The Courage of My Convictions

Some days I pick up The Good Book and it’s a surgeon’s knife. 

The story begins with Daniel, a young nobleman taken by force into captivity in Babylon, sometime around the year 600 BC.

Daniel, serendipitously chosen to be trained in service to the King, is assigned a daily amount of food and wine from the King’s table. However, Daniel resolves not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, considered ceremonially unclean according to his faith. And even though refusing the King would likely cost him his life, Daniel stands firm in the courage of his convictions.

I lay down The Book. The two-edged knife-words cut deep… “the courage of his convictions”.   

The probe digs deeper still: when have I demonstrated the courage of my convictions?  The confidence to do what I believe is right, even though other people may not agree or approve? 

I tend to capitulate far too often in order to keep peace (many times sacrificing my own inner peace in the doing).  Yet I have stood firm a time or two in demonstrations of the courage of my convictions, albeit with shaking knees.

My mother always taught us that if people don’t agree with you, the important thing is to listen to them.  But if you’ve listened to them carefully and you still think that you’re right, then you must have the courage of your convictions.” 

Jane goodall

For me, those demonstrations of the courage of my convictions have resulted in my greatest life lessons.  Yet I suspect, albeit with shaking knees, that more opportunities await just around the corner. 

So I pray that I might first listen well. And then, if need be, I pray for the courage of my convictions.

Love & Peace,

“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Timothy 1:7

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From Womb to Tomb

Looking up from mopping the floor, I see my first-born at the door.  Innocent child hands pressed close to the heart.  Compassion tears pool at the brim of her lashes.  I wonder what could be wrong.

Brows wrinkle, eyes squint; I look hard at the little brown fluff laying between hands and heart … and gasp.  To my complete and utter horror, the little brown fluff is nothing more than a dead field mouse.

“Oh My God!  Put that thing down—it’s dirty!” I shriek. 

My solemn little girl says not a word (she knows me well by now), but only turns on her heels and out she goes with a bang of the wooden screen door.

I lean hard into the mop.  The spotless floor shines casting dark shadows across my mind.  When out of the shadows Wisdom speaks:

It seems to me of great importance to teach children respect for life.

And wouldn’t respect for life include both honoring its sacred beginning as well as its sacred end?    

I drop the mop and run to the light—to the kitchen window of my soul.  And through the pane, on bended knee with garden hose in hand, she carefully washes the “dirt” away from the little brown fluff she found. 

In the moment, I am led by a child into greater heights of compassion and understanding.

Life — from the very moment it begins to its very last breath — is the pinnacle of God’s creative imagination and power. The sanctity of life, from womb to tomb, transcends all political rhetoric of our day.

Love & Peace,

“… And a little child shall lead them.”  Isaiah 11:6

Flexible Boundaries

A new box of crayons—the smell, the colors—pure joy.  Each one perfectly wrapped and marked with glorious names like forest green, aquamarine and azure blue.  With coloring books spread out in front of me, I sigh.  Yes, a perfect sigh of contentment and bliss.  It doesn’t get any better than this, UNTIL …

Out of the corner of my eye, I see her.  Sister number 1.  The perfect one who can do no wrong.  I can’t help myself; I have to look.  Her picture doesn’t look like mine.  I avert my eyes but like a bad train wreck, I can’t help but take a look back.  I sigh.  Not the earlier sigh of contentment and bliss … for my 5-year old ego was deflating fast.

Her coloring page—magnificent beyond compare.  Every color selected with care, complementary hues harmonizing throughout. But here’s the thing that really stood out:  She outlined every color with a solid black line in a way that made her picture look, well … like beautiful stained glass.  Sigh.  (Do I hear the angels sing?)

So, what can I do but try it, too?  I dig deep for the lonely black crayon (unused and still perfectly sharpened) and carefully, I trace a solid black line around every color on the page.  After way too long, I sit back on my knees to admire my “stained glass”. And, sigh. No contentment–no bliss; and definitely no angels to be heard.

******

Give me flexible boundaries—no hard, black-lines for me, please.  Joy, freedom and creativity flow best when I’m free from the opinions of men.  It’s not easy—especially as a person of faith (everyone has an opinion when it comes to religion).  But I choose not to hide behind a stained-glass life when it comes to living my faith.   

“Come now, and let us reason together”, says the LORD to me (as good and as bad as the next).  And we talk together outside of man’s stained-glass (so easily shattered by stones).  You see, it’s easy to manage sinful behavior safely hidden behind religion’s confines.  But what if instead we learn to manage our freedom outside of those safe black lines?

Love & Peace,

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

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The Poetry of Life

“You need the strength of endurance to reveal the poetry of God’s will.”  Hebrews 10:36 TPT

The poetry of life.  A framework of poetic structure: rhythmic qualities, imaginative awareness; brimming with aesthetic-beauty moments (if only I’d stop long enough to notice). 

A life arranged by the Creator-Master Poet.  Composed to call forth a human-heart response through meaning, sound and the rhythms of a faith-enlarging life.

It takes a strength beyond self to reveal the poetry of life.  Its ambiguity, irony and metaphorical connections have left my life open to myriad interpretations (and people can be so cruel).

It takes connecting serendipitous dots with hopeful imagination and the strength of endurance for the perfection of The Poet’s passion to be revealed. A glorious unveiling of unrequited love that has power to turn even my tears into poetry.

