From Black Ship to Ferry and Never Home Again

[A Short Story]

I unravel from my winding sheet for that is what it is, this flesh which harbors my soul in the same way my soul embraced the flesh in its wanderings like Ulysses aboard his black ships.

As I do, I spy my body at a slowly retreating distance, see its supine figure like a sculpture by Rodin, no, strike that, more like a painting by Caravaggio, the one of Paul struck down on his way to Damascus, every strained muscle in his body and lineament of his face expressing brute confrontation with Truth.

Yes, I capitalized it, or Him, Truth, a living Being, the source and embodiment of the absolute by virtue of His aseity and omnipotence, against whom I thought I could compete with my own truth, small case, t-r-u-t-h, to my own demise when I took up arms against any who would tell me not to heed the siren’s call, or the call of that master rhetorician Ulysses, alive in every age, in every town, in every social circle, school, temple or townhall, the sly, polished poet, a borrower or thief with pockets full of gold who says, “Let’s see what’s out there, so much to see, so much to experience, and oh, the things we’ll learn as we range unanchored to any known shore, pushing that thin envelope of body and spirit to the limit!”

He offered what we all yearn for, knowledge of the world, a wisdom that ordinary people (how we despise them!) in their ordinary little lives could never hope to find, when there’s a world of pure epicurean adventure led by your captain, my captain, let’s call him Ulysses.

I was twenty-nine, hardly naïve, yet naïve as a voter with a politician spinning promises, and so I left my home and went with him, my Ulysses, as ready as he with wit to parley at every Areopagus, eager to hear or spin every newfangled tale ever told, see every exotic sight to behold, by plane, by train, oh, the places to go, to experience every esoteric fad and sensation, and everywhere the dawn rose to the rooster’s call of Carpe diem and the night fell on the cries to transgress, transgress, every boundary, every limit, until my soul gave way from its moorings at the realization that I had gained nothing but lost everything.

Soon I’ll leave for Charon’s Ferry and I wish now – too late — for just one more voyage: a voyage I’ll never know.


Denise's Six Sentence Story Word Prompt is "range" so naturally my thoughts flew to that free-ranging (anti-)hero Ulysses and his place in Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno, Commedia. 

Canto 26 is one of my favorite cantos in the Inferno, so much being said here by Dante, revealing how much he too is tempted by the same passion as Ulysses whose supple philosophical genius and rhetorical skills are used to deceive the Trojans and ultimately lead to the doom of his own men as he leaves Ithaca, his home. They sail beyond the gates of Hercules where he and his men spy Mount Purgatory before “a whirlwind rose and hammered” at their ships sending them plunging beneath the ocean waves.

Continue reading “From Black Ship to Ferry and Never Home Again”

An Absent Parent on Advent Sunday

She’ll be singing, “Lo,
How a Rose E’er Blooming”
But I won’t hear it
Her voice so dulcet
Her face pink, all aglow.

To God she’ll give the glory
As her heart attuned soaring
Sings out its praise
Sad hearts to raise
To Him our Savior and our joy.

Somehow I’ll know, my spirit sense
The words when she is singing
Rejoicing knowing
In Christ she’s growing
And that makes all the difference.

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith– to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27 [NIV]

Galo Ocampo (Filipino, 1913–1985), Nativity, late 1930s.
Oil on canvas. UST Museum, Manila, Philippines.

Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
(15th c. German, trans. Theodore Baker)

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-gone was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind:
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright
She bore to men a Savior
When half-gone was the night.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.

Continue reading “An Absent Parent on Advent Sunday”

Journeying on Geryon

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot
Join us at Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers (100 words, photo prompt) 
and Denise's Six Sentence Story ("meter"). Click  and  to join the fun.

Journeying on Geryon

Dante’s Inferno lies open as I sleep.

On winged Geryon we descend into the infernal sublime of fraudsters, flatterers, the treacherous, their earth-borne bullshit stench exceeded here by that of countless privies.

Geryon’s human face seems kindly, despite his serpentine body and scorpion tail, and I ask: “Geryon, will I recognize anyone in the Malebolge, this place of stone?”

He, answering sweetly in steady meter: “Nay, why, for art thou not too clever for such?”

I relax, then gasp, as he drops me in the mire.

Alas, it’s not as one living but as one damned to her final destination.


Illustration by Gustave Doré 1867, The Flight of Geryon.

In Canto XVII of Dante’s Inferno, the pilgrim Dante and the poet Virgil, his guide, ride on the back of the monster Geryon to descend from the seventh to the eighth circle of hell in the third ring of hell, the Malebolge. It is described in this way in the next canto:

There is a place in Hell called Malebolge,
made all of stone the color of crude iron,
as is the wall that makes its way around it.

Right in the middle of this evil field
is an abyss, a broad and yawning pit,
whose structure I shall tell in its due place.

The belt, then, that extends between the pit
and that hard, steep wall’s base is circular;
its bottom has been split into ten valleys.

Just as, where moat on surrounds a castle
in order to keep guard upon the walls,
the ground they occupy will form a pattern,

so did the valleys here form a design;
and as such fortresses have bridges running
right from their thresholds toward the outer bank,

so here, across the banks and ditches, ridges
ran from the base of that rock wall until
the pit that cuts them short and joins them all.

This was the place in which we found ourselves
when Geryon had put us down; the poet
held to the left, and I walked at his back.

The Divine Comedy – tr. Mandelbaum – Cantica I – Canto XVIII
Sandro Botticelli (1480), Inferno, Canto XVIII

An Advent Song (For the First Sunday of Advent)

ADVENT STARRY NIGHT 5, Virginia Wieringa, Acrylic 2011

An Advent Song

Clothed in the armor of Your light
We walk by faith throughout the night
As darkness fades, so all earthly fear
With the long-awaited dawn, when You appear.

All the prophets spoke was true
All that they prophesied of You
We knew it then, we know it now
That every knee before You one day will bow.

In the fullness of time You came
As babe in manger, Jesus by name
Now ascended King, when You departed
You left us not alone, but the Holy Spirit imparted.

Yet out of our sight You reign on high
Until that day when You again come nigh
The dawn of that day we will shout and cheer
Not an eye will be dry when You, O Lord, draw near!

Now, Father, keep us faithful and strong
Singing ever onwards the Gospel song
Knowing it is the power of God to save
By believing in His Son whom to us You gave.


Romans 1:16 (NIV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Galatians 4:4-6 (NASB) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Lyrics: Psalm 121 (sung in Arabic) I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where my help comes from My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 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. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going from now until the end of time

Confession of a Bibliopole

*A bibliopole is a person who buys and sells books, especially rare ones.

This Dream recurs — I am the Bird —
Neither the Darkness — nor the Light —
Ranging over Estates of books
Endless — See one Book — now Ubiquitous — contains Life
Lights the Path —while others
Sound
Characterize
Reflect
Darken
Never overcome the Light


A recent post by a fellow blogger1 awakened me yet again to issues of abuse. Extremes of reaction and behavior caused by past abuse. Impossibly high standards it engenders. Unrealistic expectations. Childhood scars that reopen and bleed. Shedding these old habits of thought/behavior and clearing our lungs of them by achieving moderation does take time … but particularly time in the word of God. Diving deep and long, letting the Holy Spirit fill our lungs with His love so we can breathe more easily in our own skin. Theology is not a luxury but a necessity that God alone can provide through the special revelation that is His inerrant and infallible word. Through it we come to know that He is the Rock that is higher than all others, as the psalmist puts it, a fortress of peace, stability and safety. But more: He gives life, abundant life, His own, by uniting us with Himself, Emmanuel, God with us, the incarnate God, Christ Jesus. Finally, union with Christ is God’s divine life poured into us by His Spirit and we become a new creation, leaving the past behind, following a new path that leads to life eternal, and pressing on “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”2

