Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

“Sin is the distance between us and God”
Bishop Gavin Ashenden

(this poor cherub or putti’s feet have frozen off / Julie Cook / 2018)

I think I’ve used the above quote before…
However, it doesn’t seem any less important or any less relevant than say, the other day…

The other day when listening to Bishop Ashenden’s rather reflective homily,
as well as the latest installment of Anglican Unscripted,
the good Bishop was reflecting on having been asked in an interview
“what is sin?”
or it may have been more along the lines of “what is your understanding of sin?”

Either way, the Bishop was about to be taken to a very public task, or so thought the
interviewer of all things cultural…

The very secular interviewer, after asking the Bishop the question regarding his take on
what sin actually was, in turn, told the bishop that he did not feel at all “sinful”
and so the notion of what a sin was, was totally irrelevant to him and therefore obviously
anyone else who wasn’t feeling the least bit sinful.

Well, this is where the good Bishop clearly demonstrates that he knows his ‘stuff’…

He tells the interviewer that “coming to God is not something that one can do cerebrally
or rationally”

He then goes on to explain, as I shared in my post the other day, that there are actually
two types of sin—
there is the sin that the Christian recognizes—
that being the distance between himself and God.
And then that of secular sin which is anything that runs counter to the current culture’s
perception of the normative.

Bishop Ashenden goes on to note that all the recent hashtag business, the #metoo etc,
frenzy is, plain and simple, nothing more than secular sin.

The Bishop watched the Golden Globes, I did not.

He has some choice words for those who, draped in black, captured the stage in an attempt
to make a pitch to their “dewy-eyed acolytes.”

Bishop Ashenden explains that as our society has become besotted by sex,
it has become simply our very present focus.
For it surrounds us in almost every aspect of our daily lives—
through advertising, entertainment, books, music…it is an obsession.
An obsession, that many have gotten quite good at ignoring.

Society has created a secular apocalypse with women like Oprah Winfrey and Meryl Streep
rising to the occasion of rounding up the feminist troops while intimidating and
crushing any questioning, or opposition or competing intentions…
a frenetic feeding frenzy of destructive shaming.
There is no room for remorse, healing, redemption or hope.

Yet oddly there are years of images with both of these women in cozy photos with the likes
of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, and Roman Polansky…
women who had chosen to ignore truly bad boy and even illegal behavior.

And so we are now left wondering…
What is it now that makes things different from then…?

Is it now somewhat advantageous?
Has the time of championing feminism come into its own as it is now the popular
cultural bandwagon.
Is #metoo putting the ‘me’ in all of us dangerously closer at the center of our own universe
at the expense of common sense, grace and mercy?

Or is it simply the bravado of self-deception found in a society steeped in the notion of
its own sense of self-righteousness?
Found in its notion of the importance of the ‘we ourselves’…
Never mind answering to an authority greater than ourselves…for there is none…
because we are the demigods who have no need of anything or anyone greater.

The Bishop notes that in this secular societal self-righteousness, there lies a deeper problem.

Pure hypocrisy.

And the thing is…none of the rallying cries or the saber rattling or the
rabble-rousing allows for or has room for the utter forgiveness and redemption
found only in Jesus Christ.
For found in the sinfulness of the secular, there is no way back for the sinner.
No hope for the fallen.
And no hope equates to immediate death.

A stark contrast to the mercy, forgiveness, redemption, and life found only in the hope
of Jesus…

And thus he leaves us not with the damnation found in the current culture’s angst but
rather with the hopeful words of William Blake

“To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”

William Blake

Talking to LBC (London Radio) about sin, sex and God -(as captured by an Australian website.)

‘Operation Opra’: Secular self-righteousness – a mixture of morality, hypocrisy and revenge.

Old mother wren

“He who shall hurt the little wren…
Shall never be be’loved by men.”

