Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peace Like a River

“And now the orchard ended, and a plain reached far ahead to a range of blanched mountains. A stream coursed through this plain, of different personality and purpose than the earlier wide river. A narrow, raucous stream, it flowed upward against the gradient, and mighty fish arched and swam in it, flinging manes of spray. I meant to jump in—wherever this river went I wanted to go—and would’ve done so had not another figure appeared, running beside the water.

A man in pants. Flapping colorless pants and a shirt, dismal things most strange in this place. He was running upslope by the boisterous stream. Despite the clothes his face was incandescent, and when he saw me he wheeled his arms and came on ever faster. Then history entered me—my own and all the rest of it, more than I could hold, history like a heavy rain—so I knew the man coming along was my father, Jeremiah Land; and all that had happened, himself slipping down the hood of the Ford, Roxanna’s hard grip on my shoulder, the air drumming in my ears like bird wings, came back like a mournful story told from ancient days.

He was beside me in moments, stretching out his hands. What cabled strength! I remember wondering what those arms were made for—no mere reward, they had design in them. They had some work to set about. Meantime Dad was laughing—at my arms, which were similarly strong! He sang out, You’re as big as me! How had I not noticed? We were like two friends, and I saw he was proud of me, that he knew me better than he’d ever thought to and was not dismayed by the knowledge; and even as I wondered at his ageless face, so clear and at home, his eyes owned up to some small regret, for he knew a thing I didn’t.

Let’s run, he said. It’s true both of us were wild to go on. I tell you there is no one who compels as does the master of that country—although badly as I wanted to see him, Dad must’ve wanted to more, for he shot ahead like a man who sees all that pleases him most stacked beside the finish. I could only be awed at his speed, which was no effort for him; indeed he held back so that we traveled together, he sometimes reaching for my hand, as he’d done a thousand times in the past; and the music and living language swept us forth across the plains until the mountains lay ahead, and up we climbed at a run.

Is it fair to say that country is more real than ours? That its stone is harder, its water more drenching—that the weather itself is alert and not just background? Can you endure a witness to its tactile presence?”

~Leif Enger

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent

“Advent calls us as Christians to ponder again the mystery of our salvation, our hope that there is an answer to the riddle of earthly life with its passing joys, disappointments, sorrows, and frustrations, and its apparently dark end in the oblivion of death.

Does life go anywhere? Does it have any meaning? Advent calls every one of us to stop in the struggle of life and to look up, to recall the answer to the questions of life. We are on a journey to our Father’s house. The door has been opened to us by the Son of God, and the way marked out.

...So many mysteries, so many questions, and so many answers. For the one with faith, Advent should be a time of mystery, discovery, new insights, and deeper joy.”
~Benedict Groeschel

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Life, Another Day

“Who is more little, who is more poor than the helpless who lies asleep in bed without awareness and without defense? Who is more trusting than he who must entrust himself each night to sleep? What is the reward of his trust? Gentleness comes to him when he is most helpless and awakens him, refreshed, beginning to be made whole. Love takes him by the hand, and opens to him the doors of another life, another day.

(But he who has defended himself, fought for himself in sickness, planned for himself, guarded himself, loved himself alone and watched over his own life all night, is killed at last by exhaustion. For him there is no newness. Everything is stale and old.)”
~Thomas Merton

Friday, November 25, 2011

Return to the Father

“One thing above all is important: the ‘return to the Father.’

The Son came into the world and died for us, rose and ascended to the Father; sent us His Spirit, that in Him and with Him we might return to the Father.

That we might pass clean out of the midst of all that is transitory and inconclusive: return to the Immense, the Primordial, the Source, the unknown, to Him Who loves and knows, to the Silent, to the Merciful, to the Holy, to Him Who is All.

To seek anything, to be concerned with anything but this is only madness and sickness, for this is the whole meaning and heart of all existence, and in this all the affairs of life, all the needs of the world and of men, take on their right significance: all point to this one great return to the Source.

All goals that are not ultimate, all ‘ends of the line’ that we can see and plan as ‘ends,’ are simply absurd, because they do not even begin. The ‘return’ is the end beyond all ends, and the beginning of beginnings.

To ‘return to the Father’ is not to ‘go back’ in time, to roll up the scroll of history, or to reverse anything. It is a going forward, a going beyond, for merely to retrace one’s steps would be a vanity on top of vanity, a renewal of the same absurdity in reverse.

Our destiny is to go on beyond everything, to leave everything, to press forward to the End and find in the End our Beginning, the ever-new Beginning that has no end.

To obey Him on the way, in order to reach Him in whom I have begun, who is the key and the end—because He is the Beginning.”
~Thomas Merton

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

“Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”
~Henry Ward Beecher

“O Thou Who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one more thing: a grateful heart.”
~George Herbert

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An "Expert"

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.”
~Niels Bohr

Monday, November 21, 2011

Good Point

“To be an angel in prayer and a beast in one's relations with people is to go lame on both legs.”
~St. Francis de Sales

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rejoice, The Lord Is King

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He all His foes shall quell, shall all our sins destroy,
And every bosom swell with pure seraphic joy;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!

