Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yes to solitude is no to stuff

The Necessity of Solitude

Thomas Merton

Solitude is to be preserved, not as a luxury but as a necessity: not for "perfection" so much as for simple "survival" in the life God has given you. Hence, you must know when, how, and to whom you must say "no." This involves considerable difficulty at times. You must not hurt people, or want to hurt them, yet you must not placate them at the price of infidelity to higher and more essential values.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The ant and the contact lens

Here is a neat story recounted by Elisabeth Elliot, as told to her by Brenda Folz. The original version in the first person can be found here, on Elisabeth's website.

Lost and Found

It was Brenda's first climb. Halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff, she stood on a ledge and took a breather. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens . "Great," she thought. "Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry."

She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn't there.

She felt anxiety rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she might find her contact lens.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of a partial verse, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth."

She thought, "Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me."

Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, "Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?"

Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!

The story doesn't end there. Brenda's father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, "Lord, I don't know why You want me to carry this thing. I can't eat it, and it's awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I'll carry it."

Perhaps when we carry something heavy that we can't understand, we can pray, "God, I don't know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it's awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will."

God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called!

Carry, trust and smile!


Note: This story is often wrongly attributed to people who forward it on email. But the real story comes from Brenda Folz via Elisabeth Elliot, and retold in Elisabeth's book, A Quiet Heart, under the title of "Lost and Found."
Note: I can believe this story, because I've had at least one similar story happen to me personally. You can read that story here: The Miracle of the Lost Lens.

Note: And remember that God doesn't always lead us to the items, even though He surely does know where they are! A good friend recounted a story of a lost item, in which God chose to answer with a larger lesson -- larger than the item itself! So always trust and hope!

Friday, September 18, 2009

When mountains quiver

May His wounds both wound and heal me

May His wounds both wound and heal me,
He enkindle, cleanse, and heal me,
be His cross my hope and stay.
May He, when the mountains quiver,
from that flame which burns for ever
shield me on the judgment day.

Jesus, may thy cross defend me,
and thy saving death befriend me,
cherished by thy deathless grace:
when to dust my dust returneth,
grant a soul that to thee yearneth
in thy paradise a place.


From "At the cross her station keeping." Words: Latin, thirteenth century; trans. The English Hymnal, 1906. Tune: Stabat mater.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A teacher's question

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

'Let me see if I've got this right.

'You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

'You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

'You want me to do all this and then you tell me... I CAN'T PRAY?

Think about it! I received this on email and had to blog it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A gifted comic

To all those who struggled with the last Far Side comic I posted, here's one a little easier to understand... maybe not if you're specially gifted, lol. Have a wonderful night! :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A mystery comic contest

Hello friends. Here's an old Far Side comic that I saw yesterday... when I first saw it, it stumped me. Gary Larsen, creator of Far Side, often tossed in esoteric humor. He'd made his readers work for some comics, really making people think to get that "aha!"

Well, this one is FAR OUT on the Far Side, lol. I think I have it now, but I'm putting it out there to see who can come up w. the best explanation of this comic: here it is just as originally printed, no caption or explanatory notes.

I've enabled comments for this post. Fire away!

If someone can beat my explanation, I'll send them 20 dollars in dollar coins. Note: I've emailed my explanation to myself, so it is timestamped on email, for verification.

Enjoy! :-)

Health care humor with a point

Here's a comic by Michael Ramirez... sometimes we have to turn to humor, when the reality is so bleak that it's heartrending. Is it altruism driving this unrestrained, forced assault on American economic lifeblood? A breathtaking blitzkrieg on working people and productive citizens that is completely partisan in nature... is it altruism that drives this? And will it really fix our flawed system -- an imperfect system that is still without peer among the socialistic alternatives in Europe and Canada, whose rich flee their systems and come here when desiring the best treatment?

Those who think this is good for the American people must not be able to see that deficit spending is now in a death spiral... I ask these fellow Americans to please take a serious look at where the money is going, how it is being managed, its long term implications, etc. These multi-trillion dollar deficit numbers are beyond belief: to what end?

Responsible supporters of health care reform would never manage their personal finances this way, because they understand consequences. But when this administration does this purposefully, for expressed social engineering ends, it's somehow good?

These actions are good for America like Arafat was good for Palestinians: turning himself into nearly a billionaire and making cronies rich, while reducing his people to squalor.

Think about it.

Sometimes you have to laugh, or you'll cry!

God bless you today, and help you. Please be prayerful, even if you've not been that way before.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The cruciality of true silence

Holy silence in the rhythm of life

Thomas Merton

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling in the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life's leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have not rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.


Source: Through the Year With Thomas Merton

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A palette of God on the Kissimmee River

God's artistry is the best; the pinnacle of human abstract or realistic art, and everything in between, is only a pale imitation of what is, and the transcendent best that it evokes. Enjoy a scene from this week, the palette of God and the Kissimmee River, blues and pinks and divine hues. Shalom!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Maker of man, who from thy throne

Maker of man, who from thy throne

Words: attributed to Gregory the Great (545-604), translated John D Chambers (1805-1893)
Tune: Deus tuorum militum

Maker of man, who from thy throne
Dost order all things, God alone;
By whose decree the teeming earth
To reptile and to beast gave birth:

The mighty forms that fill the land,
Instinct with life at thy command,
Are given subdued to humankind
For service in their rank assigned.

From all thy servants drive away
Whate'er of thought impure today
Hath been with open action blent,
Or mingled with the heart's intent,

In heaven thine endless joys bestow,
And grant thy gifts of grace below;
From chains of strife our souls release,
Bind fast the gentle bands of peace.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.


Has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?

You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy

Ecclesiasticus 2

You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy;
do not stray, or else you may fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust in Him,
and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
Consider the generations of old and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord and been forsaken?
Or has anyone called upon Him and been neglected?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
He forgives sins and saves in time of distress.



Note: Ivan, of Brothers Karamazov, would answer this rhetorical question, yes. "Yes, many have trusted in the Lord and been disappointed!" But Dostoevsky, the author of Brothers Karamazov, would answer resoundingly, no! No, the one who trusts in the Lord will not be disappointed. How can such an author, who utterly believes in God, pen the strongest literary argument against God? It baffled critics in his day, and confounds critics still. Why? How? The answer brings light. And it is for you, faithful reader, to discern!

Selah, indeed.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A hint of promise over a Florida pasture

Nice sky, amber light effects on trees and grass, highlighting the ruddy cows... greys and blues and misty whites hanging tapestry in the sky, centering colors of the covenant promise. Enjoy!

Arise, my soul, my joyful powers

Arise, my soul, my joyful powers

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Arise, my soul, my joyful powers,
And triumph in my God;
Awake, my voice, and loud proclaim
His glorious grace abroad.

He raised me from the depths of sin,
The gates of gaping hell,
And fixed my standing more secure
Than 'twas before I fell.

The arms of everlasting love
Beneath my soul He placed;
And on the Rock of Ages set
My slippery footsteps fast.

The city of my blest abode
Is walled around with grace;
Salvation for a bulwark stands
To shield the sacred place.

Satan may vent his sharpest spite,
And all his legions roar:
Almighty mercy guards my life,
And bounds his raging power.

Arise, my soul, awake, my voice,
And tunes of pleasures sing;
Loud hallelujahs shall address
My Savior and my King.