pondering…proposes, invites, counsel and freewill

“And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force,
because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one,
but only proposes, invites and counsels.”

St. Angela Merici


(Julie Cook / 2022)

On a snowy Sunday afternoon…way down here in the deep South—
a day full of anomalies…meaning….
that the two notions of a deep South and a snowy day are not usually
found within the same sentence, it seemed to be a perfect day for pondering.

Pondering.

Merriam Webster tells us that the definition of the word ponder is:
to weigh in the mind or to think about or reflect on…

And so, on this stay inside sort of day, this day of a deep South’s
day of ice and snow, pondering simply seemed to be a perfect pairing.

To weigh, to think, to reflect…

I found the following quotes, both above and below, to be so full
of thoughtfulness..so full of deep reverberations…
so full of infinite truths…
all of which each echo within the walls of any longing soul…
so much so that each quote has caught my breath.

words spoken…

Words which speak of purpose…
words which speak of freewill…
words which speak of accepting actions…
words which speak of burdens…
words which speak of conscience…
words which speak of opportunity,
words which speak of forgiveness…

All three quotes give us much to contemplate, examine and reflect upon…
all during these dark days of winter…

Tis the season to ruminate…to ingest and to ponder…

“We have difficulty understanding this,
just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color,
but our difficulty doesn’t alter this fact:
God’s omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom.
In the core of our being we remain free to accept or
reject God’s action in our lives—-
and to accept or reject it more or less intensely.
God wants us to accept him with all our ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—-
in other words, as intensely as possible.
But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil,
so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace.
Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from
sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug
in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort,
every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act
of kindness to someone in need,
we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord
by putting our faith in his will.”

Fr. John Bartunek,

The more I wanted to pray for my father and could not,
the more I realized how much my hatred of him had harmed me
instead of harming him.
I can’t remember where I heard this saying,
but it came back to me then:
Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and hoping that
the other person will die.

Derya Little
from her book From Islam to Christ

“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…?