest things to look at what with their bunions, hammer toes,
ingrown toe nails and rough cracked skin…
they can be oddly shaped, they get dirty quickly,
they usually stay covered up…for a reason,
and they are not the first things we prefer to look at,
plus they can smell.
Not good combinations.

So dealing with people and their feet has always been looked at,
other than from a podiatrist’s point of view, as something somewhat subservient….
especially if the feet are rough looking, with dirty cracked and broken nails…
Not the first thing most folks want to caress and love on…unless they’re a bit odd.

So naturally when Jesus set about wanting to wash everyones feet, he was quickly and
awkwardly rebuffed.
It was embarrassing to have the Master wash the dirty, dusty, dry feet of the followers.
Think of a General wanting to do such for a private…
As that’s exactly what it was like.
Unheard of….

But the washing wasn’t the lesson.

It was the leading by example.

The doing of and the action of that which would be otherwise considered lowly and less than,
being done to another…
As the recipient of such, that of the the washed,
would be thought to be more highly than the washer….

It was the notion of serving with the serving being of such a lowly but very respectful
and loving manner…that that was the key.
Doing something so lowly but doing it in pure unselfish care and love…

Mother Teresa’s feet are examples of a person who worked long and hard all her life—
her feet do not lie.
She toiled on those feet her entire life…always for others.

Being with Dad’s caregivers day in and day out, assisting as they had to turn dad from
side to side as I had to hold him up on his side towards me just so they
could wipe his bottom, cleaning him after he had soiled himself….

I marveled at the care and thoroughness in which one caregiver in particular
went about her task.

I don’t think I could have done or do what she did and does.
Taking care of the most basic needs of a human—
feeding and then cleaning…much as one does for a baby.

Baby’s are cute.

Old cancer ridden bodies that smell and are wasting are not.

As the days passed, physically moving dad was difficult as he winced and cried in pain…
but the cleaning still needed to be done…
And it was done with dignity, compassion…as

that is the rough, calloused, gnarly example of what love is all about…

“Love one another as I have first loved you…..”

And with the best way always being by example…..

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas,
the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power,
and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied,
“not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet;
their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”
For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said
not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should
wash one another’s feet.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Matthew 13:2-17

atonement for the crowd

“Without any censorship,
in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those
which are not fashionable;
nothing is forbidden,
but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books
or be heard in colleges.
Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(stampede of horses / courtesy wikipedia)

Stampedes are a frighting phenomena…
large gatherings of animals or humans, seemingly docile and clam,
with each creature or being in its own little world….
that is….
until a few in the crowd get spooked…
spooked by some real threat or something merely perceived as a threat…

It’s then Katie bar the door as each creature is now running and racing
for it’s life as it’s now every beast, or man, for itself….
too bad if you get caught up underfoot—it just wasn’t your lucky day.

Crowds are not great at perception.
They tend to disregard the subtleties of detail.
The mentality of the mob tends to take precedence…be it good or bad,
And since the crowd becomes its own entity, its mentality in turn rules.

Ever been that lone voice in the wilderness?
If so, then you get the idea—-

The crowd tends not to hear you over the din of its own self obsession, chattiness or chants….
And who wants to be the odd man out when the crowd leans one away while you’re alone
leaning the other way….

And so my thoughts turn to that of another crowd….
long ago…

“Crucify the Nazarene” they shout.
“Free Barabas” they demand….

As a lone procurator stands before a potential violent onslaught of the skewed
mentality of the crowd…
Best to placate the beast, lest you’re torn apart….
Yet there is no atonement to be found in the the placation or appeasement of the crowd….

“In Christ’s human life, there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd.
The shepherds did it;
their hurrying to the crib atoned for the people who would flee from Christ.
The wise men did it;
their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand’s breadth from
the routine of their lives to go to Christ.

Even the gifts the wise men brought have in themselves an obscure recompense and atonement
for what would follow later in this child’s life.

For they brought gold, the king’s emblem,
to make up for the crown of thorns that he would wear;
they offered incense, the symbol of praise,
to make up for the mockery and the spitting;
they gave him myrrh, to heal and soothe,
and he was wounded from head to foot and no one bathed his wounds.
The women at the foot of the cross did into,
making up for the crowd who stood by and sneered.

We can do it too, exactly as they did.
We are not born too late.
We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers,
in everyone we come in contact with.”

Dorothy Day

lost in translation

“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’.
Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.
It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation;
I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.”