Psalm 119:105 (KJV)
Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

John 8:12
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 6:68
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2Phillipians 3:12,14
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


1Anna Waldherr writes at A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse: her most recent post is “Of Ogres and Onions”

Continue reading “Confession of a Bibliopole”

Under Dust

Found on a flyleaf: “Awarded to Fanny for an Essay on ‘What I saw during my trip to the orphanage’. Sept 19111

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), “November Moonlight”

The art book when I find it
is pristine with dust, a gray snowfall,
only the flurries fall upward in the sunlight

defying gravity, defying the orderly Milky Way
of my existence, its fixed planetary motions
with phantoms of metaverses like motes

in my eyes: Marcel² says, “leave it under the bed”:
but the plank is in his eye: this dust is
important as marble, a tombstone in the tundra

of which I am custodian, and I hate the gloved hand
that gave it and know the open hand that received it
and I would not disturb the fixed leaves

that shelter the child who murmurs “dada”
then “rosebud”
then dies.

Man Ray, Dust Breeding (Dust over work by Marcel Duchamp), ca. 1920

1Inscription (with edit) from The Book of Inscriptions Project

2French artist/writer Marcel Duchamp let dust collect in a spot under his bed (he called it “growing dust”), instructing his maid not to clean it.

Continue reading “Under Dust”

Dante’s Prayer

I hear the call, Eternal, sound in my heart and in the stars.
Is it timeless or infinity itself? Is its Voice a song?
I do not question, so much yet to understand and I am not able.

I only respond in gratitude, though one-legged in faith still hobbling,
letting go finger by finger my pride,
and taking up, hand after hand, my cross of self-denial.

For this Eternal is Love.


By Purgatorio, Canto 11 of the Commedia, Dante the pilgrim has exited Hell and entered purgatory by permission of the angel at the gate who uses two keys, one silver (remorse) and one gold (reconciliation). As he and his guide, the poet Virgil, enter they are warned not to look back at any point in the journey up through the terraces of purgatory to the Garden of Eden. In Purgatorio, Canto 10, Dante had seen examples of humility. Now on the first and lowest terrace he sees souls of the proud bent over by large stones they carry on their backs, due penance for their sin of Pride, of which there are three kinds: pride of family, pride of art, and pride of power.

Federigo da Montefeltro, Divina Commedia, ca. 1478.
Purgatorio, Canto XI: The Prideful. – Source

Purgatorio is filled with the prayers of souls as they ascend the terraces. And Canto 11 opens with the only complete prayer which is really an expanded version or gloss of The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6: 9-13; Luke 11: 2-4).

“Our Father, You who dwell within the heavens

but are not circumscribed by them out of

Your greater love for Your first works above,


Praised be Your name and Your omnipotence,

by every creature, just as it is seemly

to offer thanks to Your sweet effluence.


Your kingdom’s peace come unto us, for if

it does not come, then though we summon all

our force, we cannot reach it of our selves.


Just as Your angels, as they sing Hosanna,

offer their wills to You as sacrifice,

so may men offer up their wills to You.


Give unto us this day the daily manna

without which he who labors most to move

ahead through this harsh wilderness falls back.


Even as we forgive all who have done

us injury, may You, benevolent,

forgive, and do not judge us by our worth.


Try not our strength, so easily subdued,

against the ancient foe, but set it free

from him who goads it to perversity.”

Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio, Canto X1, lines 1-21, transl. Alan Mandelbaum
Gustave Doré, Dante Alighieri’s Commedia, The Beatific Vision (1880)

The Commedia ends with Paradiso where Dante receives the beatific vision: “The Love that moves the other stars” (l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle). As Giuseppe Mazzotta notes, Inferno and Purgatorio also end with stelle. “So when Dante says that love moves the sun and other stars, what he’s really doing is placing himself immediately right back on earth, back at the beginning of his quest. He’s here with us looking up at the stars.”

