Head on a plate

We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.
Aiden Wilson Tozer

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1

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(howling winds usher in a foreboding change / Julie Cook / 2015)

Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

Malachi 4:1-5

Who is this strange man, dirty and crazed?
This man who calls the wilderness home?
He is nothing more than a poor homeless clout.
Perhaps a demon possessed spirit,
who has been driven mad by the winds and rain.

Was he not one of us, born here amongst us?
Was he not raised as us, nestled in our safety?
Who is he to proclaim the word of God?
Yet why do we find ourselves unable to meet his eyes, his glance.

A seer, a visionary, a prophet, a fool.
He talks to the birds, the lizards and to anyone who would give him ear.
“Repent” and “prepare” are the tools of his trade
“Yet look not to me” he proclaims, “for there is one who comes, much greater than I. . .”
“I only point the way. . .”

And the people of the land laughed.
They mocked and pointed, hiding behind bravado and ego.
Yet individually, they each wondered.
They questioned.
They fretted.
They squirmed in their shoes.

His words penetrated to a place no one felt comfortable to visit.
His stare made them feel dirty and wrong.
So they laughed harder and made merry with abandon.
Uncomfortable.
Guilty.
Yet some were compelled to listen, even eventually choosing to follow.

His words relentless, his message never faltering.
Day and night he hammers the same message as if hammering a stake penetrating the souls of the masses.
More people turn, they listen, they follow.
However not all heed his words.
Those in authority grow wary, nervous.
They scream amongst themselves, “Silence the madman”

Plots and schemes are formulated.
An arrest is planned.
Betrayal is at hand.
Recant
Repent
Destroy
Prepare
Lust whispers in the darkness.
Greed reaches out its greasy hand.
Pleasure mingles with pain.
Yet his words remain the same.
“I am not the one whom you seek.
I am not the One.
I am but the messenger.
The one who was sent to prepare the way.
You will see, there will be One greater,
One who you cannot silence. . .”

All as a single head rolls, served upon a platter,
As the people resume their dancing and laughter,
Uneasiness reigns and the demons giggle with glee.
“Repent” and “prepare” swrill upon the foreboding winds. . .

Autumn winds

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
John Muir

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Tossed
Stretched
Ravaged
Falling
Blowing

No direction—simply hanging by a thread

Dancing
Twirling
Flying
Soaring
Freedom

Trusting while holding on to a life line

The first set of words describes the precarious dance of a leaf caught in the random blowing winds of an Autumn day. Helpless and hopeless to avoid the plummeting lifts and falls. A victim with no particular control over precarious circumstance. . .
Exactly how we often feel on any given day when we are caught in Life’s blowing winds.
In this little scenario Life is what happens to us, not something which we have any sort of command or control over. . .

On the other hand

The latter group of words speaks of something more uplifting, more acrobatic, almost ethereal in the rhythmic relationship one thing has with another. Words which describes a tandem dance of unity–that of harmony complete with a joint joy of cause and effect. Just how life can be when control is yielded to a God who is greater than any and all circumstance.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13

For God is not the ravaging storm and punishing wind of our lives, He is the Peace and Calm waiting to enfold us in harmony, balance and an uplifting joy of unity. . .

Reflection

Around and around the house the leaves fall thick—but never fast, for they come circling down with a dead lightness that is sombre and slow. Let the gardener sweep and sweep the turf as he will, and press the leaves into full barrows, and wheel them off, still they lie ankle-deep.
Charles Dickens

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(image of fallen leaves upon a creek / Troup Co, Georgia /Julie Cook/ 2013)

As the Northwest winds whip our usually temperate southern air into a frenzy, ushering in the first truly bitter cold temperatures of the season, the day is busily spent readying for Winter’s official, albeit a month early, arrival. Hoses are emptied and packed away, bird feeders are cleaned and refilled. All potted plants must be moved– especially the large potted fruit trees still bearing green fruit, all indoors to “safety”, as once again we prepare for another time of transition.

All sounds rather “Marthaesque”, as in that diva of DYI, but trust me, it is anything but as it is just me, myself and I who are/ is doing a frantic haphazard job of herding things here and there lest the freeze takes any prisoner tonight.

