Be at Peace

“I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all;
but whatever I have placed in God’s hands,
that I still possess.”

Martin Luther

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(a boat lined canal outside the grounds of Ross Castle, County Kerry, Killarney, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.
Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

Francis de Sales
(Feast Day, January 24th)

a thousand stars

O Father may that Holy Star Grow every year more bright,
And send its glorious beams afar to fill the world with light.

-William Cullen Bryant

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(star sunflowers / Sleive League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Each evening during the season of Advent, as the sun sinks just beyond the horizon, watchful eyes lift skyward scanning the heavens eastward for a single star which shines brighter than the rest.

A sign
A signal
A symbol

As the Christian faithful gather together,
anxiously watching and waiting for direction.

A command
A compass
A course

Open questions now beg to be answered…
Where shall we go?
What are we to find?
What are we to do?

And as those questions skip across the nighttime breeze,
an unseen Hand scatters a thousand stars across a dark December sky…

To seek
To search
To share

To find
To forgive
To free

To hope
To help
To heal

To defend
To define
To declare

To pray
To please
To praise

To worship
To wonder
To wander

To restore
To reach
To reform

To laud
To live
To love


“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

Martin Luther

An unlikely tale of unity

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

― Gwendolyn Brooks

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(American Beautyberry bush / Julie Cook / 2015)

Crown Him with many crowns. . .a much beloved and joyful hymn sung in any number of Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches. How many of us, who have sung this hymn during any given Sunday service, have known that this hymn is as much about Biblical scripture as it is about Christian unity?

Catholics and Protestants have long suffered through a strained relationship of both love and hate–a tenuous relationship that has existed ever since Martin Luther set loose a reformation with all that nailing to a door business.
It’s been a tug of war between acceptance and rejection ever since 1517.

There has been blood shed, heads chopped off, houses of worship destroyed, statues crushed, books burned, the faithful tortured, confessions coerced, beliefs recanted, prayers cursed. . .
all in the name of the proper observance for the Christian faith.

During one such tumultuous time period in this long suffering relationship, a hymn was composed by two vastly different men—Matthew Bridges a Catholic convert and Godfrey Thring an Anglican clergyman. The composition however was not originally intended as a joint effort in unity but rather, in actuality, was a conglomeration of equal time for each opposing team.

In the 1800s there was great tension between the Catholic and Anglican churches. Crown Him with Many Crowns is a wonderful example of how God takes the troubles of man and turns them around for good (Romans 8:28).The song was originally penned in 1851 by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894), who once wrote a book condemning Roman Catholic theology, and then later converted to Catholicism. Bridges wrote six stanzas, based upon Revelations 19:12, “…and on His head were many crowns.”

Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) was a devout Anglican clergyman who was concerned that this popular hymn was allowing Catholic theology to be sung by protestant congregations. And so he wrote six new verses.

The 12 stanzas have been mixed and matched down through the years.
(excerpt taken from Sharefaith.com)

So as we stand in our collective churches this Sunday morning, lifting our voices skyward, may we all be mindful that our faith in the resurrected Son of the Most High God, is the tie that binds us as brothers and sisters–bound by the blood of Christ—one belief, one faith, one Savior, one voice lifting to Heaven. . .

The woods are waking up!

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers – for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.
Osho

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Do you hear it?
Can you smell it?
The wind, that March wind of the roaring lion–
The wind which sweeps over the landscape sending all things scattering to and fro.
The air, breathe deeply for it is no longer cold– that type of cold which stings ones nose and throat- Happily there is warmth to the breath of this March lion.
Can’t you smell that sweet warm wind?

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Do you hear them?
There is a symphony serenading the swamps and creeks.
The multitude of tree frogs have summoned their members of this annual choir.
The ground has warmed just enough, reminding those who have been dormant this winter, to rise and shine, it’s time to find that perfect mate.

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Other worldly mushroom shaped buds line up on the tips of limbs and twigs, waiting to explode.
Such tiny buds not only signal the renewal of nature, but of our hearts and souls as well–for these are the buds of the wild dogwood.
The South knows that Spring has officially arrived by the blooming of these mystical trees.
The blooming of the dogwood is Nature raising her banners, alerting us all to the celebration of Easter.

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Warming weather signals the internal mystery for the annual sloughing off of antlers, which in turn provides nutrients to smaller animals. This warming also sends the ground beneath the feet of all teaming with activity. Beware of roaming the newly cool green grass with feet bare for the South’s most hardy nemesis, the dreaded fire ant is on the move.

Good morning sleepy heads for behold, the Advent of Spring is here!

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.
~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther