My father sent me this letter explaining the annual visit of the three wise stargazing kings in Mallorca, and I want to share it with my readers because it’s such a beautiful and meaningful tradition:
On the afternoon of January 5 a page comes riding through the village on a horse and picks up the childrens’ requests from the Town Hall, scattering candies along the street.
That night the 3 kings arrive.
In Deya they came down from three different mountainsides to join up on the main road on their donkeys. They wear the capes and crowns… and they go in the parade with flares and torches and drums up the winding hill to the church. There they sit on the altar on their crowns and call out the names of children who have gifts waiting for them.
In Puerto Soller the kings come in on three lighted boats. And then they parade to the square by the main church.
In Palma they also arrive by ship. I don’t know where they come from here in Valldemossa, but the parade down to the San Bartomeo church below here.
Here are some pictures:
I wish you all a blessed Christmastide and Peace on Earth in the coming year.
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, Christmas, Joy, love, magi, Mallorca, mysticism, peace, Spain | Leave a Comment »
My father lives in a different world than me.
He lives in Mallorca, Spain and the traditions are different in many ways. I always like to hear of the festivities for different occasions, so I sent an email asking him about Christmastide, and whether they decorate Christmas trees. I received this long message which I want to pass on to my readers, complete with links and photos. I am especially amazed by the snowflake lights. At the bottom of the post you can listen to the song my father refers to in this message, sung by a child.
I hope you all have a meaningful Christmas celebration in honor of the Son of God who came to Earth to save us all.
In the last decade or so, yes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, elves and any commercialization possible has taken over. Even here in this small village, in the little plaza up in town there is a Christmas tree with decorations.
Before this northern invasion, Christmas Eve was celebrated in the church, or quietly in the home, no tree, no gifts just a celebration of the birth and the mother. Here on Mallorca and in Catalunya, they had another very strange custom. A young child sings the Sybila, a song of the Judgment Day. You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_the_Sibyl
I have heard it sung many times over the years, because when I directed the church choir we were up in the organ loft, waiting for our turn to sing various Christmas songs from the region. It is a haunting melody, very difficult for a child to sing, so they practice it for weeks before, no accompaniment of any kind, just that pure “white voice” as they call unchanged voices here. Here it is sung in a little church by a woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfirOs1RGIc
In the Cathedral of Palma they make a real production of it, with full choir, organ and a young woman singing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aYV_Kqv44g– these may be beautiful, but I prefer the single child in the Deya church, innocently singing about the end of the world. Every year a different child is chosen.
Before also, the decorations were basically “nerulas” or white paper cutouts like snowflakes, hung across the nave of the church and in houses. The streets still are blazoned with lights, as traditionally – I first saw them in Barcelona in 1969 and was amazed. Take a look https://www.google.es/search?q=christmas+lights+in+Barcelona&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=nZfRULDuGOyY0QWeuICoBA&ved=0CEMQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=614
As for myself, you know me – Stephanie and I would sometimes walk and look at the world, especially the stars which are exceptionally bright in winter, just appreciating Creation, perhaps lamenting its ultimate passing…
I will be doing that alone this year for sure, and will send my love to you all. What I see from my balcony is this:
Where Chopin stayed in 1838 for the winter, so I have good company.
At night it is lit up, blocking the stars until late, when they are turned off.
What will you be doing? Have you found a compatible church where you can enjoy the songs of Christmas?
Lots of love,
Here is the link for the solo sung by a child, my favorite of the versions so far:
The Song of the Sibyl
On the Day of Judgment
The good go to heaven for their services.
An eternal King cometh
Dressed in our mortal flesh
He certainly will come from heaven
To judge the century.
Before the judgment is passed
A great sign will show itself
The sun will lose its shine
The earth will tremble with fear.
Then comes a mighty thunder
The sign of a great anger
In a hellish confusion
Rays and cries resound.
A great fire will fall from the sky
In a stench of sulfur
And the earth will burn furiously
And a great terror afflict people.
Then comes the terrible signal
A major earthquake
The rocks will break
And the mountains will collapse.
Then nobody will have gold pieces
Silver or wealth
And all await sentencing.
Death will leave you penniless
And all collide
Only men remain crying
And sadness will cover the world.
The plains and peaks are all the same
Good and bad will be achieved
Kings, dukes, earls and barons
They will have to account for their actions.
And then comes, unexpected
The son of God Almighty
He will judge the living and the dead
The good go to heaven.
Cry from the wombs of their mothers
And with her cries say
“Help us God Almighty”
Mother of God, pray for us
You, the Mother of All Sins
You have the judgment merciful
You have that paradise is open to us.
You who have heard it all
Pray to God with devotion
With all your heart and fervor
That should save us.
Posted in POPPY & DOTTIR | Tagged child, Choir, Christ, Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas tree, church, Faith, God, gospel, Holy Spirit, inspiration, Jesus, love, Mallorca, random, sacred, Seeker, Song of the Sybil, Spain, spirituality, traditions, writer, writing | 2 Comments »
“Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long.
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad.
The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is that time.”
Hamlet, Act I, Scene I
Posted in Inklings, QUOTATIONS | Tagged birth of Christ, Christ, Christmas, Hamlet, quote, random, Saviour, Shakespeare, William Shakespeare, writing | 2 Comments »
I have slowed down quite a bit over the past year or so, and my computer has been following my example. However, my computer seems to finally be perking up after a lot of scans and other remedial efforts, so I hope to resume posting as much as I am able to. I have also decided to open a new site specifically for Christian apologetics and critiques, and you can visit there if you wish by clicking on this link. https://holyandcorrupt.wordpress.com/
I hope that all of you are well and happy.
Posted in THE TWISTED CROSS: Distortion of the Gospel | Tagged apologetics, Christianity, corruption, critiques, random, The Holy & The Idols, truth, writing | Leave a Comment »
I was very pleased to find this blog and particularly this article! I had written about the Holy Week traditions in Mallorca where my father lives, and how sad it is that in our “land of liberty” we are not allowed to openly celebrate our religion. I hope you enjoy this reblog!
Peace be with you, Olive
The Mallorca Photo Blog
Today, Mallorca celebrates Diumenge des Ram (Palm Sunday), the first day of the dramatic and rather compelling Easter processions, commemorating the entering of Jesus in Jerusalem. Traditionally, on this day, blessed olive branches or dried palm leaves are handed out to the church goers attending the morning mass. This evening, the first of the Easter processions will be held in Palma with the attendance of all the Confrarias (confraternities, or brotherhoods). Last Friday, all of Palma’s Confrarias held their first procession of this year’s Easter proceedings (see photo below), simply manifesting their attendance this year.
Easter processions in Mallorca usually involve hooded cloaks whilst some involve chains, mock flagellation and bare feet. This week, there are also Vía Crucis or Vía Dolorosa (The Bearing of the Cross) processions and theatrical Passion Play performances, Davallaments, Enterraments and vigils.
One of the more vivid Easter processions is the Processó del Silenci
View original post 497 more words
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, crucifixion, Easter, Faith, Holy Week, Mallorca, random, resurrection, tradition | 2 Comments »
My father sent me these lovely neules from Mallorca for Christmas!
They are paper cuts made by nuns there during holiday season, and they are not only decorative but practical. They are hung in the cathedrals in Spain to help illiterate people keep track of the seasons and festivals during the year. They look like snowflakes hanging from the chandeliers and the slightest breeze makes them float and twirl.
I will always treasure them.
Peace be with you,
Posted in Inklings, Spanishoeprints | Tagged Christianity, Christmas, Faith, Feliz Navidad, Joy, love, Mallorca, peace, Spain, spirituality | Leave a Comment »
A professor with silver locks and pecan brown eyes asked Iris a question as they strolled down a sidewalk together. “What is it like when the Holy Spirit comes?” he blurted out. “Can you describe what happens or how it feels?” His open hands were motioning earnestly towards Iris, and she was quite startled.
“That is a question that will take some time to answer” she replied, “so I will write to you about it.”
As the days passed, she prayed and waited for the Spirit to break into her thoughts with words. She sat down at her cluttered desk one morning and wrote this letter. She slipped it into a long white envelope and mailed it to the gentle professor.
All Souls’ Day 2011
St. Augustine, Florida
You asked me one day to describe what it feels like when the Holy Spirit comes. There is no short answer to such an inquiry, and I want to try to answer your question in the clearest manner possible. I can only recount my own personal experiences to you, and run the risk of being perceived as completely mad.
The Holy Ghost moves in many different ways depending on the time and place and circumstance. His works are so varied that it would take at least an entire book to describe them all. For now I will recount only a few “visitations.”
When I first met Him as a young child, the Spirit would come to me while I was in my bed, and it seemed as if I could feel His warm fatherly hand stroking my hair or rubbing my back until I fell asleep. He drove my childhood fears and tears away like leaves in the wind. When I was being beaten or mistreated in some way, He would remind me of how Christ was treated, and this gave me a sense that I was not alone in my suffering.
The Spirit has continued to be near me, throughout my life. At times, He is like a cloud covering me, sharing His thoughts with me when I need them. Sometimes His voice will break into my mind with a simple phrase like “Trust in Me” or “Forgive him”. On occasion, He might direct me to go here or there, do this, or say that to someone. Sometimes He warns not to do or say this or that.
On other occasions, He comes to me in dreams to teach me something important. I remember one such dream about a cross so tall that it pierced through the clouds of heaven, and blood was spilling on my hands in great warm raindrops. It was the first time I began to grasp the bewildering rhetoric about Christ dying for my sins in particular, and realized that I partook in the blame for His death.
Sometimes His healing power has come to me through holy people who have touched me during prayers. There have been times when I have simply arrived at church sick and left with no symptoms.
Once I had been suffering with a digestive ailment, and a voice awoke me one night saying, “Get up and drink some water.” I had been considering seeing a doctor, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t bothered to pray for my healing. So I decided not to question the voice. What did I have to lose by being obedient? I got out of bed, poured some water in a glass, prayed for the Spirit to be in the water, and drank it. I could feel it working instantly, as if medicinal powers had gotten into the water. I fell asleep, and by morning I was well. I felt really foolish for not asking for help sooner.
I have been present when the Holy Ghost has visited and consoled other people in terrible misery. Once while I was talking with a downcast young man at a detention center, the Spirit came in and took charge of the situation. I saw something like white smoke or fog stirring in the room and I felt His presence. The young prisoner felt it too, and he cried out, “Oh my God, I’ve never felt anything like this before. I feel so comforted! I feel like I can make it now!” Both of us were in tears. I said, “See how the Holy Ghost has come in, just to ease your pain?”
I have found that the Spirit loves to manifest Himself in places of misery and isolation: in care homes, hospitals, prisons and on the streets. It sounds crazy that the Spirit wants to hang out with us and help us, but it is true. He doesn’t want to be left out. He yearns to be invited, but will never force Himself on anyone.
The most powerful experiences of the presence of the Holy Ghost have come to me during the gatherings of holy people. I suppose He just enjoys being among His faithful friends who love Him. Just like we do.
Sometimes the Spirit will flow in softly at first like a gentle breeze or a refreshing misty rain, and suddenly a great thunderclap will awaken everyone. A sense of dread might become so intense that I feel as if I should hide.
One Sunday, an elder was speaking, and the Spirit flowed out of his mouth like smoke and filled up the whole room with a great cloud. People began to cry and quake and fall on their knees. The elder said, “I think there is enough of the Holy Ghost to fill this room all the way to the back, don’t you?” He paused for a few moments, and said “I don’t believe in interfering with the Holy Ghost.”
He stopped speaking, and the Spirit began to flow around the room, spinning our souls into glowing threads and weaving them together on a great loom, until there was no more separation between us. We became one glorious tapestry of love.
Sometimes the Spirit will beckon people to come to Him and surrender their lives and problems. He can employ spiritual leaders at these times, or He can do the work without anyone’s help. One Sunday in church, a woman stood up and said, “The Spirit says He has been calling on someone here for a long time, and that it’s time to stop running and come home. He says this is your last chance.” I counted nine people who sprung out of their seats and ran to the altar in desperation. One young man fell upon his face on the floor in front of the altar, weeping and writhing in terrible agony as the holy men gathered around him to pray and comfort him, until his tremors ceased and he had found rest for his soul.
Another day, when an elder was speaking about fountains of living water springing up from within, I felt great waves of the Spirit crashing over me and tears sprung out of my eyes without warning. The elder looked at me and said, “When the Spirit gets ahold of you, water’s gonna gush out of your eyes when you’re not even sad.”
He stopped speaking and I heard voices all around me and a churning like the sound of mountain rapids. I looked over my shoulder. I saw an ocean of people springing from their seats in waves, flowing in perfect rhythm up and down with cries and shouts, as if lifted and cast down by divine force. Some were soaring on top of the waves, and some were caught in the undertow and on the verge of drowning in their despair. I had never seen anything like it before, and it could never have been orchestrated by any human. The waves rolled and groaned and toiled, until the cleansing was complete. When the waters receded and became still as a pond, people’s faces were glowing with serenity and joy.
Needless to say, I could write much more on this matter, but I hope this is sufficient to give you some sense of how the Spirit works in the world of humans. There are so many things I still wonder about, such as how He can be in so many places, and yet dwells perpetually in the hearts of those that love Him, giving every one of them comfort and guidance at the same time. His works remain a great mystery to me.
I wish you the best in all of your endeavors and writings.
Peace and Grace, Iris
Posted in Inklings, Iris Letters | Tagged Faith, Jesus, random, Seeker, spirituality, writing | Leave a Comment »
The more I think about the film Diary of a Country Priest the more amazed I am about the little spiritual principles that popped up throughout the film, many of them that I had not considered before. Here are a few examples:
A cold heart is a sin. In one scene the priest ministers to a countess who has suffered tremendous loss and injustice in her life. She has developed an icy heart towards everyone because she is trying to protect herself from more pain. She keeps telling the young priest that she has done nothing wrong, but he points out that her hardness of heart is a sin because it grows out of bitterness and prevents her from being sensitive to others. We must allow our hearts to be broken for the sake of others who may need us. It is impossible to serve God or people with a cold heart.
We can channel God’s strength to others in our weakest moments. In one scene in the film, the priest blesses a woman and she makes her peace with God, while the priest admits in his journals he has no peace within himself at the time. He is amazed that he can “give to others the very thing he does not possess.” This is a great mystery of faith, that we can channel the strength of God for others even during our weakest moments. I am thankful for this, because if we relied on our own strength, many people would have been left without hope when they needed it most.
The intent to pray is a prayer in itself. The young priest finds at times that he cannot pray at all, but God knows he intends to and grants his requests anyway. This one I had heard before from an elderly deacon who told me God could honor the prayer we forgot to pray after we promised someone we would, and He could even go back in time and grant the request retroactively! This comes in handy when someone asked you to pray about their surgery yesterday, and you forget until tomorrow. He knows my intent and that I am going to remember tomorrow, and He controls time and space, so why is that so surprising?
It’s all grace anyway. While living in a little village, the priest suffers spiritually, mentally, and physically and often feels that his work is more than he can possibly handle. But he realizes that it’s all God’s grace anyway, and that He works through our frailties to bless others. The Spirit is willing even when the flesh is weak.
Peace be with you,
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, Faith, Holy Spirit, random, Religion and Spirituality, Seeker, writing | Leave a Comment »
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27: 46
Diary of a Country Priest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last night I watched the French film, Diary of a Country Priest, and though it was pretty dreary and dark for the most part, there were moments that held great meaning for me. To provide you with a brief summary, the story is of a young priest who moves into a village where he is not well-received and he experiences poor health and many spiritual battles. From the beginning, he is told by an older priest that a true priest does not expect to be loved, and also understands that all of his agonizing labors during the day are undone during the night. The young priest experiences alienation from the people he wants to bless and minister to.
As a believer, I was able to immediately identify with this young priest and his inner battles. The most powerful moment for me is after the priest concludes that God has left him and that he can no longer pray because everything in his being is fighting it, and he is thoroughly disillusioned and weary. The older priest comes to him and says that if the soul could possibly drag the body back two thousand years to be with Christ for a moment, it would carry him to one place- the olive grove. At that moment, the younger priest began to weep as he felt God’s grace fall upon him. He realized that Christ was sharing His Gethsemane experience with him- he called it “holy agony.”
That resonated with me very deeply because it is our human nature to want all of the good things but no unpleasantries- no sweat, tears, or anguish. As a believer, I would like to always be ministering and blessing people and experiencing God’s presence near me. But even Christ had to experience isolation, abandonment, and dreadful loneliness.
It made me wonder if I have been merely a “fair weather friend” to Christ or a sincere disciple. With an acquaintance, I can only share the surface of my life. But with my closest friends, I can reveal the deepest joys and agonies of my soul. So shouldn’t I feel privileged that Christ should share His deepest torments with me?
He wants us to heal and minister and share the gospel and be bold in our spiritual walk. But He also calls us to hunger and the temptation in the desert, rejection by people we love, and even the cross. The early disciples understood this and rejoiced when they were able to partake in Christ’s mental and physical suffering.
I am thankful that I have a whole new perspective today!
Peace be with you,
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, Cinema of France, Claude Laydu, despair, Diary of a Country Priest, Faith, loneliness, random, Religion and Spirituality, Robert Bresson, Seeker, writing | 3 Comments »
The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning “inland” or “in the middle of the land” (from medius, “middle” and terra, “land”). –Wikipedia
Today marks the one-year anniversary of our beautiful trip to Mallorca, Spain to visit my lost-and-found father. So I have decided to re-post some of my series entitled Spanishoeprints. At the top of the screen, you can also click on the page with the same title for an assortment of photographs and journal writings from our trip.
I will never forget that day when we looked out of the airplane window and saw Mallorca for the first time from the sky. First we saw the pure and blue Mediterranean sea, then what appeared to be Middle Earth in the art of Tolkien.
It was a magical three-dimensional game board- green and terracotta with the curves of stone streets and walls, the hammered out cliffs, the pencil lines of fields, square and triangular pastures, and the dots of sheep and almond trees. The game pieces were steeples and palaces and monasteries set in spirals that rose gently with the slopes to the tops of mountains.
I will never forget that feeling of being a Hobbit in the Shire for three magical weeks with my father and my son. I still dream of the place and long for the time when I can return…Sometimes I try to pretend it wasn’t real because the hollowness I feel becomes almost unbearable. Please pray for me that I may continue to “follow the light unflinchingly”.
Peace & Grace,
“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
Posted in Inklings | Tagged dreams, Faith, healing, J. R. R. Tolkien, Mallorca, Mediterranean Sea, Middle Earth, random, Spain, spirituality, The Hobbit, The Shire, Tolkien, writing | 2 Comments »
I learned so much among the Spanish people, not only about civility which seems to be disappearing in my own nation, but about things that make life simpler and more pleasant. I would never intentionally shed negative light on my own country, but we could learn so much if we would be more humble and listen to our friends from other places. My father was a wonderful guide and explained many things to me as we wandered around different villages and cities.
For example, I love the beautiful lace curtains that hang over the doorways in Spain, and it didn’t occur to me right away that I didn’t see any screened doors or windows. My father explained that the lace is a more fashionable way of fulfilling the same purpose. When the doors are open, the lace keeps insects out of homes. Many of the people have beaded curtains, like the ones that were so popular in the hippie days in America. Flies and other insects can sense the motion of the beads in the breeze and it frightens them away. And the homes are more aesthetically pleasing to look at without all of the screens.
