the year of the bull….crap

“What’s broken is broken—and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best
than mend it and see the broken places as long as I live…
I’m too old to believe in such sentimentalities as clean slates and starting all over.”

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind


(the running of the bulls in Spain)

I have just about reached my breaking point with this year.
For all sorts of reasons…
And my heart is heavy and is now slightly broken if not totally broken.

But a story has come to my heart…
and I know it is from God…

Long ago there was a young boy who lived in a small Spanish village.
This young boy had come to live with his grandparents when he was but an infant.
This was due to the fact that his parents had both been killed during the civil war.
He’s known no other family but his grandparents.

His grandfather, who was a man larger than life—was a man who this young boy adored.
Each year this grandfather would participate in the local running of the bulls.
It was a long-standing tradition in his village.
It was a rite of passage and a rite of position within the hierarchy of the village.
The grandfather was legendary for his exploits.

Tourists have since begun flocking to participate, but it has been to the local men
who this tradition has truly mattered.

The young boy looked to his grandfather, the only man he’d known in his life
as a father, was the closest thing to a superhero.

Each year in the spring, the grandfather would join the other men of the village
in the annual running of the bulls.
The young boy’s grandmother would simply roll her eyes and dismiss her husband’s foolishness.
She would fuss and cuss her husband’s folly.
But to the man, it spoke of his position in his village.
And yet to the boy, it was not foolishness, it was pure exhilaration and wonderment.
He longed for the day that he could join his grandfather.

The grandfather would tell his grandson of the single strategy for staying one
step ahead of the massive wild animal…
“The bull, the toro,” he would tell his grandson, “runs with fear…
you, you must run with confidence and vision.”

After many more years, the day joyously arrived, the boy would finally be allowed to
join his grandfather and the elders of the village.
He was joining the man he loved, the man who had known many years of wear and tear.
The years of both life and living had taken their toll on the old man…
however, as with every year, he was undeterred, he would run.
And the boy, now a young man, would finally run with his grandfather.

The old man coached his grandson…
“if you hear the pounding hooves, listen for the vibrating sound…
listen with your heart…listen with your ears.
If you hear and feel the sound upon either your left or your right.
If you hear or feel the pounding in your left ear, lean right…if you hear or feel it
from the right, lean toward the left.
If you feel the hot breath on your back, you must run faster, then jump either left or right
because by this time, it matters not, it could be too late.”

When the day finally arrived and the old men and young men were all assembled,
the nervous bulls were brought toward the crowd.
The bulls were always local bulls–well known by the local villagers.
Many were tended by the local farmers.

This year, however, there was a new and different bull brought into the fold of the local animals.
He was unfamiliar and even the local bulls were cautious.
He had a different look in his eye.
There was no familiarity.
He was massive for his size.
His muscles involuntarily reflexed across his back.
He was pure black, almost blue in the light of day but the magic
within this bull was not pure…he was very nervous.

There was an empty coldness found in his eyes.
He had not been nurtured by this village.
He had not been tended to by the local farmers…

He was what was known as a rouge bull.

The city’s bell tower sounded, the signal for the participants to start running
as the animals were released.

In the teeming melee of hundreds of participants, the boy lost track of his grandfather.
The throng of runners moved in a unified mass until the bulls began to penetrate the
mass one by one.
The mass began to diverge.

Bodies peeled to the left while other bodies peeled to the right…
many bodies simply fell upon one another…falling into a heap upon the ancient cobblestone pavers
as tons of massive sinew, muscle and hooves rumbled mercifulness over the mass of lost humanity.

Yet the boy ran.
He was listening, hard.
He sensed.
Bodies would suddenly fall by his side with a sickening thud.
Yet he couldn’t stop to assess the damage, his grandfather had taught him to run.

Suddenly, the boy heard the hooves but he couldn’t determine…
were they left or were they right?

He was running as the sweat poured from his brow.
The salt stung his eyes.
He blinked and inadvertently wiped his face.
He dared not turn his head lest he trip.

Suddenly, there was the sensation of a strange hot steam wafting into his nostrils.
It was both suffocating as well as acridly putrid.

And that is when he felt the jolt.

A searing sharp pain pierced his left flank.
In what seemed to be a moment of slow motion, his chest seemed to simply deflate
as his body was lifted almost magically into the sky.

He was floating, effortlessly.
It seemed like a lifetime…floating, flying, no effort.

And yet the crash was heavy.
There was a shattering thump.
Searing pain flooded his consciousness.
A broken torso.
Disrespected by hundreds of thousands of pounds of hooves…
hooves disregarding what lay underfoot.

The boy lay upon the dirty but cool ancient pavers.
His body now a twisted and contorted mass–unnatural in position.
A dark black liquid pooled against his cheek.

