Creation’s Cathedral

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A Rainy Colorado Sunset

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” ~ Anne Frank

I found this quote online and wanted to share it because how true it is! There is not, in my opinion, any substitute to being alone with God. This alone time has been important to me my entire life. Both my parents worked through my childhood so, of necessity, I spent a great deal of time on my own and could sneak off into a field or tree and have time alone with Jesus once my chores were done. Now that I am older and know Him in a deeper way, that time alone with Him with the sky overhead our cathedral is of utmost importance.

So important, that years ago I wrote a poem about it.

Someone asked where I found You

So I sat right down and thought

Did I find You in my prayers?

Yes, but I know I don’t pray as I ought.

And did I find you in the written Word?

Yes and no, I said

For I don’t read it as I should

There’s so much to do instead.

I’m a miserable Christian! I exclaimed

And guilt was a heavy stone on my back.

But wait, where was I?

Oh, now I remember-

How did I get so far off track?

I banished the guilt, shrugged it off

Cleared it all from my mind.

I focused completely on thoughts of You

And left all others behind.

Where did I find You? I asked myself

I turned my eyes to the heavens above

I smiled with Joy as I realized I knew

All Creation testifies of your love.

Especially for me, it’s the skies themselves

That bring my heart closer to Yours-

When the sun rises and when the sun sets

I feel that my spirit soars.

The skies are alive with colors like flame

That swirl and bend in a dance.

Look up! You say, See what I’ve made

This will be your only chance-

For each one is different-not one is the same

What has been before won’t come again.

And each new sunrise and sunset that I’ve seen

Are more beautiful than the last ones have been.

I feel so privileged, so singled out

As I wonder how it could possibly be-

That You’ve been there waiting every day

To paint the sky new just for me.

So that’s where I find You-the works of Your hands

As all Creation attests to Your fame

For through You, by You, and for You all things are made

And I cannot but worship Your name.

Another Picture, Just Because

Living Water

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I submitted this poem to a magazine at the beginning of this year but, as they’ve shown no interest, I’m posting it here! This is also my first attempt at using the “Verse” option in the block editor…

Living Water

Your love is like water-
Life refreshing
Thirst quenching
Peace to my parched heart.
Your love is not hindered-
Steady rushing
Gently flowing
Joy to my mourning spirit.
Your love cannot be held-
Freedom rejoicing
Wild dancing
It slides through my tight-fisted grip.
Your Love must be known-
Full immersing
All surrounding
Live giving water to my soul.

Wisdom in the Psalms

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I have already mentioned my love of the Psalms. Whenever I pick up a new translation of the Bible, I turn to the Psalms to see how they sound. I am currently enjoying them in The Passion Translation and, in fact, read Psalm 32 after saving a draft of this post and, since King David was saying exactly the same thing I’m attempting to say here, have decided to move forward.

In my previous post I also mentioned how I find the wisdom to handle life’s problems in the Psalms. While I have no wish to discount in any way those Psalms not written by King David, his Psalms are the ones I find most instructional. This is because so much of David’s life is revealed in the books of the Old Testament. Though David did make many terrible mistakes, he knew who he was in covenant relationship with God and his Psalms teach me how to live as a Covenant Woman.

I recently had an opportunity to be deeply grateful to David and his Psalms. I transgressed, grieved the Holy Spirit, and would have despaired if I had not remembered King David. I’ll get to that transgression in a moment: I must first relate another transgression from years ago.

In this instance, I had been told certain things, believed them, and acted on that belief only to discover what I had been told was not the truth. Accusations fell upon me and my transgression would have been terrible indeed if I had acted with the motivation I was being accused of. I could have defended myself but to do so would have meant relating exactly what I had been told which would have caused much more pain than my actions had done. Instead, I sat silent and bore the invective poured down on me though it resulted in a burning resentment I carried with me for years afterward.

I must be clear: it was by the Grace of God that I stayed silent. There was nothing in me that wanted to. Two years later when I heard the first real call of God on my life (He was little more than a presence I struggled to understand and serve before this), I was grateful that He had kept me from making the situation worse. I did not have to bear that shame. As I started to move on the path God has set me feet on, He began to touch that resentment and anger I carried and nudge me towards forgiveness. I was willing to have Him work, of course, but didn’t think He had all that much to do in me. I could see how others had made no provision for my grief and there was no understanding for what I might be going through having just been through a car accident that altered my entire life. The way I, my family, and even a close friend had been treated during this time was far worse than any sin I committed and didn’t the balance of the scales of justice really tip in my favor.