One of the most pleasant features of Spain is the remarkable cleanliness of the place. The streets in even the larger cities like Barcelona were incredibly clean. I never saw trash cans or litter drifting around while I was in there, because the business of trash disposal and collection occurs at night. Metal hooks are set into the stone walls beside the doors, and the people place trash bags on the hooks at dusk for the trash collectors.
In the entire time that I was in Spain, I never sat at a table in a restaurant that had spills or crumbs on it. Even in the airport McDonald’s, the tables were kept spotlessly clean and shiny. People seem to genuinely take pride in their villages and cities.
One taxi driver in Barcelona was beaming with pride as he explained to us about the best sites to see during our visit, and he pointed out his apartment as we drove by, remarking several times as he drove that he loved living in this beautiful city. I don’t know that I have ever seen people take such pride in their places of habitation. In America, we are proud of our own property, but Spaniards take pride in their whole community.
After a couple of weeks in Spain, it occurred to me that I had not seen any semi-trucks on the highways even in the cities. My father explained that they transport merchandise at night, not in the daytime.
I saw a sign in the village square which showed a picture of a hand covered in chain mail, and I asked my father about it. He told me that is was for the butcher shop. He explained that in Spain, a butcher is required by law to wear chain mail over the hand which is holding the meat when he cuts it. It is not only a tradition but a matter of insurance liability. More importantly, it’s good sense.
My father asked me one night if we wanted to go to a tapas bar, and I glared at him and said “What?” Then he repeated himself, and explained that tapas are appetizers or hors d’oeuvres. In Spain you go out for tapas when you are not ready for a full meal but you need a little something to hold you over. I love this concept because it saves the embarrassment of going in a restaurant when you only want soup or a salad and the waiter looks at you with annoyance as if to say “cheapskate” or “there goes my tip for this table.”
I noticed that many waiters wear arm bands above the elbow that resemble garter belts made of black satin. So one day I inquired of a dashing young waiter, “Do your arm bands represent something, or do you wear them just to look nice?” He answered, “We adjust the length of our sleeves with them, so that our cuffs don’t come in contact with the food we serve.” What a great idea! And they look much classier than rolled-up sleeves.
I saw mostly small cars in Spain, because they are economical and more suitable for the narrow roadways and easy parking. I did not see the gigantic gas hogs driving around there like I am accustomed to seeing here. The people are also smaller, and I rarely saw an obese person. The competitive over-consumptive capitalistic spirit seems to be absent from the atmosphere.
Weapons don’t mean a thing to most Spaniards. My father says that aggression takes place everywhere, but the Spanish people don’t like fighting. In fact, he says they don’t like to place their hands on each other at all during an argument. When they get angry with one another, they shout mostly, but seldom push or strike one another.
My father says that there is a strong sense of community in Spain, that
there is not an attitude of every man for himself, striving against the whole world. Spaniards think in terms of every man for himself and his neighbor. He said that Americans think this is communist, but it isn’t. Communism is every man for the government. What could possibly be wrong with “love thy neighbor as thyself”?
There is no charge for medical care in Spain, and if you need antibiotics, you don’t need a prescription. You walk to the pharmacy and buy it complete with instructions on dosage, warnings, etc. You are assigned a doctor based on where you live and from there to specialists if you need them. Spain is fourth in quality of medical care in the world, and America is around thirty-two while the care is more costly than anywhere else. My father had a quadruple bypass surgery about two years ago, and paid nothing for his care. There goes that community spirit again.
People really enjoy being together is Spain. When you meet a friend at a restaurant, you don’t sit for an hour and get your ticket from a hurried waiter. You commune with your friends for hours over food and wine presented with style and kindness. No rude service there! My father says once you sit down at a table, it is yours as long as you like and no one will take it from you.
The cathedral bells there ring out the hours of the day, the church services, special holidays, and the deaths of villagers. I loved seeing the birds flying from the bell towers when they chimed. There are unique rings for each kind of event, and the bells toll differently to signify the passing of men or women or children.
I have been dreaming of Spain ever since our departure. My son and I wandered around the beautiful Barcelona airport for an hour or so before our departure, shopping for last minute souvenirs and gifts. The floors were so polished that I felt as if I was walking across a pond.
When we flew into the Atlanta airport, we looked out the windows and saw trash everywhere in and around dumpsters. As we walked inside, we smelled the dismal smell of sweat and dirt. We were so sad that this is what foreigners experience when they arrive in America.
When will we ever learn?
Posted in BOOKS, Memoirs, Spanishoeprints | Tagged Faith, father, healing, love, Mallorca, random, Spain, spirituality, writing | Leave a Comment »
The village of Valldemossa affects my mind like a dream because it is so quiet and charming, and the people seem to be the same. Those whom I met had soft voices and a gentle demeanor. In the first shop I walked into, a white-haired man smiled at me and lowered his head as if to say “Welcome.” I don’t know how he could tell I didn’t speak Spanish. When I had found the scarf with oceanic colors that I wanted to buy, I approached the man and he took out a calculator, pressed some keys, and showed me the display. “Gracias” I said and counted my confusing little coins. The paper money started with fives and that always mixed me up, but I placed one- and two-euro coins on the glass counter until I had the right amount. The man wrapped my scarf with decorated tissue that said “Valldemossa” in provincial blue, and placed it into a pretty paper bag. We nodded nervously at each other and I stepped away. As I reached the threshold, the man got brave and said “hello.” I wanted to chuckle, but I didn’t.
In Spain, banks are required to dedicate their profits to social and artistic projects in the villages. One afternoon, Sa Nostra bank brought in a choral group to sing and I walked in with my father and son to listen. Three rows of ladies and men sang in Spanish with pleasant melodies and harmony, and their faces seemed to be glowing with peace. After listening for about half an hour, suddenly I was pleasantly surprised to hear a line in English: “We are marching in the light of God; we are marching in the light of God.” I noticed the singers began to switch languages so that everyone could hear these words in their own language.
After the concert, I talked with my son and said, “These people seem so sweet and humble and happy. They remind me of the Who’s in Who-Ville (from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas“). “I could see that,” he replied with a smile. (The thought occurred to me that my father could very well be the Grinch.)
As I walked through the monastery where Chopin wrote some of his most famous music, a lady named Francisca approached me and offered to take my picture in the gardens. I remarked, “Oh, the new Pope is named after you, I see” and she smiled broadly.
My father introduced me to some of his close friends during our visit: Suzanne the quiet concert pianist who forgets her shyness altogether when she plays on stage, Barry the violinist who came with a kiss upon my hand and a deep kind voice, Michael the opera composer who met his wife Philippa when she was singing soprano in a concert, Nils the artist who sketched the musicians at the International Music Festival in Deia, Owen the cowboyish fellow from Peculiar, Missouri with floppy hat and a scar over one eye and fowl language after a few drinks, Arturo the English gypsy artist with a black and white pinstripe shirt, a large black handbag over one shoulder and a hot pink scarf. “I love your shirt,” I remarked. He answered with a sweet and high voice, “I am not ashamed. I got it from someone’s trash.” He stole my gypsy heart instantly.
My father leaned towards me and said, “You have asked me why I stay here and don’t return to the states. These people are the reason, as you can see.” Yes, I do see.
On our final day in the village, my son and I wandered for one last time down the stone streets. We stopped into the gallery of Coll Bardolet which also features a charming little cafe with various kinds of espresso. Just before we returned to my father’s wooden door, I saw Francisca sitting upon a bench. “We are leaving tomorrow morning,” I said. “It was delightful meeting you. This is such a lovely place.”
“You will be back” she said.
Posted in BOOKS, Memoirs, Spanishoeprints | Tagged Faith, father, healing, Mallorca, random, Spain, spirituality, writing | Leave a Comment »
“In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” John 14:2
I woke up this morning from a very interesting dream. I was sitting in a cafe talking to an American fellow, explaining why I love Europe. I said that Europeans don’t fret about hoarding possessions and money. Instead they read books and go to concerts and sip wine with friends.
Then I told him a fantastic tale. I said that my father lives in a palace facing the castle of Hans Christian Andersen, and it is just across the fjord. I told him that my father and I visit him often at his castle for tea, and that Andersen wears a tall black hat like Abraham Lincoln.
Of course in my dream it was all true, so I was a bit disappointed to wake up. But then my mind began to ramble on this idea, that if this life is a dream, I might awaken someday in that world.
Perhaps in Heaven I shall live in My Father’s palace across from Hans Christian Andersen. Maybe we will have tea together- in a field of flowers under the moon. Then I might climb into my little golden boat with silken sails and glide across that crystal sea to visit Søren Kierkegaard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Corrie Ten Boom and Mother Teresa and Black Elk…and Abraham Lincoln!
Why not? Anything wonderful could happen in a world governed by King Jesus!
Posted in DREAMS, Inklings | Tagged Abraham Lincoln, Black Elk, Christianity, Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Faith, Hans Christian Andersen, Heaven, Jesus, Mother Teresa, random, Søren Kierkegaard, writing | 2 Comments »
As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been reflecting gratefully upon the human angels that have been dispatched to me, those who helped me pass through the wilderness of my youth safely and joyfully. I wanted to take a moment to write a list of their names. I also challenged myself to find a single word to define each of them, something that represents what they taught me by their character:
Evelyn the Wise
William the Gentle
Katy the Courageous
Isabel the Nurturer
Rabbit the Whimsical
Margaret the Noble
Savage the Healer
Sparrow the Lighthearted
Gandalf the Mystical
Linda the Generous
Elizabeth the Compassionate
Today I am thankful for these and many others who have helped me in my travels. Try writing down your own angels, if you will.