William Blake

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(images of a mad mother wren / Julie Cook / 2016)

A mother wren decided to build her nest, lay her eggs, raise her brood under the tarp covering of our tractor which sits underneath our back deck.
Since the babies hatched about two weeks ago, there has not been a moments peace for human nor cat who enjoys sitting on the deck or even venturing in the back yard for a stroll.
We have all been chased back inside and as for bush hogging the pasture, forget it…the grass will just have to keep growing until 5 babies can leave the nest….

Here they are two weeks ago…

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Here they are today…

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A Wren’s Nest
Among the dwellings framed by birds
In field or forest with nice care,
Is none that with the little Wren’s
In snugness may compare.

No door the tenement requires,
And seldom needs a laboured roof;
Yet is it to the fiercest sun
Impervious, and storm-proof.

So warm, so beautiful withal,
In perfect fitness for its aim,
That to the Kind by special grace
Their instinct surely came.

And when for their abodes they seek
An opportune recess,
The hermit has no finer eye
For shadowy quietness.

These find, ‘mid ivied abbey-walls,
A canopy in some still nook;
Others are pent-housed by a brae
That overhangs a brook.

There to the brooding bird her mate
Warbles by fits his low clear song;
And by the busy streamlet both
Are sung to all day long.

Or in sequestered lanes they build,
Where, till the flitting bird’s return,
Her eggs within the nest repose,
Like relics in an urn.

But still, where general choice is good,
There is a better and a best;
And, among fairest objects, some
Are fairer than the rest;

This, one of those small builders proved
In a green covert, where, from out
The forehead of a pollard oak,
The leafy antlers sprout;

For She who planned the mossy lodge,
Mistrusting her evasive skill,
Had to a Primrose looked for aid
Her wishes to fulfill.

High on the trunk’s projecting brow,
And fixed an infant’s span above
The budding flowers, peeped forth the nest
The prettiest of the grove!

The treasure proudly did I show
To some whose minds without disdain
Can turn to little things; but once
Looked up for it in vain:

‘Tis gone—a ruthless spoiler’s prey,
Who heeds not beauty, love, or song,
‘Tis gone! (so seemed it) and we grieved
Indignant at the wrong.

Just three days after, passing by
In clearer light the moss-built cell
I saw, espied its shaded mouth;
And felt that all was well.

The Primrose for a veil had spread
The largest of her upright leaves;
And thus, for purposes benign,
A simple flower deceives.

Concealed from friends who might disturb
Thy quiet with no ill intent,
Secure from evil eyes and hands
On barbarous plunder bent,

Rest, Mother-bird! and when thy young
Take flight, and thou art free to roam,
When withered is the guardian Flower,
And empty thy late home,

Think how ye prospered, thou and thine,
Amid the unviolated grove
Housed near the growing Primrose-tuft
In foresight, or in love.

William Wordsworth

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(images of a mad mother wren / Julie Cook / 2016)

Within

“What is Above is Within … the Circumference is Winthin, Without is formed the Selfish Center, and the Circumference still expands going forward to Eternity.”
William Blake

“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”
C.S. Lewis

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
African Proverb

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(the crowing tiny center of yellow, flowers within a flower, of a zinnia / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is your mettle. . .the stuff of which you are made?
What lies within your thoughts, your heart, your soul?
Are you afraid of what others may find,
or perhaps more afraid of what you yourself may find?

Is there beauty within?
Fruits and peace of a kind and gentle spirit?
Or perhaps dark secrets, chaining you to a dark past, when only a clear future is all that should lie ahead. . .

Is there serenity settled safely within,
of which you may in turn offer to those who surround you in need?
Is there a centering anchor which holds you fast during the raging storms,
affording you the opportunity of reaching out with both hands to those caught in the seething maelstrom?

Recall, remember and claim each and every day that which lies within. . .
that which lies deep past the silly worries and hurts. . .
past the petty harborings of slights and slurs. . .

For deep within, in the very center of self, lies a tiny light Divine
Inviting,
Welcoming,
Warming
Hopeful
and always
Comforting. . .

