not just my nerves

But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
to dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again.

Robert Browning

(the remains of fallen acorns / Julie Cook / 2016)

As I continue dealing with this nerve pain business from these ruptured discs of mine…
waiting for the nerve block to do something…
as they said it could be up to a week…
that being today…as I am not exactly holding my breath…
I can’t help but think about the whole business of nerves…
of which is the craziest thing…

The pain is like a searing burning rawness.
With just the slightest touch from clothes or whatever causing severe pain…
It’s as if the skin has been flayed open and something or someone is sadisticaly rubbing
or sawing into the raw vulnerable flesh.
But when I look, thinking surely the skin will be red, angry and swollen,
with signs of grave irritation…
I am met with perfectly intact and non inflamed skin.

It’s crazy that things can look so very normal yet the slightest touch of mere cloth
can send excruciating waves of irritation…

Those who have limbs amputated report that there is often lingering ghost pain associated
with the now missing limb—that the brain and the now cut off nerves still register
that the limb remains…

These bodies of ours are indeed resilient yet fragile all at the same time…

And all of this nerve business takes me back to something I read quite sometime ago
regarding the Crucifixion.
In particular the crowning of the thorns.

Paul Badde is a German journalist who wrote for the paper Der Spiegel.
I actually became acquainted with his work after reading a book he’d written,
The Face of God.
Badde is an ardent believer in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as well as the
burial face cloth of Jesus, known as the Veil of Manoppello or the Veil of Veronica.

Now it matters not whether you agree or you don’t with the idea of these cloths being
the actual burial cloths of Jesus…
That is not the issue here at hand…
No debate as to is it or isn’t it–
although I do tend to lean toward the line of the plausible…
that is not our issue.

Nerves are the issue and it is to nerves that took my mind back to reading
Mr. Badde’s books…

Mr Badde describes in detail how the blood accumulated on the cloths and why the patterns
are as they are…
From the crown of the head all the way down to the heels of the feet.
All with a very in-depth and forensic type of explanation.
Beginning with the effects that the cap of thrones would have had on a person who was
unfortunate enough to have had such jammed upon their head.

At the time that I read Mr. Badde’s as well as other explanations for the bodily
damage administered first by flagellation, beatings, whippings, hittings, punctures, nails
and then ultimately a crucifixion…
I have had to actually stop reading, putting down the particular book or article
as the description was so graphic and stomach turning.

It’s one thing to hear that ‘Jesus was crucified,’
it’s something else entirely when you read a forensic detail of what
actually takes place in and to the body of the one being crucified.

The following is a short explanation of the crowning of thorns as offered by
Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe
Dr. Zugibe is an expert in forensic pathology and was the Chief Medical Officer of
Rockwood County, New York, from 1969 to 2003.
He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
For the past twenty years,
he has been the President of the Association of Scientists and Scholars International
for the Shroud of Turin.

“The nerve supply for pain perception to the head region is distributed by branches of two major nerves: the trigeminal nerve, which essentially supplies the front half of the head, and the greater occipital branch, which supplies the back half of the head.” 6 These two nerves enervate all areas of the head and face.
The trigeminal nerve, also known as the fifth cranial nerve, runs through the face, eyes,
nose, mouth, and jaws. Irritation of this nerve by the crown of thorns would have
caused a condition called trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux.
This condition causes severe facial pain that may be triggered by light touch,
swallowing, eating, talking, temperature changes, and exposure to wind.
Stabbing pain radiates around the eyes, over the forehead, the upper lip, nose,
cheek, the side of the tongue and the lower lip. Spasmodic episodes of stabbing,
lancinating, and explosive pain are often more agonizing during times of fatigue or tension.
It is said to be the worst pain that anyone can experience.

As the soldiers struck Jesus on His head with reeds,
He would have felt excruciating pains across His face and deep into His ears,
much like sensations from a hot poker or electric shock.
These pains would have been felt all the way to Calvary and while on the Cross.
As He walked and fell, as He was pushed and shoved, as He moved any part of His face,
and as the slightest breeze touched His face, new waves of intense pain would have been triggered.
The pain would have intensified His state of traumatic shock.
The thorns would have cut into the large supply of blood vessels in the head area.
Jesus would have bled profusely, contributing to increasing hypovolemic shock.
He would have been growing increasingly weak and light-headed.
As well, He would have bouts of vomiting, shortness of breath,
and unsteadiness as hypovolemic and traumatic shock intensified.

So now, through a very small window, I can slightly to begin to wrap my brain around
some semblance of understanding of that initial nerve pain Jesus endured as a cap comprised of
5cm long thorns was shoved down upon his head…
puncturing the scalp, the forehead and temple while penetrating deeply into those
precious precarious nerves…

Just as those who battle diabetic nerve pain…
or any other sort of nerve condition or trauma…can begin to grasp a portion of the magnitude
of pain…endured by one for all

Doesn’t make things any better, any more tolerable nor even comforting…
but in the slightest sense, there is a deeper knowledge when reading… Jesus suffered…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Beauty in difficulty

Out of difficulties grow miracles.
Jean de la Bruyere

(thistle / Julie Cook / 2016)

Throughout our lives we will each encounter thorns…
Moments and experiences that are laced with those more troubling struggles which are simply unavoidable.

These encounters will obviously be uncomfortable, earth shattering and more often than not,
unbearably painful…

Such encounters will range from mildly irritating and bothersome,
to excruciatingly sharp, piercing and even most torturous.

Yet within each of these uncomfortable and painful encounters…
resides a mystery…

A mystery of rare, unexplainable and even unimaginable beauty…
Moments of pain and sorrow,
suffering and agony…
which are actually honed by the miraculous…

For from these enigmatic encounters…
those irritatingly painful experiences caused by the thorns scattered within our lives,
emerges a hidden majesty and beauty.

It is the blacksmith who must anneal his metals…
making them stronger by the raging fires of the furnace…
following each pass into the furnace, the metal’s trial by fire, comes the process of tempering the steel..
The hammering and beating of the heated and softened metal into a strong composition ready to withstand the rigors of use….

Within these difficult encounters of suffering, heartache and frustration, resides the mystery of our beauty and of our strength…

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Ready and waiting

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens

“Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”
― J.I. Packer

(our friend the dragonfly bides his time on a bramble twig / Julie Cook / 2015)

The wind whispered to the trees today that change would soon be sweeping in. . .
As the fullness of the woods soon commences to gently shrink. . .
Once lush full thickets, pregnant with vibrant green growth, now forlornly expose their thorny secrets. . .
Where berries plump and lusciously ripe beckoned to be picked, gnarly brown twigs are now seen to crisscross the path along a wooded glen. . .
Those who lay claim to Summer’s realm know that their time soon draws nigh. . .
“Best to be one our way” they lazily call,
for the winds are shifting and the sun is soon to be hanging low. . .
“Let us hurry”. . .
As it is soon time to make way for those who eagerly wait a change . . .

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Beauty in the Brambles

My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I’ll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hand and arms and
I’ll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I’ll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly’s made,
You’ll find your trouble well repaid.

by Cicely Mary Barker





Tiny tender forming berries lie hidden among the thorns
Time and sun, mixed with gentle rains, soon will transform these tiny green gems to change from first a crimson red to the deep purple black of ripeness.
Come late June, sweet juice bursting forth will be ready for both jam and pie.
As Summer’s calling card lies hidden in the thorns. . .