Peace & Grace,
- Thank Full Tree (victrocious.wordpress.com)
Posted in Inklings, Memoirs | Tagged angels, Faith, Friends, memoirs, random, Thanksgiving, writing | Leave a Comment »
For most of my life, I have felt like The Little Match Girl waiting for an angel to come and rescue her from the streets, or Cinderella scrubbing the floors while her stepsisters dress up for the ball. But something is changing since I visited my illustrious father in Spain.
I feel like Alice upon returning home from Wonderland to tell her adventures, or the little girl who first noticed The Leaf from Heaven, or The Ugly Duckling finding out about her swan-hood. My soul is transforming from that of a poor little gypsy to a noblewoman, because I’m connected to something special.
There’s no wealth or fame in this story, just a sense of treading closer to the Earth, rather than feeling like a ghost who passes by and reaches out with invisible fingers.
Peace & Grace,
Posted in BOOKS, Inklings, Memoirs | Tagged Cinderella, fairytale, Faith, father, God, Hans Christian Andersen, Little Match Girl, love, peace, random, Spain, Ugly Duckling, Wonderland | 2 Comments »
All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken
The crownless shall again be king.
I suppose someone might wonder why I love this poem. First of all, it’s Tolkien, of course- the Christian literary genius who invented all kinds of crazy languages and imaginary worlds! The first time I read The Hobbit, I was completely swept away by this dapper fellow with the pipe who puffed magical smoke rings, and I had to read everything else he wrote, even the lesser known stories such as Farmer Giles of Ham and The Smith of Wootton Major.
But this particular poem is a favorite of mine for several reasons: first, because it appears in one of the first letters from Gandalf to the hobbits in Bree, and also because it is a lovely metaphorical mixture of prophecy and wisdom.
Here are some of the little treasures hidden in it: 1)There are many things more precious than gold that the world doesn’t recognize, contrary to the words of Led Zeppelin’s song. 2) Some people appear to be wandering because they are just on a different path. 3) Withering is only a physical occurrence that doesn’t affect the soul. 4) When the roots of faith are deep, they are incorruptible and untouchable by the frost of desire or trouble.
Then in the second stanza is an illustrated prophecy about a crownless King who will return and bring light and renewal back from among the shadows. Sounds like Jesus to me!
Light and Peace to Thee,
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, Faith, God, Inklings, J. R. R. Tolkien, poetry, quotes, random | 9 Comments »
I am feeling a peculiar mixture of emotions as I prepare to depart for Spain- happy and overwhelmed and apprehensive to name a few of them.
I feel like Bilbo Baggins after Gandalf and the unexpected party showed up at his door and summoned him for an adventure. There is a part of me that would just as soon stay safe and snug in my hobbit hole, and let brave-hearted folks go to faraway lands to meet a dark mysterious stranger (who just happens to be my father- there’s the rub).
It has dawned on me that I really don’t know my father…but I want to so much. Please keep praying for me that I will “go out with joy and be led forth with peace.”
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Bilbo Baggins, child, Faith, Gandalf, Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien, Memoir, random, writing | 4 Comments »
Today is my birthday, and I will always remember that Pope Francis was elected on 3-13-13! He also chose the name of my favorite saint. Saint Francis is known for humility, poverty, wanting to “rebuild the church” (in spiritual terms), and the love of animals. How fitting that the “Sistine Seagull” perched patiently upon the chimney.
According to reports, this Pope has practiced the teachings of Saint Francis in several ways. He chose to live in a small apartment downtown rather to dwell in the palace offered to him, he rode on the bus instead of in the limousine, and he cooked for himself when he could have had a servant. Sounds like he tries to imitate Christ as well!
We need humble spiritual leaders in the Christian community, and Pope Francis appeared to have a contrite spirit, when he stepped onto the balcony and asked the crowd to pray for him. I am thankful that my prayers were answered so speedily today!
Peace & Grace,
P. S. Interestingly, last year on my birthday, my sister sent me the book “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” based on the famous prayer of Saint Francis!
Pope Francis: Humble leader who takes bus to work (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
Posted in Inklings | Tagged animals, Argentina, birthday, Christ, church, Faith, Francis, Francis of Assisi, Jesuit, Jesus, Jorge Bergoglio, Pope, Pope Francis, random, sacred, Society of Jesus, spirituality, writing | Leave a Comment »
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Luke 18:19
I am haunted by my past, ashamed of my numerous failures, and constantly battling my self-serving nature. I am afflicted with a disease called the human condition. Christians refer to this as sin, the force that prevents our communion with a perfect God.
I can’t help but wonder: If Jesus didn’t view Himself as good, then how do well-seasoned Christians tend to become so self-righteous?
I married a very religious Quaker baker when I was twenty-four who brought me to church to straighten me out. He said that it took “the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon” to put up with me. I can attest to the fact that it’s true. But he wasn’t perfect either, although he thought he was. I tried to fit in by changing the way I dressed, the way I talked, the way I behaved. I became fluent in the Christianese language. But no matter where I went or how well I performed, I was still there…darn!
The truth is that I felt much more comfortable with my hippie friends than I’ve ever felt in any church. And church people have been very good to me. I just happen to enjoy the company of people who are really really real. I would rather attend a “love-in” or “rap session” any day over a church potluck. (Without the dope and sex.) Because among my friends, I could play an out-of-tune guitar and sing Donovan songs and recite T.S. Eliot and dance like a confused child until I almost fell down, and I still felt accepted and loved.
I’ll bet Jesus and those sinners had some great rap sessions when He was on Earth. He accepted and loved people with all of their strange ways, and that is why I still adore Him even when His followers are disappointing.
I know I’m half-crazy, but could there be a problem with the church too? As Leonard Cohen asserts, “One of us cannot be wrong.”
Posted in Inklings | Tagged compassion, free thinker, God, Jesus, Leonard Cohen, random, Religion and Spirituality, Seeker, truth, writer | 4 Comments »
I’m in Tennessee now and it’s stinkbug season…I used to think I could be a naturalist, but one problem always prevented me: INSECTS.
I wrote an essay about this problem during graduate school. We were discussing nature writing, and I decided I would try my hand at it. My mentor loved this piece entitled “Insect Armageddon.” I hope you enjoy.
Peace, Olive Twist!!
C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist, believed that animals go to Heaven when they die, because Isaiah the prophet speaks of the Holy Mountain being inhabited by more animals than humans. Someone once asked Lewis, “If animals go to Heaven, what will become of the mosquitoes?” Lewis replied that “A heaven for mosquitoes could be combined with a hell for man.”
I can attest to the fact that such a place already exists, where men are tormented for their sins and insects have dominion: the state of Florida. Many northerners have discovered this punishment at the time of their retirement, having thought they were moving south to tropical paradise and Jimmy Buffet songs.
I will not even embark upon issues such as the relentless heat and no seasons, the hurricanes and power outages that follow every storm, the wharf rats, the stinging jellyfish, the rabid raccoons, or the water moccasins that lurk in lakes, awaiting some brazen tourist who might decide to skinny-dip. I will tell only of that which I despise the most: the bugs. I have always despised bugs and regard them with a mixture of contempt and dread. Every autumn, I begin to pray for a winter harsh enough to send them all into early graves.
One summer my sons and I moved to Oregon, because most of our relatives live on the west coast and the weather is milder. After about two months there, I asked my young sons what they missed the most about Florida. My six-year-old quickly replied, “I miss the giant rhinoceros beetles that crawl around the parking lots, and those big locusts that are green and yellow and orange with zebra stripes on them.” His big blue eyes were glowing with purity.
“You miss those?” I asked, trying not to look disgusted. “Not me.” I mumbled a prayer that we would never go back, but we unfortunately did.
As we drove back into Florida, I opened the car window and could hear the cicadas chirping loudly in the trees. They’ve been waiting for me, I thought with horror. They are like giant flies that are naturally attracted to long hair, and nothing is worse than trying to shake one out while it rattles like madness in your ear, and you shriek and do a nerve dance until it falls out.
But the great demon of the south is the roach. Some of them fly, such as the giant palmetto bug. Once I lived in an old two-story house with a group of friends, and a man was cooking spaghetti and garlic bread in the kitchen. He had a neat stack of bread on a corner of the table and we noticed a huge roach on the ceiling several feet away. Its antennae were shaking excitably, and it suddenly did a sky dive with no parachute and landed perfectly on top of that tall bread castle, where it seemed to be quite content with its plunder. I did not eat that night.
Most roaches crawl with wriggling hungry antennae in garbage cans, on kitchen counters, and through windowsills and crevices. In the middle of the night, when you go to the kitchen for a cookie and milk and you turn on the light, they flee like desperate soldiers behind the fortress of the stove. When you open a cupboard in the daytime, one might rustle behind the sugar bag, or you might spy their eggs like tiny white bullets in the corner.
Once I was lying in my bed, and I heard a sound as soft as silk slippers on the venetian blinds over my head. I leapt from my bed and cut on the light, and was amazed that I had even been able to hear it. The roach, I mean. My ears are ultra-sensitive to insects, especially roaches. I wake up everyone in the house for such occasions, and won’t let anyone rest until the skirmish is finished and the culprit has met his demise.
The pest control man can’t stand me. I laugh with victorious delight whenever his Ghostbuster truck pulls into the driveway with its giant canisters of poison and ammunition. I call him any time I see one bug, and I make him spray the whole house again, since it is included in my service agreement. Though most people have switched to annual pest service, I expect my house to be sprayed once per month inside and out. I let him know when I think it’s time for more bait behind the kitchen drawers and under the sinks. I know he gets sick of dealing with me.
I can’t leave out the termites and giant ants. I called the termite man to come and tell me about a tree that looked like it was dissolving to sawdust all by itself. He looked at it and said, “I can’t do anything about that tree, because it is within three feet of your house, and we don’t do indoor service for you.” So I called the pest control man, and he says, “I can’t touch that tree because it’s not part of the house. So the bugs have all figured out where the no-kill zone is, and they continue to prosper there and raise their families. I once thought it would be funny to put up a “roach crossing” sign in front of our house.
