“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

What does the face of panic look like? It isn’t pretty…but…

“[Pope] Clement waved his hands in irritation as if to dismiss the very idea.
“The world is crumbling into ruin. Armies are marching.
Men and women are dying everywhere, in huge numbers.
Fields are abandoned and towns deserted.
The wrath of the Lord is upon us and He may be intending to destroy the whole of creation.
People are without leaders and direction.
They want to be given a reason for this, so they can be reassured,
so they will return to their prayers and their obediences.
All this is going on, and you are concerned about the safety of two Jews?”

Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio


(a photo of empty shelves at a Publix in Fla. courtesy Twitter)

The photo up above is not my own, but it very much could have been because the same image greeted
me at my own Publix this morning—barren emptiness.

I had gone to the grocery store on Monday…I had even posted a little tongue in cheek post
regarding the extent of my “survival” supplies consisting of Oreo cookies and a bottle of Clorox.

My grocery store’s shelves were fully stocked and there was the average number of folks
milling about doing their regular Monday morning grocery shopping.
No big deal.

That all changed over the course of three days.

Thursday night, my daughter-in-law called in a bit of a panic.

They live in Atlanta and their store’s shelves were now all barren.
She wanted to know if I could find any disinfectant wipes, some Lysol spray and some of the
Halo/ cuties for the Mayor as their stores had none.

No problem I proclaimed.
I was on it.
I’d head out in the morning.

“Oh and by the way”, she said, “I looked on Amazon for some Lysol spray…
one can was going for $114 but was currently out of stock.”

Hummmm, I inwardly mused as I felt my brow furrow just a bit.

I flipped on the 10 o’clock news.
On and on went the stories about viruses, pandemics, events being canceled…
all the while my phone kept beeping with the latest alerts and breaking news warnings,
I felt my nerves increasing with each word and alert.

Later, as I readied for bed, I considered actually going on the grocery store
but it was past closing time at my regular store and I really didn’t see any need to
head out to 24-hour stores such as Kroger or Walmart.
I’d just wait until morning before making my run…

Yet I still felt an odd sense of unease.
I knew the schools were going to closed and that meant more
folks heading to the stores.

I spent a fitful night of waking and dreaming.
Restless while dreaming crazy dreams.

By morning, I blamed it all on an underlying sense of heaviness.
Heaviness in part due to the new’s Henny penny nature along
with the real truths playing out before us.

When I got up, I grabbed my phone.
I had to reach over in the night, putting it on silence
when the alerts kept coming in practically non-stop.
I dressed and headed out the door.

When I finally made my way to the major intersection leading into the shopping center, I could already see
that the parking lot was reminiscent of something like an impending storm or
perhaps Christmas.
Cars were everywhere.

I grabbed a cart left out near where I parked–I actually had some sanitizer wipes
in my purse so I wiped that puppy down as there were no carts in the store.
Plus they were smack dab out of their wipes for the carts.

The store was bustling with folks dashing around as if they were on some
grocery dash game show.
A few folks, mostly the men shoppers, looked like deer in headlights.
Some shoppers scoured over lists, others simply grabbed.

Gone were those idyllic days of studying which was the freshest piece of fruit
or vegetable. It was now a matter of grabbing before there was nothing left to grab.

Some women pushed bulging carts as some of their things actually spilled
out over the top onto the floor.

There were no baking potatoes nor bags of red or white potatoes.

There were very few fresh bread loaves remaining.

There were several folks deep at the chicken counter while others hovered
nearby waiting to reach in and grab one of the few remaining packs.
The pork chops and cutlets were almost all gone.
Gone was the frozen cod and salmon from Alaska.
Yet no one stood waiting at the fresh seafood counter.

As I made my way further into the depths of the store, while attempting
to navigate my away around those folks who were more like salmon swimming
upstream, I was met with more and more shelves with less than rather than more.

The water aisle was cleaned out.
The eggs and milk shelves were sparse and growing more and more empty
with each passing cart.

Forget Lysol spray.
But I did find some antibacterial hand soap and canisters of Lysol wipes.