Salman Rushdie

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then,
someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

DSCN0647
(detail of an Irish manuscript and cover of Timothy O’Neills book The Irish Hand, Scribes And Their Manuscripts From The Earliest Times–as seen in a Kinsale Bookshop, Kinsale, County Cork Ireland)

Ce que tu ne comprends pas?
Lo que no entiendes?
Was Sie nicht verstehen?
あなたは何を理解していません ?
ما لا تفهم ?
Wat begrijp je niet ?
מה אתה לא מבין ?
что вы не понимаете ?
Quello che non capisci?
Nach bhfuil cad a thuigeann tú ?

No matter the language, the question remains the same…
“what don’t you understand?”

It is a question asked of the confused, the lost,
the ignorant, the arrogant as well as the simple.

“Is there some confusion?”

“Do you need for me to re-explain something?”

“I’m sorry, did I not make myself clear?”

“You’re not from around here are you?”

“Are you a moron?”

The way in which the question is asked pretty much explains to the one asking the question whether or not their query is worthy of further explanation or has simply exasperated the one being questioned.

It can even be issued as a defiant statement rather than a question.

As in…

“yeah, you see it, it is what it is…what don’t you understand?!”

Sometimes I feel that way…
as in the frustrated way of things….

As in…
“Yes.
God did say not to do that.
Or
“Yes.
God did say that was okay.”

It’s all pretty simple.
Pretty much cut and dry.

Have you ever had to sign a contract or a legal document?
Have you ever taken the time need to fully read…
or the legal ability in order to comprehend all the fine print?
Has a salesperson or legal type person ever asked, “what don’t you understand?”
With you pretty much resigned to the answer being simply “everything?!”…

God gave a list of some pretty simple commands…
or rather rules for living if you will.

A concise list of don’ts.

Pretty simple.
Pretty direct.
A relatively short list.
With no hidden fees.
No hidden clauses.
All in simple language.
No legalese.
No gobbledygook.

Just very straightforward…

Oh, and by the way, where there were no fees involved,
there were / are penalties with each broken “law”

But they were set to make life easy.
Follow the rules, the laws, and life was to be pretty much… golden….

Later, His Son came along and offered a few more to the list…
This time there were actually a few additions in the affirmative…as in “do this”

Things like…
Loving your God with all your heart, mind, body, and being…
Secondly… love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you.

Again straightforward with a direct approach.
Nothing buried in the fine print.

There were also a few more don’ts and do’s added to the list.
Don’t have sexual intercourse or anything close with those of your same sex.
Don’t do things in excess…like drink or eat, or…you name it.
Don’t neglect those less fortunate
Do take care of widows and orphans
Do remember those in prison.
Do show mercy.
Do show kindness.
Do show compassion.

All simple.
All direct.
Rules for living—in order to make the living…golden.

Yet over time, everyone has wanted to complicate the simple.
Muddy the waters.
Argue the point.
Defy the point.
Create fine print.
Throw in some hidden agendas and clauses.

And I just want to look at everyone with that exasperated look saying….
“What don’t you understand??????”

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:2

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:2-5

Mean, the new black

“You’re nasty and you’re loud,
you’re mean enough for two,
If I could be a cloud,
I’d rain all day on you.”

― Jack Prelutsky

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color.
I have said that black has it all.
White too.
Their beauty is absolute.
It is the perfect harmony.”

― Coco Chanel

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God’s kindness:
kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

― Mother Teresa

DSCN2795
(red spotted purple butterfly enjoys the blueberry blossoms / Julie Cook / 2016)

Remember when black was all the rage?
The glamorous ones like Audrey Hepburn and Coco Channel made it chic.

It was touted as being…
Slimming
Elegant
Vogue
Classic

Yet eventually there were those who found it…
Boring
Passe
Drab
Dull

New colors vied for Black’s coveted spot at the top
Orange
Green
Brown
Neons

Yet black aways managed to have staying power..
Just ask the French…
For it is….
Timeless
Powerful
Dignified
Stylish

Black is now…
The standard
The benchmark
The gauge
The arcehtype

So imagine how…
Kindness,
Compassion,
Empathy,
Charity,
Mercy,
Each are now feeling as they see how Mean and Meanness are vying for the top…

As in the constant barage of headlines around the globe…
Beaten
Shot
Stabbed
Tasered
Robbed
Humiliated
Tortured
Raged
Cursed
Sprayed
Belittled
Bullied
Maligned
Hated

It matters not the color…
As all colors are now victims of the new black…
Mean…

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:1-3