Saturday, January 16, 2021

January is Still January After All

This has always been a month of crazy variations in weather for the mid-Atlantic region of the USA, as far back as I can remember. And my memory from living in this area goes back forty years.

At the beginning of the week I was singing the praises of mild sunny days. Indeed, things got even warmer, so that on Thursday I was out in short sleeves, not just for a walk but also to soak in the sun while reading (see #1 [picture] below๐Ÿ˜‰).

By Friday, however, the weather started getting angry. The heavy, gray, damp air moved in.

This afternoon, the rising wetness and the (relative) lowering temperatures brought on the sudden surprise documented in #2 [video]. I was lucky I didn’t get caught in the middle of this burst of rain-snow-sleet-whatever-it-was.

The squirrel in #3 [video - zoomed in] was not so lucky, but it made a fast dash for shelter. There was some “white stuff” (so it would appear from the pine tree in our backyard shown in #4 [photo], which I took from inside the house, behind the kitchen window). There was a bit more of it later. None of it stayed around for very long.

That’s January in Virginia. Next week could bring all sorts of surprises. And then comes February!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Why Do We Burn Against One Another?

Fires of anger and pain are burning in the world today. 

Human fires are ablaze, exploding beyond the bounds of human frustration, scorching the earth with divisiveness, vengeance, greed, rapaciousness, robbery, cruelty, murder. Human desperation seems intent upon burning up the world in fury, because it finds that nothing in the world can satisfy the human heart.

We cannot satisfy one another, nor can we repair the injuries we inflict on one another. So we entrench ourselves in opposing factions and continue to tear one another apart.

An eclipse of ugliness is upon many places in the world, covering over many facets of life with shadows. For too long we have sought this darkness, to cover over everything in reality that cannot be controlled by our own power. We have wanted to indulge the illusion that we are answerable to nothing beyond ourselves, that we are the masters of our own individual universes. Yet we cannot control our inevitable conflicts with others who grasp for the same power, and so we burn against one another.

This is what is at the core of our social problems, our political catastrophes, our wars. Our violence is a sign that we don't know why we're alive, and that we're frustrated and desperate in the face of our failure to generate our own identities and purposes for living.

But why are we alive?  

We have been created and called to find our fulfillment in the Infinite Mystery of God. We are given freedom so that we might grow in love as we journey toward God through history together with those who have been entrusted to us. But we are so indigent, so terribly vulnerable, so desperately in need. We stand before one other like open wounds, aching for "something" we don't know how to articulate, nor how to give to one another.

We are aching with our need for the love of God, and we will never have peace if we try to live our lives and organize the world pretending that God doesn't exist.

But where can we hope to find God?

It is Jesus Christ who brings us God, brings us healing, and brings us together.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Luminous Spaces

It is the middle of an eventful January 2021. In the midst of all our trials and tribulations, the world has not disappeared. And God is still good. All the time.

As of this moment the breath of life is in me, this being in accordance with God's wisdom and loving plan leading me to my eternal destiny.

I shall breathe deeply.

The first digital art image below captures something of the impression of a nearly perfect Winter afternoon in the Shenandoah Valley. Bright sun with a few clouds, 52 degrees(F), barely a breeze in the brisk air, and luminous spaces in every direction on the paths of my walk today. 


The second digital art image presents the January sun as it sets beyond the pine trees.

Monday, January 11, 2021

In Violent Times, Christina Grimmie Shows Something "Greater"

Now it's four YEARS and seven months. But we love her more than ever!๐Ÿ’š 

I have been marking the tenth day of each month for a long time, in memory and sorrow certainly, and yet from the beginning there has always been something more. This young woman continues to become more meaningful, more luminous, more a brilliant light and a source of courage for me.

Indeed, in these violent times, Christina Grimmie helps us all to remember what is greater, what gives ultimate value to life, what cannot be destroyed.๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š

Sunday, January 10, 2021

THEOPHANY: The Dove, The Father's Voice, The "Beloved Son"

We rejoice and are filled with wonder on this great and glorious feast day! 

The Christmas season culminates in the celebration of "the Baptism of Jesus," known in the early Church (and still in the Byzantine tradition) as the "Theophany." If we reflect on the icon here, we can understand better the significance of the event of Jesus's public participation in the "purification ritual" of John the Baptist, as recorded in the Gospels.

The emphasis is the mystery of the Trinity revealed, as the Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the Father's voice is heard ("theophany" is the "appearance of God"). 

Jesus is immersed in the waters, not for his own purification (he doesn't need it, obviously) but to consecrate the waters of the world by contact with his body and to begin the restoration of all creation as the New Adam. Jesus is naked (sometimes, as here, portrayed with a loincloth), which symbolizes the restoration of Adam's innocence before the Fall. Strange beasts and humanish forms under his feet symbolize the demons defeated by Jesus. John the Baptist gazes not at Jesus but at the Holy Spirit, corresponding to his own testimony in John 1:32-34. Angels wait upon the shore in adoration and readiness to serve Jesus who is the Lord of all creation. 

This is just a very brief reading of the icon. As we reflect on this symbolism, let us not be led to think that this is nothing more than a clever and imaginative mythological story. This imagery conveys the truth about a real event that happened to a real man, Jesus. He is revealed as the Father's Son, annointed by the Holy Spirit. These signs point to the opening up of God's Trinitarian Love to us, the Love that transforms us and brings all creation to its fulfillment.

"This is my beloved Son..." The voice of the Father singles out Jesus, and identifies Him in relation to human destiny. This man Jesus is the answer to the human search for the Mystery that sustains everything and gives ultimate meaning to life. God has answered the question of our hearts by entering our history as a man, giving His life to us, and accompanying us on the journey to our destiny, to live in the glory of His love forever. 

Christians receive the sacrament of baptism from Jesus, through His ministers, because God's love for the world and for every human person is not abstract, distant, cold and inaccessible. God has touched us in Jesus, our brother. His love enters our history and changes us. 

Let us therefore be grateful for our baptism, or - for those who do not yet know Him - ardently seek this encounter with the Mystery who heals and saves and brings the heart to fulfillment. Here is the "touch of God" who has come to meet every person on their journey, and who will begin to draw to Himself whoever opens their heart and asks for the truth and beauty of life.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

"He Shall Bring Forth Justice to the Nations..."

"Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. a bruised reed he shall not break, and as moldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

"I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness."

~Isaiah 42:1-4

Indeed, God the Father has sent His Son, the Eternal Word, to dwell among us. Joy to the world!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Love (1 John 4:8-16)


(1 John 4:8-16)

Whoever is without love does not know God, 
for God is love.

In this way the love of God 
was revealed to us: 
God sent his only Son into the world 
so that we might have life through him.

In this is love: 
not that we have loved God, 
but that he loved us 
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, 
we also must love one another. 

No one has ever seen God. 
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit. 

Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. 

Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God. 

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Strange Days, But "He Will Come, and Life Will Change"

The international celebration of Epiphany this year marked a day of distressing events in my own country, as well as much ongoing suffering in the world. Here in the United States of America, it is a cause of great sorrow and concern to witness the violence that we have nursed for far too long in our hearts pouring out into our streets, and into the Capitol Building in Washington DC to disrupt the special session of Congress that met to formally certify the results of the recent Presidential election.

For all the increase of our material power, our times continue to show how weak and vulnerable we are as human persons. This immense, complex society we have constructed is in reality so fragile.

But Jesus has come to bring the Father's mercy to embrace us in our weakness. Whatever darkness and troubles may lie ahead, He is our hope and strength.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Year's First "Challenge": Turning 58

January 2, my birthday, turned out to be a beautiful warm sun-and-clouds kind of day. I treated myself to a good long walk this morning. Vistas of the Blue Ridge are everywhere!

I guess I could call the pictures juxtaposed below the "58 Year Challenge" (well, more like "57 Year" because I'm probably one year old in the first picture๐Ÿ˜‰). Certainly no one would call me "babyface" today.

Thanks very much to everyone for the "Happy Birthday" wishes on various social media platforms. I always appreciate reading them and thinking of all of you, whether you be near or far, young or ... ahem ... "mature," etc. 

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!๐ŸŽ‰⭐

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Christmas Octave Ushers in 2021

Today is the “Octave” of Christmas, and is dedicated in a special way to Mary, the Mother of God. “Christmas Day” is celebrated liturgically for eight days, and thus coincides with the end of the solar calendar year and the beginning of the new year. Thus we welcome the year 2021.

Meanwhile the “Christmas Season” continues to Epiphany and after. Keep celebrating the event of Christmas, the miracle of God’s love who has come to dwell with us.⭐️✝️