the wisdom of a child

“One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners.”
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(a contemplative little Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

So I must make a confession on this Holy Saturday…

Whereas in years past my posts were reflective of this time of year…
starting with Ash Wednesday, those dark heavy 40 days of Lent leading up to the
Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—
as we culminate all of this on a triumphant Easter.

I’d pray earnestly.
I’d fast regularly.
I’d be diligent in my observance.
I would have even gotten some purposeful Lenten reading.
I would focus on the cross and that of an empty tomb.

However, this week has passed in a blur.
In fact, Lent passed in a blur.
As much of the year has passed in a blur.

I hardly even noted that yesterday was Good Friday as I was on the road in
torrential rains and horrendous traffic as my thoughts were elsewhere.

There was a time I would attend the 3 hours long Good Friday service while
purposely fasting this highest of Holy days.
I would go to the Great Easter Vigil…clutching my candle with deep intent.

However, this year has been different.
For lots of reasons I suppose.

Whereas there were both sorrow and loss in years past, I none the less managed to keep
the tires in the middle of the road.

This year, sadly, I pretty much simply fell off the tracks.

There are some distracting extenuating circumstances that will most likely be written
about when there is finally a bit of clarity…
But in a nutshell, my time and my focus have been pulled into a thousand different degrees…

And speaking of degrees—
I have been suffering through some sort of flu bug this past week that has left me hot
to the touch yet cold and shivery to the body.

Add in the Mayor visiting her satellite office and the walking dead comes to mind…
not in the zombie kind, but rather literally feeling dead while still walking.

There’s been little sleep, lots of heavy thoughts, as well as thoughts of anticipation with
a new little sheriff set to arrive any day now.

And having spent the past two days trying to keep an ever-growing, rambunctious, newly walking
borderline toddler out of harm’s way while trying to keep up at the same energy level has
been no easy task.

And yet I often find myself sitting back and simply marveling at her intense gaze.
I watch her little wheels turning while wondering what are her thoughts.

Her love, excitement, and openness to each and all she meets.
Be it animal or human or a stuffed animal or even an interesting plant.
Each one is met with a raised hand and a resounding “HI”

There is such an open innocence and trust that we adults,
who love her and are entrusted with her care, wish to warn her of the dangers
as we work to protect and keep her from harm.

Any parent or grandparent will tell you that that is a life long task that can,
in this current angry world’s day and age, leave anyone who loves a little one
both anxious and nervous.

Because we adults know that there is bad, there is danger and there is evil.

My husband noted this morning at breakfast,
as she gobbled up some bits of maple syrup-soaked waffles,
that if the world possed the same sort of sweetness and same refreshing innocence…
oh, how the world could be so different.

And so on this Holy Saturday, I am reminded that God is reminding me…
He is calling me to return to that same trusting spirit…
return to an openness…allowing Him to pour out His sweet balm
within this weary soul of mine.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


(the Mayor in such a pondering pose / Julie Cook / 2019)

“No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).
These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps.
If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart,
it is His virtues you must imitate.
Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s teachings surpasses that of all the Saints.
But to find this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the Spirit of Christ.
It is because we lack this Spirit that so often we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.
Those who fully understand Christ’s words must labor to make their lives conform to His.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.15
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

born to run?

The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide…
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run…

Bruce Springsteen, lyrics Born to Run


(image of a high speed chase that ends in Houston)

We seem to be a people born to run.
Not physically mind you…as in the quickening of walking then breaking out into a full sprint…

Not running as in a physical form of fitness or sport… but rather the notion of
running AWAY from…as in avoiding.

Yeasterday, my husband and I got on Interstate 85, about 30 miles south of downtown Atlanta….
we were heading south a short ways, due to his wanting to go scope out some
recreational property..aka deer land.

We were driving in the right lane, only having to be on the interstate for a couple of exits when
my husband, looking in his rear-view mirror, nervously announces that
“I think a high speed chase it coming up behind us….”

Huh???

Sure enough, I turned around only to see a sea of blue lights as a small older, beat-up silver
Camary type of car comes flying past us on our left, in a blur… clocking in well over 100 MPH
as both GA State Patrol and local sheriff vehicles followed in a hot pursuit.

The interstate was crowded, but luckily the crowdedness was somewhat spaced out enough
for Mr.”Camary” to weave in and out while his pursuers were equally weaving.

Our exit was next and luckily we got off the interstate in one piece.
But I fretted…what of those further down the road…
did everyone avoid this selfish person who was putting all at grave risk
while running from the law for whatever reason???

This little incident got me thinking…
thinking about us…
us as in humankind…

and that of our running…
running away and running from…
as in…running to avoid, running to hide…

I was reminded of this from Genesis…

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden,
and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:9-13

We run and we hide…We run while hiding from others while we run from the law,
we run from ourselves and more importantly, we run from the ultimate…we run from God…

We run from everyone around us while selfishly putting everyone else at risk
with our running…

Yet what are we running from?
Why are we running?
Do we not realize that no matter time nor space, we will eventually be found,
caught, discovered?

Why do we feel compelled to run…running from not only everyone,
but most importantly from our God while hiding from His presence?

Is it shame?
Defiance?
Arrogance?

Because is not this ultimate running, running from not just
those who are immediately around us, but rather running from our Creator…
while desperately trying to hide from Him…is that not our true impetus for running?

This thought as we enter Lent.

Running to or running from..that will be the question over the next 40 days…

“The cross is not the suffering tied to natural existence,
but the suffering tied to being Christians.
The cross is never simply a matter of suffering,
but a matter of suffering and rejection for the sake of Jesus Christ,
not for the sake of some other arbitrary behavior or confession.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Joel 2:12-13

fat tuesday

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth,
faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

“But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience and love to your servant.

“Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother,
for You are blessed from all ages to all ages.
Amen”

St. Ephraim the Syrian

“Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself.
It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us,
and no longer the path that is too difficult for us…
Self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(a king cake and mardis gras beads)

We’ve heard a lot of talk about Manic Mondays, Wordless Wednesdays, Fabulous Fridays
and yes–even Taco Tuesdays…
but today we are actually going to be talking about a Tuesday other than
a Taco Tuesday—
we will be talking about, as well as “celebrating,” Fat Tuesday…

Yet how many of us truly understand the significance of a Fat Tuesday
or an Ash Wednesday or even that of a Good Friday?

So today we’ll take a little closer look at Fat Tuesday…
saving the other days for later.

Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday— the eve of the beginning of Lent.
It is a day in which we are to “use up” the excess fat (think oil and butter)
in the house all before the beginning of the required fasting during the Lenten season.

Lent being the season that the Church marks the 40 days that Jesus spent in the
desert while being tempted by Satan.

During the 40 day fast, our Orthodox brothers and sisters will abstain from
consuming any fats, such as oils and butter, along with meat,
dairy products as well as alcohol.
Many of our Catholic and Anglican brethren will abstain from much the same.

There is even to be an abstinence from sexual intimacy…
meaning— ALL earthly pleasures are put on hold during the Great Fast of Lent…
because we are to fast not only from certain foods but from all that holds and binds
us to our earthly bodily pleasures….a time that affords us the opportunity of
transcending, as it were, our sinful, earthbound bodies.

It is a time in which we are to abstain from all that is earthly while striving
to turn more inward as well as upward with our thoughts and personal actions.
…A time of deep introspection and drawing closer to God while we lift
our spirits upward closer to the Spirit of God.

A time of abstinence, fasting, repentance and spiritual reverence.

Many denominations refer to Fat Tuesday as Shrove Tuesday, a term that comes
from the old middle English word ‘Shriven’ meaning that one goes to confession
and receives absolution for one’s sins.

A day, also, where many of the Christian faithful will indulge in a Pancake supper.

So not only are we to use up all of the excessive cooking fats in the house
as we prepare to ‘fast’—
we are also told that we are to both acknowledge and confess our sins while in turn,
receiving absolution.

The other day a fellow blogger, Christina Chase, offered an interesting post on Lent…
Fat and Ashes: A Lenten Preview

Fat and Ashes: A Lenten Preview

I greatly enjoyed reading Christina’s take on fat vs ashes.

Her opening to the post was very telling.
She even added the image of a typical fast food meal…our daily intake of
“fat” that we so often take for granted.
Literal fat, as well as the fat that represents our sinful nature.

Christina mirrors that fast food fat image with the talk of our over the top revelry…

Revelry, might I add, that is currently taking place in locatoms such as New Orleans,
Venice, and Rio–
the world’s biggest draws for all things wanton and that of pre-Lenten celebrations.
A revelry that only grows greater while the observance of the Spiritual season
of Lent grows less and less.

Christina reminds us that it has become a giant excuse for a party really.
A far cry from the original intent of preparations and fasting of which eventually
leads to the celebration of life in triumphant joy found in the Ressurection of Christ.