Continue reading “Dante’s Prayer”

Love and “The Sick Rose”

In 1794 the poet William Blake published his “Songs of Experience,” a collection of poems (complete with his own hand-colored illustrations and illuminated borders) of which one is “The Sick Rose.”

    O Rose thou art sick.

    The invisible worm,

    That flies in the night

    In the howling storm:

    Has found out thy bed

    Of crimson joy:

    And his dark secret love

    Does thy life destroy.

William Blake (1794)
Continue reading “Love and “The Sick Rose””

Note to a Vandal

PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox

Genre: Poetry; Word count: 100

Note to a Vandal

Named demon by my father,
taught life’s grammar by brute force,
think you to disassemble me by calumny,
emblazoning my property green,
as if the seen shames more than the unseen?

Are you a vandal? Are you meretricious?
Would foster evil greater than mother’s blame,
beat harder than a rod of pain?
Have stakes driven through my heart?
It’s been done.

Yet long before fists of flesh, eyes of stone,
Love upon a Cross of wood claimed me;
I, hidden in Him, rose with Him,
live by faith, by grace, enjoy eternal life in Him.

Grace, mercy, peace, my friend.


Host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Friday Fictioneers provides us with this week’s photo prompt and reminds us that “November 9–10, 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany and recently incorporated territories. This event became known as Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) because of the shattered glass that littered the streets after the vandalism and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes. This was only the beginning of one of the most barbaric and vicious times in recent history. We say ‘never again.’ But.…” Rochelle shares a video link to Auschwitz concentration camp survivor, Dr. Edith Eger, who experienced survivor’s guilt, attaining peace towards the end of her life, and who says at one point in the short seven-minute talk: “When you share your secret, you are no longer in the concentration camp that is in your own mind.”

This Sunday, November 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, when you are invited to pray with those around the world for persecuted Christians, currently the most persecuted religious group in the world. The group Open Doors USA figures that 360 million Christians last year lived in countries where persecution was “significant.” Roughly 5,600 Christians were murdered, more than 6,000 were detained or imprisoned, and another 4,000-plus were kidnapped. In addition, more than 5,000 churches and other religious facilities were destroyed.

Continue reading “Note to a Vandal”

St. Francis of Assisi & Johnny Cash: Two Quotes

Saints and sinners anyone? Yet who can claim to be wholly one or the other?

The point of my “Two Quotes” series is to lay before you literary, artistic and/or musical juxtapositions, and let you be the judge of their similarities and their contrasts. Click here for more.

St. Francis, born to Italian nobility in the 13th century, renounced his worldly possessions and took a vow of poverty to serve God as a monk. Eventually he gathered other like-minded aristocratic scions and founded the Franciscan order of friars. He’s well known for being a lover of God’s creation, even going so far as to preach to the birds and the fishes. He wrote “The Canticle of the Creatures” in 1224 while recovering from an illness and it is the earliest piece of literature written in Italian rather than Latin, the language of the church. Dante alludes to it in Canto 11 of Purgatorio.

Many believe this is the most accurate image of St. Francis.
Listen to the Canticle of the Creatures (from Franciscan Seculars)

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your
love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

St. Francis of Assisi
Continue reading “St. Francis of Assisi & Johnny Cash: Two Quotes”

Love Came Down at Christmas

The Creator became the heart of creation when in Christ Jesus He took on our flesh. This is no small thing. He who is one hundred percent divine became also one hundred percent man: true God, true man. What but the love that existed in the Trinitarian God from eternity could cause Him who created all that exists and all that has being to take on the rescue of His creatures in this humbling fashion, enduring the darkness of our world and enduring our death in order to free us from evil and death eternally! So great is His love for us that He came down at Christmas to raise us up with Christ and give us Himself for all eternity.

So we rejoice! We rejoice at such a love, such a Creator, such a God who gave Himself for us and to us when He who is “Love came down at Christmas.” And we thank Him, and praise Him, and glorify and worship Him who through this life has promised to never leave us nor forsake us for He has made us His children in Christ Jesus! Hallelujah! For the Lord God eternal reigns! Hallelujah!