I asked one of the managers,
who was taking stock of what remained on the shelves,
about whether or not they’d be getting in any cans of Lysol spray
as I told him about the $114 can on Amazon.

He said he wasn’t certain as they were having to redistribute some
items to their larger stores in other cities around the state.

I did manage however to grab the Mayor’s clementine oranges.
I grabbed some more Oreos of course, as well as some more cans of cat food.
The cat litter shelves were oddly sparse, so I got one of the remaining boxes.

At this point, I cut down the ice cream aisle in order to reach the butter section and
it dawned on me that there was not a single person or cart on this aisle.
Plus the ice cream shelves were all stocked to the hilt.

Granted winter is not the most robust time of year for the purchase of ice cream or
frozen treats…
and in turn, it would now appear that during times of crisis…
ice cream is not high on the list of the more robust selling items…
items like potatoes and toilet paper.

So let’s think sustainability in the face of necessity vs treats and goodies.

Finally, with now a bulging cart of my own, I maneuvered over to the checkout lines…
as each lane was brimming with 6 or 7 carts deep of folks just waiting to check out.

An older lady came up behind me with only a handheld basket of a few items.
The express lanes were no longer for 10 or fewer items as they were now fully busting buggy lanes.
I told the woman to please go ahead of me.
She told me, no, but I insisted, telling her I was hunkered down for the long haul
as we both laughed.

She told me that it was just her and her husband and that they didn’t need much.
I explained that I was getting some things to carry to our son’s family in Atlanta
as their stores were practically empty.

We each marveled at the surrealness of all of this.

I’ve since seen the clips, both on-line and from the news,
of folks around the country getting into all-out, knockdown drag outs
in various stores over things such as water and toilet paper.
There are stories of one person’s cart accidentally bumping into another’s cart,
of which caused already raw nerves to spew into a full-blown fury.

So it seems that both panic, along with the unseen and unknown, each tend to bring out some
of the uglier aspects of human beings.

We hoard.
We mistrust.
We obsess.
We become selfish and self-centered.
All the while we move into survival mode.

But history teaches us that such times can also bring out our goodness.

We’ll take a look back tomorrow at one of the darkest days of our Nation…
A time when the Nation’s economy had all but collapsed.
A time when the Nation’s workforce was suddenly without work as factories closed from coast to coast
A time when the Nation’s heartland was decimated by soil erosion and a devastating Dust Bowl.

No economy, little to no fresh or readily available foods, a workforce with little to no work,
all the while, the drumbeat of war was growing closer…
and then the unthinkable…an unmitigated and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those were frightening dark days.
There was paranoia.
There was fear.
There was hunger.
There was rationing.

And yet, there was hope, there was unity and there was neighbor helping neighbor.
And there remained a deep and abiding faith in something far greater than one’s self.

The past has a great deal to teach us about our future.
It teaches how we can best respond to a crisis…
and how we respond will be key to how we recover…or not—
and in the end, that will be our choice.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

ask

“When one has nothing more to lose, the heart is inaccessible to fear.”
St. Théodore Guérin


(an odd place for a road sign / Julie Cook / 20202)

We were out walking a property line over the weekend, in the middle of the woods
in the middle of nowhere.

We found an old logging road so we headed down the clearing rather than creeping
our way through the thick bramble and new growth woods.

The logging road bordered an old-growth forest and a clear cut on the opposite side.
We walked down the road a bit further before being stopped abruptly by a deep flowing creek.
There was no bridge but we could see that the old road continued on the other side.

However, it was obvious there was no way to cross.
Not unless we opted to slip down a wet muddy slope while attempting to ford a deep flowing creek
then pull ourselves up on the other slippery slope—
needless to say, we opted to turn around…

And that’s when I saw it.

There in the middle of these woods, in the middle of nowhere, was a sign.
To be fair, there was a posted sign tacked to a tree,
but it was the road sign that had me most intrigued.

It was a beat-up old road sign propped up against a tree.
A curve in the road sign.
A skewed curve sign, but a curve sign none the less.
A warning to drivers that a curve was up ahead.

