Tales from the Beyond: Woodbury Piles No. 13

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Rochelle asks that we use the photo prompt (©DaleRogerson)
and limit our words to 100 or less. 
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Genre: Horror
Word Count: 100

Tales from the Beyond: Woodbury Piles No. 13

M.R. of Woodbury is “E-tonic” to Oxbridge friends. He retires nightly with a tonic, his Eton tie, and an e-book of M.R. James, his namesake, until McQuin, his uncommonly phlegmatic valet, comes to softly extinguish the lights. McQuin says he has “the mind of a nice child.”

Tonight he reads, “saw someone crawling towards him on all fours with his eye hanging out on his cheek,” when he does. See someone. Like that.

“McQuin, when you’ve husbanded the modicum of blood left in you . . . ” he says.

Just before McQuin slips its thin arms round his neck.


Today’s tale brought to you by the inspiration of that master of horror, M.R. James, whose story, “The Mezzotint,” is happily alluded to.

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

dVerse — Poetics — The Move

From childhood I’ve led a nomadic life, then thankfully settled down for a while after my marriage; but due to varied pressures over the last dozen years or so, we found ourselves moving not once, not twice, but four times!

Michael Whelan, “Lights” (1991)

The Move

Let slip the dogs of war, cry ‘Havoc!’1
My life is in boxes. Taped wounds reopen.
Something’s lost, new scars of the march
Mark rosewood and disquiet heart,
Chipping tall glasses into which descanted
Expectations contain shards. I swallow

To survive. Patience. There is no end to it.
Nothing is ever put away in just the right place
As it was before, or ever after. A life’s exhumations,
Dislocated. Some funerary remains stay buried mysteries,
Supernumerary or symptoms of malaise. Diagnosis:
Lassitude. The patient’s surgical cut unanesthetized

Comes at Christmas, when more than one treasured
Ornament is missed, or smashed, glitter powder, a crack
On Nutcracker chin. His stout smile now on my face.
Shrugging away another casualty. The clock chimes.
There are cookies in the oven in the new-not-new

Kitchen where cups and saucers rotate from shelf
To shelf to find a home. The doorbell rings.
I prepare my bravado. Hopeful eyes meet mine,
A Christmas tree on slim shoulders, angelic annunciation
To their father’s bemused smile. Now a certain

Cavalcade of the heart, benediction of wise men’s gold
Escaping boxes, escaping from what was
To what is. Another Egypt. Another promised land.
Father Abraham. Mother Sarah. Tents folded
Unfolded. Tinsel time like tinsel tears shimmer past.
Frankincense and myrrh. My life by blood covenant, Thine.


1“The military order ‘Havoc!’ was a signal given to the English military forces in the Middle Ages to direct the soldiery (in Shakespeare’s parlance ‘the dogs of war’) to pillage and chaos. The ‘let slip’ is an allusion to the slip collars that were used to restrain dogs and were easily ‘let slip’ to allow the dogs to run and hunt.”

Image credit: Michael Whelan, "Lights," acrylic on watercolor board, 1991

I'm guest-hosting today at dVerse "Poetics: Epiphany in the Time of Holiday," where we will write on what an epiphany during this holiday season would look like for us (or someone we know or imagine). An epiphany, writes critic X. J. Kennedy, is 'some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character’s life, or view of life, is greatly altered.' Epiphany is from the Greek, epiphainein, “to show forth.” (James Joyce, for example, describes epiphanies in everyday life, using stream-of-consciousness in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” mixing memories, associations, moral/ideological/religious issues.)
Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

Media Vita

image ©dorahak

Media Vita

“In the midst of life

we are in death” sang fair

Notker the Stammerer


whose spoken words

when they emerged

wingless apart hobbled:


but when he sang

Notker’s sodden eyes

gathered gold like wheat


till we fared as kings

upon the bread of angels.


In the year 912, Notker the Stammerer, a monk of the Abbey of Saint Gall, is said to have written what became the Gregorian chant below, the English translation of which is a poetic adaption from the Book of Common Prayer (1549).

