Surprised by… Peace

I awoke this morning with a strange sensation of contentment and peace. A childhood of terror mixed with abnormal norms, sprinkled with saving graces of diversion, topped with something close enough to love when it was available, yielded a dandelion heart within me. So many wishes on the wind…

What a gracious gift is Time, if you’re doing it right. What a surprise is Peace, when it arrives seemingly unbidden.

I consider it a volley against the coming Night.

40 Days of Rest From Politics

2Chron 7:14

The kingdoms of this world shall pass away, each in its time. Let the world turn without my comment on its politics. For Lent, I shall seek wisdom, pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for our own nation, and refrain from thinking the world can’t survive unless I’m in charge of it. I may post occasionally on other, more beautiful things or thoughtful ruminations.

For those who observe Lent, may you be blessed in your disciplines. May you find strength in denial and a deeper meaning in your faith.

The rest of you? Don’t shut up! Keep the pressure on the criminal gang in D.C. and know that there are quieter strengths that move mountains, and they have your six.

“Voting Won’t Change Things”

I like the discussion started over at Improved Clinch. John has a fine mind and is a gentleman of the first order. He is very welcoming of ideas and discussions and I find his blog to be a place as cool and refreshing as a mountain stream. Which is why I am dismayed to take issue with his stance on voting.

Neanderpundit’s Og, also a gentleman to the gentle (and a marauding hulk to the untoward), has taken up the scent of something he doesn’t like about it, given the bay, and has also posted his thoughts.

Is the game rigged? It certainly is stacked to the house’s favor. If it’s rote symbolism, does it still carry power as a symbol? Does refusing to “play the game” make you a winner or a loser?

My own thoughts, for what they are worth, I’ve posted at both sites, and now here:

“Voting won’t change things.”

We’ve had 100 years of progressives with a very long vision, a patient vision of incremental changes, incremental votes that have brought us to this place. Granted, it could not be done without the willful education of our media and our children, but that too, was incremental.

Patient Lilliputians are bringing down the Republic. I can agree that my vote on any day will not break my country free from the thousands of strands that hamper it. But I would put forth that 100 years of comfortable blindness in the name of “reasonableness” and “tolerance” and “I can’t be bothered, I have work to do,” have brought us to where we are.

To vote, as a free man, for one’s choice is really the first level of participation in a mutual society’s blessings and curses. To abstain is, to my mind, to withdraw from the purpose of our mutual cohesion. I cannot trust one to act for the common good, then I cannot trust him in the trenches when things really go south. One has already demonstrated a willingness to preserve his own vision first and foremost.

The little foxes spoil the vineyard. The little thoughts of self-regard, of private pride, or fanciful glories.  Because we have no stomach for the long haul, no long vision for our progeny, we often overlook the unseen curse of the “rugged individualist” that we vaunt as our demi-god. We will not bow the head, accept our commonness, and seek the good of our fellow man. We leave him in the ditch and go off, justified.

Some won’t vote, but still think they’ll be all “death and glory” when the barbarians are at the gate. That’s as may be, but I’ll trust the plodding heroes of the small things as my backup long before I’ll throw in with those who abstained in some imagined grand gesture.

I mean no personal offense, but since we’re airing private convictions, I add mine, knowing they tell far more about me than I likely intend. May we all find ourselves to be better than our words.

So, to vote, or not to vote? What significance does it hold for you?


Vote Ess-em-are-tee

Sunday Gospel: Temptations.

[Updated post below.]

Matthew 4:1-11
1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

5Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘ In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” 7Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'”

8Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” 11Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. — NKJV

Per Og’s request: discuss in the comments. I look forward to joining you later today.

Spell-bound. There's a hint.

[Updated with my own thoughts here:]

This passage always puts me in mind of the T.V. show, Bewitched.  We have come light years from such innocent playing with fire, and I fear we’ve gotten burned on the way. But what stood out to me then, and now, was that Darrin did not want her to use her powers to gain an unfair advantage in life’s quotidian trials. How that made my young little mind think at night: how cool would it be to just wiggle one’s nose and have everything go your way? Why is Darrin being so insistent that Samantha not use her powers, even for good? I wonder if the show’s writers were even aware of the effect their ploy was working on young minds seeking moral guidance, but mine was such an one.

It seemed right, however. It was a given, back in those days. No need to draw any comparisons with our current celebration of the concupiscent  except to say, good thing Darrin wasn’t a  Union thug.

The third temptation seems the easiest to process: Jesus knew who His father was, and he knew what He came to earth to do. Had He forgotten his heavenly realm after 30 years on earth?  Does His answer suffice for you when you are tempted with earthly riches? The Tempter may as well have assured me of a tenured position at a university. There’s more to it than that, but it’s like winning the lottery: kinda hard to imagine those sort of riches.

The second temptation is about faith and ego and what we would consider to be invisible agents of heaven. We are told that angels came and ministered to Jesus afterward– was that their first manifestation in His earthly walk? Was he being tempted to show off, as some suggest, or was it more an aspect of making Him guess His calling and anointing; more of a point of forcing Jesus to prove His relationship with the Father? A tougher trial it would seem to us.

The first is the Bewitched temptation: no harm, no foul, no one has to know, it’s a human need, after all and the fast was over. Why not just waggle the finger and say a few words and be done with it?  Apart from Jesus’ answer, what would have been the moral wrong in doing for Himself what he freely and gladly did for the multitude?

Sail In The Light You Have

Sometimes you need to look behind you to realize that even as the light is fading, there is still much beauty all around:

Looking back, the view is pretty good.

I don’t want to spend every day railing at injustice and theft. I don’t think the Creator, who cares more about it all than I can imagine, would look kindly at his children groaning under a burden He is all too ready to lift for us, if we’ll just rest from it for a bit.

Thieves will come soon enough to steal it all, but I have a bit of theft in mind, myself: to steal a golden moment when possible, wrest a blessing from an unruly angel, risk the loss of some transient things for the gain of less tangible joys.

A large portion of folks are participating in a frenzied search today, in the waning economic light of consumerism, to buy things that will end up by the curb all too soon. I don’t knock the practice or pretend to be above it. The thrill of the bargain, the found treasure, that perfect something within grasp is a common enough thread to pull on. So permit me a moment to sail on that reach and see where it leads. It won’t take long:

There are no Black Friday specials in life; you have to lay hold of the good things as they come: a lazy afternoon, a fish on a line, a song that brings back memories, the real joys of family and moments with them. Those are the heirlooms of Life, the precious legacies that grace our grateful neck before its asked of us by some job, some duty, some obligation.

If you can see your way through the dimming light of Truth, find the door of Heaven and bust through it with the same festive desperation and thrill-seeking abandon. Why, there’s bargains like you can’t imagine, all you have to do is expect to find them.

Stock up. Time is running out.

Time was.

Deep nights are upon us now, as the artificial time change makes the Southern seasons turn abruptly into Autumn. Dryly welcoming a jet stream of polar chill, the leaves fall without so much as a fare-thee-well or a hint of their colorful drama; shocked into submission to a greater and more abiding sense of time and change: the solar minimum.

And time was when a body could count on the rhythmic dynamic of the changing sameness. We marvel today at the exquisite aptitude of the builders of Mayan temples and pyramids, obelisks and homages in stone hewed from the solid heart of the earth. We cannot fathom that navigators crossed endless oceans with nothing more than a quotidian sense of how things happen and where. We never stop to consider a man arising before the dawn, seeing the rote rotation of each star in its place. It was as ingrained as our “times tables” of old. A man’s place in a bigger place was all one needed to know to conquer his universe.

This mucking about with artificial constructs of day and night only serves to remove us yet further from the real meaning of time. Its clunky, linear quality fills our day, if we let it, with watching it pass instead of moving through it as our ancestors did, secure in the seasons of their senses as they were walking the light they were given.

We are not made to be yanked about like this. Even the most citified and urban of us find ourselves chafing at the forced change. It’s welcome in longer days of summer but brutal in winter; brutal to have the night thrust into the middle of things we were still doing at this hour.

A longer night will come for each of us. Best not to hurry it. But as long as we find ourselves helpless to change the seasons we may yet find a way to brighten the gloaming with a last hurrah: for us last night it was a quiet bonfire with friends. We fed them a dozen different cheeses and meats, saluted them with chilled libations, and drew them in with warm wine and conversation.

All to make us glow just a bit longer into the longer night.

Happy Easter in Black and White

It’s an interesting color scheme for Spring, this fad of black and white. As we grow older, time seems to narrow our world out of the billowing, diaphanous gray of inattentive thinking and into the solid realities of right and wrong. We find that the bills come due, physically, emotionally, financially, just like we were told– and ignored– a thousand times, a hundred lifetimes before now, today.

We owe more than we are owed when it all comes down to it. And it’s coming down to it more rapidly than expected. It’s always that way. The bright sun of remembrance, of things abiding fast and True suddenly arises in our heart and the fog lifts. The eyes sting a bit. So long has the gloaming night lasted that we were able to see our way quite easily as long as our way was short and well-traveled. We imagined ourselves quite the expert on how to get from here to there.

Now, the light almost cripples, it washes out unimportant details at hand and reveals the landscape beyond our here, toward a hereafter. It leaves us stumbling in its brilliance while we reorient our perception to a farther horizon. How did we miss that abyss? Why didn’t we mire in that bog, so close we walked beside the dangers without realizing it!?

If you’re reading this far, it’s likely you’ve made it to the happy revelation that you did not get to here from there on your own. If you lift your eyes just a bit more down the road ahead, you’ll see those ahead of you who left little clues, documents, maps and useful advice that you barely heeded. It was enough. And enough is all any of us need to make our way. Enough is a world of wonder and peace when the dark doubt clouds our way.

On every Sunday we are bidden to pray for departed souls, those now in the full light of the Dayspring. I can only think they are likewise, praying for us.

Walk in the Light you have. May Easter’s promise dawn bright and true for you and yours.

“For the path of the righteous is as the Light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full Day.” Prov. 4:18