Love & Peace,

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3 Dimensional Thoughts

My thoughts are 3 dimensional.  I take a hard look, flip them over, turn them upside down and then do it all over again.  It’s not easy living a life of 3 dimensional thought and translating those thoughts onto 2 dimensional paper.  I mean, what happens to the missing dimension? 

I can only suspect it lives in spirit—in the writing’s heart and soul.  That, to me is the challenge—to go beyond the visible, the recognizable and the momentary, to somehow express the invisible qualities of the spirit of thought into mere words on paper.  To fill paper with the breathings of the heart, as Wordsworth would say.

The beloved Apostle penned his chronicles of the Christ.  He describes him as logos, the Word made visible, giving his audience a new, unique view of the Invisible Spirit of God through a powerful divine self-expression:  Jesus Christ, the living Word of God.

The Word clothed in skin and fleshed out among us.

If the Invisible God expressed His thoughts perfectly through logos, is it possible for me to experience logos in such a way that my words could somehow express the invisible, the sometimes unrecognizable, Spirit-thoughts of God?

I’m reminded of how the Apostle ends his narrative—the Aramaic is especially poetic, “The world itself would be emptied out into the books that would be written”.  John is speaking of logos, the Living Expression of the Invisible God, wrapped in a multitude of good thoughts towards mankind.  

There is always a word, wrapped in a thought.  Followed by another.  Followed by another.  An unending ballad published among the heavenly seas, its verses written far into eternity.

To travel in thought beyond the visible, the recognizable, the momentary into the beauty realm of Spirit … into the beauty realm of prose, I suppose … for me is heaven.

A mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.

William Wordsworth

Where are your thoughts traveling today? Perhaps you’ll find God waiting for you there. For no one is ever really alone and He makes for a marvelous traveling companion.

Love & Peace,

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

Sawubona: I See You

In the blink of an eye, I see it.  I mean, I see her.  Lying there in the nursing home bed, a slip of a woman, a mere shadow of what once was … sadly alone.  And I take notice.  Is this why I’ve come here today? 

A wellspring within me stirs and the words of my mouth are deep waters as I hear myself say, “Friend, you are not alone, you are not forgotten, you are not invisible … I see you.

And she weeps.

Sawubona.  An ancient greeting that means “I see you” in the Zulu community in South Africa.

Sawubona.  All my attention is on you.  I see you, you are important to me and I value you.  I see your hopes, your dreams, your failures and your fears.  You are right in front of my face.  Face-to-Face. 

I am present.

The ancient Prophet and Deliverer of Israel understood sawubona.  “The Lord would speak with Moses face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend”, the Torah reveals. There is no Hebrew word for presence (as in the Presence of G-d), but only the word face.  Yahweh, the great I AM, and Moses spoke to one another face-to-face.

I AM present.

Who do I know that doesn’t desire sawubona?  To be seen; to be heard without judgment; fully known–the good, the bad and the ugly–and accepted. Yet, is sawubona even possible in today’s digital world where face-to-face is replaced by FaceBook and FaceTime?

I believe there is a God whose thoughts towards me—and you—are good.  The music of His thoughts plays throughout the earth … in the gentle breeze, the bubbling brook, the chirping birds, the twinkling stars … “You are not alone, you are not forgotten, you are not invisible. I see you.

You are right in front of my face, friend.

And with that, I enter into the sacred space of spiritual sawubona:  Face-to-Face with the One who knows me best—and loves me anyway—free to join the conversation, as one speaks to a friend.

Love & Peace,

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, …”. John 15:15 KJV

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Mizrach: The Place of the Rising Sun

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“Where sky and water meet, Where the waves grow sweet, Doubt not, Reepicheep, To find all you seek, There is the utter East.” ― C.S. Lewis

Mizrach – a Hebrew word for east.  It literally means the place of the rising sun.  I have no doubt that my eternal heart compass orients to the east—the place of the rising sun.  How about yours?

Up before dawn, we dress in silence and head for the Explorer.  We make our way up the winding Summit Road, to the top of Cadillac Mountain—the first place to view sunrise in the United States.

A rock invites me to have a seat (yes, rocks do speak, … well, sort of).  So I do, and I wait, with eyes wide-open to sky’s still-dark border at the waters of Frenchman Bay.

Earlier in the week, a friend gives me a gift—a Hebrew tallit, named P’nai by the artisans who designed it.  (I am told that the Hebrew word P’nai translates to “the blue points of light” in English.)  I lay the tallit across my lap—heart engaged in prayerful meditation, in unison with the heavens above.  I am lost in translation—drifting among the morning stars singing in chorus.

In a twinkling, I’m back, just in time to catch sight of the most magnificent fiery-red orb emerging.  The tallit upon my lap literally absorbs the chaste white rays and mysteriously glows with the radiance of the sun.

And then, something extraordinary … with sky perfectly clear, and no clouds in sight, a rainbow appears behind me.

Reflected light before me; refracted light behind.  I am surrounded in a prism of light:  wrapped in Creation’s very own tallit … in Mizrach, the place of the rising sun.

One more mountaintop experience to add to my life journal.  An experience not meant to teach but to transform.

Love & Peace,

” …The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Psalm 19:21

*The photo was taken by my husband, as I was otherwise engaged drifting among the stars and gazing into mysterious glows.  He also caught the rainbow behind me, otherwise I would have missed it completely.  Thank you, dear husband.  You know me so well.