Media vita in morte sumus
quem quaerimus adjutorem
nisi te, Domine,
qui pro peccatis nostris
juste irasceris?

Sancte Deus,
sancte fortis,
sancte et misericors Salvator:
amarae morti ne tradas nos.

In the midst of life we are in death
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord,
who for our sins
art justly displeased?

O Lord God most holy,
O Lord most mighty,
O holy and most merciful Saviour,
deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

2 Samuel 14:14
We must all die;
we are like water spilled on the ground,
which cannot be gathered up again.
But God will not take away life,
and he devises means
so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.

Image for Cee's Flower of the Day (FOTD), November 15, 2021
Linda at dVerse: Quadrille#140 asks us to use some form of the word "fair"
in a poem of exactly 44 words. Click Mr. Linky and join in!

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.”

Irwin’s Dad

I remember Irwin’s Dad
Drafted to war in Vietnam
And never came back.

But a coffin came draped in a flag
And all the tears his mother cried
Meant Irwin’s life had changed.

Irwin smiled at the stories I told
He was always the first to laugh
At my marionette dancing on stage.

Irwin was just four, his mother’s joy,
Me not much older but oh, I knew
He would always miss his Dad.

If you see a veteran today, remember
There’s an Irwin’s Dad they sorrow o’er
And a son like Irwin too.


On this Veteran’s Day, 11/11/2021, thank you to all the veterans who served our country!

For image attribution and a history of Veteran’s Day, click here.

Judgment Day

Come along and join in with Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.
Rochelle asks that we use the photo prompt 
and limit our words to 100 or less. 
Click on the frog to read more stories.

photo prompt © Ted Strutz

Genre: Realism
Word Count: 100

Narrator: dorahak Background: Arctic White Noise and Wind (link)

Judgment Day

Cur Deus homo.* Why? Blindly, we sail past the pinnacle of what we could be.

The cruise ship Earth is all fun and games. Whether the fun intended causes others misery or not isn’t part of the equation. The equation only includes playing gods, every individual for himself, the rich richer, the poor poorer because they were losers. Losers become slaves because that’s how the game is played.

Like the pharaohs of old, we will take the living into hell with us.

Out across the ice, I see Frankenstein chasing his monster. And the worm turns.

Judgment Day.


*Cur Deus Homo (Latin for “Why a God Human?”), usually translated Why God Became a Man, is a book written by Anselm of Canterbury in the period of 1094–1098. In this work he proposes the satisfaction view of the atonement.

In its preface, Anselm gives his reason for writing the book:

I have been often and most earnestly requested by many, both personally and by letter, that I would hand down in writing the proofs of a certain doctrine of our faith, which I am accustomed to give to inquirers; for they say that these proofs gratify them, and are considered sufficient. This they ask, not for the sake of attaining to faith by means of reason, but that they may be gladdened by understanding and meditating on those things which they believe; and that, as far as possible, they may be always ready to convince any one who demands of them a reason of that hope which is in us.

Preface to Cur Deus Homo, transl. Sidney Dean in St. Anselm
The beginning of the Cur Homo‘s prologue, from a 12th-century manuscript held at Lambeth Palace

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

Gospel Truth

I know this music, she said,
her bow singing across the riggings of the ship,
vibrations of string, quivering, a Stradivarius
on seascapes wild, Colmcille’s blessing on her lips.
Her petaled fingers close on each note, wind-whipped,
prayer stinging her eyes, cutting grooves calloused
by play, tonal cry of pregnant labor for a birth
where words and sounds attuned once only to elemental
spirits, now midwife new life, the dead burying the dead,
but the people of the Way hearing, come dancing.


Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Luke 9:60
And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Image Credit: cocoparisienne from Pixabay 
Ingrid at dVerse: Poetics Tuesday asks us to "write a poem using only concrete nouns, subject matter and imagery." Click on Mr. Linky and join in!

Journey (4)

A lone tree
alone tree

parched finger roots on limestone
see:

above the clay
careening

this Rock has a hold on me

as winds, storms buffet free pride
of trunk unbent:

steady in heat of day, laboring:
oh Lord my God, I thank Thee.


Image credit: Splitshire.com
Lillian at dVerse Quadrille (44 words) prompts us with the word "careen"
Click on Mr. Linky to join in!

Unbereaved (a haibun)

Frank at dVerse asks us to write a haibun (prose plus haiku) dealing with fear. Unlike the trumped up fear of Halloween games, there are real fears that children deal with at the hands of a parent, their childhood stolen. Perhaps years from now in their adulthood, one will thank you because you noticed and cared. 
Kathleen Munn, Composition (Horses), c. 1927

Nightmares when they roughshod ride primeval, cross cave walls and closet doors, charm no one, least of all you, appearing on site like a combative cow to remind me that when you gave birth it was in pain, a pain that didn’t end with birth. For you it won’t be enough that the shamanic horse runs wild torment across my plain features, flushed hot, now cold with fear, gaping at the undisclosed terrain of days yet unrun, populated by masked faces finding a home where I cannot. Flesh-like you appear to say, “I screamed bloody murder, you devouring me inside out, the doctor said, literally, you were eating me alive, like some malnutritioned demon-child, and I’m just a shadow of myself. To haunt you. In whatever caves you may roam. Gypsy-cursed.”

Have you seen a cow eat its calf? A hen pluck out its chick’s eyes? A mother hate her child? From where does this malformation derive than in red misery, bitter burning coals, stone-shaped eyes that glitter from the grave to shriek and shriek and shriek?

I fear you. But it’s not what you think. Though you’re dead your pain inflicts me. Your strained neck as you push onward defying all but gravity, defying the gods of nature to take from you the child you will punish because you can’t punish them.

steel-born heart in sheath
trampled plain of childhood’s corpse
nightmare by firelight

Assemblies of Mobs

image from Fortune magazine

Are you a member of a mob,
Is there a crowd you’ve joined?
Do you volley a round of jeers,
A record number aimed to mock
Those it crowns with contempt
To curry your crowd’s acclaim?

When mob zombies throw you a bone,
An IG, Twitter or a Facebook like,
Oh, how you preen with pride
As prowling for that perfect target,
A victim for your mob’s consumption
You deny it’s a wicked game.

Natural bullies, mobsters we
Who crowd to assemble hate
Shaming those with whom we disagree
In social media where we congregate
To acclaim the noble popularity
Of the monsters we create.

Like cartoon lemmings we march off
To follow them over the cliff
Buying the wicked conjurings
Sold by all the best,
Warding off independent thought
That bane of every crowd.

Are you a member of a mob,
Is there a crowd you’ve joined?
Your membership will last as long
As you make their idols yours.
But when the day is done you’ll find
Alas, the mob was not your friend.

“The Monster in the Woods”: Found in the woods near Washington, D.C.

--For Sammi's 13 Days of Samhain (volume ii) 
Day 3: "A Wicked Conjuring" prompt for October 22, 2021
--"The Monster in the Woods" photo for Cee's PPAC: #19: 
Photographing Public Art Challenge (PPAC)
Public art is encompasses any form of art you see in a public place, 
large or small, statues, murals, graffiti, gardens, parks, etc. 
The art should be visible from streets, sidewalks 
or outdoor public places.

Apple-spent (A Compound Word Verse)

An inch the moon moved, me eyeing
through sleepless lids I lay dying:
apple-fed.

Dim my sight, breath weakening
death’s poison ever strengthening:
apple-cursed.

Whispered prayers, hurried words of flesh
plead soul’s deliverance afresh:
apple-damned.

Darkness now floods the mind distraught
I would, I could, but I cannot:
apple-bent.

God’s Son whose flesh my guilt impaled
On cross for me o’er death prevailed:
apple-freed.

Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels
Grace at dVerse challenges us today to write a Compound Word Verse, an unfamiliar form to most ous I daresay. She writes: "The Compound Word Verse is a poetry form invented by Margaret R. Smith that consists of five 3-line stanzas, for a total of 15 lines. The last line of each stanza ends in a compound word and these compound words share a common stem word which is taken from the title. (In the first example below the stem word is “moon” from the title “Moonlighting”; the compound words related to the title are moondust, moonbeams, moonsongs, etc.)

The Compound Word Verse (3 lines) has a set rhyme scheme and meter as follows:

Rhyme Scheme: a,a,b
Syllable/Meter: 8, 8, 3

Click on Mr. Linky to read more and join in!

Memory’s Brew

Something haunting for the autumnal season; also a humorous one involving cuddly kittens, here.

photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Poetry
Word Count: 100

Memory’s Brew

Two shakers and ketchup
A pinch of salt, a dash of pepper
Dollop of sauce, a half mug of beer
Ice water for awakening
The dead will appear

The wine left in a glass
Holds a hint and a promise
Your laughter, “hold the pickle!”
Still haunts something wicked
Like you’ll never disappear

I will not cry when you come
Shed no tear as you sit down
But I will wonder anew
As my undead love for you
Refashions and reappears

Have I concocted a spell
Unearthed memories
Conjured a ghost?
Appearances deceive
In this deli, you live


Come along and join in with Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.
Rochelle asks that we use the photo prompt 
and limit our words to 100 or less. 
Click on the frog to read more stories.

On the Rudbeckia hirta

Gladsome we,
though our end be
to your eye decaying fury
our first blooms a surprising mystery:
purple-centered flaming glory
darkening to what you didn’t foresee
autumn’s legion embers a dreary
inventory.


2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Cee's Flower of the Day (FOTD) October 17, 2021:
check out her incredible photography.
Sammi's Weekend Writing Prompt #231 - "Legion"
write prose or poetry in 32 words using the above word.

An (Un)Earthened Riddle

I watched you go,
the empty sleeve of your coat
brushing my cheek long before
the final goodbye

on riddling ground
east of Eden, west of the moon,
where dead roam among the living
as infernal winds sweep through
like furies spitting over our destinies

in the wasteland where visions die
where banshees howl, half-formed men bay
round fires of Cain’s wandering offspring;
yet the eternal revelation, tri-folded,
goes forth to the hungry and the poor in spirit

on ground riddled with the treacherous dust of history,
walking as quickened ones, lilies of the field,
dandelions harboring the unsearchable riches of Christ
showing forth the unassailable purpose of God

as dumb to the world’s riddles, we carry on,
spinning out of bereft arms into shrouds
or across canyons of a diseased mind
losing each other to time’s grasp, till time stops,
and we, with joy unspeakable, walk on new ground.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com
Ingrid at dVerse's "Poetics: From a place of pain" asks us to "try your hand at writing your way out of a place of pain" which I have done combining fragments of poems from the past. Join us by clicking on Mr. Linky.

The Makarios Life: The First Beatitude (Matthew 5:3)

Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I’d been talking with her on the phone for quite a while. Now I had come to the end of myself, not simply physically weary, but spiritually. She was still anxious, overwrought, doubtful of her salvation, overrun with the voice of the Accuser undercutting the gospel she had known and believed for most of her life. Painful circumstances had brought her to the end of her rope. And I was at the end of mine, spiritual weapons blunted and defeat looming.

I was, in effect, poor in spirit. Impoverished, like the woman who said to Elisha: “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil” (2 Kings 4:2). Destitute.

But Jesus had said this was a characteristic of those in the kingdom. So I was good, right?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 3)

Blessed/Happy: μακάριος “makarios” mak-ar’-ee-os (Gk.)
– “blessed,” “happy,” “possessed of peace (shalom), well-being”
— in the Amplified Bible: “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions”

This is the very first beatitude, a statement of blessing. Jesus’ eight beatitudes are the dramatic opening to his teaching in Matthew 5, 6 & 7. The beatitudes are the tour de force of the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, consummate prophet, priest, king, knows how to grab the attention of his listeners by describing the happy, fulfilled life, the desire of every human being. He describes “the makarios life,” that is, the “blessed/happy life,” of those who follow Him. This life is available to every believer. The kingdom of heaven had already come with His appearance, even as it will come fully on the day He returns. As believers, we are citizens in His kingdom, and as kingdom-dwellers, we should possess all the qualities that the beatitudes describe.

