“A drop of ink may make a million think”—(A rerun)


(image, www)

Yesterday, a fellow blogger and pastor known as Slim Jim,
(https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/12/26/what-is-your-favorite-post-that-you-wrote-in-2019/),
asked his fellow bloggers what was their favorite post from the year.

Not which post may have generated the most views or likes or comments…
but rather what post did we enjoy writing the most or felt as if we’d hit the mark the best…?

Maybe it’s because I was in the middle of dismantling the Christmas tree and was feeling
my typical sense of melancholy and discontent or maybe it was because I had not eaten all day
and was feeling somewhat brain dead and hangry, but I just couldn’t bring to mind any one particular post
from the past year that stood out…

However, I did remember a few from the past previous years that stood out.

I’ve also noticed, from time to time when looking over my stats,
what previous posts have received a high number of visits despite their
having been written several years prior.

There was one post in particular that I actually noticed yesterday,
from way back in 2013 which was shortly after I started this blogging business,
had received several views.

I often wonder what brings multiple viewers to a years-old post.
Was it a random search?
Was it the sharing of something found by one, offered to another?
Who knows how people find things…but find they do.

This particular post was one that I actually recall with a sense of satisfaction…
in that I liked it, I felt it said something and I still find it relevant.

I pulled it back up, cut and pasted, added a few grammatical corrections…
and so without further ado… let’s look back to 2013…

The title of today’s post by Lord Byron, albeit a bit poetic,
certainly prompted me to think–as in I imagine that was Lord Byron’s point.

Just mere ink on paper…forming letters then words has, down through the ages,
changed lives,
changed governments, changed nations…
From the Talmud on ancient scrolls, to the Magna Carta, to our own Declaration of Independence,
ink and paper possess tremendous power.

Men and women die defending ink and paper.
We fight one another over ink and paper.
Ink and paper have sadly caused people to take their own lives.
It’s all a rather overwhelming combination when you actually think about the simplicity
of the two as single entities, and yet when combined together,
how staggeringly strong and powerful the two become.

Nathaniel Hawthorn, the early 19th-century American novelist,
reminded those of his day that:
“words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary,
how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

This statement coming from a man who wrote the Scarlet Letter—-
the powerful tale we all read in High School. A tale about a single red letter.
The red letter ‘A’ which was literally forced upon a young woman, as a mark about her life.
She was to wear this scarlet letter for all to see… a visible sign of a private indiscretion
made very public.
A single written letter, worn and changing lives forever.

And when I think of a small rather pitiful man who took pen and paper to write about
his “struggles” in Mein Kampf, and how that combination of letters which formed words,
became a psychotic manifesto of a single disturbed individual which worked an entire nation
into a frenzy of death and murder…I am amazed.

Or what of another angst-ridden man who put ink to paper, forming a doctrine of living
which in turn sent another nation to revolt against it’s ruling czar,
changing the course of history and our own lives forever—

It becomes so overwhelming…
Because it all started out so simple…
It started firstly with ink added to paper, with the forming of letters and finally words…

Sadly today so many of us casually, and even callously, throw words around,
never taking time to ponder the consequences or outcome of those words…
words that are now so easily clicked off on a computer or phone.

From toxic and viral e-mails to emotional ranting tweets—
words and their piercing effects are almost unemotionally thrown out toward individuals,
thrown out with the intentions to hurt, to mock, to belittle–
allowing the offender to hide behind them—

No longer is it really ink on paper.
Letter and words now form on screens—be it the screen of a computer or a screen on a phone.

And so I wonder…
Did we think more clearly, more carefully, when we were actually having to take a pen or pencil
in hand to a sheet of paper?
Thinking more thoughtfully before today’s rapid-fire texting?

Did we consider our words more carefully when we were actually writing slowly,
letter per letter, word built upon word?

Were we kinder, more thoughtful, more determined, more committed?

Perhaps or perhaps not—but what if we were more thoughtful of our words
and of the choice of those words…..what then???

So on this Monday morning, a new day to a new week, consider the words you write…
the words you type—the words you spit out during the course of the week—
Think about how powerful are they.

What is their true intent?
Do you wish to harm or to help?
Do your words represent who you truly think you are?
Be that a kind and benevolent or rather a caustic and trite individual…
My hope is that we may become more mindful when combining letters into forming words—

And thus the question remains…what shall your words be…?

celebrations

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration.
Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained.
Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation.
To be entertained is a passive state–
it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle….
Celebration is a confrontation,
giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.

Abraham Joshua Heschel


(Dad’s cake / Julie Cook / 2017)

Over the years, I’ve read many tales of those who suffered in the death camps
of Nazi Germany.
I also have read a great deal about those who endured exile in the Soviet gulags.
Some of the stories end with liberation while many sadly, or perhaps poetically,
end in liberating death.

One key element that I’ve noticed over and over, that is evident in almost all of the
individual stories of those who endured the horrors of either form of death camp,
is the single element of either anticipatory hope or dejected hopelessness.

Those who chose to hold onto hope, did so in seemingly small, insignificant and almost
unnoticeable measures…

They would simply keep count.

They would count hours, days, weeks, months, years…
the counting of their own particular life’s moments…
Be it birthdays, anniversaries or any of their own personal life’s hurdles or goals…
anything of what life had been outside of the camps to them personally…
They would count and look forward…
forward toward what normal had been….
and holding on to that normal.

Notches were marked on walls, small prayers were silently said as hymns or songs were
privately sung…
As some semblance of recalling and holding onto the marking of these personal moments
could actually keep life sane…
It is what helped those tortured souls hold onto that which was of sanity and routine…
that of life’s normalcy….
all the while as they were being held in the depths of brutal insanity.

There is a bittersweetness found in the holding onto of normalcy during those times
in our lives that are anything but normal.

Those of us who have watched loved ones slowly ebb away due to illness, disease, war, famine,
brutality, paralysis, or any other catastrophic thief understand the importance
of continuing to count.

For if we didn’t count,
if we didn’t hold onto,
if we didn’t hope…even in the face of a seemingly earthly hopelessness…
we would simply succumb to a sorrow so deep, so black and so bitter
that we would be lost to the abyss of utter nothingness…
all of which we would know would equate to utter despair.

One of the hardest bible verses to live out in life is found in the book of James.
(1 James 2….)
We are told to consider it “pure joy” when facing trails.

A seemingly impossible task that many a non-believer throughout time has relished
in taunting the faithful with the sneering
“what kind of loving God would tell you to find joy
in your suffering…other than a maniacally sick puppet master…”

And as it is seemingly impossible to do just that when one’s heart is in the midst of
being torn out of one’s chest….

We continue doing just that….

Because in part we know that what we’ve counted and held onto here in this life,
that which we have considered so dear and so precious…
is but a glimpse of what will be even more so…
once we are liberated and home….

So be we liberated in life or in death…either way…we the faithful…
count our milestones and choose to celebrate…


(this is a really good picture of Dad right now, the other shots look wretched…but there remains
a small twinkle and sly smile in this image)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

1 James 2-6