Should I embark upon the subject of mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis? Or have you ever awakened to find a tick burrowing in your flesh? How about those wasps with great stingers and long legs that hover around the eaves looking for a victim?
Once I had a crazy dream that I was looking with curious disdain at a display of insects in some laboratory. As I analyzed one big furry bug with wings pinned to a board resembling an insect Hellraiser, the bug suddenly squirmed and opened its eyes and started talking. I jumped back in horror, as it told me about the injustice and misfortune of its life and how it ended up being nailed by some entomologist. It was like a horror movie scene and I woke up sweating and feverish. I wondered if I was like Hannibal Lechter to the bug world.
As I sat shaking on the edge of my bed, I thought: Perhaps I have misjudged these little creatures. Perhaps they are only innocent civilians. Perhaps they are really cute and cuddly if you get to know them.
One tiny baby roach wriggled on my dresser. I grabbed my hairbrush and smacked it into eternal bliss. No, even my Quaker beliefs must be suspended for this war, this enmity. I cannot love these hellions in paradise.
Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged ant, bug, C.S.Lewis, Christ, cicada, cockroach, entymology, essay, Faith, Florida, funny, holy mountain, humor, hurricane, Insect, Isaiah, jellyfish, mosquito, naturalist, nature, nature essay, nature writing, pests, Problem of Pain, raccoon, random, scholar, stinkbug, termite, tick, water moccasin, writer | 2 Comments »
“What is the Meaning of the Person of Gandhi the Indian?”
As a man of faith, you are troubled by the thought: what will Providence do with Gandhi? And what is the meaning of the appearance of this strange person among the statesmen and politicians of our time?
A warning from God. That is surely the meaning of the leader of the great Indian nation. Through that person, Providence is showing politicians and the statesmen of the world, even Christian ones, that there are other methods in politics than skill, wiliness and violence…
Fasting, prayer and silence! There is hardly a statesman in Europe or America who would not ironically see these three secrets of the Indian statesmen as three dry twigs pointed on the battlefield against a heap of steel, lead, fire and poison. However, Gandhi succeeds with these three “spells” of his; he succeeds to the astonishment of the whole world. And whether they want to or not, political lawmakers in England and other countries will have to add a chapter into their textbooks: “Fasting, Prayer and Silence as Powerful Weapons in Politics.”…
Those are the three sources of great spiritual power which make man victorious in battle and excellent in life. Is there a man who cannot arm himself with these weapons? And which crude force in this world can defeat these weapons? Of course, these three things do not include all of the Christian faith, but are only a part of its rules, its supernatural mysteries.
Sadly, in our time, among Christians, many of these principles are disregarded, and many wonder-working mysteries are forgotten. People have started thinking that one wins only by using steel, that the hailing clouds are dispersed only by cannons, that diseases are cured only by pills, and that everything in the world can be explained simply through electricity. Spiritual and moral energies are looked upon almost as working magic.
I think that this is the reason why ever-active Providence has chosen Gandhi, an unbaptized man, to serve as a warning to the baptized, especially those baptized people who pile up one misfortune on another upon themselves and their peoples by using ruthless and harsh means.
(This letter was written by St. Nicholas Velimirovic to a British Noble named “Charles B.”)
Posted in QUOTATIONS | Tagged Christ, christian, Christianity, Faith, Gandhi, gospel, India, Jesus, random, Seeker, spirituality, writing | 2 Comments »
I came across these lovely quotes while reading Twice-Told Tales today, and they really spoke to me:
The mother’s character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty- a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood.
…for all through her life she had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and clear as crystal; and, looking at all matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes saw truths so profound, that other people laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.
From “The Snow-Image”
(For more of Olive’s favorites, click on the “QUOTES” page or category- look above or in the sidebar)
Posted in QUOTATIONS | Tagged Arts, child, Christ, England, Faith, Holy Spirit, inspiration, Literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Online Writing, quotes, random, Scarlet Letter, Seeker, spirituality, Twice-Told Tales, woman, women, writing | Leave a Comment »
Natural Cathedral – Lars van der Goor – Featured Photographer – PhotoBotos.com – Providing Superior Photos and Product Reviews One Day at a Time!!.
This is one of the most exquisite photographs I’ve ever seen to illustrate the extraordinary beauty of God’s sanctuary!
Please click on the link above to read more about it…
Peace and Grace,
Posted in Inklings | Tagged art, beauty, Christ, Faith, nature, photography, random | 2 Comments »
It’s the shortest verse in the Bible, often memorized by children looking for an easy passage to recite in Sunday School. But those two words are full of meaning for me. The writer put them together tightly in a separate verse to make the reader stop and take notice, to make an impression.
I’ve read many beautiful scriptures and sayings over the years, but I can’t say that I’ve ever read that “Buddha wept” or “Krishna wept” or “Zoroaster wept.” I admire all of these people and their ideas, but for me it’s never been the same as Jesus. I’ve seen the depictions of Krishna with royal blue skin sitting serenely in the lotus blossom, and the golden statues of Buddha so wise and noble.
But I’ve never read of mobs plotting to kill them. I’ve never noticed any of them appearing anguished, wounded, or sweating even one drop of blood or tears. Jesus is the only one who ever seemed genuinely human to me, with no jewels or rich garments or palaces or chariots.
If that isn’t enough, He is the only one who proved His divinity to me with miracles, the greatest of which was overcoming death itself by rising after three days in the grave. He fought an amazing and painful battle on Earth.
He is my own personal Braveheart- the only One that ever could connect with me through my own personal pain, minister to my homeless soul or shed a tear with me. I cannot speak for others, but for myself, there is no one like Jesus. Because Jesus wept.
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Christ, compassion, despair, Faith, healing, loneliness, love, random, Seeker, spirituality, writing | 6 Comments »
I have been doing some retirement planning and analyzing my prospectus. I am heretofore preparing for my childhood. I made this important decision yesterday.
I was at a yard sale with my son and I spotted a small Fisher Price piano that plays three nursery songs: The Muffin Man, This Old Man, and Pop Goes the Weasel. I began to plink on the keys, remembering such a toy that I owned as a child. I bought it for fifty cents and went on my way.
As my son began to plink upon it in the car, I told him, “I have made an important decision. I am going to start saving for my childhood. I want to design a secret garden in my yard and store up a treasure of toys for when I am a child.”
I have been thinking a great deal about this. I want the wind-up red clock that plays Hickory-Dickory Dock. And the dome-covered popcorn popper thing with a handle that pops colorful plastic balls as you push it around the room. And the wooden inchworm on a string that bobs up and down as you pull it. And the spinning top that has spirals and balls inside and you churn it up and watch it. I am still scared of the Jack-in-the-Box, so I’ll pass on that one. How I wish I could find the battery-operated puffin with spinning striped feet and light-up eyes- it gurgles as it moves.
In my yard, I want zillions of bird feeders and iridescent glass marbles on twisted stems and miniature animals and birds and a wheelbarrow full of flowers that will change according to the seasons- and most of all, silly cliché metal signs of frogs with fishing poles and overalls who croak “Welcome to My Pad.”
From the garage, I will dig out all of the stuffed animals my sons played with when they were young: Oakley the Snowy Owl, Camilla the green and white duck who flew in one Easter, Corny the sentimental Scarecrow, the plush armadillos and possums and foxes. They shall all be my friends.
I plan to scamper around all day in my nightgown and bedroom slippers playing and pretending with my toys, and I will bring my walking stick with me to my secret garden in case I should stumble.
I plan to start my childhood early in preparation for the eternal one to come. All I ask of you is that you send my toy box with me to the nursing home. As I rest my head upon my pillow, I will practice saying the poem “The Green Moth” by Winifred Welles- the one my son used to recite to me.
The night the green moth came for me,
A creamy moon poured down the hill,
The meadow seemed a silver sea,
Small pearls hung in every tree,
And all so still, so still.
He floated in on my white bed,
A strange and soundless fellow.
I saw the horns wave on his head,
He stepped across my pillow
In tiny ermine boots, and spread
His cape of green and yellow.
He came so close that I could see
His golden eyes, and sweet and chill,
His faint breath wavered over me,
“Come child, my beautiful”, said he,
And all so still, so still.
Poem from “Skipping Along Alone” Copyright, 1931, Macmillan Publishing
Posted in Inklings | Tagged aging, child, childhood, Faith, funny, planning, retirement, spirituality, writing | 2 Comments »
I had a dream that I was standing in the grass behind a great Victorian style mansion with a woman who healed animals. It was a gusty and cloudy day. The sky was full of birds soaring through a web of branches and wind, and she could just reach out her hand and catch a bird.
She held them and turned them over lovingly, inspecting their stomachs and legs and wings for wounds or diseases. As she touched their infirmities with her beautiful graceful hands, they were instantly healed. Then she opened her hands and released them.
She also attended to a small sick kitten, feeding it green grapes as part of its healing. I knew something spiritual was happening, because a predator was eating fruit.
Isaiah the prophet wrote of how “there would be no hurt or harm” in the Holy Mountain, and I can’t help but notice there seem to be more animals than humans there, and more children than adults:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Posted in DREAMS, IRIS DIARIES | Tagged animals, dreams, earth, Faith, holy mountain, nature, Seeker, spirituality, writing | Leave a Comment »
(From the Iris Diaries)
The woman who loves the wind is always dreaming of a road. Though it is tiresome and lonely at times, she senses that the path is ascending gently under her soft little feet. It rolls out like a divine scroll before her, with new words and new mercies each day.
She knows that the end of the path holds great rewards and secrets that her natural eyes are too dim to see. She has spiritual eyes that have beheld a few shadows of glory beyond the veil. She told a close friend about one of her most memorable spiritual dreams:
In one of my dreams, I was the innkeeper of an old rustic lodge by the side of a lonely road, and I provided hospitality to many travelers. I worked hard to make people as comfortable as possible when they came. I always stayed very busy preparing food and cleaning out rooms and decorating with flowers and candles and art.
There was a certain man who visited the inn on several occasions. He was kind and gracious, and I always felt awkward in his presence. Each time he came, I felt more of a bond of friendship with him, but I often felt as though my services were inadequate. He was always grateful, but I was always looking for ways to improve. Each time the man returned to the inn, I felt great joy about his coming.
During one particular visit by the man, I felt that something was about to happen and our interaction was different, because my heart began to flutter unexpectedly and I sensed that he had come for a special purpose. He was especially warm and gentle in his demeanor and it made me even more nervous and concerned than before.
I was bustling around anxiously, when suddenly he stopped me and ordered me to sit down. He asked me how I was doing and how I felt. I replied that I was fine, and he startled me by sitting on the floor in front of my chair and massaging my feet! His eyes were searching my face with concern. I was astonished and confused.
Then the man got up and said, “Wait here. I have something to show you.” As he went outside I rose and stood in the doorway to watch, and I saw him returning. I realized his hands were full of huge diamonds glowing in the sunlight! The light was pouring out of them like rivers as he strode up to the doorstep. I have never seen such large and brilliant stones. One gigantic diamond was set in a ring he wore upon his hand and light was flowing out of it in colorful strands.
The man stepped inside and spread the gems out on the table, and spoke these words: “I am a stone-cutter and I only work with the purest diamonds because I want to bring out the brightest light from inside of them.” As he talked, he picked out particular ones from the table and held them up to show me.
Then he removed the fiery diamond ring off of his own hand and held it up before my eyes, and said “You see, I would never dream of giving anything but the most perfect stone to my daughter, or to my…” I woke up before he could say the last word. But the word “bride” hung in the air like a moment that is never forgotten. Tears sparkled like diamonds in my eyes- tears of holy and eternal love.
Posted in DREAMS, IRIS DIARIES | Tagged bride, Christ, diamonds, dreams, fables, Faith, hope, random, sacred, Seeker, Spirit, spirituality, stone-cutter, woman, writing | 5 Comments »
I wish to thank my old friend, Sparrow, for this treasure he gave to me many years ago. While the language is very simple in its style, the undercurrents are very deep and powerful.
You know, I’d do anything to make people think about Jesus;
I’d walk on nails or go down in the ground.
Cause when they see His face and they understand
That He’s us,
Then they’ll know that Jesus is all around.
I met a brother on the path
And he started to laugh.
He said, “This path leads in Circles,
Round and round.”
I said I had to agree,
But I asked him, “Can’t you see
That it’s not the path
But the way that you walk that counts?”
I met a sister deep in prayer
And her face was lined with care.
She said, “When will they
Let me out of this cage?”
And I told her, “The cage is you,
And you’re the keeper too.
And you’ll let yourself out
When you see there’s no one to blame.”
I’d do anything to make people think about Jesus;
I’d walk on nails and go down
In the ground.
Cause when they see His face and they understand
That He’s us,
They’ll know that Jesus is all around.
(Jesus gonna shut you down.)
Jesus is all around.
Posted in Paper Angels | Tagged Christianity, Faith, Friends, Jesus, path, poems, poet, random, Sparrow, spirituality, walk, writing | Leave a Comment »
I’m not sure what made me think of it just now, but I may as well write it down.
I remember years ago when I attended a Good Friday church service in Oregon, and a doctor came to speak about the medical perspective of Christ’s crucifixion. He told us that Jesus actually died of a broken heart, not from bleeding from His wounds or excruciating pain or other factors. Jesus must have been very strong physically.
The scriptures say that when He was pierced in the side by a soldier, blood and water gushed out. The visiting doctor said that for water to be mixed with his blood in this way, His heart had to have burst already. Otherwise, it would have been only blood that poured out.
People all around me started weeping into tissues and handkerchiefs and I quickly joined in. My heart broke thinking of how we wounded Him with our cruelty and our ignorance and our apathy. It made me feel so ashamed.
Remember those drops of blood on His forehead in Gethsemane? Those revealed the depth of His pain as He prayed for us in the garden. Even as a child, I understood it and whenever I considered my own pain, I remembered that bloody sweat on His brow. I understood that His sorrow was even greater than mine, and it gave me solace. I knew that His love towards me was beyond the grasp of my understanding.
It still gives me comfort today through all of my personal battles. I pray every day that I don’t break His heart again with my attitudes and actions.
OLIVE TWIST ©2012
Posted in Inklings | Tagged blood, Christ, comfort, crucifixion, despair, Faith, Gethsemane, Jesus, love, pain, random, sorrow, writing | Leave a Comment »
“And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” (Luke 8:1-3)
Of all of the women in the New Testament, I most identify with Mary Magdalene, the woman who was about to be stoned for committing adultery. Most of you already know the story of how Jesus rebuked a group of men with stones in their hands and said that whoever was without sin should cast the first one, and they all walked away.
Jesus was not only defending the woman, but acknowledging that a woman cannot commit adultery by herself. “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” After everyone had left, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
After saving her, one might have expected Him to say, “Now go and get married and be a dutiful wife from now on.” But He released her in that moment, and she henceforth became a witness and a disciple in her own right.
After this, the Pharisees came arguing with Christ that He did not have authority to do the things He was doing. He answered them saying, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.” He said that He had the authority to judge, but chose not to exercise it. If Jesus did not hasten to condemn, then why must Christians be so judgmental?
He told the religious leaders “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed…”
After she was liberated by Christ, Mary traveled everywhere that Jesus went and offered financial support for His ministry. She was a very important figure who witnessed His earthly ministry, crucifixion, and burial. She was the first person to see the resurrected Christ.
Consider the story of the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan, and Jesus was a Jew, and by law they were not supposed to interact at all. But Christ chose to interact with her when He humbly asked her for a drink of water. At one point Jesus asked her to call for her husband. She said, “I have no husband” and He replied “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
Again, if one of the religious leaders had been there, he would have ordered her to get married or fulfill her expected role in society. But Christ did not do this, and she also became a disciple. She could not wait to tell everyone she knew that she had met the Messiah. “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’”
Mary the sister of Lazarus was another great woman of God, who loved to listen to Jesus teach. When Martha tried to get Jesus to make Mary work with her in the kitchen instead of spending time with Him, He rebuked Martha saying “Mary has chosen the better part, and that will not be taken from her.” He clearly allowed Mary to fulfill her own heart’s desires, and this Mary also became a powerful disciple.
On one occasion, at a feast in the home of a wealthy man named Simon, Mary came in and washed Jesus feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and poured expensive perfume on his feet. The men in the room were appalled and made mockery of her, and whispered among themselves that Christ did not know what kind of woman she was. He knew their thoughts and harshly rebuked them. He said that the woman would always be remembered for this act of affection that she bestowed on Him, and told Simon that he could learn a lot from her behavior about how to treat the Lord. Christ had a pattern of showing love and dignity to women, and He could not endure to see them mistreated by anyone.
In the eighth chapter of Luke, Joanna and Susanna are mentioned as women who take care of Christ’s needs “out of their substance.” A friend of mine and I had once discussed the fact that Christ had no house, chariot, money, job, or any comforts that most people enjoy, and we had wondered how His clothes were cleaned and things such as that. Then we found our answer in this passage with the women who cared for Jesus.
Imagine the bravery of Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, to be helping Jesus after the male babies had been slaughtered and John the Baptist had been beheaded by this same king! In many ways, she showed more courage than the twelve disciples did. But she considered it a privilege and a joy to take care of the Lord. Women were always coming forward to take care of things that the men were unwilling to attend to.
When the rich young ruler came and tried to argue with Christ about the law, I don’t read that he offered to contribute money to help with the ministries of Jesus and the disciples. There are other men who said that they wanted to follow Christ, but after He told them that He was homeless, they lost interest in following Him.
But the women were always there.
After Christ was crucified, the scriptures say that the women were still lingering around the tomb weeping for Jesus when the men had given up and were complaining that Christ had not saved them from the Romans. In John 20 and 21, the disciples didn’t even recognize Christ after He appeared to them several times, and they all went out fishing.
In the early church after the resurrection of Christ, women continued to play an important role in furthering the gospel. The apostle Paul mentions Priscilla and Aquila in his epistles, and scholars say that he mentions Priscilla first because she was recognized as being more gifted in the ministry than her husband. Lydia the purveyor of purple cloth helped support the work of the apostles, and Dorcas was so important in one community that Paul raised her from the dead.
Kathleen Norris writes in her book The Cloister Walks that theologians have never forgiven Christ for coming through the body of a woman. She states in her chapter about virgin martyrs that the men could not bear to kill holy women without raping them first, because they thought of them only as devices for the pleasure of men.
Today we still see this attitude within the context of Christianity, that a married woman is expected first to serve her husband and then God. Women are considered second-rate citizen in the Kingdom of God by many denominations, and leaders take scriptures out of context to support this errant view. As a result, women in some churches are not permitted to speak or to lead, because it is believed that their only suitable roles are child care and baking cookies.
This subject was addressed in an article entitled “The Head of the Epistles,” which appeared in Christianity Today in 1981. The writers explain that the “head” was a metaphor for the enabler of the body, not the ruler:
Paul’s word order also shows he was not thinking of chain of command: Christ, head of man; man, head of woman; God, head of Christ. Those who make it a chain of command must rearrange Paul’s words. In fact, Paul seems to go out of his way to show that he was not imputing authority to males when he said, “For as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (1 Cor 11:12)
…As Christ is the enabler (the one who brings to completion) of the church, so the husband is to enable (bring to completion) all that his wife is meant to be. The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife as he does his own body, even as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. (vs.29)
It is very clear to me from reading scripture and particularly the “Parable of the Talents” that we are expected to use all of our gifts to promote the Kingdom agenda. No one should be hindered in doing their best work for Christ.