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

What’s in a tree

I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear,
To lean in joy upon our father’s knee.
And then I’ll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him and he will then love me.

William Blake

Trees that, like the poplar, hit upward all their boughs, give no shade and no shelter, whatever their height. Trees the most lovingly shelter and shade us, when, like the willow, the higher soar their summits, the lowlier droop their boughs.
Edward Lytton

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(the shaded canopied walk toward the fountain at Forsyth Park / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2014)

It beckons in a silent way,
Proudly open and inviting.
No designation for rich nor poor,
For all are welcome here.

Come rain or shine as shelter’s sought
Underneath a canopy still
For creatures both great and small
A respite is now calling

Sweeping wide its open arms
Both young and old accepted
“Come up, come under” it whispers sweet,
Our time is just now started

Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Isaiah 4:5-6

Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

Psalm 121:4-6

A disclaimer of Wonderment

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

― William Blake

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(beauty found in the wild grasses of a meadow / Julie Cook / 2015)

The beauty and wonder of nature. . .
They stand before us in majesty and splendor
just as they float to us upon a sweet whisper of wind.

Striking and stirring
Humbling and demure.

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial, a car commercial I think. . .
A dad takes his young son, who is perhaps eight or so, to see the massive
great Sequoias of the Redwood Forest.
The child stands at the foot of one of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet with
little to no sense of acknowledgement other than a passing “thought they’d be bigger”
The dad simply looks at his son with a slight bemused smile of “Really??”

Next scene—-the dad stands with his son on the rim of the Grand Canyon with its sweeping and overwhelming beauty.
The child merely shrugs his shoulders with the unheard sound of an unimpressed “ehhhh”
The dad slowly shakes his head in disbelief–as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding me??”

The last scene is of the dad at the wheel of the car with his son strapped into the back seat. The car is stopped in the middle of a road that one assumes is in Yellowstone Park as a massive Bison has sauntered up to the child’s window and is staring down at a now very impressed young man.
He looks up at the bison then over to his dad with an ear to ear grin across his face, as the dad finally has a sense of satisfaction in having found something in this most majestic world that has left his son speechless. . .

I believe this commercial speaks volumes to our current plight of jadedness.

It seems we’ve become so inwardly involved with our technology, our gizmos and social media overload that we are failing to be impressed, let alone acknowledging, the outward wonders which surround us each and every day.

Are we failing when it comes to our youth who seem to be more impressed by video games, television and gadgets than by the gifts of Nature? Are we failing ourselves when we don’t stop long enough to wonder at a sunset, the blooms of a flower, the majesty of a tree—no longer impressed by blossoms, sprouting, growth or natural wonder?

I stop in on occasion to read various posts by other bloggers.
I am awed and humbled most often by the shared perspectives that are offered–be it thoughts regarding the beautiful gifts of Nature, the joy of creativity found in the Arts, or the teachings and shared delvings into our relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

One Christian site, whose author pretty much tells it like it is, mixes allegory with reality while painting a most colorful observation of the relationship of man to the Holy Word of God.
In so doing he has drawn the ire of a huge crowd of non believers, as well as a few lukewarm believers who find his view a bit much, extreme, or in the thoughts of some, just totally wrong.

I for one think that Christians (of any denomination) shouldn’t dumb things down nor should we sugar coat the Word of God—To the Believer, the word is The Word and to honor that Word it is what we do—I believe we call that worship. . .
To a non believer, however, it is all simply mumbo jumbo hocus pocus.
I therefore applaud this blogger’s approach to what we Christians deem as Truth—but what is Truth to some, speaks of falsehood to another. . .as is sadly, much the way of the world. . .

Unfortunately this particular blogger is besieged with vehement commentary that reeks of on-line bullying.
The teacher and mother in me gets quite upset with the ugly things thrown his way, which are in turn, subsequently thrown to those who respond with supportive comments. It’s one thing to disagree with a fellow blogger while offering a counter thought but to sling ugly names and accusations is something else entirely.

