the wisdom of Catherine of Siena

“We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent.
Cry out with a thousand tongues –
I see the world is rotten because of silence.”

St. Catherine of Siena

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son. Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control
this free will, because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will
into the hands of the Devil—that is,
if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—you will never be injured by
the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love,
and to understand why I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having
it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

— St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

Living in the shadowlands, of course God wins….and I won’t keep silent…

We live in the Shadowlands.
David Robertson


(Scottish Pastor David Robertson of The Wee Flea fame)

I don’t think David will mind, but I’d like to share an overview from a recent post
offered from his Wee Flea blog…

Well, it’s actually a revisiting of sorts…an offering of a re-visit to an older post offered
when recently posting a video for SOLAS (Solas Centre for Public Christianity based in Scotland)
answering the question “Where is God When It Hurts?”

It’s been about 5 years since I started this little blog of mine and in turn,
it’s been just a few short years now that I “found” David Roberston.
When I started following David’s blog, The Wee Flea.

I can’t actually remember how I found David or his blog, but I think it most likely came
from one of the ‘random’ Word Press crossmatching of like-minded words picked out from
one of my posts.
Of which probably had something to do with Evolution vs Creationism since David wrote the
popular book refuting Richard Dawkin’s and his atheistic approach to evolution with the book
The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths

Curious I obviously clicked, read, liked and followed…and I’ve never looked back.

A born and bred Episcopalian /Anglican who sounds the praises of a Scottish Free Chruch Presbyterian.

Given the fact that I often share what I glean from David’s writings,
it might seem a bit odd that I would offer a disclaimer before sharing again…
but this posting of David’s is very personal.
It’s a story that I did not know and it is a powerful testimony to life, death, and faith.

So I’ve decided that this post is really going to be a Part 1.
In part, because David’s words reminded me of something I needed to do…
something I need to ask all of you…but my asking will wait…it will be Part 2…
but it is about a concentrated time for a joint prayer

But for now, we will concentrate on
Shadowlands…

David stated that we are living in the Shadowlands.

One of my all-time favorite movies is Shadowlands…the 1993 movie starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as
C.S. Lewis and his relationship with American poet Joy Davidman (played by Debra Winger)—
a story about their friendship, eventual marriage of convenience, a belated courtship, a budding love
all of which was crushed by her untimely death from cancer…
all of which sent Lewis on a spiral of faith.

Shadowlands…according to Merriam Webster, “the realm peopled by shadows or submerged in shadow:
such as
a : the abode of spirits or phantoms”

A place that rests between dark and light.
The place we, the children of God, currently live…
a place in between both Heaven and Hell.

A place our friend the Wee Flea journeyed through more closely than most…

In a post offered on January 1, 2015, David shared the story of a major health scare
suffered in 2011.

His story began a bit backward…he was sitting in an airport preparing to fly to
Kuala Lumpur, then off to Australia.
He recalled the lost Air Asia flight lost in the waters off the coast of Malaysia–
a thought that reminded him of his fear of flying.

A fear of both life and death…a fear most of us share.

David’s thoughts raced to another time, a time when he was attending a conference in the
northern British town of Thurso. A time when a scientist attending the same conference told
David, just before David was to deliver a talk, that he did not believe in God…in part
because he had never met a person who was ever healed by prayer.

David relates that when that statement was uttered, he actually tore up his prewritten speech
and decided to share his own true life to death story.

I’ve linked the full post at the bottom of this post…

David’s tale begins one October in 2011 just following a wedding he had officiated.
Following the wedding, he was not feeling particularly well so he asked his
wife to drive him home.
Yet annoyingly his son had realized he’d left his phone back at the church so….
they turned around and went back to the church.
David, upon getting out of the car, suddenly collapsed in a pool of blood.

It was later discovered that David had two bleeding ulcers with one right over a major artery.
In other words, David was quickly bleeding out.

By Divine Providence, having returned back to the Chruch had placed David right near the hospital.
Had this happened by the time they’d gotten home…David would have bled out and died.

His tale is lengthy as it is a harrowing time of balancing a tight rope between both life and death.

Several times the doctors told his wife that David may or may not make it…
with a disclaimer that if he did survive, he might be severely brain damaged or permanently
physically impaired.
He had but a 50 / 50 chance of survival.
50% chance to live or 50% chance to die—
Ottimista vs Pessimista

He was in a medically induced coma.
He incurred e-coli of the lungs.
He incurred a deadly strain of pneumonia.
In an attempt to protect the brain from extreme blood loss, David was given heavy psychotic drugs.
He was delusional.
He often trudged through the dark night of the soul,
days where he found himself unable to pray.
Each time they thought a ray of light was beginning to shine, David’s health fell drastically backward.

