Yes, We Can!

I just came across this quote and found it quite thought-provoking:

“Progress,’ wrote C.S. Lewis, ‘means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.’ This is a phenomenally good way of looking at it, I think. Forward momentum, on an individual or social level, is not automatically good simply because it is forward momentum. Sometimes we push our lives in the wrong direction. If we feel it is making ourselves unhappy, progress might mean doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.
But we must never feel – personally or as a culture — that only one version of the future is inevitable. The future is ours to shape.

― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
Image: jplenio — Pixabay

Of Birds and Bruises

“They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word.”
–Daphne Du Maurier, from her novel Rebecca

Remember those days?

This morning I scanned the writing prompts, hoping someone would have posted BRUISE or GROUSE as a prompt word so I could write about my latest sightings. Nada. Well, I’ll just file them to use someday as prompt words over at RDP.

Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: TAX
Fandango’s FOWC: ENSCONCED
Word of the Day: CORYBANTIC

WORDS LIKE BRUISES

Because I was thinking of bruises, I searched the Goodreads quotes to see what I could find. Here’s an intriguing one from Anne Sexton’s poem, “Words”:

“…they can be both daisies and bruises,
yet I am in love with words.”

I get that — being a lover of words myself.
I’m also getting bruises. Right now I feel somewhat like the “she” in this tale:

“She was so delicate that, while we sat beneath the linden branches, a leaf would fall and drift down and touch her skin, and it would leave a bruise.” – Roman Payne

When I saw a cardiologist last week Monday, he asked about my family history, especially heart and diabetes issues. I told him that my birth mom had diabetes and heart trouble for years (she died of a heart attack), my next-younger sister Donna’s had diabetes for some years now, and my third-youngest sister had a heart attack 8 or 10 years ago. Not the kind of history that will cheer a cardiologist! Also I had cancer (1980), leukemia (2014-6) and Rose died of cancer last December.

After I’d done the treadmill stress test, he said there were some little irregularities and thought I might have a bit of plaque in my veins. I’d already told him I never take aspirin because it makes my veins pop, but he prescribed the low-dose “baby aspirin.” Well, maybe…

Nope. I’m getting blue. I have an odd – and very itchy – wiggly line that marks a vein on my tummy for several inches. Yesterday I had a bruise on the sole of my foot and when I was doing my hair I noticed a huge pink “blush” circling my elbow, which has now turned to a gray-brown bruise. I won’t think about what internal bruising I may have — that would really make me ‘blue’. So I’m unilaterally un-prescribing the aspirin.

ANOTHER TYPE OF GROUSE

The small wood to the east of our home hosts a variety of birds. A family of grouse, likely ensconced in the shelter of the trees at night, wanders through our yard now and then. I’m not sure if they are corybantic (beside themselves with joy) at the chance to run around in the open, but it delights us to watch them.

About five days ago I happened to glance out the back window toward the newly harvested field behind the house. Between our trailer and the field is a strip of lawn and some small trees we’ve planted; there I spotted a group of small grouse frolicking and sparring with each other and generally enjoying life. A few moments later they’d heard the call to smarten up and get ready to move. All heads went up, they gathered in a group and advanced across our lawn.

Yesterday morning Bob called me to look out the window and there they were again, advancing across our driveway. He grabbed the binoculars while I tried to get a head-count as they straggled across the road, snatching at fallen seeds. I counted sixteen initially, and the same number later with the binoculars. They wandered among the poplars for a few minutes, then mom must have ordered a march. Their heads all went up, all facing south, and they scurried down the driveway.

I’m calling them lesser prairie chickens because of their red “neck sacks” when they flashed at one another. Apparently these are considered an endangered species, and rare, so we were quite privileged to see them.

Because it’s been so dry, I’ve put dishes of water in the garden: two deep dinner plates and a huge plant saucer. They empty out quite fast since the birds use them to bathe in as well as drink from; I clean and fill them twice a day. I can call it the tax I must pay for having the birds linger in our yard.

I wonder if the grouse have been drinking there, too? The smaller birds must be harvesting the local bushes, as I always find a number chokecherry seeds in the bottom of the plates. Yesterday I noticed the water from the cat’s bowl outside had been splashed all over the tiles, indicative that some birds had been having fun. The garden plates were empty, but the smaller birds have discovered the cat’s bowl and occasionally use it as their fountain. I saw a magpie drinking out of it one day, too.

Anyway, enough said about bruises and grouse. On now to dinner and house. 🙂

His Last Verse

Ragtag Daily Prompt: FROTH
FOWC Prompt: IMMINENT

Pocket has posted an article from The Atlantic about people’s last words. I don’t know about you, but I’ve though a few times about death and what sort of farewell I might give to a loved one standing near. I’d probably offer some variation of Tom Paxton’s lines:
“I could have loved you better, didn’t mean to be unkind;
you know that was the last thing on my mind.”

Using this morning’s prompt words — and with apologies to Adam Lindsay Gordon — I shall respond with the fuzzy last words of Pete the Poet as he faces his imminent demise:

Life is mostly froth and bubble
two things tossed like foam:
all the money I have made;
the places I've called Home.

Peace in a Troubled Worldt

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is UNPERTURBED

My first thought with regard to this prompt was The Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.
“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste…”

This isn’t the easiest thing to do; we do have emotions and sometimes we must react. But it’s a goal to aim for. We can remind ourselves to stop, take a deep breath, and rmember how today’s troubles will look much smaller in the rear-view mirror. And with regard to all the pointless noise around us — oh, for the wisdom to tune it out!