Yet here, deep in the woods, where there was no road per se, no curve, there was indeed a sign.

Obviously, for good or bad, there had been others here long before we showed up.

“In the spiritual life there are two great principles which should never be forgotten:
Without grace we can do nothing; with it we can do all things.
Sometimes it anticipates our desires; ordinarily, God waits till we ask for it.
This is a general law thus expressed by Our Lord: ‘Ask, and it shall be given to you.’
Prayer is, therefore, not only a precept, it is a necessity.
God places the treasure of His graces at our disposal, and its key is prayer.
You desire more faith, more hope, more love; ‘ask, and it shall be given to you.’
Your good resolutions remain sterile, resulting always in the same failures:
‘ask, and it shall be given to you’.
Precepts are numerous, virtue painful, temptation seductive, the enemy ruthless,
the will weak: ‘ask, and it shall be given to you.'”

Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey p. xv
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

a history tale–remembering and forgetting..or is that ignoring


(Roger Viollet / Getty Images)

Every once in a while, the BBC offers a story from the past.
Long forgotten stories from the past.
But not a too distant past.

Stories about the War and the tales of individuals that have been long forgotten.
Private, yet many daring, tales of heroism, of being brave, of humanitarianism,
of kindness—tales of what it means to be human.

In war, what it means to be human is most often forgotten…very quickly.
A first casualty so to speak.

Some of these long-forgotten tales have happy endings, some do not.

However, either way even today lessons remain in all these stories that are still relevant
for both you and me–despite their having taken place nearly 80 years ago.

The other day, I read a post offered by our friend Citizen Tom about the state
of our National Fabric—he offered it on his personal blog as well as
the Prince William and Manassas Family Alliance blog for which he also writes
posts.

(https://citizentom.com/2019/12/31/the-state-of-our-nations-social-fabric-in-2019-part-3/

https://familyallianceonline.org/2019/12/31/the-state-of-our-nations-social-fabric-in-2019-part-3/)

It seems that there is an analytical study out there about how
society and human nature are basically a mostly cyclical affair.

It’s known as Strauss–Howe generational theory (en.wikipedia.org) and according to Tom and his reading
Strauss and Howe believed that we begin a new cycle of human history about every four generations.
Since a generation lasts about 20 years, we begin a new cycle about every 80 – 90 years.

What characterizes the beginning and end of a cycle?
A time of crisis. Society slowly unravels until there is a crisis.
Then the people fight among themselves to resolve the crisis until some group
becomes dominant and “wins”. Then, a recovery of some sort begins

Tom muses aloud as to whether this Strauss-Howe theory is truly accurate or not
as he eventually concludes that there is most likely some validity to it all.

And so I concur…as I too believe we are indeed a cyclical people.

And I find it interesting that there are these long-forgotten, mostly
obscure, even hidden, stories dating back nearly 80 years that are just now
being unearthed, coming back as if to remind us and even warn us.
They are being uncovered just when we need to remember.

This particular story offered by the BBC, written by Rosie Whitehouse,
takes place in 1943, in a remote ski resort village high in the French Alps.
The story involves a local doctor and two Jewish girls on the run…
one of whom had a severely broken leg.

It is a tale of risk, fear, faith, hope and eventually a tale forgotten.
And now it appears that perhaps it is a tale that is reluctant to be recalled.

The doctor was Frédéric Pétri and the girls, Huguette (15) and Marion (23) Müller,
two sisters originally from Berlin.
When the Nazis had come to power in 1933, the Müller family had fled from their
native Germany to France.

The girl’s mother had labored to obtain false papers for Huguette, the youngest—
going so far as to changing her name and having her baptized–
all in hopes of trying to hide any Jewish lineage.

Eventually, their parents were discovered, arrested and sent to Auschwitz but the
girls managed to flee.

Fleeing to a small Alpine ski village.


(PÉTRI Family archives)


(Marion, her young son Tim and Hugeutte following the war)

It was in the tiny mountain village of Val d’Isere, in 1943 that three lives would collide together.
And yet it wouldn’t be until 2020 until that the collision of lives would be shared
with a larger audience.