~Words: Charles Wesley & Music: John Darwall

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Has That Break Come?

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistence on our independence. To be ‘crucified with Christ’ means what Oswald Chambers calls ‘breaking the husk’ of that independence. ‘Has that break come?’ he asks. ‘All the rest is pious fraud.’”
~Elisabeth Elliott

Monday, November 14, 2011

At the Border of Paradise

It’s strange
that green valleys are still here
as if happiness slept in them
and shady streams
we once knew for sure
existed
and that there still are roofs
under which small children sleep
filling the house with a different silence

It’s strange
that clouds here still follow the sun
like gliding birds
and that there still is simple human goodness
besides what aspires upwards
that pure music stands at the door
which suddenly seems like a palace portico

It’s strange
that we still
want so much to love and cry
~Anna Kamienska

Sunday, November 13, 2011

...for Thee

How lovely are Thy dwellings fair!
    O Lord of Hosts, how dear
The pleasant tabernacles are!
    Where Thou dost dwell so near.
My soul doth long and almost die
    Thy courts O Lord to see;
My heart and flesh aloud do cry,
    O living God, for Thee.
~John Milton

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Created

“There is naught for thee by thy haste to gain;
‘Tis not the swift with Me that win the race;
Through long endurance of delaying pain,
Thine opened eye shall see thy Father’s face;
Nor here nor there, where now thy feet would turn,
Thou wilt find Him who ever seeks for thee;
But let obedience quench desires that burn,
And where thou art, thy Father, too, will be.
Behold! as day by day the spirit grows,
Thou see’st by inward light things hid before;
Till what God is, thyself, his image shows;
And thou dost wear the robe that first thou wore,
When bright with radiance from his forming hand
He saw thee Lord of all his creatures stand.”
~Jones Very

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Story (Fiction) – Part 2

    ...Then suddenly the news comes out: The code has been broken. A cure has been found. A vaccine can be made. But it’s going to take the blood of somebody who hasn’t been infected. So you and I are asked to do just one thing: Go to the nearest hospital and have our blood tested. When we hear the sirens go off in our neighborhood, we are to make our way quickly, quietly, and safely to the hospital.
    Sure enough, by the time you and your family get to the hospital it’s late Friday night. There are long lines of people and a constant rush of doctors and nurses taking blood and putting labels on it. Finally, it is your turn. You go first, then your spouse and children follow, and once the doctors have taken your blood they say to you, “Wait here in the parking lot for your name to be called.” You stand around with your family and neighbors, scared, waiting, wondering. Wondering quietly to yourself, What on earth is going on here? Is this the end of the world? How did it ever come to this?
    Nobody seems to have had their name called; the doctors just keep taking people’s blood. But then suddenly a young man comes running out of the hospital, screaming. He’s yelling a name and waving a clipboard. You don’t hear him at first. “What’s he saying?” someone asks. The young man screams the name again as he and a team of medical staff run in your direction, but again you cannot hear him. But then your son tugs on your jacket and says, “Daddy, that’s me. That’s my name they’re calling.” Before you know it, they have grabbed your boy. “Wait a minute. Hold on!” you say, running after them. “That’s my son.”
    “It’s okay,” they reply. “We think he has the right blood type. We just need to check one more time to make sure he doesn’t have the disease.”
    Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging each another; some of them are even laughing. It’s the first time you have seen anybody laugh in a week. An old doctor walks up to you and your spouse and says, “Thank you. Your son’s blood is perfect. It’s clean, it’s pure, he doesn’t have the disease, and we can use it to make the vaccine.”
    As the news begins to spread across the parking lot, people scream and pray and laugh and cry. You can hear the crowd erupting in the background as the gray-haired doctor pulls you and your spouse aside to say, “I need to talk to you. We didn’t realize that the donor would be a minor and we . . . we need you to sign a consent form.”
    The doctor presents the form and you quickly begin to sign it, but then your eye catches something. The box for the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty.
    “How many pints?” you ask. That is when the old doctor’s smile fades, and he says, “We had no idea it would be a child. We weren’t prepared for that.”
    You ask him again, “How many pints?” The old doctor looks away and says regretfully, “We are going to need it all!”
    “But I don’t understand. What do you mean you need it all? He’s my only son!”
    The doctor grabs you by the shoulders, pulls you close, looks you straight in the eyes, and says, “We are talking about the whole world here. Do you understand? The whole world. Please, sign the form. We need to hurry!”
    “But can’t you give him a transfusion?” you plead.
    “If we had clean blood we would, but we don’t. Please, will you sign the form?”

