“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth;
and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word,
to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God,
men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”
Pope St. John Paul II
(a locust passing by / Julie Cook / 2015)
Sometimes I just think it would be best if I found some hollowed-out tree, ditched
all the trappings of this life and opted to survive off of honey and locust.
Think John the Baptist.
The voice of the one crying out in the wilderness.
The man who lived in the desert eating only honey and locust while preaching about the
repentance of man…
So in my case, maybe we should make those grasshoppers because grasshoppers are more prevalent
in my neck of the woods.
But if the truth be told, I could easily do honey all day long, grasshoppers, however,
are things that I’m just not so certain about.
But this little reflection is not about eating bugs or living in
a hollowed-out tree—
but rather this post is about ridding oneself of all the trappings of a distracting world.
Giving to God all that I am and all that I have…which is simply me and me alone.
Because isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?
What we’re supposed to be about?
So maybe this IS a post about living in a hollowed-out tree, or in a cave or in a hut
or in the desert…
It’s about giving all and crying out.
It’s much like having a St. Francis moment.
Stripping down naked in the town square, tossing off all the fine clothing given
by one’s well to do parent and opting instead to offer the only thing one truly has that
is his or her own…that being one’s unclad naked self.
(St. Francis’ renunciation of worldly things / Giotto /1295 /Bascillica of San Francesco Assisi, Italy)
Yet Life gets complicated.
Our culture and society have both grown caustically complicated.
We can get so caught up in the minutia of living.
We tend to worry about things that are totally trivial in the grand scope of what is
truly worthy of concern…
We fret over silly little things like matching appliances, buying name brand purses, shoes, and cars.
We want a house in that oh so special neighborhood while putting our kids in the best of the best schools…
We live on our phones, on Facebook, on twitter on Instagram…
We have become the masters of making nothingness into life-altering concerns and thoughts.
The proverbial mountain verses the molehill.
Throw in the daily constant fixation with our toxic political sludge…
and well, we are all living a life of perpetual distraction— and if the truth be told,
it is a life of heaviness and negativity.
What then do we have left to give God?
Maybe having a St. Francis moment is in order for us all.
Throwing off the trappings of this world and giving to God what it is at the heart of the matter—
that being ourselves and ourselves alone…
ourselves with nothing covering us or allowing us to hide behind…no distractions.
Just us making Him our focus..the focus of what truly only matters.
Because in the end…nothing else in this world does matter…
Everything and everyone will eventually die and or pass away.
So only Him and us…
Creator and created…
“We live in a fallen world.
We must, therefore, work out our destiny under the conditions created by sin.
Did we but realize this truth, we would accept each of life’s trying changes in the same spirit
in which we accept the penance from the confessor.
Were we truly convinced that our hope of pardon, and consequently our salvation,
depends upon repentance, we would willingly undergo all the sufferings of life’s warfare.”
John A. Kane, p. 81
An Excerpt From
How to Make a Good Confession
One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.
(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)
Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”
I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….
I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..
Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….
And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.
Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.
So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…
And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—
A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…
And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.
And I for one delight in that.
In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….
Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….
Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….
And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…
All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..
But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.
Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
As in The Coming….
I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.
The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.
He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.
Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.
The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.
So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.
And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….
John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…
The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.
Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!
Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.
We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.
Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.
For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.
Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…
None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?
I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…
Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….