Archive for the ‘Like a Rock’ Category

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Ashes to Ashes: A Musing on Lent

February 20, 2007

 

Hashata hakha, l’shana haba b’ar’a d’yisrael;
Hashata avdei, l’shana haba bnei chorin.

 “This year here, next year in Israel!! This year slaves, next year free men!” (Jewish saying at Passover)

Human beings are amphibious creatures, created for eternity yet existing in linear time.  Thanks in no small part to the Industrial Revolution, it is easy to confirm that, at least in the West,  we are chained to the hands of a watch moving inexorably onward.  Even a century ago this was not so; planting would begin when leaves reached an approximate size and the workday would end around dusk.  Modern man, on the other hand, has life scheduled to the second (and wonders why he is under nearly constant pressure!).  We were not intended to live that way, faced with instantaneous change conflicting with an ingrained desire for stability. 

Think about why one of the most effective methods of torturers throughout history has been to deny their victims any sense of the true passage of time.  Separate man from knowledge of the season, day, or hour and he is lost and easily broken.   Call it circadian rhythms if you will, but we long for both transition and constancy.  Thanks be to our God, who has perfectly balanced the two.  It will be spring again, but always a *new* spring.  Feast and famine are balanced too, an apt reminder as we move towards the Great Fast of Lent.  If it was always winter but never Christmas, there would be no expectation or pleasure and life would be constant drudgery.  On the other hand, one cannot appreciate feasting without a sense of what it means to be deprived.  Judaism and liturgical Christianity allow for both, just as it should be.  When Jews celebrate the Passover, their joy in the Lord’s mighty deliverance is tempered by reminders (such as the maror, or bitter herbs) of the misery of slavery.  It is significant to remember that Christ’s last meal was a Passover seder as he both fulfilled all of the Passover customs and made them new by instituting the Lord’s Supper on that night. 

Lent must give way to Easter, sorrow to joy, but our joy is not yet complete.  Next year we may be free, but for now we are slaves, slaves to sin, slaves to this physical world.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus; because of your resurrection we hope to celebrate the Passover meal together with you once more in the New Jerusalem, ha aretz Yisrael

Read the rest of this entry ?

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The All Cat Food Diet

October 23, 2005

Mood: Lonely
Song: "Friends" by Michael W. Smith

Since my dear friend is currently on a plane heading 7,000+ miles away at this very moment, I shall fulfill my promise and give her daily updates on the nonstop excitement that is my life. This is for you, Mircat.

Today I arose with every intention of arriving on time at Open Arms Wesleyan, this time with a worshipful attitude (those who I have spoken with will understand the particular situations going on at my church). Alas, like all good plans mine was sidetracked.

I went to find my car keys so that I could leave only to discover that Charles had accidentally taken the keys with him to work (they were in his pocket from last night and I forgot to get them from him). This would, of course, be only a minor inconvenience if I had my spare keys; unfortunately, they were left at Mom's last night. So, right now I'm sitting on my couch holding my own version of a Sunday service. Naturally, an integral part of the Church Universal is the fellowship. This blog post, since it is going up in cyberspace, is sort of my attempt at connecting with my fellow believers.

Speaking of which, I am at a phase where I have felt like many of my most essential relationships are in transition. Certainly (and understandably) my relationship with my mother is changing as it should now that I'm a married woman. Thank heavens Charles's schedule will change as of Nov. 1st. I work Mon.-Fri. and he's been working Fri.-Mon., making our time together precious but rare. Last Thursday I received a wonderful present: my cousin Evan is in town from Boston. He and his friend James came over and the four of us played a rousing game of Axis and Allies (a WWII strategy game). Ev had just purchased a new verision which actually differentiated between the fighter planes for each country. My clever husband was actually able to guess exactly the model of plane each represented just by looking at the small, plastic model. He was absolutely right every time. I was duly impressed, since I'm lucky to tell a B-52 bomber from a "Lightning".

Have a pleasant Sunday, my friends, and let me know how you've been. I've felt woefully out of touch lately.

Mircat, here's the quote of the day:

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~St. Augustine

Blessings on you, friend, as you embark on your own tour of our Father's library :).

****** Continuing on the spiritual vein of this post *********

Currently in my blue mini iPod? Why, Newsboys's Adoration C.D., of course ;). I believe we're almost at Reformation Sunday, and this song is both fitting and, to me, meaningful right now.

"In Christ Alone"

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me

From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

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From the Desk of Grapefruity Snicket

March 11, 2005

Mood: Shattered, not stirred and completely empty
Song: Amazing Grace (my beloved Mr. B's favorite)

If you're looking for my typical good cheer and frivolous word play, read no further. You have many other, better things to do than read this posting full of miserable musings. It is my suggestion that you step away from your computer immediately and run to your nearest Starbucks (or, as my fiancee would call it-the closest branch of the evil corporation) and fill up on vanilla chai lattes instead. Complete a paint-by-number Monet. Bathe an alpaca even. What I have to relate isn't pretty, but it's very real and pressing.

It's inconceivable to fathom how life can change in a matter of days…hours even. Last Saturday, my stepfather, the man who basically raised me since I was twelve years old, passed away. It was his 54th birthday. His homegoing was as unexpected as it was swift (an electrical problem with the heart, based on information my family has received). His memorial service was this evening, and needless to say my mother and I (I'm an only child)have been living moment by moment for the past week.

My mentor teacher, to put it mildly, is PHENOMENAL. Not only has she taken over classes for this week so I can help sort through necessary paperwork and stand by my mother as she makes arrangements, but she has gone far beyond any call of duty. I won't tell you all of it, since tear splatters and the circuits of my keyboard don't seem to mix well, but I will say that she had each and every one of my classes sign a card for me which I will treasure for the rest of my life. It's funny *ironic, not "ha ha"* that a person can remain strong through the most challenging situation imaginable but mere words will reduce the knees to a pile of peach jelly and cause the eyes to well up. Their messages were poignent and their sentiments sincere. You never know how much people care until a situation like this arises.

Forgive me, but my heart is so full these days and my mind so scattered words are not as free-flowing as in former time. I did, however, begin to compose a sonnet (is anyone who knows me REMOTELY surprised? What can I say? A name like Juliet has to earn me a certain amount of cred, right?

In Memorium Bear Sorensen, my father in every true sense of the word, who, with incomparable patience, led me to trust that my Heavenly Father is indeed good, true, and loving. He taught me to ride a bike and drive a car (his most daunting challenge), and my mind still fails to grasp that in two months, when I walk down the aisle, his hand will not be there to steady me. I know he gazes now upon Mercy Himself, who has said to him, "well done, good and faithful servant". Father, I thank you for the life of your servant shared with us for all too short a span. I imitated him in my clumsiness as he mirrored your perfection, and I cannot believe that I will never again behold him in the body. Comfort your children, Lord; be a husband to the widow and a father to the orphaned. Your grace sustains, but the pain is deep, as you yourself understood when you wept with Mary and Martha at the death of your dear Lazarus. "I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it. But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand. for I believe this also, that 'unless I believe, I shall not understand' [Isa. 7:9]" (Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion 87).

The question rings across the darkened ages: WHY? In its very simplicity it is deceptive, and that single utterance has the power to contort the mind. I have no answer, and "eyn shalom": there is no peace. The rest is silence.

For those who love me, set heart and mind at ease-the Lord who calmed the storm can anchor the heart of his child as well. "Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning'. Recognize that, for right now, life sucks. Love and comfort in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-Good night.

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Don’t Leave Home Without It: Adventures in SAT Prep

December 1, 2004

Posted on an ASU discussion board for one of my classes recently:

Timed Essay: 2.5 hours
Composite Math Score: 550
Composite Verbal Score: 580
Accommodations for those with disabilities: PRICELESS
Sorry all, I couldn't help myself.

Just thought I'd share 🙂

Mood: Bemused
Song: On a different note (different KEY, even) we're entering the season of Advent-Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel!

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Words, Words, Words, with some Cooking Advice thrown in for Good Measure

November 29, 2004

Mood: Bemused/Thoughtful
Song: "Always a Woman"-Billy Joel

Shhhhh…

What I am about to reveal in this posting could brand me a traitor to my gender:

When will guys ever learn the fundamental truth that the biggest turn on for women (coming, of course, from someone whose life is still PG-13 until May 28th 🙂 ) is an emotional connection? I know, we all are aware of this and it is even the subject of many jokes; however, the fundamental principle remains. Anything physical becomes even more *indescribably* wonderful when in the context of a meaningful relationship built on mutual trust, respect, honesty, and honor.

I'm not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination (I'm actually quite conservative), so don't start burning any undergarments yet, ladies. On the other hand, I understand now why communication is so essential. Sadly, I am convinced that many males have no concern for what we're thinking or feeling, becoming almost totally focused on having thier own needs met.

Let me use a fishing analogy (borrowed from a book I'm reading entitled Love is a Decision)

If you want a perfect cast every time, it's important to take care of your reel so it will be working when you need it. Any deep-seated issues in a relationship will show up physically first. This makes sense, when you think about it, since those needs fall at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy. The relationship in the above metaphor, of course, is the reel (minds out of the gutter, please 🙂 ). Honestly, I think that women fundamentally desire security, and I know more people than I care to mention who have gotten into trouble to ensure the rug isn't pulled out from under them. Men, on the other hand, are often about ego (not in a bad way…we all need a well-developed sense of self).

Here's MY "taxicab confession"-

I HAVE TRUST ISSUES

*whew* I'm glad that's said 🙂 🙂 :). We can't excuse our problems by blaming them on our parents (sorry, Sigmund Freud), nor can we use the old standby line, "That's just the way I am." Confession starts by taking ownership upon understanding the gravity of what we have done. I'm leading a Bible study on Genesis, and in a recent lesson we read about Abraham's deception of the Philistine king Abimelech when he told Abimelech that his wife Sarah was really his sister. When confronted, Abraham initiated a rear-covering maneuver by saying, "Well, actually she really IS my half-sister. She just happens to be my wife as well". Sidetrack??? I don't think it is. The patriarch wasn't being completely honest, and I discovered this weekend that I'm not usually honest even with myself.

A small issue on Wednesday turned into a big issue; Charles, unfortunately, had to bear the brunt of it. I was upset, but I didn't know how upset I was until later. Thus, I told him everything was fine (and I thought it was), but when he was on his way to see me I realized that I really was bothered by it.

It must have been extremely hurtful for Charles to realize that the person he loves ends up pulling away or holding back because she doesn't count on you to be there for her or follow through. Of course, I don't count on anyone to be there (not without cause, mind you). This weekend I had to confront myself, and the sight turned me to stone. I wish sometimes I had the ability to erase the past, to return to a state of innocence and trust. Unfortunately, the ghosts always remain, like Hamlet's father rising from their Purgatory to return and stir me to act.

My relationship history is spotty at best (one genuine relationship that ended VERY badly after being a "yo-yo relationship" for years, and one "friend" who turned into a stalker [Direct Quote: "You know, there are lots of places outside your house where someone could hide and you'd never even realize it"] *involuntary shudder*). The tragedy of it all was that for so long (and probably still today), I thought I deserved to be used-my ex wanted me to step into the sidelines as soon as he found someone else, then when that didn't work, he'd intentionallty get my hopes up again just so that he could gratify his own wants. My mother is still friends with the parents of my ex, and in a phone conversation his mom said to mine, "Oh, yes, he's trying to convince M. (his wife) to come to the wedding". My first thought: Oh, gee, I thought people actually wanted to be INVITED before planning to attend an event :P. Unacceptable! The tragedy is, I never told either of these two individuals (the ex and the freaky stalker) how much they hurt me. Not that it would have made a difference to either of them, but I'm just beginning to become unfrozen again.

I want to be a woman of high moral character, but I am also aware of every minute flaw-if I were to paint my picture, I could etch in every line and crease.

The worst of it all is that I still absolutely blame myself. Under the mercy alone can I hope to stand.

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Grazzie

November 22, 2004

This post begins my list of "gratefuls", to be continued throughout this Thanksgiving week. I'm sure you already knew this, but Thanksgiving wasn't officially a national holiday until the Civil War, when Lincoln set the last Thursday in November apart for remembering.

In all ways, Thanksgiving was a time to express gratitude to God, from whom all blessings flow (note the use of the objective case for the preceding pronoun) and thus I begin (this is the lit major in me) with a poem.

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine–
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget.

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!

Far called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!

If drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law-
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget-lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valient dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word-
Have mercy on Thy People, Lord.

Rudyard Kipling
"Recessional"
1897

I am, above all, grateful that my Lord, who has no reason to take notice of me, poor and weak as I am, has seen fit to love me. His love is all-consuming, undeserved but demanding all, but he is gentle, oh, so gentle.

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Pistis, Elpis, Agape

October 6, 2004

Mood: Instructional
Song: Tourniquet (Evanescence)

"But now faith, hope, and love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love" (I Corinthians 13:3)

Let's just deconstruct that idea in light of upcoming (and recent) events.

Observation number 1:

R. is coming in tomorrow, and although I look forward to seeing her, I am now entering that type of stress zone where you know if you just thought about the amount that needed to get done in a single night the fear would become paralyzing. I haven't had this type of experience since my first semester back home. Bad doesn't even begin to describe my near (okay, pretty much) nervous breakdown. I can't help but wonder if that last statement is akin to being sort-of dead or kind-of pregnant :).

Thus henceforthly (see, I'm a proper English major-I use transitional phrases 😉 😉 ;). Mircat will be so proud of me)…

I am typing in an effort not only to avoid the astronomical workload awaiting my arrival at home but also to focus my thoughts in more positive directions.

What are the meanings of Faith, Hope, and Love?

Here's what I know~

FAITH:

According to Hebrews 12, it is, "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Let's break that down, shall we (like a proper Torrey socratic [more on that later]). In other words, some situations require a tremendous leap. Even Job never found out why he was suffering-just the presence of God (theophany, for Pastor Julie) was sufficient. His strength in our weakness-that's faith. Abram/Abraham, the subject of my ersatz Sunday School class, demonstrated as much when he left all he knew, striking out for the land of promise only because of the Word of God revealed to him. Would that he were as obedient ALL the time…. Dante saw faith as white, as did Spenser. In The Fairie Queene, faith is personified in Fidelia, holding a chalice "With wine and water fild vp to the hight, / In which a Serpent did himselfe enfold, / That horrour made to all, that did behold; / But she no whit did chaunge her constant mood: / And in her other hand she fast did hold / A booke, that was both signd and seald with blood, / Wherein darke things were writ, hard to be vnderstood" (1.10). The cup of faith holds many dark mysteries, some horrible; however, true faith is not altered. The locked book ties in to Paul's idea of the mirror, whereby we see only dimly the truths of God. Faith and hope must be partners, for hope alone can make us hold fast to belief even when it seems impossible. When I searched in the OED (oldest usage: n=300; v=1430), faith was both noun and verb; it is LIVING, ACTIVE even.

In Hebrew, the closest we come is "batach", to trust in something because of its intrinsic authority. Latin uses "fides", Greek "pistis" (note to self-ask Julie later)

HOPE:

If faith is a deep chasm into which we throw ourselves, hope (besides being Dr. Reynolds's wife, the "fairest flower in all of Christendom") is an anchor. Dante has her arrayed in green, symbolic of the promise of new life. In Spenser, she is Speranza, bedecked in blue attire. Like her elder sister, she is the daughter of Humilty. Now we Christians often think of humility as something vapid or self-demeaning; to the contrary, true humility shines as a brilliant beacon, ablaze with power and authority. Hope allows us to remain positive when the world around us is obliterated in a single stroke. Hope has assurance because it involves expectation. We realize that we have been promised and the one who spoke is faithful to fulfill it. Hope too necessitates action, since if we are hopeful our very lives will demonstrate that hope. Christians are told to "give an answer" for the hope that rests within us, and that requires careful study (the intellectual in me comes out). Hope will always rise, a welcome visitor in dark despair.

In Greek, the word is "elpis" or "elpidos", in Latinate languages "speranza" or "esperanza"

Love:

i.e. Charity, a flame that purifies in its intensity. There are so many words for love in Greek, but "agape" love is the love our Father has for his children: undeserved and often unrequited. Love can exist between many people and there is no better description than 1 Cor. 13 to prove that love is a verb. True love is often mistaken for lust, its counterpart. Dante points out that love's only proper object is God; any perversion (pride, envy, and wrath), deficiency (sloth), or excess directed towards another object (avarice, gluttony, and lust) is equally abhorrent. Our baser passions cannot begin to compare. When we love, in the words of C.S. Lewis, knowing that we are all superflous, that is charity's begining. It is not through worth that we merit love, but neither is love equivalent to pity. Love desires (and expects) the best of another person; it is perfected in mutual submission. Born of Humility as well, love (Charissa) is fertile; it produces perpetually. It exists in relation to others, and according to my thesis it can exist in friendship (despite the disapproval of Massinger 🙂 ). Courtly love is one expression, but it too misses the mark. In the end, love must die that it may be purified and reborn. False loves are many, and some are as easliy mistaken for Love Himself as brass is for gold.

LOVE NEVER FAILS

Love is also known as "charitas" (Latin)