God did not agree. There came the day when He decided to deal with this situation and His chastisement was upon me. There was no room for “but God, they-” as He dealt with me. How can I describe how this felt? I have heard many songs sung and teachers speak on “weeping in holy brokenness” like it’s this beautiful, gentle thing. It is beautiful when its over but, if being under the corrective hand of God is like a song at all, it’s the lead singer of a death metal band screaming into the microphone. There was no weeping. It was ugly crying, snot everywhere, shuddering and quivering, and I could only remain kneeling while He worked. King David describes it as “The pain never let up for your hand of conviction was heavy on my heart”. (Psalm 32: 4a)

God was not cruel, just determined, and He held me there until He’d finished making me clean. Then He poured His healing into me, soothed and comforted me. That feeling of being scrubbed clean and then filled with Himself made what I had experienced worth it. That is, until He told me to apologize. Me? Apologize? Yes. The choice was mine but He showed me how obedience led to a deeper experience of Him and disobedience led to stagnation and death. And so, I made the choice that was no choice at all, wrote out my no-excuses apology, stamped and mailed it. I have never felt any anger or resentment about this situation or the people involved since.

This was a deeply painful and humiliating lesson to learn. One would think I would take care not to do anything or disobey in any way that would result in my needing to undergo another session under the mighty hand of my Heavenly Father. But, I told you that situation to tell you this one. Only a few months ago I was in a situation where I wanted to defend myself against something I hadn’t done and take credit for something I had. I heard a resounding, echoing, “No! Remain Silent!” inside my spirit. Even so, I decided the opinion of the humans in front of me was more important than obedience to my God and I spoke the words He’d told me not to speak. It was a deliberate transgression and I felt an instant wrenching of the closeness between Him and me. Not that I had no sense of His presence because He didn’t leave me, just that I knew we did not have the closeness we’d had before I disobeyed.

I sat on the edge of my bed having no idea what to do. I remembered the first instance from years before but the two situations could hardly be compared. Then I had not deliberately transgressed and, even so, it had all happened before He’d really called me to walk with Him. Once I was truly in Christ, being made a new creation with old things passing away, there was no guilt or condemnation for my Before actions. This was After. I had deliberately disobeyed and, since I’d been walking with Him for years, I knew better. And, the Accuser was ready and able to begin speaking to me out of my mind. I could not deny my own thoughts: I knew I was guilty. I wanted to get back into that harmonious existence I’d had before I spoke the words, but how? I was sorry. God knew I was sorry. What could I do? The answer was nothing. There wasn’t anything I could do that would undo what I’d done: no specific number of prayers, no positive confessions, no readings, nothing I could do that could restore me to that sense of Oneness. I could pray until my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth and I knew He would accept none of it.

This is when I remembered King David. More specifically, his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. What a terrible thing and yet, when Nathan the Prophet came to him, David did not run and hide from God. Despite what he’d done and knowing he deserved to die for it, David fell directly on his face before God and later ended up writing Psalm 51. David knew who he was in covenant relationship with God and knew that, ultimately, nothing could separate him from God. I am a partaker in an even greater covenant in Christ Jesus and, if I believe Hebrews 10:12 (and I do), there was nothing I could do to make God forgive me. Jesus had already taken care of it.

That remembrance gave me the peace and strength I needed to once more confess my sin before God and know He was faithful and just to forgive me (1 John 1:9). This scripture is now real to me in a way it never was before. He IS faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me of my unrighteousness. He is not a sulking God who withholds Himself from me until I prove to Him just how sorry I am but even then keeps reminding me of my sin and how He has low expectations of me moving forward. No! That closeness was instantly restored. Again, Psalm 32 states: You forgave me! All at once the guilt of my sin washed away and all my pain disappeared! (verse 5b)

Does this mean I have a blank check for transgressions, so to speak? Of course not. I can’t put into words how it feels to know I’ve grieved the Holy Spirit except to say it’s awful and I don’t intend to do it ever again. Returning to Psalm 32 I read, “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you instructing you and guiding you along the pathway for your life'” so I can trust He will keep me. And, I move forward in harmony with Him thinking not that I have attained this ideal or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me…(Philippians 3:12, The Amplified Bible)

Wondering who you are in Covenant Relationship with God through Christ Jesus? Here are some resources which have helped me:

The Bible, of course! The Message is a translation in contemporary language

The Power of the Blood Covenant by Malcolm Smith

The Two Covenants and the Second Blessing by Andrew Murray

Individual Individuality

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They Look Like Many, Yet They Are One

I love words.