At some point, he remembers not when, he was lifted upon a litter and carried
to the local hospital.

His grandfather, what of his grandfather, he implores with barely an
audible breath.

“Your grandfather is gone.” the medic replied stoicaly.
The toro pierced his heart, in one fell blow…
but it was not before the locals shot the bull to stop his rampage.
It is why you are still here, your grandfather diverted the bull at the
the very moment he attempted to gore you.

The moral of the tale…

Remember, the enemy runs with fear.
We, on the other hand, must run with confidence and vision.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

A humble soul

A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God.
God defends the humble soul and lets Himself into its secrets,
and the soul abides in unsurpassable happiness which no one can comprehend.

St. Faustina
from The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalski


(tufted titmouse /Julie Cook / 2020)

“Always give good heed to the Word of God, whether you hear or read it in private,
or hearken to it when publicly preached: listen with attention and reverence;
seek to profit by it, and do not let the precious words fall unheeded;
receive them into your heart as a costly balsam; imitate the Blessed Virgin who
‘kept all the sayings’ concerning her Son, ‘in her heart.’
And remember that according as we hearken to and receive God’s words,
so will He hearken and receive our supplications.”

St. Francis de Sales
An Excerpt From
An Introduction to the Devout Life

infinite through finite

In tribulation immediately draw near to God with confidence, and you will receive strength,
enlightenment, and instruction.”

St. John of the Cross

“From the natural point of view, we come to know God from the vestiges of Himself that
He has left in the splendors of the visible universe:
the blazing red sunset, the snow-covered mountain peaks, the graceful flight of a bird,
the breathtakingly magnificent complexity of a single living cell.
On a still more exalted level, we know Him in the loveliness of the saints–
but it remains a knowledge of the infinite through the finite.”
Fr. Thomas Dubay, p.188-89
An Excerpt From
Fire Within

Confidence in God

“As the pilot of a vessel is tried in the storm; as the wrestler is tried in the ring,
the soldier in the battle, and the hero in adversity: so is the Christian tried in temptation.”

St. Basil the Great


(Stain glass windows of Sainte Chapelle / Paris, France / 2018)

“Our confidence in God must be founded on His infinite goodness and on the merits of the Passion
and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, with this condition on our part:
that we should preserve and recognize in ourselves an entire and firm resolution to belong wholly to God,
and to abandon ourselves in all things, and without any reserve, to His Providence.
Observe that I do not say that we must feel this resolution to belong wholly to God,
but only that we must have it and recognize it in ourselves;
we must not concern ourselves with what we feel or do not feel,
since the greater part of our feelings and satisfactions are only the movements of self-love.
Neither must it be supposed that in all this practice of abandonment and indifference,
we shall never have desires contrary to the will of God,
or that nature will never shrink with repugnance from the dispositions of His good pleasure,
for these will often occur.
The virtues of abandonment and indifference reside in the higher region of our soul;
the lower region, generally speaking, has nothing to do with them.
We must remain at peace, and paying no attention whatever to what that lower nature desires,
we must embrace the divine will and unite ourselves to it—whatsoever this may entail.
There are very few persons who reach this height of perfect self-renunciation;
nevertheless, we must all aim at it, each according to his little measure.”

St. Francis de Sales, p. 22-23
An Excerpt From
The Art of Loving God

with certainty I know

Hearing the word is the devout receiving of the will of God.
William Ames

DSCN1721
(the cliffs of Timoleague, Slieve League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I know you hear me.

The others aren’t so sure.

“I Keep praying because I know He hears me.”
Words repeated often to the skeptical.

Prayers asked
Prayers offered
Prayers given…

Yet no word in return.

I know you know the plight, the ordeal, the big picture.
I remind you…
everyday…
multiple times during the day…
despite knowing…you already know…

I know you know more than I do because I know you see what has been, what is and what will be.
You have the bigger picture in focus while I remain small in my vision and view.

The others aren’t so sure that I know what I’m talking about.
They hear in my voice a certain certainty in the face of great uncertainty…
with no change, no results, no “answered prayer”
yet I know
and I continue with my prayers
because I know you know…

They scoff, they walk away rolling their eyes, they grow irritated with my seemingly empty insistence.
I speak with a peculiar confidence…
that only I seem to have…
since there never seems to be the answers, the results, or the much needed miracles,
others want or need…they think that there is no need for my irrational words, hopes or invocations…

No matter…
I continue to press on,
pressing you with my prayers, my words, my tears, my urgings, my yearnings,
my hopes, my dreams, my desires, my needs…

Because I know…
Because I know you know
and because I know that what will be will be
as only you would will it….
because I know you hear….

“Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
1 Kings 18:37