Today I sit on the edge of yet another birthday. I find myself breathing an inward sigh of neurotic relief as it appears that tomorrow I will have lived one year longer than my mother had as she had lost a battle with cancer 27 years ago at the age of 53. I think any child who ever loses a parent relatively early in life has a secret fear that theirs is to be the same fate—a paranoid fear of destiny and family health–adopted or not.

As we now find ourselves approaching the often dark dreary months of old man Winter, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling as if this time of year can be a bit disconcerting. Of course there are the holidays to look forward to—and I do count Thanksgiving as one of those special holidays. However our huge retail shopping giants, sadly do not. Those massive sultans of sale merely gloss over Thanksgiving using it as a simple measuring stick as when to open up the madness known as Black Friday, which this year is turning into Black Thursday.

How terribly sad it is that we barely take time, if at all, any longer to honor the founding of our nation. Reflecting on how far we have come since the disembarking at Plymouth Rock. No matter one’s nationality nor of the colorful melting soup pot we have become, America still harkens back to a group of wayward people who risked their very lives in order to settle and claim a new land as their own. Slowly our Nation’s official day of recognition and Thanksgiving has become but a mere blip on the radar as thoughts of sugar plums and shopping dance in our heads.

The holidays will usher in a whirlwind of activity of the be here and be there variety. The angst of family gatherings are already looming large in many people’s minds covering them with a thick blanket of dread. The juggling of spending time here and there, the family members who for good or bad, come calling, or worse, chose not to call; the sheer magnitude of the number of those who will flood the highways and the Nation’s airports, is almost enough to make many people scream a collective “no thank you”!!

We have a wedding, in this small family of ours in order to look forward to, as our son and his fiancé will say “I do” in June. There is a great deal to be done between now and then which will certainly keep all parties involved hopping. Perhaps it is always good to have something waiting in the wings in order to help one stay focused with the whole looking forward rather than backwards business, as is often the case during the bleaker months of the year.

As the “black dog” of a cold melancholy begins nipping at my heels. . . for all sorts of reasons, I will pull my jacket a bit tighter to ward off the chill, I will force myself out and about seeking the sun on the days it decides to visit and I will think of what will be rather than sadly what was, or was not, or has passed by.

Reflection is good and often offers comfort, but too much can be a bit heavy and oppressive, as in the dusty mothballesque scent of those blankets and winter coats that are just now emerging from the trunks and closets where they have lain dormant for these many months.

So here is to birthdays, remembrances, holidays, family, winter, and snow. For good or bad, it all comes, and for good and bad it all goes. . .

I can see clearly now the rain is gone…

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“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then; see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us!”
1st Corinthians 13:12 The Message Bible

This picture was taken last summer from the summit of Mt Washington in New Hampshire. The weather atop such summits as Mt. Washington, as well as other very high peaks worldwide, is always a wonder, always unpredictable. Mt. Washington boasts some of the the worst weather on the planet as 4 different air masses collide at its peak. The strongest winds on the planet have been recorded at the science station that calls the summit of Mt Washington home.

On this particular day, we were fortunate as the clouds had given way to blue sky, providing sweeping views below, even allowing trekkers a view of the Atlantic ocean. It is standing on such a summit that reminds me of how truly small I really am–how massive and powerful our planet truly is—but as some many of us live in or near big cities, we often forget about the grandeur of this planet and simply marvel in the man-made world which we call home.

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know that I spent time in the mountains of North Carolina during college and that it is when I am in the mountains (as well as standing on an ocean shore) that I feel the closest to God, as I can truly marvel in the world He created. The views from a mountain summit or the power felt while standing at the shore of a raging sea, or the silent majesty felt while standing in a cathedral like forest constantly draws me back to God and His splendor—which is so quickly forgotten back in a city.

After all of our Spring rains, when I look at this picture, as when I look out my window this morning, I can hear Johnny Nash singing his oh so familiar number one hit from the early 70’s “I can see clearly now” …..
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

It is indeed a bright sunshiny day and just as our verse for this morning so joyfully states, it will not be long before we clearly see and know our Father, just as He sees and knows us—that is joy unto itself and a marvelous wonder of anticipation.

On this sun shiny morning, may I wish for you a sun-shiny day, clear skies and the joy of knowing and clearly seeing your Father in heaven just as He sees and knows you–