This is a good thing because, as both an avid reader and a writer, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about words, studying them, breaking them down, and finding that perfect word that says exactly what I want to say.

Finding that perfect word isn’t always easy because the meanings of words change. Language is as fluid as a river and meanings can change over time or be forgotten and a word is now used to mean one thing when it was, at one time, used to mean the opposite.

Take the word “individual”. I have always believed this word to mean and have used it in my writing to mean: single, separate, distinguishable from others, unique. This is how the word is used almost exclusively today. And, the definition is not wrong: my Webster’s New World Dictionary does offer up “existing as a single, separate thing or being” as the second definition of Individual. And yet, I was reading a teaching by J. Preston Eby where he wrote that Individual meant “not divisible”. I had to look that up and, sure enough, the first definition of Individual is indeed “not divisible; not separable”.

Which is the correct usage? Does the fact that the second definition is used the majority of the time render void the first?

Everything in me revolts against sameness. What do I mean by this? The best fictional example I can think of is in “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle where she shows her readers the planet of Camazotz (which, if you’re interested, is the name of a bat god from Mayan mythology) The people of Ms. L’engle’s Camazotz are ruled by a single mind and are forced to be exactly alike, down the the perfect bouncing of balls during play time. Anyone deviating from what IT has decided is the norm is harshly re-educated. On this world, the first definition of Individual is paramount in every negative sense of the word.

I see this pressure towards sameness in the real world. Why? I get that there is safety in numbers but, historically, it’s the odd man or woman out who makes the discovery, solves the equation, writes the novel, and composes the masterpiece. The Individual is important. While I do not claim brilliance for myself, I am aware that I am unique. There is no one like me. There has never been anyone like me. There will never be anyone like me. I am an Individual and I hold as precious my sense of being a unique being. This being so, do I then believe the second definition is more important than the first?

No. I believe both definitions are equally important because, while I fiercely guard my own individuality, I am aware that every other human being on the face of this earth is also an Individual: as unique as I am. I think J. Preston Eby says it best:

“We speak of ourselves as individuals. Someone says, “I am an individual.” By that he means that he is separate from everyone else. We think, “I’m not like other people. I’m me. I’m something different. I’m special. I’m unique. I’m an individual.” The English word “individual,” however, comes from the Latin word individuus meaning indivisible or not divisible. It’s not that which is separate — it’s that which cannot be separated! It means that if I am an individual I am not separate from the rest of humanity. I am simply a unique expression of everything humanity is! It’s not separation from; it’s identification with!”

Identification with. Not separate from. An Individual yet part of an Individuum. How are these two seemingly opposite definitions reconciled in me? How do I live with my certainty of my own value without feeling threatened by the equal value of my fellow beings?

One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 30:15 specifically, “in quiet and confidence shall be your strength.” I have meditated on these words and, while there are many nuances of meaning, I am convinced that these two attributes are essential to my living in peace with myself and with everyone else. When I know that I am an Individual-in the words of J. Preston Eby “a unique expression of the word, of the spirit, of the mind, of the substance, of the totality of the being of our heavenly Father”-I find quietness and confidence. There is no turmoil in my spirit because I know how my heavenly Father sees me and I don’t have to compete with anyone nor assert my individuality. Seeing myself as He sees me gives me a confidence that can’t be shaken by anyone or anything so I don’t have to regard my fellow humans with suspicion.

I guess that, ultimately, the word I’m looking for isn’t Individual after all. It’s Identity.

Strange gods

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One of my Mom’s paintings

Another post so soon! Thanks to my step-father’s dedication and a range extender, I have reliable internet again and, since I’d finished my poem…

This poem is inspired by Deuteronomy 32:12-13; a small segment of the Song of Moses which is another beautiful example of song/poems in the bible.