Marion passed away in 2010 and now, at age 92, Huguette has decided she wants their story told.

Please click the link below to read the fascinating story of survival and the odd
response from today’s villagers.

Val d’Isere: The doctor who hid a Jewish girl – and the resort that wants to forget

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-50828696

prayer and the victory over death

“There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tries to hinder, as prayer.”
St. Philip Neri


(it is so hot and dry here, even the toadstools in the woods are swiveling and decaying/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday I spoke of the running thread of a single word and thought that just
seemed to keep popping up at each turn and corner.

That word and act would be that of prayer.

And so again the following morning, my incoming quote of the day focused
on that very same notion.

Prayer.

As St. Philip Neri teaches, Satan fears our very prayers.
They become a hindrance to both him and his plans so therefore he painstakingly attempts
to hinder us as we long to reach out to our Father.

We become busy.
We become distracted.
We become distant.
Or we simply grow hardened.

So often we feel defeated when our prayers seem to go ignored or unanswered—
And yet even worse, we can grow despondent when they appear to be answered in a
way so utterly contrary as to how we would have hoped.
When our oh so deeply prayerful “please yes” is answered with a gut-wrenching “no, not today.”

No to healing.
No to life.
No to avoiding the bad and painful.

And yet our hearts remain steadfast because despite the answers,
despite the bitter disappointments, we still know that our prayers are our
only means of conversing with our God.

St Athanasius’ quote below adds to this thought by examining the
fear man has with death and decay.
Because if the truth be told, are not so many of our prayers aimed at avoiding
that very thing?
As we fervently pray to avoid death, pain and suffering at any and all cost?

Man sees death as the inexplicable chasm of separation.
That of isolation, loneliness and unending sorrow.

The non-believer scoffs and belittles the simplistic pleas and petitions
of the believer as he cries out to that unknown and unseen God.

The un-believer mocks and sneers at the childlike actions of the believer.

And yet I have often wondered…in that single solitary moment of overwhelming grief,
unbearable sorrow, engulfing fear and isolation of abandonment…
who does that non-believer cry to?

Who does he turn to in that micro-moment of the blinking of an eye that exists between
living and dying?

Whose hand does he reach for?
Whose arms does he yearn for to envelope him?
To whom does he cry out?

Or is his mind merely an empty void, his ego too full, his heart so hard that he has
already withered with decay?

Yet despite the ridicule and vitriol, the prayer of the humbled believer will
always be for that hardened non-believer…
it will be a prayer for blessed deliverance…
a prayer that he would find solace, comfort as well as Grace.

Even to the end, the believer prayers…even for the sake and soul of the non-believer.

“Now, man is afraid of death by nature, afraid of the decay of the body.
But here is a startling fact: whoever has put on the faith of the Cross
despises even what is naturally dreadful, and for Christ’s sake is not afraid of death.
So if anyone is skeptical even now, after so many proofs,
and after so many have become martyrs to Christ,
and after those who are champions in Christ have shown scorn for death every day—
if his mind is still doubtful about whether death has been brought to nothing and come to an end—well,
he’s right to wonder at such a great thing. But he should not be stubborn in his skepticism,
or cynical in the face of what is so obvious.
Let him who is skeptical about the victory over death receive the faith of Christ,
and come over to his teaching.
Then he will see how weak death is, and the triumph over it.
Many who used to be skeptics and scoffers have later believed,
and despised death even enough to become martyrs for Christ himself.”

St. Athanasius, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

pierced heart

“As the sun surpasses all the stars in luster,
so the sorrows of Mary surpass all the
tortures of the martyrs.”