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Christina Rossetti (1885)

A note to my readers and blogger friends: I will be taking a blogging break for a while and look to reconnect in the New Year. Merry Christmas to all and to all, best wishes for a Happy New Year!

This is not a show:

“Adoration of the Magi” tapestry (1890) designed by Edward Burne Jones, woven by William Morris et. al.

This is not a show
Don’t let it fool you
This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter
Not a carpet of flowers

Jesus knew hummus before kosher
At Egyptian tables to eat (Rimbaud yawns!)
These wise visitors bore gifts for an exile
Oh glorious! for the King of kings

We beg/steal/borrow tv Santa’s wigs
Play jolly, play Marley’s ghost
Turn engines of Christmas to erupt
Merry, when Jesus was born for sorrow.

Count His bones on the tree, no beauty
This mother will see, only a sword piercing
From cross to myrrh-anointed shroud

An ocean, an ocean of darkness to bear
A birthday for a Man whose death will be the death of Death
Erupt in hallelujah! Turn nuns into acrobats!

This is not a show
Don’t let it fool you
This baby escaped a tyrant’s slaughter
Not spring weather on a tapestry

Design for the “Adoration of the Magi” tapestry, Edward Burne-Jones, 1887

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 2:1-18

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:1-10
Shay/Fireblossom's "Word Garden Word List #5 (Gregory Corso)"
"What we do here is this: write a poem using at least 3 of the twenty words on the following list. Your poem need not have anything to do with Corso except for the three (or more) words. The list is a springboard."

Second Sunday in Advent: Light the Candle of Peace

The Sign of Peace

King Ahaz was a jackass
And a murderous one at that
The faithless shepherd of Israel
Who roasted children before his gods.

But before his Assyrian enemies he shook and cowered,
and the prophet Isaiah came with a strong word from God:
“If you don’t stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.”1

The LORD had determined to protect
His people from the Assyrian wolves;
He told wicked Ahaz to ask for a sign
And false-hearted Ahaz refused.

Isaiah 7: 14

Yet the LORD was committed to His purpose of peace
And gave Ahaz a sign foretelling a birth then and hence
A maiden would give birth to a child, Emmanuel, “God with us”2:
“If you don’t stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.”

Now as we celebrate our Savior God’s birth
We light a second purple candle to remember
A virgin’s journey to Bethlehem to bear Jesus,
Our Emmanuel.


1Isaiah 7:9(b)

2Isaiah 7:14

Inheritance Imperishable (inspired by 1 Peter 1:1-9)

Golden cup St. John’s wort (Hypericum patulum) ©dorahak

          You, exiles, foreigners, chosen ones,

          You, faith-walkers, word-doers, beatituders1

          You, cross-bearers, joy-bringers, gospel-lovers

          You, sanctified, baptized, crucified, dead but alive to God

          You, raised up with Christ, co-heirs with Him2

          You, trial-shoulderers, sin-mourners, grief-carriers

          You, compassion-clad, mudlark scavengers of world-weary souls

          You, yourselves poor, despised, nobodies scorned3

          Beloved of God, glory-bound

          You

                    catch the light in golden cups of faith
                    catch it, taste it, see how good His Word
                    catch it freely with a living hope

                    catch sun-filled manna, multiplied grace
                    peace as it settles like a priceless crown
                    upon your head in splendor untarnished

                    catch the light with your open heart
                    newborn soul with ears to hear
                    Song of songs from Your Father’s throne

                    catch it as a prayer upon your tongue
                    sounding the depths of Love unknown
                    but for the babe in a manger born

                    catch the light and let faith loose
                    kindled incense upward bound
                    sent like sparks to heaven’s court

                    catch joy unspeakable, unbounded love
                    the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
                    come in power to dwell with you


1 Peter 1:9
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


1The Beatitudes are characteristics and blessings listed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12

2Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

31 Corinthians 1:26-29 “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

section in bold italics:
Sammi's weekend writing prompt: 52 words, "Mudlarks"
Eugi's weekly prompt: "Compassion"
Have a blessed First Sunday of Advent everyone!