Strange gods

The trumpet sounded with the dawn and I set myself to roam

I searched for a meeting place-somewhere I could call home

I wandered far, both day and night, until I saw a golden dome.

Its beacon shone in light and dark and attracted a vast throng

I joined myself to them and learned to sing their lovely song

Yet came the day I found I was getting the words wrong.

Why this song?, I finally asked; “What’s all this repetition for?”

His voice is singing myriad-shouldn’t we all learn something more?

But they called me a blasphemer and they showed me to the door.

I walked until I found a group of people singing in the street

They greeted me, welcomed me, took me with them so I could eat

Once in their home they sat me and soothed my aching feet.

I set about becoming one with their song and with their creed

Yet they said I was not really like them not in word and not in deed

They could teach me to become so but to stay I’d have to bleed.

I like it here, I like your song, I want to stay with you

But you have the best in Jesus-what more can my blood do?

They said I’d seen no light at all and I had to search for someplace new.

I stumbled on until I found someone I thought I knew

She asked me to go with her-promised to show me what was true

We sat down at a table spread before a wondrous view.

The vista was incredible-the mountains had never looked so near

There was not a cloud overhead the air was cool and clear

There is no work for us, she said, but to eat while we wait here.

There was food that I had never seen and I was told to choose a treat

But there was nothing savory-no salt among the sweet

She told me to go elsewhere if I wished plain bread and meat.

I wandered into new lands but found no open door

Finally I collapsed with body, heart, and soul too sore

to rouse myself again-I could not take one step more.

In the darkness there He found me though I’d thought I was alone

He ministered Himself to me, restored me blood and bone

Then He bade me tell Him everything, all I’d seen and how I’d grown.

With faltering lips I shared with Him my lengthy tale of woe

I told Him how I’d sought Him and had found Him even though

His face, at first familiar, had become one strange I did not know.

The fault is mine, I said in close, I must possess a fatal quirk

There was no song I would not sing-no task I thought to shirk

So something must be wrong with me because I could not make this work.

Fear not, Dear Child, I’ve brought you here so finally you can see

My call was not to bondage-My call is to set you free

I’ve called you not unto a place but for you to walk with Me.

How can I know for sure?, I asked. On what do I depend

for certainty I’ve heard aright? That You will call me ‘Friend’?

Fear not, He said a second time, I’m with you to the end.

One more thing-I hesitated-when will this race be won?

I want to understand everything but they say it can’t be done.

Fear not, He said a third time, for you and I are One.

I stand Faithful. I stand True. I alone will lead

I will also walk beside you-I will meet your every need

I will slake your thirst with living water-on rock honey you will feed.

I put my hand in His and He lifted me up from the ground

and onto difficult and winding paths with His voice the only sound

I hear as we walk along and no more strange gods have I found.

Poems and Songs

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Hello Readers!

I finally have a post. Things have been going awry with my laptop and then my internet connection so I haven’t been able to get online long enough to post. I am working on a poem that occupied my mind during my last walk at the reservoir so, while I consider iambs and rhythm and rhymes, I thought I’d post about poetry.

Poetry plays an important part of my reading and writing life. The musician in me likes reading poetry and likes reading it aloud so I can hear the rhythm and beat the author chose. Reading aloud also allows me to attempt to feel what the author intends for me to feel. I do the same when I write poetry. I read my own aloud because every syllable is deliberate. I am composing rather than writing as I attempt to put together words and rhythms that paint not only a picture for my reader but introduce them to the song I am creating. One of my favorite poets is a master at this. When Edna St. Vincent Millay writes “nor yet a floating spar to men that sink and rise and sink and rise and sink again”1, I know how it feels to be adrift in the sea: overwhelmed, unable to set my feet on anything solid, struggling to keep from drowning.

I read poetry as a writer because of the pictures authors are able to paint with words. Sometimes there will be that perfect phrase that shows me how to put in words the image important in my fiction. One of the most sense filled poems I’ve ever read is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur. I can see myself lounging in a garden-without any mosquitoes and lumpy ground, of course- as Omar Khayyam writes, “Here with a loaf of Bread beneath the bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse-and Thou”2.