St. Basil


(detail of Mary at the deposition of Christ by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden circa 1435)


“In this valley of tears, every man is born to weep, and all must suffer,
by enduring the evils that take place every day.
But how much greater would be the misery of life,
if we also knew the future evils that await us!
‘Unfortunate, indeed, would be the situation of someone who knows the future’,
says the pagan Roman philosopher Seneca; ‘he would have to suffer everything by anticipation’.
Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials that await us so that,
whatever they may be, we may endure them only once.
But he didn’t show Mary this compassion.
God willed her to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like his Son.
So she always had to see before her eyes, and continually to suffer,
all the torments that awaited her. And these were the sufferings of the passion
and death of her beloved Jesus.
For in the temple, St. Simeon, having received the divine Child in his arms,
foretold to her that her Son would be a sign for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. …
Jesus our King and his most holy mother didn’t refuse,
for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives.
So it’s reasonable that we, at least, should not complain if we have to suffer something.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 222
An Excerpt From
A Year with Mary

I’m still making my way slowly through the book The Divine Plan by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando.
A book based on a seemingly oddly matched friendship and the ‘dramatic end
of the Cold War.’
The book is about the relationship between the Catholic Pope, John Paul II,
and the Protestant American President, Ronald Reagan and of their individual
journies toward that friendship that changed the course of history.

I’ve previously read many books recounting the work of this dynamic duo and the subsequent
dismantling of the USSR…books that recount the seemingly odd match Fate found in
two vastly different world stage players.
But this book’s authors, as do I, believe that this particular match was a match set in
motion long before there was ever an iron curtain,
a relationship that was formed by something much greater than mere Fate.

Hence the title, the Divine Plan…

But today’s post is not so much about that particular Divine match…
that post will come later…
Today’s post, rather, is actually a post about someone else whose life was
Divinely tapped to play a pivotal role in our collective human history.

A post inspired in part by something that I actually read in the book regarding
Pope John Paul II when he was but a young boy growing up in Poland and known
simply as Karol Wojtyla.
It’s what I read which actually lead me to today’s waxing and waning.

When the Pope, or rather young Karol, was 8 years old, his mother died after an
acute urinary tract infection, leaving an impressionable young boy to be raised
by his former military father.

Blessedly the elder Wojtyla was a very devout Christian man and was determined to raise his
young son under the direction of the Chruch.
And so he took a bereft young boy to one of the many shrines to the Madonna in order to pray
and to explain to Karol that the woman he saw in the shrine, that being Mary the mother
of Jesus, was to now be the mother to whom he must turn.

If you’ve ever read anything about Pope John Paul II then you know that he had a very
deep and very real relationship with the Virgin Mary—it is a relationship that reached back
to the void in the heart of an eight-year-old boy who had lost his earthly mother.
It was a relationship that would serve the Pope well throughout his entire life.

So it was this little tale about Mary that got me thinking.

Being raised as a Protestant, we don’t always fully grasp the relationship our Catholic kin
have with Mary.
In fact, we often look at the relationship sideways as if it were some sort of
obsessive oddity.

We scorn them for it.
We ridicule them over it.
And we’ve even accused them of idolatry over it.
And I think we have been unfair.

But this post is not about all of that, not today.

However, this post, on the other hand, is about my thoughts about the mother of Jesus,
the mother of our very own Lord and Savior.

I think history, theology, Christianity often gives Mary a bum rap.
And if it’s not a bum rap, it simply opts to gloss over her.

We tend to put her over in a corner someplace and move on.

And yes that is the role she readily accepted.

We think of her on or around Christmas eve as we recall her wandering the backroads of
a desert night, riding on the back of a donkey as she and her young husband look
for shelter as she is about to give birth…
and then, after Christmas, we don’t think much else about her, ever.

Many mothers accept such a role.
One of obscurity and the role of simply being put in a corner someplace as their child or
children shine in the limelight of whatever direction life should take them.

It’s kind of what mothers do.

And thus I write this post today in part because I have been, as I am currently,
a mother.
And in turn, I kind of get what it means being both mother and grandmother and what
that entails on an earthly level.

I get that it can be a deeply gut-wrenching, emotionally charged roller coaster
ride of life.
I get that it can be both physically, emotionally and spiritually exacting.

Just as it can literally break one’s heart.

Think of those women who have lost their children to illness, accidents, suicides or even
lost to war.