OLIVE TWIST ©2012
The Head of the Epistles was written by Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, professors at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN. It originally appeared as an article in Christianity Today, Feb. 20, 1981.
 John 8:10-11, ESV
Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged Christ, Christianity, editorial, epistles, Faith, holy, Kathleen Norris, liberation, Mary Magdalene, opinion, oppression, spirituality, women | 2 Comments »
“Love all God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.” Fyodor Dostoevsky
I once saw an amazing film by Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel entitled “Simon of the Desert” and one scene touched me profoundly. The pure ascetic Simon bent down to bless a tiny grasshopper. When asked about the scene during an interview, Bunuel said that a really pure person will want to bless everything around them.
Animals have always filled me with awe and a sense of mystery. These pictures of bears and tigers hanging around with monks convince me that even wild beasts can perceive purity of heart, and that Isaiah Chapter 11 is truly a glimpse of a world to come…
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God…For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Romans 8:19, 22
OLIVE TWIST ©2012
Photo credits: http://simplyorthodox.tumblr.com/
Posted in Inklings | Tagged animals, beauty, Bible, creation, creatures, earth, Faith, Fyodor Dostoevsky, God, holiness, Isaiah, love, nature, prophecy, purity, spirituality, writing | 7 Comments »
(From “The Twisted Cross: Distortion of the Gospel”)
“…I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6)
I will never forget when I first realized that religion had become a highly profitable business. I had been attending a large evangelical Friends church for a long time, and I had grown very close to many people there. I loved my church. I loved the leaders and the teaching and I started outreach ministries in the name of the church. I put my money in their offerings, and dedicated my children in that church. I went to prayer meetings and every service I could possibly go to. I was immensely smug about myself and my church.
But after Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke at our yearly conferences, the “scales fell off of my eyes,” and I saw things in a new way. I stood up in the sanctuary the following Sunday, and announced to my dear friends, “I just want to let you know that I am not the same person that I was one week ago. I am a changed person. I have claimed my identity as a servant of Jesus Christ, and I will never be the same.”
That is when my spiritual battlefield opened up before me, and I first saw my enemy. What frightened me was that he was operating through my church.
Soon after my public statement, I was sitting in the sanctuary of my church and the executive minister said that they were starting a new program called “Kingdom Seeds”. In those days, these phrases about seeds had not been coined like they are now. Our pastor began to explain that the ushers were going to pass out dollar bills which were the “seeds” in special envelopes. He said that the general idea was that people were to take the money and “plant it” and “make it grow”. Then in a few months, after it had grown, they would bring it back for a special offering at “harvest time”.
I had promised God that I was going to be obedient to Him in whatever He led me to do. Anger began to rise in my heart, and a voice broke into my thoughts, saying, “They have turned my house into a den of thieves.” I knew I was supposed to speak up, but I began to argue with the Spirit inside of my mind, saying, “Why me? They won’t listen to me.” The Voice answered, “You said you were my obedient child.” This hit me hard, because I had two young children at the time. One of them was more obedient than the other. When I needed something done in a hurry, I knew not to ask the disobedient one. In a situation that required quick action, I knew to call upon the obedient child.
A few minutes later, the minister announced that it was time for “open worship.” I rose to my feet and said, “Friends, we need to face the fact that we are tithing to ourselves in this church. We are not tithing to God, but to man. At least ninety percent of the money in our offerings stays within this church building to pay salaries, clean carpets, do building repairs, and such. Very little is used for missions and outreach. The gospel is being used as a cloak for covetousness, which Paul warned about. Paul also wrote, ‘We are not like many, peddling the Word of God.’ People were selling the gospel then, and they are still doing it today. If Jesus came in right now He would come with His whip, because the moneychangers are still in the house of God.” I was in the back row when I stood to speak, and people were turning around in astonishment, some with anger in their eyes.
When I sat down, it fell silent for a few endless moments. Then our lady minister stepped to the microphone and turned to the executive minister and asked, “Do we still want to proceed with this?” He nodded firmly, and the lady minister prayed and the ushers came forward with their hands full of envelopes. The piano and organ began to play softly, as the ushers carried handfuls of envelopes to the end of each row, and everyone seemed uneasy. The people in the congregation began shaking their heads or sweeping their hands at the ushers to refuse the money.
When the lead pastor saw it, he went to the microphone and asked the ushers to pass the whole stack of envelopes down each row. I watched in surprise as the people passed the whole stack from one end of each row to the other, and no one wanted to take them. It was an act of civil disobedience which startled me. I never dreamed that these people would listen and act. I thanked God, but I knew I was in trouble.
A little later in the church service, the offering plate was passed around, and can you guess what happened next? People were not putting money in the offering either. Then I knew I was deeply in trouble.
After the service was over, many people approached me and thanked me for being the “voice of prophecy” in the midst, for telling the truth when no one else dared to. I knew that God had used me that day, but I knew that it was not over.
The next morning, I got a phone call from the executive minister. He said that we needed to talk, and that he wanted to arrange a time. We planned his visit later in the week.
During that week, I began to receive thank-you cards from people in the congregation. To my surprise, one of them was from the chairman of the financial committee. Two missionary friends of mine asked if they could come to our house when the minister visited, because they wanted to provide moral support.
Then came the meeting with my husband and two missionaries present, and the minister asked me how I could do such a thing without clearing it with someone first, such as the elders.
I explained, “The Spirit asked me to speak, and I could not wait and get permission. I had to be obedient.” He asked, “How do you know how this affected people?” I answered that I had been receiving notes from people in the congregation, and I walked to my desk and pulled them out. I will never forget the look of dismay on his face as he looked at the notes, particularly the one from the financial committee chair.
Then my missionary friend Susan spoke up and asked, “Why can’t Olive tell the truth? Is it because she is a woman or because she doesn’t have a PhD? Other people have said similar things in jest, and nothing was said. Why can’t Olive say these things?” The minister said that he just felt that I should have asked him first.
Then he quizzed me about whether I tithed regularly. I explained that we spent much more than ten percent between our outreach ministry in the community and the offering plate. I expressed surprise that he should even ask this question, since he was more than aware of the costs of the ministries that we did in the name of the church with no donations from anyone. It was evident he was simply trying to undermine me.
After that, he told me that I needed to respect the authorities in the church, or find another church to attend. I asked him, “Who is the head of the church, you or Jesus?” He became very quiet, and said that he had a lot to do that day and needed to go. We all said our farewells and the minister left first.
After that, I continued to attend the church, and watched the wheels of greed and corruption in motion. I saw the programs and newsletters pleading for people to give money to the church. I saw an abrupt change in the character of certain people that I had respected. One woman approached me at church and told me ever so nicely that if I didn’t calm down, I might “go over the deep end”. I told her it was much more satisfying than the shallow end and walked away.
The whole landscape shifted from spiritual to political, and I suddenly felt that this church was not the place that I thought it was. I felt a sense of resistance from the leaders towards the purposes and agenda of God.
There was good deal of financial trouble in that church for several months, because people were questioning things for the first time. I kept getting calls from the child care department that they needed help on Sunday mornings so I helped with the children many times. I knew that the minister did not want me in the services until he could repair the financial damage. I felt disillusioned, and betrayed by this man that I looked up to and trusted, and it hurt me a great deal.
But my faith grew because of this experience. I learned to trust Jesus more, and man less. I saw that all people have flaws, but Jesus doesn’t. It ended the idolatry that had been going on in my heart. It revealed to me that many people are idolizing religious leaders instead of looking to Jesus. Because of my obedience and the ostracism I encountered, I grew closer to Christ and shared in His suffering, and that gave me great joy.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me…” (Exodus 20:3)
OLIVE TWIST ©2012
Posted in THE TWISTED CROSS: Distortion of the Gospel | Tagged business, Christ, church, corruption, Faith, Friends, God, greed, Jesus, money, profit, prophet, Quaker, religion, spirituality, women, writing | 6 Comments »
I wanted to share the titles of some of my favorite books and other writings with you, many of which I read during my graduate studies.
Please let me know if you have any recommendations to share with me.
Augustine, Saint. The Confessions of St. Augustine. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble, 1999. Print.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. Trans. Chr. Kaiser Verlag Munchen by R.H. Fuller. New York: Simon & Schuster (Touchstone), 1959. Print.
Buxbaum, Yitzhak. Jewish Tales of Holy Women. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002. Print.
Claiborne, Shane, and Chris Haw. Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals. Grand Rapids, MI: The Simple Way, 2008. 150. Print.
Claiborne, Shane. The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2006. Print.
Dubus, Andre. Broken Vessels: Essays by Andre Dubus. Boston, MA: David R. Godine Publisher, Inc, 1991. Print.
Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 4. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1972. Print.
Elliot, Elisabeth. The Path of Loneliness. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988. Print.
Finney, Charles G. The Autobiography of Charles G. Finney. Condensed and Edited by Helen Wessel. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1977. Print.
Fox, George. The Journal of George Fox. Edited by Rufus Jones. Richmond, IN: Friends UP, 1976. Print.
—.”Selected Epistles of George Fox.” Renascence Editions. U of Oregon, 1998.Web. 4 Nov 2010. <http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/foxep.htm>.
Graves, Michael P. “Functions of Key Metaphors in Early Quaker Sermons, 1671-1700.” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 69.4 (1983): 364-378. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.
Hosek, Dr. Pavel. “How Does C.S. Lewis do apologetics?.” (2003): n. pag. European Leadership Forum Research Center. Web. 20 Dec 2010. <http://www.euroleadershipresources.org/resource.php?ID=76>.