Things did not look good for David’s survival.

And so David shares that his church sent out a request…

The Free Church clerk of Assembly then sent out this e-mail to all our churches –
In the light of the most recent posts regarding the serious and worsening physical condition
of Rev. David Robertson, a request has been made that the whole church pray earnestly to God
on David’s behalf at the same time on this coming Lord’s Day at 10.30am or 12 noon
(this would embrace churches that start at 10.30am, 11am and at 12 noon).
Along with him being a family man, our brother in Christ and a loyal servant of the Free Church,
we also appreciate the intense role he has been fulfilling as an effective defender of the
Christian faith in our secular society.
Please pray for David, for his healing,
his family and his church.
Pray that God will be glorified in and through this dark experience that
we are facing as a church.

The churches responded.

You can call it coincidence.
But from that weekend on I began to get better.
How one interprets that will depends on your pre-suppositions.
The non-theist will just simply state it was the doctors and the science
(perhaps with a bit of luck) which healed you.
At least some of the professionals involved disagree.
After getting out of hospital when I phoned my surgeon [*a Muslim]
to ask him if he would be willing to come to a thanksgiving service,
his wife said ‘of course’.
I told her that she had made my day because her husband had saved my life.
Her reply?
“That’s not what he says.
He says there was nothing he could do and that it was God who intervened”.

One of the major problems that so many people have,
Christians and non-Christians alike, is that they do not grasp what faith is.
I’m sure there are people who think my story is that I, or others,
had enough faith and therefore God rewarded that and healed me.
X hours of prayer equals Y healings.
That is not how the God of the Bible works.
And that is not faith. It’s also why prayer is not open to laboratory experiments.

The best example of what real biblical faith is came from my son, Andrew.
One day he came home from the hospital and wrote the following Facebook post:
An update on Dad:
There hasn’t been much said in the past few days because things haven’t been going well.
His sedation was increased on Sunday and they’ve had him asleep since then.
The damage to his lungs is still severe and today mum was told by the doctors that it’s 50/50
whether he’ll live or die.
I write this with great anguish and a heavy heart but not without hope.
There is still a hope that he’ll make it through this,
but there is a better hope he has and we have. A hope that does not waver and is 100% certain.
That is the hope of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
Jesus has already removed Dad’s biggest problem,
it’s not the deterioration of his lungs but something more deadly… his sin.
Christ has saved him from that. Tomorrow I go down with Becky to Dundee,
knowing that this may be the last time I see my Dad…
till Christ returns and “everything sad is made untrue.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

At the Thurso conference mentioned above I finished off my story by telling them of my son’s words.
The scientist responded “but that’s not fair.
If God heals you that is an answer to prayer and if he did not heal you that is an answer too.
That means God wins every time”.
He was so right.
Of course God wins.

Before I knew it in my mind, now I KNOW it in my heart.

David continues about his life and his mission following this brush with death…
The Word of God is my meat, drink and medicine.
That by the way is why I am so strong in defending it –
especially from those Christians who thinking that they are making it more palatable,
water it down and distort it, in order to ‘reach’ the modern generation.
No. Just as I fight the ‘traditionalists’ who want to imprison Christ in an idealised box of
their own making, so I will fight to the end those who distort the Word of God and thus
take away from the beauty and glory of Christ.
Whether it is ‘conservatives’ adding to the Word of God, or ‘liberals’ taking away from it,
to me makes no difference. They are both poisoners of the pure word.
And I plead with the Lord that he will never allow me to use deception or distort the Word of God.

I am also determined to continue my battle against the increasing secularisation of our society.
Not because the secularists attack the Word of God and mock Jesus –
what else can you expect non-believers to do? ‘Liberal’ Christians damage the Word of God.
Atheist and secularist philosophies damage those made in the image of God – all human beings.
As GK Chesterton pointed out, once you cease to believe in God, you also cease to believe in humanity.
I am a committed anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian and I believe that no matter the ‘nice’ words said,
if our society moves away from its traditional Christian roots,
then we will end up with an increasingly illiberal, confused and authoritarian society.
I won’t keep silent.

Please read the full harrowing and triumphant tale here:

https://theweeflea.com/2015/01/01/the-shelter-of-the-most-high-new-year-old-hope-a-personal-testimony/

Tomorrow I will offer Part 2—my part..the part that David’s story proved to be an
exclamation point reminding me of something most important we need to be doing.

Adding to the pile

“In times like these, it is helpful to remember
that there have always been times like these.”

Paul Harvey
Radio Broadcaster

Our friends at The Catholic Company
have a new interesting book that they’d like to share—
BAD SHEPHERDS
The Dark Years in Which the Faithful Thrived While Bishops Did the Devil’s Work

Given these days and times of scandal, mistrust, misdeeds shrouded by pure evil,
this is a rather timely read that I’ve now added to the ever-burgeoning pile of books
calling for my attention.

The Catholic Chruch, with the clergy leading the way, has become a pariah in the minds of many.
And with this deepening distrust and disgust, the global Christian Chruch is finding herself in the
crosshairs of being guilty by association.

Here is their enticing introduction of the book…

Sexual scandals and improper behavior
among religious leaders are nothing new.

“…the smoke of Satan has entered the
temple of God,”

said Pope Paul VI.

Believe it or not, St. Peter Damian wrote about the problem of active homosexuality
among the clergy over 900 years ago.

He warned that it was
“creeping through the clerical order…like a cruel beast within the sheepfold of Christ.”

Ever since Judas betrayed his Lord, there has been sin and scandal in the Church.

But this is not the time to despair.

In his astonishing, highly revealing and sometimes amusing book,
Church historian Rod Bennett offers some much-needed perspective to give us hope.

“My research, curiously enough, soon revealed a major key running under the minor;
and this was the striking fact that the Catholic laity…
often shone brightest just when their bad shepherds were at their worst.
God, in other words, had not left Himself without a witness.”
—Author Rod Bennett

These eye-opening pages introduce a number
of bad shepherds, showing us that corrupt church
leaders have existed since Christ established
the Church—and have not prevailed.

Instead, goodness has ultimately triumphed.

You’ll read about:
Pope Stephen VII, who so hated his late predecessor that he had him dug up,
put on trial, and flung into the Tiber.

Benedict IX, who bought and sold the papacy—twice!

Pope John XII, whose debauchery rivaled that of the corrupt emperor Caligula.

And here’s the powerful thing Rob Bennet will show you:

While these leaders were doing these evil deeds,
good Catholics not only survived—–they thrived.

They transcended their bad shepherds,
preserved the traditions, and served as the
foundation for a vigorous renewal of the Faith.

By bringing to light what’s happened in the past, this enlightening book shows that
restoration and renewal can happen again!

The notion of the governing Chruch going array while the faithful remain steadfast,
reminds me of a time in the middle of the 20th century when the
German Lutheran Chruch became the state Chruch of Nazi Germany.
And in essence became a pawn of Adolf Hitler…a vocal tool condoning evil propaganda.

Hitler knew that if he really wanted to plant his corrupted seeds within the hearts of the
German people, if he had the Church’s clergy acting as cheerleaders, the German people would be
more apt to listen and agree.

Yet there were committed Lutherans (Dietrich Bonhoeffer who, with a wealth of fellow clergy,
left the state puppet church creating the defiant Confessing Chruch) along with equally defiant Catholic
clergy mounted a counter voice of Truth.

The righteous know the Truth and hold steadfast despite the blanket of evil.

And so our friend the Wee Flea is also reviewing, as well as recommending, a new book—
a book about faith and God in our current troubling times.

God is Good for You—A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times
by Greg Sheridan
A political journalist looks at the impact of Christianity in the West.

David pulls out a few quotable gems to wet our whistle.

“In Charles Murray’s seminal study of the white underclass in the US, Coming Apart,
he reports that the last thing that holds working class and impoverished communities together
is the local churches.
When they collapse, the communities collapse.

(Page 27).

Does atheism explain the universe, life, including human life, consciousness and conscience?
Hyper- rational atheism gave us Nazism and doctrinaire Soviet communism.
Ultra-rationalism does not deliver you any moral compass.

(Kevin Rudd- Page 216).

If we abandon God, and the ethical imperatives that proceed from that,
we are in danger of ending up in an amoral morass,
where the sort of technocratic debates about whether certain human beings should be regarded
as sharing a common humanity, like the Soviet purges of “enemies of the people”
or the Nazi’s belief in the expendability of certain races, most particularly Jews, become possible.
You then land in an amoral jungle, animated only by some mud- begotten social Darwinianism.
This is because there was no longer a guiding moral authority.
These regimes could “reason” their way to any conclusion.”