C. S. Lewis and Tamara Natalie Madden: Two Quotes

I want to give thanks today for all those who inspire us daily to live in faith, hope, and love.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for those who inspire us, as do Lewis and Madden, from very different generations, cultures, classes, life experiences, and yet, one faith.

Amen.

Two artists.

Two communicators in two different mediums.

C. S. Lewis (“Jack”) through his words on a broad canvas of scholarship, Christian apologetics, and science fiction and fantasy works. Tamara Natalie Madden through the portraits she lovingly brushed on a painter’s canvas, where people emerged from their ordinary guises to reveal the immortal souls they bore.

Jack died on this day in November 1963 at the age of 64 in Oxford. Tamara died on November 4, 2017 at the age of 42 in Atlanta, succumbing to cancer after suffering from illness much of her life.

Jack lost his mother at the age of nine and, having married late in life, his wife Joy after only four years of marriage. Tamara received a kidney transplant by “the grace of God”1 that enabled her to live another seventeen years painting and writing, counting “survival from illness, and my willingness to listen to God and pursue my art”2 her greatest achievement.

Both artists remind us not to take ourselves too seriously, or others too lightly. Tamara clothed her subjects in the colorful African and Indian fabrics of royalty. Jack read every one of the hundreds of letters he received from the Christian and non-Christian readers of his books, and replied to each one by his own hand with unfailing kindness and courtesy.

What a blazing legacy they have left us, to live brightly, however briefly, whatever our challenges, heightening our vision to see we are all royalty, bearing the image of God. We are all immortal and destined for immortal ends.

Continue reading “C. S. Lewis and Tamara Natalie Madden: Two Quotes”

Before Winter

I left to see you:

the wind blew golden jewels

shook out curtains of fire flakes

heralds of star-strewn way

racing winter’s frost before me.


2 Timothy 4:21-22
Do your best to come before winter.
Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
The Lord be with your spirit.
Grace be with you.


Grace at dVerse challenges us with the "wayra," a popular poetic form
in Peru and Bolivia written in five unrhymed lines of 5-7-7-6-8 syllables.
Click on Mr. Linky to join in.
Image credit: Autumn Leaves, Wallpaper Safari

A Tale of Two, and One

image ©dorahak

“Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
“But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’” (Matt. 15:25)

Two women: Queen Esther. The Canaanite/Syrophoenician woman.

One was a Jewish concubine in a Persian king’s harem. The other was a Gentile kneeling before the Messiah.

Both women were pleading for the lives of people they loved, one for the Jews in the Persian Empire, the other for her daughter possessed by an unclean spirit.

One pleaded for community. The other for family.

One came before an earthly king. The other before the Kings of kings.

Both came trusting in a God who “had prepared a table before them” in the presence of their enemies, came in the power of His Shepherding grace and love through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23)

They came as sheep before their Shepherd, believing in His power to rescue and save.

Two women. Two needs.

Having prayed to the sovereign God, Esther came before the earthly king knowing the fate of the Jews in the land was in the hand of God, as was her fate: “If I perish, I perish.”

Having heard of Jesus, the Canaanite woman came before the Jewish Messiah, knowing He was Lord and her daughter’s fate was in His hand: “Lord, help me.”

They were tried. Haman worked actively against all that Esther would do.

They were tested. The Canaanite woman was asked the reason for her hope.

In both cases, God worked behind the scenes, though in the book of Esther He is never mentioned, not once. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus seemed to be indifferent to the Canaanite woman’s plight, though in her heart He had already laid the groundwork that made her bold and persistent.

They knew what God could do. They didn’t know what God would do.

“Let my life be granted for my wish, and my people for my request.” (Esther 7:3)
“Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” (Mark 7:28)

They hadn’t known what God would do, but they knew who He was: He was a God who cared enough to listen.