Christina shares…
“Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, and it represents the last occasion
for eating rich, fatty foods before the fast of Lent begins.
However, who abstains from fat during 40 days of Lent anymore?
Funny how that tradition has faded away,
but the tradition of overindulgence and revelry has only increased.
It says a lot about us.”

Christina’s observation of our “fat” goes well beyond the literalness of fat in our diet
to that which is more of a symbolic fat—that of greed, self-indulgence and materialism…
that which is personal to that of a national level as witnessed in our government with
it’s excessive pork-barrel spending at the taxpayer’s expense…a vicious cycle.

As a long time observer of Lent, I love Christina’s words…
“If done prayerfully, we discover that our fulfillment as human beings is not dependent
upon extra stuff. We are invited to shed the excess and find out what
it truly means to be fulfilled.”

Amen!

She continues…

“We humans are not merely taste buds and pleasure sensors, after all.
We have minds and hearts because we are not only of flesh but also of spirit,
being created by God in divine image. The pure goodness of our souls gets tainted
and soiled by self-centeredness — when we want what we want because it feels good,
even if we know that it isn’t truly good for us or anyone else.”

Christina then switches her focus to ashes—that which is left to pass away—
“Much of earthly life is perishable and will not continue into eternity with
our spiritual souls.”

Musing what, in this life, will she have allowed to turn to ash and fade away…

I shared with Christina that whereas I loved her take on the ashes of our lives,
I actually see those ashes as more of a goal…they are the lessening of the fat,
with the ash being a passing away of that which I have failed to do
or be—the ashes being a cleansing of the fat…a burning away of the negative.

So whatever our take may be of the fat and ashes of our lives…
may we all be drawn ever closer to the passion, to the
death and final resurrection of our Redeemer and Savior.

40 days of the lessening of ourselves and the lessening of the fat that hinders our very souls.

Here are two links to previous posts regarding
Lent, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesdqy…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/ashes-to-ashesa-history-lesson/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/ash-wednesday/

The joys of old school, or how I detest technology

“(I’m not online.)
I don’t have a fax.
I don’t go in for any of that stuff.
The typewriter is as far as I went.”

Walter Kaylin


(an old school Roman “truck” or Ape Piaggio–three wheeled truck, Campo di Fiori/ Rome Italy /Julie Cook 2018)

Yes, you have read correctly… I hate technology.
I think I’ve mentioned that little fact before.

“But aren’t you actually using technology as we speak—or is that ‘as we read’???”
you perceptively ask.

“And so if you hate it so much, then why are you using it?” as you counter your own observation?

I’m with Walter Kaylin in his quote from up above…oh for that simple typewriter.

My poor technologically inept husband needed a new computer, a new laptop.
So that is what I surprised him with for Christmas.

But I knew how it would all play out…and I was right on the money.

The new computer has two new and very different USB ports from that of his old computer.

A conundrum.

He needed a new i-tunes account, separate from me, finally…as all of our stuff has been
basically merged together as if one account–a huge messy mishmash.

A conundrum that we’ve managed to live with for quite some time because due to
the business, it was kind of okay.

Yet when he closed the business, he lost his old e-mail.

A huge conundrum.

And since no business-related emails can be accessed, despite hours spent on the phone with AT&T…
did I mention how he loathes AT&T or how I now concur??—we’ve had a conundrum.

Not only can’t he get into his old email account (thank you AT&T) he can’t even pull up his
deer trail cam images–and that is more of a crisis than a conundrum…

So today would be the day.
I psyched myself up for what I knew to lay ahead.

I’d sit down after I had taken down all of the outdoor Christmas in hopes of beating these
6 inches of rain they keep warning us about…all in order to create a new I-tunes account,
separate our phones and computers, as well as set up a new g-mail, a new I-tunes,
and finally a new computer.

Yet oddly in the process, I managed to lock myself out of my own computer.

WHAT???

I typed, I typed some more, I pondered, I pulled out my phone, I re-set everything I
could think to re-set but sadly it was to no avail.

I considered throwing my laptop over the back deck.
Why not?
It was locked up tighter than Dick’s hatband.

Where are those savvy hackers when you really need one???
Hiding out in some dark room in Siberia I suspect.

I groused, I cursed, I wailed…my husband said “here, take mine”…
“it’s not that simple” I snapped.

For you see I knew this would happen.
It always happens.
Despite my diligence, despite my best-laid plans, I knew what should have been a 1 2 3 sort
of flow would become an entire day’s nightmare.

My son complains that at his work, they keep hiring people my age who don’t really
“get” technology and so he wastes most of his day teaching “old” folks how to do the job
they were hired to do because it was thought they knew how to do it.