(Kevin Rudd – page 217).

The only truly acceptable contemporary Christianity for Western political culture now seems
to be a Christianity which doesn’t mention God and which subscribes to conventional
elite wisdom on policy issues

(page 226).

The rule of law came out of a Christian mindset and defined the West.
The enemies of the West still define the West that way. Human rights have degenerated into
identity politics.
We are living now in a post-Christian society but still living on the legacy of Christianity
and that legacy is running down.
This could end in chaos.
For society to work you’ve got to have agreement about basic rules.
You want your rights but you have your responsibilities too.
If we don’t have consensus on the basic rules are we will find it hard to live in a society with each other…
That is a matter of great concern to me. I’m very concerned about where this experiment of being
a post-Christian society will end. It’s an experiment.
We haven’t been there before.

(Peter Costello – page 229).

Christianity doesn’t seek conflict for its own sake, but if it’s to be effective it must
know that conflict is the inevitable consequence of proclaiming its message.
It is also important to have always in mind that Jesus’s two greatest commands,
which he reiterates again and again, are to love God and to love your neighbour.
This does not, however rule out ethical conflict.

(Page 319).

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/07/god-is-good-for-you-a-defence-of-christianity-in-troubled-times-greg-sheridan/

And so we hold fast to the knowledge that, as we have seen in ages past, when the going gets tough,
we of the Faith hold to our toughness and get going…

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence
of many witnesses.
In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus,
who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which God will bring about in his own time—-
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light,
whom no one has seen or can see.
To him be honor and might forever.

Amen.
1 Timothy 6:11-16

the triumph found in surrendering

“Persevere in labors that lead to salvation.
Always be busy in spiritual actions.
In this way, no matter how often the enemy of our souls approaches,
no matter how many times he may try to come near us,
he’ll find our hearts closed and armed against him.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage


(detail from one of the paintings by Fra Angelico at the Convent of San Marco /
Florence, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Give me all of you!!!
I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work.
I want YOU!!!
ALL OF YOU!!
I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman,
but to KILL IT! No half measures will do.
I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there;
rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit,
all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams.
Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—
in my image.
Give me yourself and in exchange, I will give you Myself.
My will, shall become your will.
My heart, shall become your heart.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

In many paintings of the crucifixion, as well as free-standing vintage crucifixes,
there is often a skull positioned beneath the cross.


(Crucifixion with saints, Fra Angelico / Convent of San Marco / Florence, Italy /
Julie Cook / 2018)

The reason for this is symbolic…and actually quite simple.
It represents Christ’s triumph over death…and in turn, our own triumph found
in Christ Jesus.

is it well with my soul?

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul”

stanza from the hymn It Is Well With My Soul
Horatio G. Spafford


(an end season skipper visits a blooming wildflower/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Is all well with your soul?

Probably not.

I know it’s not with mine….not in recent months…

If you are a breathing, sensory processing, thinking, feeling sort of human being,
chances are, that given the current day and times, all is not well with
your soul either.

How could it be?

I for one have gravitated from being an observer to what all is currently happening
around us to feeling angry, helpless, sad and frustrated.

From natural disasters that seem to ride in on each incoming wave to to the human
tragedies as seen in Las Vegas, to just our constant state of civil unrest and
disdain for our fellow citizens…
this oh so divided nation is breaking my heart.

Add in to that each of our own personal struggles and tragedies—
and life is becoming heavy to say the least.

Those of us of the faith pray, we read scripture, we listen and often we grow weary
by the weight of it all.

Those non believers amongst us often then jump on that weariness as some sort of sign of
our waffling and inner struggle as they gleefully shout that they told us all along…
there is no loving God….

And of course we know better than that…but it sure gets frustrating because we pray
and we pay and we just keep wrestling with the never-ending madness.

Growing up in the Episcopal church, the hymn It Is Well With My Soul was not
one of the hymns we sang…however I was familiar with it none the less…

So as I sat here today stewing a bit with the current condition of my “soul”—
as the heaviness just seems a bit heavier today than usual,
I did a little digging into the background of the hymn.

What I found was heart wrenching to say the least.
If there was a soul who wrestled with the heaviness and frustration and heartbreak
of life, it was Horatio G. Spafford…a successful businessman out of Chicago during
the mid 19th century.