Two women who had no rights but what were granted as crumbs in the society in which they lived, went away as daughters of the living God, granted more than crumbs, granted their heart’s desire.

A community of Jews was saved. A daughter released from demonic possession.

A tale of two women alone? No. The story is really about God, and how his daughters (and sons) are never alone.

Pray now, and “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)


Isaiah 49:15-16
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are continually before Me.”

Everybody-Whales and Nobody-Tales

Round and round the kwestions go
Where they stop knowbody knose.

“Mr. Knowbody, tell us please!
When will our suffering cease?”

“It will end in God’s own time,”
Knowbody answers with a rhyme.

“Knose you, knose I
knose we by and by
when on our knees
we make our pleas
to Him who does know
more than we can know
does all things well
more than we can tell.”

Knowing this by faith I offer praise
To God alone who with me stays.

Yet knowbody’s cries can turn into wails
It’s a whale of a tale rehearsed to cat’s tails.

Then round and round the kwestions go
When they stop knowbody knose

Cause everybody whales and nobody tales.

Mark 7:37
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”


PREFACE

Psalm 28:1
To you, O LORD, I call; my rock,
be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.

Philippians 3:20 (KJV)
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

I find this to be remarkable: that God is in constant conversation with us who are His own, even when language fails, as it often does. Especially when we feel as if we’re talking in circles around the same things, and it feels like nonsense to our own ears, as we wait on God.

We would be less than honest if we stated glibly that we can be articulate when in pain. That is a luxury most of us are denied. Pain drives us insane. It unmoors us from all that we know. Language becomes meaningless. We become a series of moans and groans and outright wails.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

2 Corinthians 5:4

Yet the Word who became flesh to tabernacle among us knows each of us, reads us like a book of which He is the Author. And whatever our wordlessness, our communion with Him continues.

It continues in the language of faith. Of which He is the Giver.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Ephesians 2:8

It continues in the language of love. He is love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

It continues in the language of hope. He is the God of hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

It continues in the language of peace. He is our peace.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Ephesians 2:14

It continues in the language of life. He is the Author of life.

. . . the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

Acts 3:15

Jesus, the Word of God, is in constant communion with us. Everything we do, say, think, is in the context of conversation with Him.

Prayer is more than words for believers. It is trust. We live in an attitude of trust even when we are bereft of all else, including words. Because we know who He is, the One who first loved us and gave Himself for us.

Our wordlessness, in suffering or in pain, is not an impediment to Him. It is a grace.

Dig deep in communion with Him who never leaves us nor forsakes us. Dig deep in His word. He is not silent.

The one who gave us mouths to speak, speaks to us. The One who gave us ears to hear, hears us.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40: 28-31

Lilies of the Field

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

There is no nonsense about them
These increments of light
Sun-warmed stalks and petals,
Reducing to ornate shabbiness, palaces and temples,
Gaudy shacks of industry, mirrors of acquisition
While these Easter-birthed seeds burst otherworldly
All-gathering the vindicating Light
The Being uncanny borne by fragile forms, mortal all,
Sometimes dowdy, bent, dreary,
Sometimes bold, speckled, flashy,
Zealous, winsome, or hard-pressed
Between cracks of broken pavements
Yet there all the same:
Seven thousands of unbowed knees
Introduced by design, awakened, sent out
As an offense to be discarded or tolerated,
Eliciting smile, laughter, scorn, booted heel,
These refugees offering refuge immortal
These exiles rushing homeward
This desire of sun:
These lilies of the field.


For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:3)

[And the LORD said to Elijah:] “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)

Björn at dVerse prompts us to write using a conceit:"A conceit is defined as an extended and complex metaphor that creates that apart from creating an element of surprise. If a metaphor is used to enhance imagery the conceit is better suited to describe an intricate metaphysical or emotional subject." Click on Mr. Linky to read and join in!

Cee's FOTD (Flower of the Day) November 4, 2021: Daisy
Click on any image above for a slideshow. Images ©dorahak