My thought is if you don’t like what you’re reading, for Heaven’s sake, go find what it is you do like reading. And if you find something you consider out in left field, well, seek the field that makes you happy. . .allowing the Christians their right to speak their minds while allowing all the other worldly and varying religions and non religions to speak their minds as well.

The blogging world is truly a vast region to be sure. . .

Why do we attack others and their opinions?
We are all still entitled to opinions are we not?
Good or bad?
Wrong or right?

What does a blog battle of believer verses non-believer have to do with a commercial, the grandeur of nature and of you and I. . .everyone must now be wondering. . .well. . .

I suppose it’s just that I marvel at those who don’t marvel in the created marvels which have us constantly and marvelously surrounded.
How does one stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or along the shoreline of an ocean or at the base of a massive tree without feeling awed, wowed, or simply swept up in the greatness by feeling perhaps humbled and small?

Maybe if we turned our sites outward, rather than inward.
Maybe if we found the wonderment in our natural surroundings.
Maybe if we fought less with one another and. . .
wondered more,
wandered more,
marveled more. . .

Yes, I claim the Word of God to be the Word offered to me, and to anyone else for that matter,
who has ear to hear or desire to seek. . .
I in turn offer it here, in small humbled doses, as He offers it to me to share.
I am a vessel,
a vehicle,
a facilitator.

I don’t have all the answers to all the questions.
I stumble and fall most often along this journey known as life.
I make mistakes and screw up royally as I am no poster child for what is Holy and Pure for I know that I am broken and flawed. . .
Yet it is in that brokeness that I find. . .
Hope,
Healing,
Salvation. . .

That’s just . . .
my thought,
my opinion,
my belief—
Something I’m still pretty certain I’m allowed to have. . .
Despite it not falling in-line with that of the World’s. . .

So if you don’t feel much like wondering, wandering or marveling in the marvelous world around you, you are free to leave in order to visit other places. . .
It is here that I hope to offer morsels, crumbs, and tastes of simple Wonderment from that which is truly Divine. . .

Falling into you

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
― William Blake

The Infinite Goodness has such wide arms that it takes whatever turns to it.”
― Dante Alighieri

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(the canopy of a leafing river birch / Julie Cook / 2015)

Inviting arms reach to embrace
as delicious tenderness beckons to all who dare delve inward

The depth of Your fullness draws the wayward ever closer. . .
There is a heady yearning to fall into the open vastness

Rich, luscious and verdant envelop a longing so intense
that it is nearly unquenchable

Barren cold dryness has given way to an insatiable hunger. . .
Warmth seeps into each crevice of my soul

The spirit awakens to the lofty scent of heavenly perfume
As eyes open wide to behold the majesty of Your hand

Soothing whispers swirl underneath my feet
Lifting a longing heart up to the tree tops.

One heart burns for another
An extended hand aches to touch the hand of the other

Longing
Drawing
Pulling
Calling
Wooing

I open my being to Your sweet song
and fall thankfully into You

Who is the Watchman

“For he hears the lambs innocent call.
And he hears the ewes tender reply.
He is watchful while they are in peace.
For they know when their Shepherd is nigh.”

William Blake

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.
Thomas Merton

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( a threesome of crows / Julie Cook / 2015)

Chasing dreams or chasing demons
In the darkened night of silence we slumber

Are we cautious sleeping with one eye open
Or do we rest free of worry and dread

Who is charged with the midnight watch
Who stands ready to sound the warning

Danger bays at the gate
While Trouble lurks in the shadows

Wickedness waits ready to strike
Will the Watchman see the signs

When fatigue deadens the senses
Precarious security wraps up the weary

As the winds rustle through the tress
The enemy circles the camp

Remember the Master stands ready to return
Will the enemy route his arrival

Be mindful you who slumber
Be cautious of demons masquerading as dreams

Where is thy peace
How may we rest

Listen all you who have ears to hear. . .
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.
Ezekiel 33:7