These Bible verses speak of trust in God as the source of peace:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
Psalm 46:1-5

The poem, IF, by Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936) also gives
a good picture of a person who lives an unperturbed life.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

The Roles Jesus Refused

This is a continuation of my thoughts on the Kingdom of God and how it now appears. Here are the first parts, if you’d like to read them:
Part One: The Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Click here to read.
Part Two: The Kingdom Foretold by Daniel Click here to read
Part Three: Three Things God Needed Click here to read
Part Five: Kingdoms and Dominions to Come Click here to read
Part Four: We Have Seen His Star. Click Here to read

The Roles Jesus Refused

Reading the New Testament and studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, I see some things that our Lord flat out rejected. I’ve paraphrased the various quotes, but will include scripture references so you can read the actual accounts.

Jesus refused to be made king.
When people wanted to make him king, he slipped away. (John 6:15)

He refused to be a judge.
“And one of the company said unto him (Jesus), Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And (Jesus) he said unto him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:13-14)

At one point he told his listeners, “It’s not me that will judge you.”
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. (John 12: 47-48)

He refused to punish, or allow his disciples to punish, people who rejected him.
In Luke 9: 54-56 we see where Jesus and his disciples approached a Samaritan village, hoping for a warm reception. Didn’t happen.
When his disciples saw that the Samaritans wouldn’t receive Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, can we call down fire from heaven and wipe these wretches out?
And he told them, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

He refused to mix politics with religion.
Nowhere in the Gospels did Jesus criticize the government or the way the country was being run. He taught people to be fair, kind, honest, compassionate and merciful, but he never got involved in demands for justice and human rights. He encouraged giving to the poor, but he didn’t hand out money or earthly goods to the needy. He rather invited people into the kingdom of God, where there’s equality and compassion for every citizen. He healed the sick as a way of demonstrating how God is willing to deliver from sin and heal the soul, but his healings were very deliberate, it seems.

At one point the Pharisees hatched a plan to trap him in this very thing. They came to him, first buttered him up lavishly, and then put forth a seemingly innocent question. Here’s my paraphrase of that story. (See Mark 12: 13-17)
“Master, we know that you’re so honest and don’t kowtow to any man, no matter what his position; rather, you teach the way of God in truth. Now what do you think about this question: Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar or not?”
(If you say yes, you’re supporting this heathen government. If you say no, you’re rebelling against Roman authority. Either way, we’ll nail you.)
But Jesus, understanding their guile, said, “Bring me a coin.” Which they did.
Then he said, “Okay, whose image is this on the coin? What name is stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s.”
“So, render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar. And give to God the things you owe to God.”

They didn’t have much to say in response.

He refused to endorse the death penalty for sinners.
According to John 8: 1-11, a group of Pharisees came to where he was, shoving along a woman. “Master, this woman was taken in adultery. In the very act!”
(Does anyone else wonder why they caught her and not her partner?)
So why did they drag her to Jesus? They knew – in fact they told him – what the law of Moses commanded. But they also knew that the Roman law didn’t allow anyone to be put to death without a trial.

So here was another trap. Moses’ law commanded that adulterers should be stoned, but the Roman law demanded a trial first – and would the Romans consider adultery worthy of death? So if Jesus said, “No, don’t kill her,” he was teaching disobedience to the law God gave to Moses. If he said, “Yes, stone her,” he’d fall afoul of Roman law.
His way of sidestepping the decision they were demanding was absolutely brilliant. “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”
He tossed the ball back in their court and their own consciences convicted them. One by one they left. Then Jesus looked up at her and told her, “I’m not going to condemn you, either. Go home, and sin no more.”

Jesus rejected the multiplicity of laws so dear to the Scribes and Pharisees
They’d developed interpretations of exactly how each commandment should be carried out and had tacked them on to the commandments of God. Jesus scolded them for heaping heavy rules on men’s backs.
He pointed out how some of their rules actually nullified the laws of God. In Mark 7: 6-13 he talks of one loophole and says, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

They were trying to buy holiness by keeping their multiplicity of rules, but Jesus wasn’t buying it. He kept pointing them back to the ugliness lurking in their hearts.
“Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. …ye tithe the leaves of herbs and pass over judgement and the love of God.”
Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows houses and for a pretence make long prayers, these shall receive greater damnation.”

God wants children who love Him, and each other.
One scribe asked Jesus, “What’s the greatest commandment?” You can read this account in Mark 9: 28-34. As this man listened to Jesus’ answer, the light went on. He got it.
“Well, Master, you’ve said the truth. There is one God, and none other but he. And to love him with all our heart, all our understanding, with all our soul and all our strength –and to love our neighbour as ourself, this is of more value than all our burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Israel was the prime example — and God meant it to be the prime example – of why a lot of rules would never hold people’s hearts. Those who were dedicated to serving God would do so, and those who wanted a way around would find it somehow. Holiness must be voluntarily pursued. People first desire it with all their hearts; then, with God’s help, they will do their best to live it.

Some Bible scholars today, all enthused about what’s coming on planet earth, say that Jesus plans to return and set up a literal kingdom. Jesus, whose life on earth was all about offering people a choice, is going to rule over an earth full of people who will be forced to serve Him. Is this really a correct interpretation of future events? What about all the scriptures that indicate a spiritual kingdom? Jesus calls himself “the door” to the Kingdom of God; a kingdom, he says, “that cometh not with outward observation.” (Luke 17:20-21)

“He came unto his own and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”