I took offense to that until today…I now understand.

I called Apple.

I spoke with one of their “geniuses” who did not speak fluent English.

I take offense to that notion of genius—

How arrogant of Apple to call their techi gurus geniuses…
…as if they are all that and a bag of chips and I am… but a mere moron.

With no help from Apple, I spent 5, count them, 5 hours figuring all of this out…
the sun rose and the sun set…all while I pecked and panicked.

Finally, blessedly, joyously, I managed to get myself unlocked and my husband free and good to go.
Plus I managed to migrate my old computer info to my own new little laptop.
(You need to be proud Phyllis because I am finally finding my way in the dark without you,
Sue or OP!
FYI, that’s a school thing…sorry)

I regrettably feel this same way everytime it’s time for me to get new glasses.

I go for the vision test, they think they have it all figured out, I get the new glasses
and bam, I can’t see a thing.
It takes visit after visit, retesting, refitting until they finally get my eyes and glasses
‘synced.’

And to think, I’m a year over going in for my eye appointment, imagine that…hummmm.

Each year I ponder going “dark” for Lent…meaning cutting myself off from all technology.
If the Queen can cut out all chocolates from her Royal world during the Lenten season,
surely I could go technology free…

Today was just one more step closer to a vote for a true technology blackout!

They don’t have pay phones anymore, do they???

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us,
either by our spoken word or by our letter.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

lambie pies

While many try to ignore Jesus, when He returns in power and might,
this will be impossible.

Michael Youssef


(an Irish lambie pie / Julie Cook / Sleive League, Co Donegal, Ireland / 2015)


(my own lambie pie / Julie Cook / 2018)

Whereas this being Easter…there is much to say about lambs, sheep, shepherds, sacrifices
Salvation…but…unfortunately the pace of life right now just won’t permit me to dig
any deeper, share any more or go any further than this…

Two images of two very different lambie pies…

Each with their own very different stories yet under the watchful eye of the
same Creator, same Shepherd…

So as I will be here, there and yon all weekend…running on no sleep…
I wish you all a joyous Easter…

He is Risen…
and so we may shout Alleluia…

Oh, and by the way, the word Alleluia, or its variation Hallelujah, is not used in the
liturgical service throughout the Lenten season…as Lent marks a very solemn time period
for the Chruch.

But if you’ve ever had the opportunity to attend an Easter Vigil service on
Holy Saturday evening—a deeply solemn service bathed only in flickering candlelight…
as at the stroke of midnight, of which signals the beginning of the day
of Ressurection…the lights are illuminated as we shout
“The Lord has Risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!!!

And now a little historical background to my most favorite Easter Hymn….

From the hymn, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.

for Easter

This version of the anonymous Latin hymn,
“Surrexit Christus hodie,” is first found in a scarce collection entitled:—
Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns,
partly new composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns;
and set to easy and pleasant tunes. London: J. Walsh, 1708.

Of the history of this collection nothing is known,
but the character of its contents may perhaps lead to the supposition that it was compiled
by some Anglo-German of the pietist school of thought.
The text in Lyra Davidica, 1708, p. 11, is as follows :
“Jesus Christ is risen to day, Halle-Haile-lujah.
Our triumphant Holyday
Who so lately on the Cross Suffer’d to redeem our loss.
“Hast ye females from your fright Take to Galilee your flight
To his sad disciples say Jesus Christ is risen to day.
“In our Paschal joy and feast Let the Lord of life be blest Let the Holy Trine
be prais’d And thankful hearts to heaven be rais’d.”

…The oldest Latin text known is that given by Mone, No. 143,
from a Munich manuscript of the 14th century.
This manuscript does not contain stanzas 4, 6, 8, 10, 11
(enclosed in brackets above).
Of these stanza 6,11 are found in a Breslau manuscript, cir 1478;
and stanzas 4, 8, 10 in the Speier Gesang-Buch (Roman Catholic), 1600…

The modern form of the hymn appears first in Arnold’s Compleat Psalmodist,
2nd edition, pt. iv., 1749, where the first stanza of 1708 is alone retained,
and stanzas 2 and 3 are replaced by new ones written without any reference to the original Latin.
This recast is as follows:—
Jesus Christ is ris’n to-day. Hallelujah.
Our triumphal holyday
Who did once upon the Cross Suffer to redeem our Loss.
“Hymns of praises let us sing Unto Christ our heavenly King Who endur’d the Cross
and Grave Sinners to redeem and save.
“But the pain that he endured Our Salvation has procured
How above the Sky he’s King Where the Angels ever sing.”

