Saturday, January 30, 2016

  "It is true, wicked men, instigated by the prince of darkness, often abuse darkness, and pervert it for the commission of acts of guilt and shame; but I see in it traces, which few suspect, of the hidden goodness and wisdom of God. Night, with its darkness, serves to cool and refresh the drooping plants, watering them with wholesome dew. It sharpens the sight by giving the eyes time to recover their optic power. It is of equal benefit to the mind. By day, distracted with the multiplicity of the objects presented by the senses, the mind cannot duly weigh them all; but night, wrapping the head in her black mantle, she secludes us from the external world, and gives it solitude and leisure for deep and calm reflection. Besides, what is darkness but a somber curtain which God in His kindness hangs about our beds, that our rest may be tranquil and undisturbed, while He who neither slumbers nor sleeps, keeps watch, like a mother over her child?
  Grant, O God, that when I awake in the night, I may think of you and employ my mind in contemplating your inconceivable goodness. And also, amidst the darkness, cause your light to shine into my soul."
Gotthold's Emblems.

Friday, January 29, 2016

  I have this interesting book titled Clifford and John's Almanac, written in 1920, and it's filled with little insights into the joy of living among nature and in simpler times. This attached piece speaks about the joy of beaten paths, and the familiarity of things that make up most or our joys. The picture above is fringed gentian: he references this and other flowers and natural things we love. The term, "hut happiness" refers to our homes. I've learned that addicts and complex trauma survivors, have great difficulty re-entering the natural rhythm of every day living. Their lives are filled with unexpected change.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

  There are people that may have little outward beauty or eloquence when compared to the lush and generous blooms that many have, and we may ask, 'What is their purpose in God's kingdom?' This quote by Ruskin speaks in metaphor, to those who serve a great purpose where others often wither.

  "The first time I saw the plant soldanella alpina, it was growing of magnificent size, on a sunny Alpine pasture, among the bleating of sheep, and lowing of cattle, associated with a profusion of geum montanum and rannuclulus. 
I noticed it only because it was new to me, nor did I perceive any peculiar beauty in its cloven flower. Some days after, I found it alone among the rack of the higher clouds, and howling of the glacier winds, and, as I described it, piercing through an edge of an avalanche, which in its retiring had left the new ground brown and lifeless, as if burned by recent fire; the plant was poor and feeble, and seemingly exhausted with its efforts, but it was then that I comprehended its ideal character, and saw its noble function and order of glory among the constellations of earth." 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

  I've noticed this one girl, maybe late twenties, coming to our meeting for the last three weeks. She was sitting off to herself last night and she seemed focused on what we presented. She has that, difficult to define, appearance that I see from time to time; I suspect she was on the streets for a while because she has that unkempt look, with a hollowness in her dark circled eyes, skin that has an ashen shade with just a hint of yellow in her eyes. I think it is the look of the I.V. heroin user, but I don't ask questions unless they lead. She had four tiny jeweled studs in what one could imagine was a pleasing face with health returned, but it almost seemed to me that she was hiding behind those tiny jeweled studs, two above her lips and two under. A shyness or maybe a cowering, like a beaten puppy; and yet I could imagine her cutting you with no remorse as she watched you bleed. Christ began to well up in me and I knew I had to talk with her. When the meetings are over it is chaotic with fifty people beginning to leave, conversations, laughter and commotion makes it a difficult time to have meaningful conversations but I went up to her and shook her hand. She looked at me almost as if she was expecting a scolding, maybe just hesitancy, and my mind raced to find a warm introduction. I looked at her sad appearance and said, "You look like someone that is gaining ground and going forward."  A smile began to spread over her face and she enthusiastically nodded her head and spoke a few words in agreement, not knowing where to begin and in the midst of chaos, I asked her if I could pray for her, and she said yes.

I began to put a hand on her shoulder when she turned into me and began to hug me. I had both hands on her shoulders and she seemed so frail, and just kind of wilted into me, very thin and it reminded me of the words on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Surely she was one of these, and the lamp of the Holy Spirit was bursting with light as I prayed words of hope, faith, expectation and the love of God that was bathing that moment in time as her eyes flowed with tears. These are the moments we pray for. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

 Jn.3:8 "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

  "Regarding instant conversions and forsaking of sin, it is quite true that instantaneous regeneration of the mind is not a common phenomenon, especially in the present day; but it is also true, that of all remarkable moral recoveries that do occur, (alas! too few at best,) almost all are of this kind.
It is quite true that the upward effort of the will, when it exchanges the madness of passion for the perceptions of reason, are toilsome and, if successful, long in coming; and if all transformations of conscience were of the deliberate and reasonable sort, philosophers could not say too much about their infrequency and slowness. But the process springs from a higher and more powerful source; the persuasion is conducted by some new and intense affection, some fresh and vivid reverence, followed, not led, by the conscience and reason. The weeds are not painfully plucked up by the cautious hand of tillage, reckoning on its fruits, but rather burnt out by the blaze of a divine shame and love. And sometimes the soul is vividly presented with some sublime object, that until then was veiled, but now the veil is pierced as by a flash from Heaven with an instant awe and veneration that is sometimes intense enough to fuse the fetters of habit and drop them to the earth from where they were forged.
 It is quite true that such a change cannot be expected, -- that to calculate on it is inexpressibly perilous; for the deeper movements of the soul shrink back from our computations, and refuse to be made the tools of our prudence, and insist on coming unobserved or coming never; and he that reckons on them sends them into banishment, and only shows that they are and must be strangers to his barren heart. 
The possibility and reality of such changes, we must remember, like all changes of the affections, they neither come at the direct command of our will, nor descend on those who watch for external influences to produce them. Now some go and try this and try that, and say, 'lo here!' and 'lo there!' But they find that 'the Kingdom of God comes not by observation." And if we are wanting to be holy for the sake of being happy, we can be assured of neither; unless first the crust of our selfish nature is broken by affliction, and bending the head upon the shrine of sorrow, the cry with a contrition that forgets to be happy, -- a cry that, it may be, the Divine Spirit will not despise." Martineau.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

  "Wretched and barren is the discontent, that quarrels with its tools instead of with its skill."
The tools represent our circumstances: the skill represents our character.
We make excuses for our behavior and blame our circumstances -- We say
'How gentle we would be, if we were not provoked; how devoted we would be, if we were not so busy; we would be patient, if we were not sick; we would do great things, but we will have to wait for a time of golden leisure, when confusion is to cease;
Life, to be set in order, is just unattainable in this season.' We act as if time and change should be our servants, and made to do the bidding of our conscience.

Once let a man insult the majesty of duty, by waiting till its commands shall become easy, and he will be disowned as an outlaw from her realm." Martineau.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I read a post on Facebook the other day, one of those short maxims we all get, and it talked about wanting to be around people that do things. That made me think, so I wrote this little poem about the kind of people I want to be around.

I want to be around people that --

Take the time to ponder, wonder and think,
Maybe try and express it, with brush or ink.

Muster up the courage to pioneer
Regardless how onlookers boo or cheer.

Battling the past with its demons and ghost,
By Christ's power, never in humans to boast;

Or trust or cling, though the fairest frame
    But humbly calling on Jesus name.

Folks that'll jump in the fray, till the battles won,
Or go down swinging after all's spent and done;

For faith, friend, stranger or duty bound
They won't give up till a solution's found.

Charting a course away from sloth or apathies
Agitating my heart with the highest sympathies.

Folk with vision and goals, be they large or small
That'll work with ambition whether they rise or fall.

I just want to be around folk that are doing things
For the good of man, whether paupers or kings

Veins filled with fire for the good and the grand

     To magnify Christ, in this sin laden land.