I offer to you the following back story to this well know hymn…a story of reality, tragedy and eventually peace….
a peace in knowing that there is One who is always greater
than any trial, tragedy or frustration that we will ever face in this life….
A peace in knowing that there is One who has overcome each and every sorrow…

It Is Well with My Soul”
Horatio G. Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

With this hymn comes one of the most heartrending stories in the annals of hymnody.

The author, Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888), was a Presbyterian layman from Chicago.
He had established a very successful legal practice as a young businessman and was
also a devout Christian.
Among his close friends were several evangelists including the famous
Dwight L. Moody, also from Chicago.

Spafford’s fortune evaporated in the wake of the great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Having invested heavily in real estate along Lake Michigan’s shoreline,
he lost everything overnight.
In a saga reminiscent of Job, his son died a short time before his financial disaster.
But the worst was yet to come.

Hymnologist Kenneth Osbeck tells the story:
“Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join
and assist Moody and [his musician Ira] Sankey in one of their campaigns
in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873.
In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments,
he had to remain in Chicago,
but sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the
S.S. Ville du Havre.
He expected to follow in a few days.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic,
the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Suddenly, all of those on board were in grave danger.
Anna hurriedly brought her four children to the deck.
She knelt there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed
that God would spare them if that could be His will,
or to make them willing to endure whatever awaited them.
Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath
the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers
including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down,
spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage.
It was Anna, still alive.
He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which,
nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales.

Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying,
“God gave me four daughters.
Now they have been taken from me.
Someday I will understand why.”

From there she wired her husband a message which began,
“Saved alone, what shall I do?”
Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.
Spafford left immediately to join his wife.
This hymn is said to have been penned as he approached the area of the ocean
thought to be where the ship carrying his daughters had sunk.

Another daughter, Bertha, was born in 1878 as well as a son, Horatio, in 1880,
though he later died of scarlet fever.
After the birth of daughter Grace in 1881,
Spafford and his wife moved to Jerusalem out of a deep interest in the Holy Land.
There they established the American Colony,
a Christian utopian society engaged in philanthropic activities among Jews,
Muslims and Christians.

After decades of benevolent activities, the Colony ceased to be a communal society
in the 1950s, though it continued in a second life as the American Colony Hotel,
the first home of the talks between Palestine and Israel that eventually led to the 1983 Oslo Peace Accords

(excerpted from both an article written for the United Methodist Discipleship Ministries
by Dr. Hawn who is professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, SMU as well as from a story that ran in the St Augustine Record)

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding,
shall keep your hearts, your minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

Gone home….


(a table in my son’s home—his tribute to his grandfather)

Dad passed away last night—it was 11:42 when I was called.
We’d spent the day with him and my son was with him last around 9:30 PM
His earthly journey complete…his pain and suffering no more.
As I drove back over for the second time that day, just past midnight,
I was swept over by a sense of calm knowing Dad was finally
with Mother.

I had written the following post after sitting with him yesterday.
I think it still important to share…
But just know that death has once again been overcome by
Life!

Edward Dale Nichols
March 10, 1928—March 19, 2017

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support….

it’s never like the movies

“The truth is that you can never be sure if you have decided on the right thing until
the party is over,
and by then it is too late to go back and change your mind,
which is why the world is filled with people doing terrible things”

Lemony Snicket

Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back for its ability to create
iconic and memorable snippets of life…
With some of the most captivating moments being those dramatic scenes of both death and dying.

A quick little Google search of iconic death scenes and you get anything from Alien
to Bambi, while my generation most likely thinks Love Story…
with it’s now immortalized tag line,
“love is never having to say your sorry….”

But anyone who has ever been involved in any sort of real life relationship knows that that
particular little Hollywood dribble is just a bunch of crap…
but of course, I digress….

No matter what overtly dramatized film moment you may happen to recall when thinking
classic death / dying scene…
be it an endearing tearjerker like in Titanic or a graphically
gory melee of any epic war picture,
nothing quite compares to the real life drama found in the balance between
true living and dying

Take the above image of the coffee filter filled with fresh dark roasted coffee beans…

Your brain registers that you’re looking at a coffee filter filled with coffee beans…
and because of what you know about coffee beans,
you’re pretty safe assuming that there is a strong aroma associated with the beans…
However you can’t actually smell them.

Captured images just don’t processes a smell-o-rama capability.

You see the beans….
you know they have a very strong enticing smell…
but….
because they’re sitting on a screen, you only experience them with just one sense…
that of sight.

Now Hollywood works hard on a viewer’s senses of both sight and sound in order to
coax out a physical reaction…they’ll happily surmise that they’ve been succeessful if
they think that they’ve made a viewer “feel”…
be it a physical reaction from laughing to crying to even nausea….

Yet for all their special effects, they lack the sense of smell.
And the truth be told, they lack reality.

Because whereas art tries to imitate life, it will always fall short.

Now you know with your eyes and brain that the two images here of,
first the coffee beans and now a fresh bouquet of flowers,
each have a distinct aroma or smell….
but…
you can’t actually smell them by looking at them on your screen.

You can’t touch them or hear them or smell them.

You’re just working off your previous associations…

Nothing can prepare you for reality…but reality.
The nitty gritty touch, taste, hearing, seeing, smell, feel of raw reality.

Dad’s room is now filled with coffee filters filled with coffee beans.
Not because he ever greatly appreciated coffee…
but because the Hospice nurse told us it would help with the smell.

The overwhelming smell of decay because oddly the body will fall apart quite frankly
before we’re exactly finished using it.
As in the body will begin to simply erode, decay and die while we’re still hanging on…
with the end result not being a pretty picture.

Dying is so much worse then what we see in the movies.

For there is much more to it then a Hollywood script…
For it has graphic sights as well as unpleasant sounds and sickening scents…
things that never should be imitated because the reality it simply too overwhelming.

Yet in all of this….
what I know to be true is that our bodies are merely borrowed earthly vessels in which
our souls reside before we are freed from them in order to go home as it were.

Yes I believe this.

It is nearly impossible to watch and be a part of…this eroding, this wasting…
what with the sounds, sights and smells….
because our human brains and emotions are so limited…

This body is all we have known….it is what we have seen age over the years.
It is has come to represent what and who we love, who we cherish, who we hold on to,
who we cling to…who we associate our very beings with….

It is the tangible while our God is not tangible.
It only makes sense that we anguish over its demise.

And yet, in the graphic sights, sounds and smells there remains something far greater
then the decay of age or disease..

For there once was a body that had been so grossly damaged, so horrifically abused as
it had died a slow and agonizing death.
Later it was to be washed and cleaned…
anointed with sweet oils, aloes and spices before being
wrapped in freshly woven flaxen linens.

Yet following three days, more spices were brought to be added to the tomb—
a tomb that was by now assumed to be filled with the overwhelming
stench of human decay and rot…

However, that was not the case….

For within that dark enclosure—a seismic shift of time occurred…
where once life had simply slipped away and become death….
here in this dark enclosure, death had become life…

And so now we wait amongst the coffee beans…for death, to become, life….

“No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of
Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem.
Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship.
Thank God, we have an empty tomb. The glorious fact that the empty tomb
proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes.
Death is not a wall, but a door.”

Peter Marshall

somewhere restoration

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.

(Lyrics Somewhere over the Rainbow / The Wizard of Oz)


(the garden shops are getting ready…Julie Cook / 2017)

Somewhere out there the snows and ice are melting…
Somewhere out there the sun warms the face of children
Somewhere out there, there are smiles and laughter
Somewhere out there flowers are blooming, again…

I know this to be true.

It may not be here
and it may not be now
Not here in my world…
But I know it to be true.

I spend my day’s looking at the chest of a frail body…
a body with halting breath,
watching to see if the chest still rises and falls.

I see a body wasted.

I watch a face grimace and hear the cries of pain when that
frail body is moved or manipulated.
I see the wretched ulcer…the added insult to misery.

I am sad and sorrowful.

But I am not angry nor am I bitter.

I am however aggravated.

I am aggravated when reading the often taunting and hateful rhetoric
written by non believers about Believers.

The atheistic touts that there is no God.
Claiming that no loving God would allow the pain I am currently witnessing.

The pain is real.
The suffering is grievous.
But it is not caused by God.

There was a time when there was no pain, no suffering.
There was a time when there was no worry.
There was a time when bad things did not happen…
and good people did not suffer.
There was no violence.
There was no sickness
There was no evil….

Yet what I know, despite the suffering I am witnessing,
despite the frustration,
despite the seemingly unfairness of it all….

Those of us who are members of the family of Believers knows that there will be
a time again…
where good dreams really will come true…
as a restoration of Life will finally triumph over Death…

Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city;
also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit,
yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,
and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face,
and his name shall be on their foreheads.
And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun,
for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-5