Variations of this form are found in several collections.
The following is in Kempthorne’s Select Portions of Psalms, &c. 1810:—
Hymn lxxxii.
“Benefits of Christ’s Resurrection to sinners.
“Rom. iv. 25. “For Easter Day. “Jesus Christ is ris’n to day;
Now he gains triumphant sway;
Who so lately on the cross Suffer’d to redeem our loss.
Hallelujah.
“Hymns of praises let us sing, Hymns to Christ our heav’nly King,
Who endur’d both cross and grave, Sinners to redeem and save.
Hallelujah.
“But the pains, which he endur’d, Our salvation have procur’d;
Now He reigns above the sky,
Where the angels ever cry Hallelujah.”

The next form is that which was given to it in the Supplement to Tate & Brady.
This was added to the Supplement about 1816.
This text is:—
”Jesus Christ is risen to-day,
Our triumphant holy day;
Who did once, upon the cross, Suffer to redeem our loss.
Hallelujah, “Hymns of praise then let us sing Unto Christ our heavenly King:
Who endur’d the cross and grave, Sinners to redeem and save.
Hallelujah. “But the pains which He endur’d Our salvation hath procur’d:
Now above the sky He’s King, Where the angels ever sing. Hallelujah.”

To this has been added by an unknown hand the following doxology:—
“Now be God the Father prais’d, With the Son from death uprais’d,
And the Spirit, ever blest; One true God, by all confest. Hallelujah.”

This doxology, from Schaff’s Christ in Song, 1870, p. 198,
is in the Hymnal Companion and one or two other collections.
Another doxology is sometimes given, as in Lord Selborne’s Book of Praise, 1862,
Taring’s Collection, 1882, and others, as follows:—

“Sing we to our God above—Hallelujah! Praise eternal as His love;
Hallelujah! Praise Him all ye heavenly host, Hallelujah!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Hallelujah! ”

This is by C. Wesley.
It appeared in the Wesley Hymns & Sacred Poems, 1740, p. 100;
again in Gloria Patri, & c, or Hymns to the Trinity, 1746, and again in the Poetical Works,
1868-72, vol. iii. p. 345.
The above text from Tate and Brady’s Supplement, cir. 1816,
is that adopted by the leading hymn-books in all English-speaking countries,
with in some cases the anonymous doxology, and in others with that by C. Wesley.
It must be noted that this hymn sometimes begins:—
“Christ the Lord, is risen to day Our triumphant holy day.”
This must be distinguished from:— “Christ the Lord, is risen to-day,
Sons of men and angels say,” by C. Wesley (p. 226, i.);
and, “Christ the Lord, is risen to-day, Christians, haste your vows to pay:
“a translation of “Victimae Paschali” (q. v.), by Miss Leeson; and,
“Christ the Lord, is risen to-day, He is risen indeed:” by Mrs. Van Alstyne (q. v.).
Another arrangement of “Jesus Christ is risen to-day”
is given in T. Darling’s Hymns, &c, 1887. This text is stanza i., ii.,
Tate & Brady Supplement, with a return in stanza i. lines 3,
to the older reading; and stanzas iii., iv. by Mr. Darling.
It may not be out of place to add, with reference to this hymn,
that the tune to which it is set in Arnold, and to which it is still sung,
is that published with it in Lyra Davidica. The tune is also anonymous,
and was probably composed for the hymn.
The ascription of it by some to Henry Carey is destitute of any foundation whatever,
while Dr. Worgan, to whom it has been assigned by others,
was not born until after the publication of Lyra Davidica.
[George Arthur Crawford, M.A.] –John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Hymnary.org

pray without ceasing

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks,
the door will be opened.

Luke 11: 9-10


(San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, the “Queen of the Missions/ San Antonio, TX/ Julie Cook / 2014)

I have, as we have been told, to pray without ceasing.

Or so it seems.

Yet words such as exasperating, frustrating, maddening creep upwards
melding with the prayerful petitions.

Silence.

Then I am reminded, once again, that God, to whom I lift my words, my petitions, my prayers
is a God without time nor space…
He is not defined nor held by the restraints of my world’s limitations…

And so I am to pray without ceasing…

which means, without ceasing….

