Inside out

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
Ezra Taft Benson

DSC02446
(a spicebruch swallowtail butterfly found its way into the kitchen / Julie Cook / 2015)

My aunt and I walked out onto the back deck this afternoon–out from the kitchen door in order to get a closer look at a deer out in the back yard—we had left the kitchen door slightly ajar.
As we stood gawking at a doe nibbling on the grass, a spicebrush swallowtail butterfly, sporadically flittering over our heads,
makes it’s way along the deck heading directly for the kitchen door–
with the cat in hot pursuit.

The next thing I know, the butterfly is in the kitchen, flying immediately toward the shuttered kitchen windows. In a blink of an eye it makes its way through the slats of the far window, trapping itself between the shutter and the window. The cat now stretching to reach the window.

DSC02444

DSC02445

I quickly opened the shutters, gently reaching in to cup my hands over my flighty visitor.
Easing my hands around him / her, I quickly escort my friend back outside. Freely opening my hands, the spicebrush takes off missing nary a beat with its herky jerky flight pattern. . .
this time far away from my open door.

Inside out, or outside in–either way it made for a bit of a trouble for the visiting butterfly, as well as for me, as I clambered over chairs to get to my guest quickly before it hurt itself or the cat beat me to it.

This latest escapade of mine had my thoughts shifting to the whole concept of inside out / outside in. . .
With Mr Benson’s quote for today’s post painting a very plain talking sort of thought, his words resonating deeply in my thought process. . .”God works from the inside out as the world works from the outside in. . .”

Intrinsic verses extrinsic.
Proactive verses reactive
Victim verses survivor

To be a Christian–one who lives in the world yet is not of the world is nothing short of learning to swim against the rip tide current.
When the world screams inclusiveness, the Christian claims conviction—
When the masses demand rights the Christian stands firm with an absolute.

Lines have blurred.
The world demands the bending of the sanctified spirit.
There are those who begin to question their beliefs—thinking that if the whole world seems to think that its way is the only way, lulling the questioning believer into falsely accepting such as truth, then the existence of the sanctified Truth becomes colluded.

Yet the Word was spoken. . .it has not changed, it has not deviated–it resonates deep from within, emanating outward—just as a stone dropped into a still pool of water with the rings of disturbance reverberating outward, ad infinitum, as it grows greater and wider from its center, so too does the Word of God. . .from the inside where God plants the seed of Truth in the heart of man, the Word spreads, speeding ever outward to touch a troubled world. . .and nothing shall stand in the way of God’s emanating Truth. . .that which starts from the inside spiraling ever outward.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

The continuum of a pilgrimage

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

CIMG0157
(Basilica di Sant’Antonio – Basilica del Santo / Padova / Padua, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

CIMG0204

CIMG0205
(images taken from the parade route during the feast day of St. Anthony (6/13), Padua, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

The word pilgrimage is documented as having first been used in the 14th century. We know that the word denotes that of a journey. The journey is notably one most often taken to a spiritual or sacred destination. Such journeys are often made by those seeking to pay homage to someone or someplace. Often pilgrims travel with a desire to demonstrate a certain level of devotion, or journey in hopes of receiving a divine blessings and / or enlightenment. Yet others simply journey out of curiosity, with the outside hope of some sort of other-worldly discovery made along the way.

Whereas a journey to a specific place or destination can be both emotionally, as well as spiritually, rewarding it is to the pilgrimage of the heart which is, as Rabbi Herschel reminds us, the most important journey of ones life.

Our life’s journeys often take us on many diverging paths. Our work, our play, our learning all carry us on a variation of tangents. . .with each teaching us, our minds and our bodies, many new, useful and exiting things.
And yet sadly it is to these very types of journeys in which we cling, unknowingly, as if to a lifeline. . .all in order to avoid the more intrinsic journey–that internal journey or pilgrimage which is essential in the constructing of the very underpinnings of our moral well being.

Why is that?
Why are we so eager to set out on the surface journeys of body and mind, yet are unwilling to venture on the intrinsic journey of the heart and soul?
Is it because these intrinsic journeys are often more raw, more real, more painful?
Are they not the journeys of addition, or rather, are they the more ominous journeys of subtraction—the journeys taken to expose and uncover, flaying us open, vulnerable and bare for all to see?

As we age, we begin, little by little, seeing the world differently.
Slowly, as if focusing a pair of binoculars on a blurry distant vista, the vain trappings of this life become evidently more clear.
Moments that were once considered larger than life are now, gratefully insignificant and small.
The what weres and what could have beens no longer seem crucial.
We are discovering that we have grown increasingly aware of our own mortality.

Gone are the devil may care days of our youth. For better or worse the longer we live the more we see our existence growing increasingly limited. Some of us fight this ever sequential awareness tooth and nail damning any ties to aging and our mortality. Yet others of us, those wiser and more confident, muster a steely resolve of keeping calm and carrying on–what more do we really have than doing such?

Blessedly there is a grand peace which accompanies this new understanding. Gone is the whirring din of the internal war cries rousing the rebellion in the belly of youth. The losing battle against this inevitable thing we call aging and life gives way to a strangely quiet and pleasingly calm resolve.

Thus once again, it is time for me to partake on yet another journey, a pilgrimage if I may, back to the place I have called home.
Back to where the initial journey, of this which I call my life, truly began— that being the journey from an angst ridden childhood, through a mostly stormy internal mid-life, to the now quieter and calmer resolve of a thankfully older and wiser pilgrim.

I travel back now to tend to that which has remained behind.
Putting the pieces back together.
This now weekly pilgrimage is so much more than tending to the failing mind of an elderly father. There is the inevitable meeting and battling of ancient demons, all which lie sinisterly in wait hidden in closets, buried in boxes, and merely hovering in the air.
The pilgrim uncovers.

To emerge on the other side victorious for not merely self but for a vanishing father, will be critical.
There is healing to be had.
And isn’t that the impetus of a pilgrimage, that of a journey for clarity, discovery, healing?
For the pilgrim is a seeker.

So should we say that the living of our lives are but journeys going forward while our investigations of those lives lived are actually pilgrimages traveling backwards?
We are mere journeymen throughout our youth eventually growing into pilgrims possessing wizened souls as we age. The pilgrim is on a continuum.

I think I rather like where this journey, this pilgrimage, is now going. . .