The makarios life is the life of someone described in Psalm 11, and in Christ Jesus, we possess its qualities. So, as Jesus says, happy are we! And this first beatitude gives the foundational characteristic that leads to all the other attributes listed of the blessed life. Living the makarios life means we are first and foremost “poor in spirit.”

Well, I was certainly feeling my spiritual poverty on the phone with my desperately anxious friend. So why didn’t I feel blessed?

Simple. The kingdom of God is not a matter of feeling. It is knowing and believing and trusting that God’s word and promises are true. It is a matter of taking with both hands God’s revealed truth and turning around continually to Him, looking to Him, and relying on Him to provide for all that we need to apply that truth in our lives and our relationships. That is kingdom-living. That is happiness-producing. That is blessedness. That is the makarios life!

So I acknowledge my spiritual lack and gather the riches of the kingdom in Christ Jesus. And I give my friend what Christ gives me: His love.

Do you remember the song we grew up with as children, the one we taught our children? I ask her. We used to sing “Jesus Loves Me”?

Yes, she says.

Can we sing it together?

Jesus . . . loves . . . .

Her voice fades pitifully. I can feel her anguish, hear her cries of panic and uncertainty, powerless to hope, powerless to believe. She can’t bring herself to say “me.” Jesus loves ME.

She hardly has the breath to sing through her cries, so I sing it for the most part alone. She is silent while I sing. Listening. Then I ask her:

Can you, dear one, say “Jesus loves me”?

Patiently we repeat the words of the song. Simple words. Words at the heart of the gospel.

She stumbles many times, as if in unbelief at the immensity of the statement, that Jesus could love her, even her.

Yes, I remind her, Yes! Jesus loves you. Yes! Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones — us, you and me – to Him belong. You are weak and I am weak but He is strong. Say it, dear one: say, “Jesus loves me.”

And when at last she does say it, substituting her name for the “me,” it is as if another gate of hell had been broken through, and the Accuser driven back in defeat.

It is a moment of great victory. You see, the kingdom of God is ours, the poor in spirit, in the person of Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself on the cross for us. And He gives us the kingdom He won for us.

I am weak but He is strong. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Sister! Brother! Preach it to yourself, to each other. We are living the makarios life. Hallelujah!


1Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

The Day of Visitation

This week for Friday Fictioneers I took Rochelle’s Thoreau quotation to heart, to wit: “It’s not what you look at that counts, but what you see.” Apologies in advance, since I am in no doubt I am treading heavily on your patience as I take liberties with the purported speech of birds that speak in excessively lengthy portmanteau-like, compound words. For those interested, I was thinking of Mark 11:12-25 and Luke 19:44 when writing this.
Image credit: ©Roger Bultot
Join in the storytelling by clicking on the frog:

Genre: Prose/Poetry
Word Count: 100

The Day of Visitation

I did not know at all how to be, which way to live.

I came to wash on the shore, from city street wandered in, when spectacles lit, unfolded, slipped onto my nose, to where care had not brought down the voice so sweet of blackbirds and cuckoo:

(Stray)nger. SoreThumber.
Ins(hide)r. Persiflager.

Temple(ate) in winter, summer cocooned
Sing cuccu
1

Wrapt in(word) Word-horde strong
seed(l)ing is icumen
2

In(to)ward barren no(thingness)
Sing cuccu

Trinity, Three-in-One, God is.
love: creation, revelation, (re)creation

Light(sends word)Light(tabernacles)Light(sheds abroad)
Sing cuccu

Kingdom b(earth)ing on a cross
Imparts life over death

Stay stranger, stay in(side) Christ
Sing cuccu


1,2“The Cuckoo Song” – “Sumer is icumen in” – Middle English, mid-13th century: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer_is_icumen_in