And then, I have found poetry to be the perfect medium for connecting with God. I feel what Rabia of Basra feels when she writes, “Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist…In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church that dissolve, that dissolve in God”3. I read her words and my heart knows it is so.

There are so many other poets whose works are on my bookshelves: poets whose works that span the ages. Emily Dickenson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Shel Silverstein (because silly verse is important as well), sit beside the Sagas of the Icelanders, Ovid, and Homer. I love that poetry has been a form of expression since before humankind wrote their words down. A cry formed in the human heart and found expression in poetry.

These poems often went hand in hand with music which brings me to my go-to poems: the Psalms. This collection of songs, prayers, and poems (my Amplified Bible even calls Psalm 16 a poem of David) are some of my favorite poetry. Whenever I pick up a new translation of the Bible, I immediately turn to the Psalms in order to hear these poems in a different way. A preacher I listen to recently said all of life is found in the Psalms. That made me turn to them again trying to read them with new eyes and I’ve found what he said is true.

Every expression of life can be found in the Psalms. Exaltation, Despair, Love, Betrayal, Longing, Fulfillment, Anxiety, Triumph: the gamut of human emotion is found in the Psalms. So is brilliant imagery. The writer in me reads and re-reads “Behold, (the wicked man) conceives iniquity and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. Psalm 7:14” and “He made darkness His secret hiding place; as His pavilion (His canopy) round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Psalm 18:11”. I don’t yet know how these mental pictures will end up woven into my fiction but I hold them at the ready.

As a person of Faith, the Psalms are a way I connect with God. Most of the time I go to them for that purpose rather than as a work of literature but I think they are that as well: some of the most beautiful ancient literature composed before Rome itself rose and fell.

  1. Collected Poems, Edna St. Vincent Millay. “Sonnet XXX”.
  2. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur. Translated by Edward Fitzgerald and Illustrated by Charles Stewart.
  3. Love Poems From God. Rabia of Basra. “In My Soul”.

Note: All quotes from the Psalms were taken from The Amplified Bible published by Zondervan.

Juxtaposition

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Despair

The Waters rage

I am cast adrift

With no buoy to tell me where I might be

Nothing beneath me to anchor me

I see nothing but the tempest

I wait for the eye of the storm

But there is no peace, no calm

I call out but no one hears my voice

This battle is lost-I will sink

For my strength already fails

And no hand is extended toward me

Hope

He is a Man of Suffering

He is Acquainted with Sorrows

He has felt all my pain

All my despair

All my anguish

Before I felt it myself

For I have been His

From the Foundation of the World

He strengthens me

I withstand the storms

For He has pledged Himself to me

And I am never alone

Walking in the Way

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Crossroads

I stood once at a crossroads with two paths laid before me

There were no signs to mark them or guides that I could see

To help me choose which path to walk and show me which way I should go

But I heard two voices call to me; one was Loud and one was Low.

The Loud voice called me one way and said great things to me

Promising to make me everything I thought I could be.

The Low voice said nothing more but to call me by my name

And I knew that if I chose that path I’d never be the same.

But what I would be I didn’t know and no promises were made

And as I stepped onto the first path I heard the Low voice fade.

The path I chose seemed bright and easy, the going never hard

And yet I often stumbled; I was bruised and sometimes scarred.

I did not turn back from the path that foolishly I’d chosen:

I threw my life away and my body was left broken.

I lay there on the path sobbing ‘midst my pain and shame

And then, oh so softly; I heard a Low voice call my name.

With gentle hands He lifted me and held me safe and sound

Next to His heart He healed me and I was no longer bound

To the Death that I had lived in for now Grace had been imparted

And though I knew He loved me; He set me down where I had started.

I stood at that same crossroads with two paths laid before me

There were no signs to mark them or guides that I could see

To help me choose which path to walk and show me which way I should go

But I heard two voices call to me; one was Loud and one was Low.

I now longed for the Low voice and determined not to fail

I stepped forward onto the path confident I would prevail.

But the Trickster lay in wait for me and seduced me with his lies

And while I thought I was obeying Him; it was the Evil One in guise.

I fell once more to my knees with shame and broken heart

Sure He would not take me back: we could not be more far apart.