“Knock.
Persevere in knocking, even to the point of rudeness, if that were possible.
There is a way of forcing God and wresting his graces from him,
and that way is to ask continually with a firm faith.
We must think, with the Gospel:
‘Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you,’
which he then repeats by saying,
‘Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’
(Luke 11:9-10).
We must, therefore, pray during the day, pray at night, and pray every time we rise.
Even though God seems either not to hear us or even to reject us,
we must continually knock, expecting all things from God but nevertheless also acting ourselves.
We must not only ask as though God must do everything himself;
we must also make our own effort to act according to his will and with the help of his grace,
as all things are done with his support.
We must never forget that it is always God who provides;
to think thus is the very foundation of humility.”

Bishop Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, p.35
An Excerpt From
Meditations for Lent

between darkness and light


(sunset at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

****Firstly, may our hearts and prayers be with the students, parents, faculty, staff
and entire community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward Co. Florida.
Our hearts break for those families whose lives will never be the same.

Secondly, I read an updated post offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Tuesday
that he was going in for emergency surgery Wednesday due to a detached retina—
this being the second and unforeseen such surgery. He asked for our prayers…
and pray we shall.

With this past Sunday marking the Christian observation of the Transfiguration, the
event in which Jesus is “transfigured” before his friends who had accompanied him to a
mountain to pray…one might find that such an event is perhaps odd fitting falling on
Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…
because here we have a significant moment
of light versus a significant time of difficulty and darkness.

As this seems to be one more example of the juxtaposition of our faith as Christians…
Darkness versus Light….Light versus Darkness.

Bishop Ashenden notes this event in his Sunday homily taking place on the last Sunday
before Lent.
He opens his homily with the reading from Mark regarding the event we Christians
know as the Transfiguration of our Lord.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a
high mountain, where they were all alone.
There he was transfigured before them.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters (some say altars)—one for you, one for Moses and
one for Elijah.”
(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain,
Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man
had risen from the dead.
They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.
Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?
But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished,
just as it is written about him.”

Mark 9:2-11

I personally have always found the timing, or rather revealing, of Jesus’ Transfiguration
being remembered on the Sunday before Lent as a bit odd as it seems somewhat out of sync.
Here we have the Church calendar making its way toward Ash Wednesday and the
beginning of Lent, a time of solemness and yet we are given a story of Light and Glory.

Lent is a hard time for Christians–it is a 40 day lead up to the walking of the Via Dolorosa–
or the Way of Sorrows…
There is such a seriousness and heaviness and yet here we have a moment of shared and
exposed Glory with the marking of Blinding Light.

And of course, the voice of God telling those disciples present that
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”

I can only imagine how those three disciples must have felt.
First and suddenly, Jesus is consumed by blinding light.
Then just as suddenly they are seeing men that needed no introduction or explanation
as to who they were, the disciples just seem to know…
the prophet Elijah (who according to Wikipedia as in The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah’s
return “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD”,
making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in
various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible) and also Moses,
the man chosen by God to continue the lineage of mankind and all of Creation
following the near world-ending flood.

Pretty mind-blowing and unbelievable stuff.

And yet they seem to take it all in stride.

That’s the thing about the Bible—we are given specifics with very little in the way
of emotions.
“so afraid”, “trembling”, “sorrow”… descriptive words but not much in the way of
“hey!!! What just happened here??!!”

Yet Bishop Ashenden reminds us that their breath, that of Peter, James, and John,
must have been taken away by Glory…

For these three disciples suddenly found themselves out of the concept of both
space and time.

Both being humanly grounding concepts simply disappearing in the blink of an eye.

We aren’t told of the duration of this event—and I would suspect,
much like a dream that seems to last an entire night yet in actuality is but a minute
or so at best, this moment of absence yet consumingness must also be brief.

The good bishop states that time and space…of which is infused with Glory, simply melts…
Just as it does so later for both Paul and Stephen…
Just as we know that they, and eventually us, must melt ourselves in order to
truly see this Spiritual reality.
Because we can not be of either space nor time in order to be in the presence of God—
because God is not and cannot be, contained by either.

And so the Transfiguration is our moment when both space and time melt away, affording us
a Light cast just before we enter into the darkness.

For “Hope and the promise of Glory–pierces the darkness.
And we need this encouragement found in Christ’s transfiguration to feel the encouragement
in our perseverance through our own Via Dolorosa.

For we live our earthly lives caught up in darkness…
The recent shooting yesterday at the high school in Florida startingly jerks us back
to the knowledge that we live in a fallen world caught in the power play of
Light and Darkness.

As we will soon one day hear those long-awaited words…
“Behold I am with you always—until the end of time…

When both space and time and even ourselves will melt away and
we will find ourselves in the Light.