HI THERE! I'M BRIANNE TURCZYNSKI, FREELANCE WRITER, HISTORICAL RESEARCHER, & PERPETUAL SEEKER OF THE HUMAN CONDITION. WELCOME TO MY SPACE WHERE I SHARE THE BOOKS I'M READING, MY SPIRITUAL FINDINGS, FLOWERS IN MY GARDEN, AND LOST STORIES. ALL ARE WELCOME HERE.
“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.
“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?
“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.
First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)
Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace
I have no authority to teach you. These are my own contemplative thoughts, you may disagree and that’s OK!
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait (quietly) for him.” (Lamentations 3:19-24)
The title of this book was originally translated from Hebrew to the words “Alas!” or “How?” Lamentations is a sort of epic poem of which
Jeremiah was probably the author. Throughout the book, the prophet is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. We all have things that
bear weight in our hearts, the crumbling of our comforts and securities perhaps? Here Jeremiah describes the horrific events in Jerusalem; then with hope and faith in the Lord’s mercy, he prays for
the people and describes the Lord’s mighty hand of Love which delivers perpetual hope to the faithful of this Hope. Jeremiah reminds us that we must remember our afflictions and the distractions that kept us wandering away from God’s path for us. To continually grow and mature in Spirit we must remember, like Christ, we too have born our own crosses, and these crosses were not in vain. Their purpose was to teach and redirect. When Jesus was nailed to the cross he looked up to heaven and lamented ‘why?” to God. “Why has thou forsaken me?” Which are the same words David speaks in psalm 22. In doing this he was lifting his troubles to God giving God credit, not only for future generations to see the Truth in that day, but to show the witnesses that He had not lost His faith even when it was God who allowed Him to suffer the way He did. The verse of Lamentations continues saying, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”
St. Dominic is the saint who, according to Catholic writings, was given the vision of the rosary by the Blessed Mother. I’m reading this to delve more into the history of the rosary, but also out of pure interest. I have been studying prayer lately for the class I’m in, centering prayer in particular, which is similar in meditation to that of the rosary. Centering prayer however is a prayer of quiet and the rosary, according to tradition, should be said aloud, though I believe many rules about religion were made to be broken and so I say much of it in whispers or silence. I have heard this book by Drane is hard to read for some because the language is a little old fashion, but I read stuff like that all the time so it might be OK. If anyone knows of a better version of his life let me know. 😄
Preparing and serving food feels so much like a prayer. Please help stop the attacks in Artsakh. If you can, please text PASSAGE to 52886 to send a prepared letter to your state rep. It’s so easy and takes only three seconds.
Even though most of this food is Jerusalem-inspired, I couldn’t help thinking about my Armenian friend who is very upset about the violence in #artsakh so I made and dedicated this food to my friend and the Armenian people suffering tonight. *Armenian string cheese is represented and I ordered an Armenian cookbook today to do this right with my whole family. #artsakhstrong