That nothing between the two of us would ever be the same

But as my tears slipped down my cheeks; I heard Him call my name.

Once more with utmost gentleness He held me in His hands

Rescued me from whence I’d come and from my enemy’s plans.

He strengthened me, restored me, and though around me His love flowed

I found myself at a familiar place; having again to choose a road.

I stand once more at a crossroads with two paths laid before me

There are no signs to mark them and no guides that I can see

But I know the voices on them that call for me to follow

And I will not be led astray again; for those promises are hollow.

I will strive to hear that gentle voice that will never force nor trick me

But simply calls me further on to glories I can’t yet see.

I trust Him to keep my feet firm and stable as I walk

That He’ll be my provider; my protection and my rock.

I know that I will stumble and at times completely fail

But I trust Him to hold and keep me as I push along this trail.

But I proceed with caution for I never want to hear

Any voice but His; though others sometimes sound sincere.

I have walked the path that leads to destruction and despair

I want not to set foot on it again and so my deepest prayer

Is that He would give me Wisdom on how to hear His voice

To listen clearly and to always make the wisest choice.

I want to continue forward and never be sent back

To that starting place I find myself when I’ve fallen off the track

I want the choice I’ve made to keep me still when I might roam

With my heart and mind fixed on Him as His Love guides me home.

 

I See An Almond Branch

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almond-tree-4933573_1920

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

I thought I was weathering this quarantine fairly well.  Not that I haven’t struggled with worries and fears but I have sought to try and fill this time with positive things.  I have taken time to pray by myself and with others, I have increased the amount of studying I do, I have tested recipes, and I have focused on writing.  I have counted myself blessed to have a job that offers a few hours each week so, by focusing on essentials only, I have been able to face this time without panic and despair.

Until this week.  Everywhere I looked I saw images of angry, fearful, hate-filled people and every story I heard filled my ears with the same.  I was also dealing with a great deal of pain.  I don’t know what I did to aggravate my injuries but my pain has been intense.  It was physically difficult to get out of bed and it quickly became emotionally difficult as well.  I admit it.  I took my eyes off Jesus and saw only the terrible things being done everywhere in the entire earth.

The moment I did so, I was overwhelmed.  I saw how powerless I was to stop terrible things being done to people I know and love.  How much more powerless am I to help people I’ve never met?  I can’t even help myself.  I panicked and then I despaired.

I did what I knew how to do to fight.  I prayed, I read studies that uplifted and encouraged me, I tried to encourage others the best way I knew how even though I didn’t feel it myself, and I listened to teachings so my ears heard positive words rather than negative words.

My spiritual breakthrough came today.  I listened to Malcolm Smith’s webinar number 168 entitled “What Do You See?”.  Mr. Smith’s message is taken from the book of Jeremiah Chapter One verses 11 and 12.  The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah and asks him, “what do you see?”  Jeremiah replies, “I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree.” (Quoted from the Amplified Bible)  Mr. Smith then goes on to describe why this particular vision is important.

I do not seek to copy his teaching nor am I remotely qualified to attempt to teach on this passage myself.  I will add a link to the teaching at the end of this post in case anyone is interested.  I do seek to put into words why this teaching was of such particular joy to me.

The almond tree blossoms in late winter/early spring.  It is the first plant to do so and, as such, is the promise of the life to come in spring.  It is the tiny bit of life seen while everything else still lies in the grasp of winter.  I do not think I push the analogy to say it is the bit of resistance in the plant world to the death that comes in winter.  It is tiny but it is real.

This struck me.  I cannot deny terrible things are happening nor do I wish to turn a blind eye to another’s pain.  I cannot feel compassion unless I know pain myself and recognize it in another and I do not seek my own peace at the cost of ignoring another’s suffering.  I want to be able to fight against evil with actions of love but it is difficult to prevent all of these terrible things from piling up, one on top of another, until they are innumerable voices screaming in my ears nothing but hopelessness and death.  I can do so little.  There are days when I am in so much pain I can do nothing at all.  These are the days of despair when I believe I am alone-and alone who can do any work for good?-and I forget there are almond branch stories.