But for Mary, let’s imagine a woman who’s more than just a mother of a son,
but rather a woman who must also look to that son as an extension of her own God.

Who amongst us wouldn’t find that dichotomy utterly impossible to comprehend?

Your son being also your God…

This being the baby you carried for nine months.
Who you delivered through in pain and duress…
The baby who you had to flee town over.
The baby who kings came to visit.

Yet the same baby whose dirty diapers you changed.
Whose spit-up you cleaned up.
Whose hands you popped as they reached for danger…
The toddler whose hand you held when he took his first steps;
The child whose fever you prayed would go away; whose broken bones you willed to heal…
Whose broken heart, you wept over…

And then this same child grew to be an extension of the same God who had come to you
on a lonely night, telling you that He was taxing you with a seemingly impossible task.

Imagine the anguish you felt when, on a family trip, you thought this child of yours was
in the care of relatives…until you realized that no one really knew where he was.

This only child of yours was lost.

It had been three days when you realized he wasn’t with your family.
You had assumed and taken for granted and now he was gone.
How could you have let this happen?
You mentally begin to beat yourself to death.

You now realize he was left behind, alone, in an unforgiving town.
Who had him?
What had become of him?
Was he frightened?
Was he alone?
Was he hungry?
Was he dead?
Was he gone forever?

After frantically retracing your steps, desperately searching both day and night,
calling out his name, you miraculously finally find him.

He is at the Temple.

Your knee jerk reaction is to both cry out while taking him in your arms and then to simultaneously
yank him up by his ear, dragging him off back home all the while fussing as to the
sickening worry he has caused you.

And yet he meets you as if you’ve never met before.
You eerily sense an odd detachment.
He is subdued, calm, even passive…
An old soul now found in what should be a youthful, boisterous child.

Your brain struggles to make sense of what greets your eyes.
His now otherworldliness demeanor is puzzled by your own agitated level of angst.

He matter-of-factly tells you that he’d been in “his Father’s house,
about His father’s business. A simple matter of fact that should not have
you surprised or shocked.
It was as if he felt you should have known this all along.

You let go of him and stare while you try to wrap both your head and heart around what
you’re hearing.
Your anger and fear dissolve into resignation when you painfully recall the words
spoken to you years earlier…
“your heart, like his, will be pierced”…

In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, I was keenly stuck by one particularly
heartwrenching scene.

It was the scene of Jesus carrying the cross through the streets as
Mary ran alongside, pushing through the gathering crowd, watching from a distance
as tears filled her eyes while fear filled her heart.

Mother’s are prewired to feel the need, the urge, the necessity to race in when their
children are hurting.
Mothers desperately try, no matter the age of their children, to take them in their arms…
to caress their fevered brow, to kiss away their salty tears to rock their pain-filled body…

In the movie we see Mary watching as Jesus stumbles under the weight of the
cross–this after being brutally beaten.
She particularly gasps for air…willing her son to breathe in as well.
Her mind races back in time to when, as a young boy, Jesus falls and skins his knees.
He cries as the younger mother Mary, races to pick up her son and soothe his pain.

And just as suddenly, Mary is rudely jolted and catapulted mercilessly back to the current moment,
painfully realizing that she is now helpless to be there for her son.

Her heart is pierced.
As it will be pierced again as the nails are hammered into his flesh and he is hoisted
up in the air…left to die a slow and excruciating death of suffocation
while bones are pulled and dislocated.

And so yes, my thoughts today are on Mary.
A woman who taught us what it is to be a loving mother as well as an obedient woman…
obedient unto the piercing of a heart.

I would dare say that we still have so much to learn from her example.

Obedience seems to have very little in common with such things as abortions,
hashtags and feminism.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5:3 ESV

wants and fears

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation if you had it—
so by not getting what you’ve asked, you really are getting what you want.”

St. Catherine of Siena


(black-eyed susans / Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

What really hurts is not so much suffering as the fear of suffering.
If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow.
It matures and trains us, purifies us, teaches us to love unselfishly,
makes us poor in heart, humble, gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor.
Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective,
defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom