The book of James

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be. Can freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:8-11)

I often make the mistake of talking too much, not so much in large crowds anymore, but in small groups. I know and understand now why monks take an oath of silence. The more I talk the further away from my real self, my Godself, I seem to get. I feel more like myself when I am alone—when I don’t have to react, or entertain, or respond. I remember Joan Chittister said the same thing in her book ‘Called to Question’. I often come away from parties or small get-togethers thinking I must be two different people. A part of me likes to make people laugh and the other part likes silence and is serious and reflective. I often have trouble accepting my funny side, it feels slippery to me–like I say too much to please the ears of people and in these hasty, split-second moments, I seem to disregard God’s presence in my life and this makes me uncomfortable. I guess my conundrum right now is how to be myself and not hinder or stagnate my spiritual growth. And maybe I’m taking it too seriously. I have given up cursing other people, but it’s making a fool of myself that I sometimes regret, even though it makes me laugh. I know there is a way to be a balanced version of both. I pray I’m able to find that balance.

The book of Obadiah

“On that day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” (Obadiah 1:11)

The last part of this verse reminds me of the Psalm of David 22:18 and the gospels when Christ was crucified and lots were divided for his garments. How many stood by indifferently as a criminal went free and Christ was crucified in his place? The short book of Obadiah explains what happens to the nation of Edom when it failed to help both Judah and Jerusalem. Edom’s indifference to its suffering neighbor is how much of the world operates. Instead, some people want more riches and power ignoring the suffering of those in need. Why are some people like this? The lay theologian, William Stringfellow, would say that it’s because we are in bondage to the principalities and the powers, and it was those who cried, “Crucify him!” that were displaying their shackles. In the crucifixion, we see a dismal view of our human nature to bend to peer pressure and fear. But we can go forth in this year by not standing aloof to the injustices of the world and not being afraid to be the black sheep among the white.

The book of Amos

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live.” (Amos 5:14)
What if we changed this a bit? Instead of God always pointing at us with these statements, God instead points back at God. What if we changed it to, “Seek good, not evil, that GOD may live.”? Now we seek good not for ourselves, but for the sake of Creation, for the sake of God, which will have a trickle effect on the people of the world. Now it is changed to a deeper sense of allegiance and duty. God must exist for creation to exist. If we are always seeking good, then we are seeking God and in doing so we keep God alive, not only within ourselves but in all we do for others and for the planet: recycle, plant a garden, laugh with our children, sing, etc. The more we seek the good, the more we are seeking God. The more we seek God, the more we will see God everywhere and get to know God and be close to God, and our union in this way will do us the most good, and that goodness can be shared with our neighbors so it grows and God may live.

The Book of Joel

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand…” (Joel 2:1)
Here Joel is the watchman warning the people of the plague of Locusts who will devour all the vegetation and make the land have the appearance of death, dry as if to not have any life. It will be devoured by gluttony and greed and selfishness—qualities we can give to the locusts as they work on these terms. This reminded me of Isak Dinesen’s experience with the grasshoppers on her farm in Africa. In her book, ‘Out of Africa’, she explains the intense fear the people have of these creatures. A messenger would ride from town-to-town warning farmers of their coming. They would come in swarms. They would black out the sky. People would try to hold them back, but their numbers were so great it was no use. The devastation was immense.
A few years ago, I kept getting a waking vision of a train coming at me. I saw the light and felt the speed of the train as it barreled toward me. I knew it would hit me, I knew, and I could feel something terrible was coming but like most ‘visions’, I disregarded it as my imagination and ignored all warnings to prepare myself for disaster. What could I have done anyway when it hit so to blackout the sky? Not a year later disaster struck my family more than once and left us all terribly injured emotionally for many years and still recovering. Is it possible that we have watchmen for our own lives? Would we call it the Holy Spirit? When it moves, when it aches, when it laughs will we disregard it as our imagination? Or will we heed its gestures to love more, help more, say more?

The book of Hosea

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:3-4)

When I read this the first time I was struck by this image of God as feminine and motherly. It is so easy to forget to thank God for the little things, even the people God sends to us to help us in our times of need, even words spoken by strangers that keep us in deep thought all day. We forget that even the simplest favors were done for us out of Love by God and sometimes through others. Just like our mothers, parents, guardians, and friends who do things for us simply out of their great love.…And the things we have done for others out of love. One thing I do in secret is remove all obstacles (dog bones, pillows, blankets, toys) out of my husband’s path before I go to bed, so he doesn’t trip in the dark when he gets up (usually very early). When I told him this (no longer a secret) he laughed and made the joke that I’m like Charlie in the show ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ who secretly protects ‘the waitress’ because of his great (hilariously obsessive) love for her. I thought that was funny.

Who are you secretly helping and who do you think is secretly helping you? Do you think God is working through them/you? How can we show our gratitude for these secret favors of Love?

The book of 1 & 2 Thessalonians

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this, is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This first letter from Paul to the Thessalonians was misinterpreted. So he wrote a second letter (2 Thessalonians) to urge them to quit their idleness and get to work as some in the church had heard Paul’s first message and stopped working just to wait for the Lord’s second coming. They had become a burden to their church because the church had begun to support them. It is the same when the angels told the disciples to stop gazing at the sky when Jesus was lifted to heaven (Acts 1:11). They needed to take Christ with them everywhere they went as they worked and as they played. Study and prayer in solitude is an excellent way to center yourself in God, but then we must take God with us out into the world. And when we are out mingling with people, we learn a lot of lessons, more lessons, about ourselves especially, than if we were studying scripture alone all the time. It is one of the reasons group Bible study can be good, people learn more from others than from themselves. Who knows, you may be the eyes that group needs to see a verse interpreted in a different light.

The book of Daniel

💥 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!💥 First Bible post of 2021…

“No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…” (Daniel 2:27-28)

Here Daniel is called to interpret a dream of the feared king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. I found it so interesting that the Babylonian king is given human-like qualities. Up to this point, we have only seen him as an oppressor of the Israelites, an ugly ruler off in the distance ready to kill and conquer. It made the vision of Babylon that much scarier to have a faceless, evil ruler. But here, he is pictured wondering and frightened by a dream he had. Nebuchadnezzar is putting himself in a vulnerable position by telling Daniel his dream. The dream is a warning for the king to change his ways, but twelve months go by and the king hasn’t changed. He’s as prideful as ever. So, as the king is admiring his kingdom on what seems like a peaceful day at the palace, a voice from the heavens interrupts his peace and he is cast-off to eat grass like the ox and live among the wild animals. When the king finally casts away his pride and gives credit to God his kingdom is restored to him.

This is true of anyone, our pride can only carry us for so long. God wants us to surrender it, like a soldier giving up their sword, because pride is the one major thing that separates a soul from its union with God (what #buddhists call, enlightenment). God wants to restore our peace and true peace can only exist if pride is surrendered.

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Made my Christmas gifts this year!

The nativity and the angel were done in oak from a special family tree. I tried to keep the integrity of the tree as much as possible.

Then there is Neil Young, a couple of them, because I needed to practice. The one most like him is on the left. My brother asked me one day if I make anything other than religious people (my bro is not religious) so I made him his favorite musician. He laughed.

The saint in the middle was a practice one of St. Jane Francis de Chantel. The real one I gave away is below…

They’re all varnished in my homemade 18th century varnish.