Intimate affair

O, Star of wonder, star of night
Star of royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Lyrics from the Christmas Carol
“We Three Kings of Orient Are…”

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(image of the Adoration of the Magi by Giotto / Cappella Scrovegni / Padova. Pad ova, Italy / 1305)

“Not everyone sees the star”

Observes Christoph Blumhardt in his Advent reflection The Wisemen’s Star.

If everyone had seen the star,
would not all of ancient Palestine been turned upside down from such
an extraordinary sighting of a brilliant light illuminating the eastern sky?

Has not history shown us that the sighting, and subsequent gathering,
was not intended as a major crowd massing phenomenon…

but rather a more intimate affair…

Gathered were a host of angels, a handful of shepherds, three wisemen,
along with a sundry menagerie.

Not exactly the breaking news, front page headline sort of event…

But rather a quiet tender affair…
Intimate,
private,
personal…
and closely gathered.

The birth of a child…

Yet not just any child…

Blumhardt surmises that “it is necessary to have an upright, sincere heart.
Whoever is not filled with longing but is only inspired by egoism,
only interested in his own salvation, with no feeling for sighing creation—
he will not see a star even when it is there; he does not see the glory of the Lord.

So we must ask ourselves….
as we enter this new season of waiting….

Will we see the star?

Are we filled with desire and longing?

Is our heart sincere?

For if that is indeed so, that our hearts are indeed ready…both longing and looking…
we must remember not to be late,
for we have been invited to an amazingly intimate affair.

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Matthew 2:9-10

Dear future mom….

Yesterday as I was reading over a few of my favorite blogs, I came across a video clip under the title of “Slouching toward tyranny” on the blog Dover Beach.

My curiosity was piqued as I wondered what slouching, as in drooping, toward tyranny
and a smiling young lady with Down Syndrome had in common with one another.

It was soon very evident what brought these two seemingly polar opposite entities
catastrophically crashing into one another.

I’ll let you click on the brief French Television advert that never was…
before I continue our conversation….

“Slouching toward tyranny.
25 NOVEMBER 2016

“This is how a free people slouch toward tyranny. Here is an excerpt from a Catholic News Agency article. The short commercial mentioned in the article is below.

“On Nov. 10, the French Council of State, a body of the French government, ruled that the short video was inappropriate for broadcast on French television as a commercial.

In a decision upholding the French Broadcasting Council’s earlier ban of the video, the Council of State said it failed to meet the criteria for a public service announcement. In its reasoning, it pointed out that the happiness of the children shown in the video was “likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.””

If you are like me, after watching this clip, there are probably tears flowing down your cheeks.
Tears of joy and tenderness and hope…
always hope…

I taught high school art for 31 years before retiring 4 years ago.
During the course of three decades, I had the pleasure of working with all kinds of kids.
I taught in a public city school system for my entire tenure.
I worked with every color of kid you can imagine and a myriad of nationalities–
and yes, even illegal immigrants…
I taught kids with all levels of intellect…
those who were considered and tested gifted as well as those kids with both
physical and cognitive disabilities and deficiencies.
All mixed in within one class…
no separation, no division, no segregating, no distinction.
Simply kids…

This is not the first encounter I’ve had in recent weeks with an article or
video clip highlighting Down Syndrome children and the alarmingly and rapidly
growing cultural clamoring over the rising questions of should such pregnancies,
where by various testings an at risk child in utero has been identified,
should that pregnancy be allowed to come to term or should such a pregnancy be terminated,
as in aborted…

Sally Phillips is a British actress and a woman of deep Christian Faith.
She is featured in a documentary on the BBC raising the question about a world without Down Syndrome.

If you do not already know, I am the product of adoption.
I was adopted during a time when abortions, all though preformed were done so very clandestinely.
It was a very taboo back ally sort of affair…so adoption was much more prevalent,
as homes for unwed mothers were numerous.

There are those who would then take that notion and use it as a rallying cry for the legality of such, keeping it from being back ally clandestine.
But I would disagree.
There is no justification for itemized death.

I have very strong feelings about pregnancies and the bigger picture that far transcends
that initial act of sex–
For you see I don’t look at sex as merely sex,
as an act of satisfaction…
but rather always as, depending upon age and health,
the potential act of procreation.

And how our culture has disregarded such an intimate union of two individuals as something as trite,
the fulfilling of the physical, something causal or even wanton is beyond my soul.

And now we enter a new arena—where man enters the realm of God—
deeming who may live and who may not…

I have problems with that.

