Monday, September 30, 2013

The Cross in Amazing Grace

I was asked to take photographs of a recent celebration of the 75th Jubilee Anniversary of a little parish nestled in our valley.      St. Elizabeth of Hungary in John Day began its journey in 1938 and has persevered in faith these past 75 years.  I did a little study on St.Elizabeth, namesake of the church, who was born in 1207 and died at the young age of 24.  The condensed version is that she was an exceptional woman of God, who gave up luxury to tend to the poor and sick.  She is generally represented as a princess graciously giving alms to the wretched poor or as holding roses in her lap.  In the latter case, she is portrayed either alone or as surprised by her husband, who, according to a legend, met her unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy and the bread she was trying to conceal suddenly turned into roses.  She is a symbol of Christian charity.

We often read about saints of old who experienced extraordinary happenings and the Bible is full of related miracles by the hand of God and dramatically so in both Old and New Testaments.  Miracles occur in our present time; most are silent unlike dramatic and we can almost miss the whisper of God in our daily lives.  I would like to share with you a phenomenon that I can't explain, which appeared in one particular photo taken at the Jubilee Mass.  I refer to the photo to the bottom left, where you see the appearance of  light coming diagonally from the top side of the cross, underneath the hand of Jesus.  I remember that shot distinctly since my camera was having difficulty focusing, which never happens.  I immediately reviewed it on my digital camera and saw the light, which had not been visible to my naked eye.  Of all the altar photos that were taken such as the one on the right, there is no stream of light - only this particular one.  I was not using a camera flash since it is too intrusive in such settings.

Since it is so unusual, there will be mixed perspectives in viewpoint.  Someone claimed it was a reflection, but there was no reflective agent to cast the markings of such a light.  Another felt that it was a Godly inspiration and can only be explained in the light of faith.  And another told me that miracles exist in the eye of the beholder so I leave this up to you, my dear readers, to ponder.

There are various denominations under the umbrella of Christianity and the unifying factor is the Christ, the Cross and Resurrection Life. His Divine Light meets in the altar of our hearts in sweet communion.  I view the Cross as the Throne of Jesus, the Messiah, where the forces of light and dark met and from where Light prevailed and tore the temple veil.  The following is a beautiful expression of thought written by St. Andrew of Crete regarding his message on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ...."Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honourable.  It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation - very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory."   His victory became our salvation through His amazing grace in forgiveness and acceptance as we are or 'just as I am'.

The word Eucharist  is a beautiful Greek word with rich meanings of thanksgiving and communion.  I enjoy the shape of the communion host, which is perfectly round.  It reminds me not only of the holiness but also the wholeness of God available to me and to you every moment of our lives.  His wholeness fills all my holes of imperfection in the marbling of human nature in light and dark.

In my own belief, communion is an outward expression of an inward experience of love with the Divine.   
It was articulated  when the Word or expression of God was made flesh and dwelt among us...
It was finished  when the Word or expression of God, in beaten flesh, dwelt upon a tree to die in order to save....  
It was transforming  when the Word or expression of God, in resurrected flesh, made available His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of mankind.   
It is consummated  within our vessel of flesh as the dwelling place for intimacy in becoming one with the Father of Lights - the Son, who is the Light of the world - the Spirit, who is our guiding Light.

I share a little with you about my personal journey through varied Protestant denominations and Catholicism. I have sat in ministry through priest and pastor, including a woman minister.  I have been in services where worship music brought you to your knees in adoration.  Scripture opened up to me as living Rhema through those who taught and preached the Word of God.  There is another place where I journeyed, one in which I call, "the sheep of My pasture". In this place, there are many who are deep believers in Jesus, their Shepherd.  For varied personal reasons, these are ones who prefer not to attach themselves to church structure but rather attach themselves in living relationship with the Christ.   Since we all bear the name Christian, it is time to look at our Common Denominator who is Lord of all.  It is time to lay aside differences and join in a community of heart for the sake of the Cross.  There is strength in being united to cast a great Light across the land to combat ensuing darkness.  

This past week, we have witnessed such darkness in the slaughter of innocents in Kenya and in Pakistan by an extremist belief gone amuck in distortion, resulting in the frenzy to kill.  There is a quote I recently discovered by Pablo Neruda:  "You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming".  Many flowers have been cut down needlessly in these attacks against God's precious creation, but spring will prevail as it has in the past, in the present and in the future determination of time.

The following link is given if you would like to read in full St. Andrew's discourse on the cross:

As we enter the season of Fall, please meet me again at The Turn-Up Patch in two weeks.... October 14th.  'See'  you then!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Peace, Gratitude, Friendship & Guinness

Several important events this month are processing on planet earth as a united voice on a global scale.  One took place on Saturday, September 7th.  Pope Francis called for this day to become a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world.  He extended this invitation as a grassroots cry for peace that was echoed by Christians and non-Christians alike in vigils around the world.  Pope Francis stated this:  "This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully:  Violence and war are never the way of peace!  May the noise of weapons cease!"  In the Vatican alone, there were 100,000 who took part in the Rome event.   

The other will take place on September 21, which is World Gratitude Day.  This began in 1965 at the International East-West Center in Hawaii during a Thanksgiving Dinner.  At the dinner, attendees pledged to hold a Gratitude Gathering the following September 21st in their home countries.  This grew to be an annual event on a global level.  World Gratitude Day is described as "a holiday for all peoples, a day of meditation for all religions, a day of celebration for all humanity, united by knowledge of simultaneously shared emotion, a day when triumph of the spirit can make a world community."

While World Gratitude Day is celebrated once a year, this annual occasion reminds us we should all be grateful for each and every day we have. As the summer days have rolled into September and the advent of fall, I am thankful for the occurrences of beauty in every day surprises.  The photo below is one I took several weeks ago captured in the early morning hour.  A welcome rain had fallen the night before resulting in a low-lying fog that drifted over pastures and hills as daylight broke.  I felt grateful to be a witness to God's indescribable beauty, which He displays in nature in a landscape that speaks of peace.

I had another September surprise with an early morning ultra-light "fly-by" with the American flag.  Our local patriot will do this on occasion as a reminder of our country's history in sacrifice and the mark of God, which the flag represents.  (See post on "Identity of the American flag", Monday July 1, 2013 - archives located in the right column of this page written in red text.)   I view the flag as a symbolic sentry over this nation in the safeguard for freedom and peace.

I am also grateful for family and friends who enrich my life.  My Father of Lights has blessed me many times through the love, support and encouragement that I have received from these special ones throughout the years.  Where would we be if there were not people in our lives who truly cared.  They are treasured gifts in my life who walk beside me in this journey of life and reaches into the eternal, our true home.

I recently viewed this commercial, which is rich in character and substance in its message.  Some commercials that we view have more of these two attributes than some of the shallow sit-coms and reality shows they sponsor.  Basketball is a rigorous sport, even more so when played within the confines of a wheelchair.  The attitude is determination, showing skills learned without the use of legs. The surprise ending leaves one feeling humbled and in awe of the camaraderie and friendship which has been built between these men to make another man's life a happier place in their commitment to such a friendship.   Such wonderful things can happen when people pull together for the good of others; be it peace we all yearn for in the world, gratitude for what we have and for selfless actions in the intention of God to love one another.  Watch this and be inspired!  I do have to say that if Guinness would make the nations behave this way in good will... let's all have a round throughout the world.....

You can also view this video by clicking on the below link, presented by Edward Heising.  He published the clip on YouTube on September 3rd.  As of this date, there have been over 5,000,000 views.  The commercial itself was created by BBDO New York with music "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra. 

Until we meet again at the Turn-Up Patch on Monday, September 30th;  here's a quote for you by William A. Ward.... God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say 'thank you?'

Monday, September 2, 2013

Rosie the Riveter and Doris

On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, which pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It also recognizes the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and betterment of our country.  It was created in the late 19th century by the labor movement and became a federal holiday in 1894.  Labor Day is symbolic of summer's end and is celebrated with events from parades to sports.

I'd like to honor women (and a special woman) in this post in recognition of a defining moment in history, in which women made an impacting contribution during World War II.  Thousands of women took up traditionally masculine and dirty jobs in factories, assembly plants and shipyards.  By working in previously male-dominated manufacturing jobs, women helped the United States fight the war while the men fought over seas. Norman Rockwell's painting of "Rosie the Riveter" says it well in his illustration for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943, which was the Memorial Day issue.  Note the price on the cover of 10 cents!

There was a popular song at the time "Rosie the Riveter", the lyrics of which celebrate the female factory workers of the war effort.  It is presumed that Norman Rockwell created his iconic painting in reference to this song.  Rosie shows attitude in confidence and strength in bringing her ability to carry out a job, which was considered a man's occupation.  It was representative of the times, showing American spirit and patriotic symbolism.  With the American flag in the background, Rosie wears buttons and pins on her clothes, including a "V" for victory.  It is interesting to note that Rockwell posed his model to match the Sistine Chapel ceiling image of the prophet Isaiah, painted by Michelangelo in 1509.  The resemblance to Isaiah, even with a halo above her head, implies that she is fighting for the cause of God and to preserve the American Way.
An excellent website for more information on Rosie the Riveter, can be found at:

The special woman I referred to is not in regard to Rosie but rather to Doris, my mother-in-law, who is now 91 years of age.  She was an original Rosie the Riveter in the shipyards of California for a short time during the war effort.  An able-bodied woman, fierce in dignity and independence, she did what she could to survive during hard times.  With her gumption to stand up for herself, combined with a keen wit and pointed words, she was a force to be reckoned with.   Doris is now in a care facility, her able body now withered and confined to a wheel chair and her mind confused with bouts of dementia.  In her more lucid moments, and to her credit, she still has her keen wit and pointed words - a reminder of a woman who had to make her own way in a world that was not as gender friendly as we know today.  If you take a close look at the first photo below of Doris and then closely look at the painting of Rosie the Riveter, you can catch the similarity in attitude of the two women; one created in an artist's mind and the other created by the experience of life.

Yesterday's challenges with attitude
Today's challenges with resilience
We must always be mindful of the contributions that the majority of the elderly have made in our society, both men and women.  They may not have always done it right, but they did the best they could with the knowledge and emotional makeup that they had throughout their years.  From generation to generation, their hands were "put to the plow" to eke out a living and were a driving force in changing the face of America in the progress of industry and technology.  They are to be admired and respected for their enduring length of years in contribution to the workforce, the backbone of America.

Salute to Doris!... a survivor who was a woman determined to get through tough times, proving herself in a man's world.  She was a crack shot, teaching her sons how to hunt, shoot, kill and skin a deer for meat on the table.  For a time, as a single Mom, she rolled up her sleeves and joined the workforce in diversified occupations from beautician to store clerk.  She was an expert rider and could match a man in rounding up sheep and cattle as a hired ranch hand.  To this day, she still retains a love for horses and enjoys looking at photos in horse magazines and watching western movies.  And yes, she also was a "Rosie, the Riveter".

See you again at the Turn-Up Patch, two weeks from now on Monday, September 16th.