Jarman, Mark. “To Make the Final Unity: Metaphor’s Matter and Spirit.” 301-318. Southern Review, 2007. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.
Kierkegaard, Søren. Kierkegaard Spiritual Writings: A New Translation and Selection by George Pattison. New York: Harper Collins, 2010. 57. eBook.
—. Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Ed. Charles E. Moore. Farmington, PA: Plough, 2002. Print.
—. The Present Age. Trans. Alexander Dru. New York: Harper Row (Torchbook), 1962. Print.
—. The Journals of Kierkegaard (edited by Alexander Dru. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 324.
Lewis, C. S. The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics. New York: Harper One, 2002. Print.
—. The Four Loves. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960. Print.
Maharaj, Rabindranath, and Dave Hunt. Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1977. eBook.
McKeever, Dr. Joe. “Why We Need Parables.” (2009): n. pag. Web. 20 Dec 2010. <http://www.biblestudytools.com/pastor-resources/11610729.html>.
Merton, Thomas. The Seven Storey Mountain. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1948. Print.
Miller, Donald. Searching for God Knows What. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. Print.
Miller, Donald, and John Macmurray. To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up Without a Father. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. Print.
Moody, Dwight L. The Best of Dwight L. Moody. 6th Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971. Print.
Mouw, Richard J. Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010. Print.
Neihardt, John. Black Elk Speaks: as told through John Neihardt by Nicholas Black Elk. Lincoln, NE: U of Nebraska P, 2000. Print.
Nouwen, Henri J. M. The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. New York, NY: Image Doubleday, 1996. Print.
—. The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. New York, NY: Image Doubleday, 1972. Print.
Norris, Kathleen. The Cloister Walk. New York: Berkley Publishing, 1996. Print.
Savant, John. “Follow that Metaphor.” Commonweal 132.20 (2005): 17-19. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Nov. 2010.
Sempangi, F. Kefa. A Distant Grief. Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1979. Print.
Spurgeon, Charles H. Finding Peace in Life’s Storms. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1997. Print.
—. “Songs in the Night.” Spurgeon Collection on Bible Bulletin Board. Tony Capoccia, 2004. Web. 4 Nov 2010. <http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2558.htm>.
Ten Boom, Corrie, and C.C. Carlson. In My Father’s House. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976. Print.
Vaswani, Neela. You Have Given Me A Country. Louisville, Ky: Sarabande Books, 2010. Print.
Posted in BOOKS | Tagged Africa, Black Elk, Bonhoeffer, C.S.Lewis, Christ, christian, church, Corrie ten Boom, Donald Miller, dreams, Dwight Moody, F. Kefa Sempangi, fables, Faith, George Fox, Germany, God, gospel, guru, healing, Henri Nouwen, Holy Spirit, inspiration, Jews, Joy, Kathleen Norris, Kierkegaard, Memoir, missionary, Neela Vaswani, prison, prophet, Quaker, religion, sacred, saint, Saint Augustine, Seeker, Shane Claiborne, Sioux, Spirit, spirituality, Spurgeon, Thomas Merton, woman, Wounded Healer, writing | 6 Comments »
“…And all that believed were together and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need…” (Acts 2:44-45)
After drifting in confusion throughout my teenage years, I returned to Christ in my twenties while attending a Quaker college. I became a member of a very popular evangelical Friends church. Our pastor was a tremendous orator, and our choir was spectacular, and I enjoyed all of the pleasantries that a church has to offer its members. I sailed on seas of serenity for several years. Then one summer, a terrible storm rolled into town.
I forget what year it was that Juan Carlos Ortiz, a pastor from Argentina, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the yearly meeting of Quakers. We had conferences and services all week at the college where I had been a student. The auditorium was overflowing in the evenings with pastors, teachers, missionaries, and lay people from our churches, and Ortiz began to probe into all of our hypocrisies with pointed words.
He described a time when he became profoundly discouraged as a pastor leading a lifeless church in his village. One Sunday, he said it was time for him to preach his usual sermon, and he stepped up to the pulpit, and the Spirit broke into his thoughts saying, “Another one?”
“Yes, Lord, another one,” the pastor replied.
“Why?” he heard the Voice asking. “Did they do what you told them the last time?”
“No, they didn’t,” he said as he continued to the pulpit, but when he got there, he found that he could not preach. He took the microphone, and said firmly, “Love one another,” and sat down.
Everyone in the congregation looked at one another in confusion.
The pastor rose again and said slowly, “Love- one -another”, then sat down again. After some whispering and stirring in the congregation, he stood up for the third time, and said, “Love one another!” and sat down.
He did not get back up, and he watched to see what would happen. He says he did not know what he was doing, or why. Everyone looked at one another, and looked at the pastor, thinking he knew what he was doing.
After some moments of silence, people began to mingle, and to ask one another for prayer requests, and to pray in small groups. The pastor just watched and before long, he saw people in tears and people rejoicing and people crying out to God. This went on for hours. Because of his silence, the Spirit took over in his church.
Pastor Ortiz recounted how a revival broke out that continued long after that day, and it spread throughout the region. People became determined to love one another as Jesus had commanded. They went about showing love to one another in a multitude of ways, and there were no church programs for a long time.
After a month or so had passed, one of the elders in the church asked Pastor Ortiz if he was ready to preach another sermon, so he agreed to prepare one for the following Sunday. He said he was almost terrified to preach to this congregation now, because they were ready to do whatever he said. He said that before, it didn’t matter, because no matter what he said, they wouldn’t do it. But now they would, and he knew he had to have the anointing of the Spirit, and a word directly from the Lord. He had to fall on his knees and inquire of God, to be able to bring a message.
When the next Sunday came, and he stood to preach, he said the enthusiasm of his congregation was a fearful thing to behold. He said they looked like athletes lined up and ready to run, as soon as they had the Word. He spoke only a few words.
He talked about Jesus’ commandment to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” He explained that this means to love your neighbor, and wish for your neighbor the same things that you want for yourself. He said to try to help your neighbor to have the things that you have. He said if you have a nice house, then you should want your neighbor to have a nice house too. If you have good clothes, you should wish for others to have the same. He kept his message very simple and straightforward and short.
Following his message, Pastor Ortiz said that his church went out and immediately started obeying what he had preached. One of his church members was talking to his maid that following week, and found out that she had an epileptic husband who could not work, and that they lived in a shack, along with their children. This church member arranged to have a fine home built for the maid and her husband and family.
Another church member learned that he had a neighbor who was a plumber, but he could not work because he had no truck or tools. So this Christian went and bought his neighbor a plumbing truck and the tools he needed, so he could be employed again. Pastor Ortiz said that he and his church literally wiped out poverty in their village, by following the commandment of Jesus.
Juan Carlos Ortiz then began to explain to us that the early church didn’t get together to have meetings and discussions and to form committees. They were warriors who came to church to get more strength, so that they could go out and further God’s kingdom and stand in the midst of persecution. He spoke about how thousands of people were saved every day after Pentecost, and that the apostles accomplished all of this “without programs, without robes, without a choir, and without an altar call.”
He told us that we need to stop playing religious games, and start thinking about our identity as “servants of Jesus Christ”. He asked us to stand and say to everyone around us “I am a servant of Jesus Christ.” He said that we have developed spiritual amnesia, and have forgotten who we are in Christ. His message was that we needed to recommit ourselves to Jesus, and the spreading of the gospel.
After delivering his message, people swarmed down to the altar for prayer without any formal invitation. I saw pastors and teachers and church members with tears in their eyes, and godly sorrow over their failures. I was one of them, and I had a renewal in my spirit that day. I was determined to be a servant of Jesus Christ from that day forward, and to listen to His voice, and follow whatever He asked me to do from then on. I felt the fire of His Spirit burning within me for the first time.
As I was leaving the auditorium, I noticed a close friend that I had invited crying in one of the seats, and I went to sit with her. She was deeply moved by the message because, she said, she had always believed that all Christians were phonies and hypocrites, and now she was convinced that there are some real disciples. We were both changed that day, and an adventure had begun.
As my church tried to return to its former state of apathy and inertia, I just couldn’t let it happen after such a prophet had been among us. I discovered that I “made waves” everywhere I went, because a great storm had come to town.
For more true stories like this one, click on “The Twisted Cross” at the top of the screen.
OLIVE TWIST ©2012
Posted in THE TWISTED CROSS: Distortion of the Gospel | Tagged apostles, Argentina, christian, Christianity, church, Faith, Friends, God, gospel, Holy Spirit, inspiration, Jesus, Ortiz, Pentecost, prophet, Quaker, religion, Spirit, spirituality, writing | 7 Comments »
“Since my earliest childhood a barb of sorrow has lodged in my heart. As long as it stays I am alive, if it is pulled out I shall die.”
Posted in QUOTATIONS | Tagged pain, quotes, random, Søren Kierkegaard, sorrow, spiritual, writer | Leave a Comment »
“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”
Posted in QUOTATIONS | Tagged Eden, exile, quotes, random, Tolkien, writer | Leave a Comment »
“I wished to show, in little Oliver, the principle of Good surviving through every adverse circumstance, and triumphing at last.”
~ preface to Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I came across this amazing research essay called “Oliver Twist: Divine Child” and it fascinated me because I have always identified with Oliver, and this only reminded me of the many spooky correlations with my own life. Many of the characters even bear resemblance to people from my own story. Check it out if you are interested here: http://www.academia.edu/2631456/Oliver_Twist_Divine_Child_A_Jungian_interpretation
I hope that the author will let me know if if there are any issues with me copying the link here…
Peace be with you,
Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged Divine Child, Faith, Oliver Twist, orphan, random, Stanley Wilkin, writing | 1 Comment »
Happy Father’s Day to the music man of Mallorca…
Love, Dottir ~
Posted in Inklings | Tagged Father's Day, love, Mallorca, random, Spain, writer | Leave a Comment »
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