There are stories of great sacrifice; people that have laid down their lives in order to take care of a fellow human being and people that risk doing so because the love in them won’t allow them to act otherwise.  There are stories of giving; people who give all they have and then more because the love in them cannot rest while a fellow being goes hungry.  There are the most precious stories of all where people do return the evil done to them with love.  There are big stories and there are small stories like the story a friend shared of a little girl in her neighborhood leaving a May basket on her door step.

These are stories of love that knows no barriers and no limitations.  These are stories of brave souls who hurl that love into the maelstrom of chaos raging around us believing in the hope that love is the far greater power.

It is such a fragile thing, hope.  Perhaps it is much like the almond blossoms who dare to flower in the midst of cold and frost.  These blossoms speak with a still small voice but that voice declares a promise of spring: abundant life to come.  I read these stories aloud to myself and listen to others tell them so that my ears hear words of hope and promise.  These words help me to find the strength I need to do something.

Because there is more to the picture of the almond branch.  In its expansion of Jeremiah 1:11 the Amplified Bible states the almond branch is the emblem of alertness and activity.  Alertness and Activity, Kate; not panic and despair.  I see an almond branch and it tells me I am not absolved of responsibility because I’m tired and in pain.  Perhaps I cannot do anything big but I can do something that tells an almond branch story of my own even if only one other person hears it.  I can do so knowing I am not alone.  In this time, it might be one almond branch flowering here and another there while the world lies under the weight of winter but each one is a promise that spring is coming.

Malcolm Smith’s Teaching: it’s just under an hour.

What Do You See?

Gaining Strength As I Go

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After a two year hiatus, I am back to blogging!  Before I made Renaissance Woman public again I went through all of my old posts updating, checking links, deleting (a lot of deleting) and I found it apropos that my final blog post in April of 2018 was about making forward progress even if it’s at a turtle’s pace.  Two years later and the theme of that post is still valid.

The last two years have been fraught with difficulty.  My biggest obstacle occurred at the end of 2018: a major surgery I spent what felt like all of 2019 recovering from.  My neighbor described his wife’s last surgery to me and said it is a fight to come back from such a thing.  I agree: it felt like a battle and it became obvious early on it wasn’t one I was going to win in a day.  My first post-surgery walk went no further than the mailbox on the corner of my block which is an embarrassingly short distance.  I’d love to say I made more progress the next day but I didn’t.  My recovery was one of two steps forward, three steps back, and then at last four steps forward.

It took months but I finally walked a full mile.  I even took a trip to the mountains with a friend in July of 2019.  I admit I was grateful for late snow storms that kept hiking to a minimum as I had overestimated my ability.  Still, I’m never one to turn down a chance to be in God’s Creation and I didn’t collapse during our hike at Fish Creek Falls. I call that victory!

Falls Two

I had to learn to be gentle with myself.  I am still learning to be gentle with myself because I have found that six weeks might be enough for incisions to heal but the rest of me is on my own clock.  I can do nothing to alter the speed of this passage of time.  All I can do is surrender and take one day at a time one step at a time.  I still wear the turtle pendant I mentioned in the last post and it has been a tangible reminder to me that any forward movement, even if it is just one step, is better than stagnation.

Stagnation is a terrible thing.  When I think of stagnation in a physical sense, I think of my lymphatic system.  This amazing system running through my body is so important for my health and yet it has no ability to move itself.  What do I mean?  The lymph has no heart to aid it as it moves upward through my body to my subclavian veins and thus relies on the motions of the muscles and joint pumps.  I must move or my lymphatic system is unable to do its job and my immune system suffers.  This pumping of my lymphatic system doesn’t require insanely difficult exercises. (I always think of Tae Bo.  Is that still something exercise lovers do?)  All I have to do is move a little bit throughout my day.

I found this quote:

“Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, un-rhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.” ~ Bruce Lee

I think that’s beautiful.  “Things live by moving and gain strength as they go”.  There isn’t an aspect of my life I can’t apply that to: especially writing.  Writer’s speak of the flow of words and so I write to keep that flow constant.  I will write here on this blog, in my journal, in my notebooks, in my manuscript (manuscripts now-I had to put my series aside to conduct research on a few things and I’ve been working on a stand alone book since April of last year).  I write, I walk, I move to keep stagnation at bay.  I seek merely to gain strength as I go.

River