Shame on the French for deciding not run that advert letting both women and men
know that it’s ok to see the pregnancy of a child with Down Syndrome to completion.
The fact that they felt the showing of such an ad would trouble the conscious of those
women who had opted to “lawfully” abort their babies,
is one more reminder that we have ferried ourselves across the river Styx as we have
left the realm of the living opting to cross the river while embracing the realm of death…

“Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable,”
Pope John Paul II

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today- abortion which brings people to such blindness.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

friends and mates

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

―Jane Austen

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(the latest friend in the dammit family / Julie Cook / 2016)

Over the course of the past weekend, my son and his wife moved into their new apartment.
They did so with the help of group of friends.
Going from a house in the suburbs to a smaller apartment in the city will naturally take some adjusting,
however I think their level of excitement is far exceeding any need for adjustment.

I mention that they had a group of friends helping because that got me thinking.
Whereas my dear friends, or better yet mates, in the UK would naturally say
that it was my son’s mates who helped him out…
with mates referring to his friends,
I simply use the word friends…

All variances of semantics I suppose.

Yet when hearing the word friends referred to as mates,
I find that I actually prefer using the word mates as opposed to friends.

Friends come in all sorts of varying degrees of difference.
Close friends,
dear friends,
intimate friends,
partner,
buddy,
pal,
associates,
acquaintances,
roommates,
co-workers,
colleagues…
all of which constitute falling under the one umbrella of the collective word friends.
Some close, some really close, some not so close…

In my opinion however, the word mate, or the plural form mates, seems to refer to a tighter knit connection.
A closer level of familiarity and knowledge.

And when it comes to moving house—
especially with moving from a larger house to a smaller apartment almost 70 miles away,
it takes a really tight knit group of “friends,” hence mates,
volunteering their precious weekend time to drive back and forth,
hauling, lifting, toting, dissembling, reassembling the possessions of another….

As perhaps one’s mates come with a certain level of deeper commitment,
whereas ones friends fluctuate.

And of course in this country we refer to a spouse as a mate.
As in a pair.
As in a help mate.
As in soul mate.
As in a union of two becoming one.

So once again, mate having a tighter connection than just that of friend.

And as we so often refer to our Savior as our friend…
having the relationship with Jesus, as Lord and Savior is anything but that of a friend…
Despite hymns singing to the contrary and many who reference Him as their best friend…
there is difference between friend and God….

For the Xristósis, the Christos, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ…
is far greater than that of friend.
He and His relationship with us, those who claim Him as God,
exceeds the confine of friendship..

Being both God and Spirit, as He is of the Triune Godhead,
He commands so much more than our mere friendship…

Rather He commands our awe and wonderment…
And our reverence and our homage.

For He is not a mere friend,
not even a mate…
but rather a Sovereign God…

A God who cares about both our physical and emotional wants and needs,
yet deserves our reverence, our wonderment, our praise, our worship…

It is good to have friends, even better to have great mates…
but most importantly it behooves us to have a Savior, who gave His very life
for each and every last one of us…..

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

An evening’s wonder

Shut your eyes, wait, think of nothing. Now, open them … one sees nothing but a great coloured undulation. What then? An irradiation and glory of colour. This is what a picture should give us … an abyss in which the eye is lost, a secret germination, a coloured state of grace … loose conciousness. Descend with the painter into the dim tangled roots of things, and rise again from them in colors, be steeped in the light of them.
Paul Cezanne

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Excerpt from “Do not go gentle into the night”
Dylan Thomas

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(western sky at a Winter’s sunset / Julie Cook / 2015)

Dry crisp clean air sweeps downward, deep across the land.
All the while as a myriad of minuscule molecules swirl with palpable excitement.
Invisible dust particles sashay from side to side,
as brilliant rays of light streak across the horizon.
The color catchers of light, that gauzy blanket of clouds, fans ever outward acting as a giant scooping net capturing all of Red.
Gleefully the Master Creator slings a seemingly sopping wet brush full of scarlet pigment outward from the western sky.
Orange and yellow drip and ooze off of a massive palette like melting ice-cream from a cone.

Ominous?
Foreboding?
Harbinger?
Perhaps. . .

Yet it is the sheer magnitude and overwhelming sense of mastery which now shrouds any and all worry or fear. Brilliancy is effortlessly scattered out across the heavens.
Who can doubt such a Master Artist and His existence while standing in awe of such a display?
Can mere meteorology and science neatly put this canvas into a tight fitting box?
They tell of the pieces and the parts, of the hows and whys. . .
They tell of the lengths of rays, curvatures of the planet, the makeup of an atmosphere and of why an eye may see. . .

Yet there is more to this dazzling painting and its perception than what literally meets the eye.
The inspiring observance of this masterful moment affords the viewer insight into the telling strokes, the intimate fingerprints, of the Master Artist. Selfless abandon covers this canvas as the designs of the Divine are poured out to each viewer, freely given. A vast gift of love poured out from one heart to another. . .benevolently offered without expectations, demands or requirements from the Master Creator to the created.

The day is now done and gone is the sun. . .as we sweetly dream as to what new wonders will soon be in sight. . .

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