    What would you do?
    In numb silence you sign the form because you know it’s the only thing to do. Then the doctor says to you, “Would you like to have a moment with your son before we get started?”
    Could you walk into that hospital room where your son sits on a table saying, “Daddy? Mommy? What’s going on?” Could you tell your son you love him? And when the doctors and nurses come back in and say, “I’m sorry, we’ve got to get started now; people all over the world are dying,” could you leave? Could you walk out while your son is crying out to you, “Mom? Dad? What’s going on? Where are you going? Why are you leaving? Why have you abandoned me?”
    The following week, they hold a ceremony to honor your son for his phenomenal contribution to humanity . . . but some people sleep through it, others don’t even bother to come because they have better things to do, and some people come with a pretentious smile and pretend to care, while others sit around and say, “This is boring!” Wouldn’t you want to stand up and say, “Excuse me! I’m not sure if you are aware of it or not, but the amazing life you have, my son died so that you could have that life. My son died so that you could live. He died for you. Does it mean nothing to you?”
    Perhaps that is what God wants to say.

~Matthew Kelly

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Story (Fiction) – Part 1

This is a little long as compared to most of my posts. I will break it up into 2 parts. It is an interesting, thought-provoking, fictitious story...

Imagine this.
    You’re driving home from work next Monday after a long day. You turn on your radio and you hear a brief report about a small village in India where some people have suddenly died, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. It’s not influenza, but four people are dead, so the Centers for Disease Control is sending some doctors to India to investigate.
    You don’t think too much about it—people die every day—but coming home from church the following Sunday you hear another report on the radio, only now they say it’s not four people who have died, but thirty thousand, in the back hills of India. Whole villages have been wiped out and experts confirm this flu is a strain that has never been seen before.
    By the time you get up Monday morning, it’s the lead story. The disease is spreading. It’s not just India that is affected. Now it has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and northern Africa, but it still seems far away. Before you know it, you’re hearing this story everywhere. The media have now coined it “the mystery flu.” The President has announced that he and his family are praying for the victims and their families, and are hoping for the situation to be resolved quickly. But everyone is wondering how we are ever going to contain it.
    That’s when the President of France makes an announcement that shocks Europe: He is closing the French borders. No one can enter the country, and that’s why that night you’re watching a little bit of CNN before going to bed. Your jaw hits your chest when a weeping woman’s words are translated into English from a French news program: There’s a man lying in a hospital in Paris dying of the mystery flu. It has come to Europe.
    Panic strikes. As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for a week before you even know it, then you have four days of unbelievable symptoms, and then you die.
    The British close their borders, but it’s too late. The disease breaks out in Southampton, Liverpool, and London, and on Tuesday morning the President of the United States makes the following announcement: “Due to a national-security risk, all flights to and from the United States have been canceled. If your loved ones are overseas, I’m sorry. They cannot come home until we find a cure for this horrific disease.”
    Within four days, America is plunged into an unbelievable fear. People are wondering, What if it comes to this country? Preachers on television are saying it’s the scourge of God. Then on Tuesday night you are at church for Bible study, when somebody runs in from the parking lot and yells, “Turn on a radio!” And while everyone listens to a small radio, the announcement is made: Two women are lying in a hospital in New York City dying of the mystery flu. It has come to America.
    Within hours the disease envelops the country. People are working around the clock, trying to find an antidote, but nothing is working. The disease breaks out in California, Oregon, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts. It’s as though it’s just sweeping in from the borders...

~Matthew Kelly

Monday, November 7, 2011

...to come again...

“Then shall my heart behold Thee everywhere.
The vision rises of a speechless thing,
A perfectness of bliss beyond compare!
A time when I nor breathe nor think nor move,
But I do breathe and think and feel Thy love,
The soul of all the songs the saints do sing!
And life dies out in bliss, to come again in prayer.”
~George MacDonald

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Psalm 118:1-9, 15-29

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.

Let Israel now say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD now say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”

I called on the LORD in distress;
    The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
The LORD is on my side;
    I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The LORD is for me among those who help me;
    Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the LORD
    Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD
    Than to put confidence in princes.

...The voice of rejoicing and salvation
    Is in the tents of the righteous;
    The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
    The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.
I shall not die, but live,
    And declare the works of the LORD.
The LORD has chastened me severely,
    But He has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
    I will go through them,
    And I will praise the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD,
    Through which the righteous shall enter.

I will praise You,
    For You have answered me,
    And have become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected
    Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the LORD’s doing;
    It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Save now, I pray, O LORD;
    O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
    We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD,
    And He has given us light;
    Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
    You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Advice

“When you don't know what to do, do the work in front of you.”
~Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Prayer...

If making makes us Thine then Thine we are,
   And if redemption we are twice Thine own:
If once Thou didst come down from heaven afar
   To seek us and to find us, how not save?
Comfort us, save us, leave us not alone,
   Thou Who didst die our death and fill our grave.
~Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For All The Saints

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

(Select verses)
~Words: Will­iam How & Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams