Posts Tagged ‘Seeker’

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.

Shalom,

Sister Olive

~♥~

Dear Dottir,

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:

 Poppy's Window View

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.

 Poppy's View at Night

What will you be doing?  Have you found a compatible church where you can enjoy the songs of Christmas?

Lots of love,

Poppy

~♥~

Here is the link for the solo sung by a child, my favorite of the versions so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nANDw8XOHhU

 ~♥~

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.

The Unborn
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.

 ~♥~

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My Dear Readers,

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have faithfully visited this site so many times and sent me kind and thoughtful messages. I have been involved with many other things lately and my computer is about to crash, so I am not sure when I will be able to write posts for you again. But I wish all of you peace and grace and the beauty of nature this springtime and always.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

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~♥~

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

Dear Seeker:

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

               ~♥~

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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,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

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My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27: 46

Diary of a Country Priest

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,

Sister Olive

~♥~

 

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Before I say too much on the subject of prayer, let me state that I don’t feel that I am anyone special and I have no special powers. Jesus said that some people have much more to be forgiven than others, and I consider myself to be one of that kind. I have always felt a bit like Mary Magdalene must have felt in the presence of Christ.

~

In spite of my failures God has been kind to me, and I love a song that people used to sing at the church I attended for many years. The words to that song are:

It is no secret what God can do.
What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you.
With arms wide open, He’ll welcome you.
It is no secret what God can do.

So what has He done for me and my friends when we have prayed? I will recount a few instances where prayer changed the whole landscape of a serious problem.

~

I once worked with a lady at a school for the deaf and blind, and her name was Roberta. She came to work one day very distraught, and I asked her what was the matter. She said that her daughter-in-law Cynthia had just left her son and had taken their child with her. Roberta said that cruel heartless words had been spoken to her son by Cynthia before she left. Her son was grieving and any mother can relate to that helpless feeling when her children are in pain and she can’t do anything to help.

So Roberta asked me to pray for her son and Cynthia. I suggested that we pray together and separately about the matter, because Christ said that if two people who believe agree upon something, there is great power in that prayer. I recommended that we meditate upon the verse in Ezekiel in which God promises to take out a heart made of stone and replace it with a heart made of flesh. We agreed to pray that Cynthia’s stony heart would be softened towards her husband and that she would come home. We wrote two copies of that scripture on slips of paper to take home and promised to pray earnestly about the matter. I reminded Roberta that God doesn’t always act quickly upon our requests, but that it is an exercise of our faith when we have to wait.

Then two or three days later, I drove up to the school just as Roberta was parking in the lot. As I turned my car off, I looked up and saw her running towards me. Her face was glowing with excitement, and I knew this was going to be amazing. I opened the door and stepped out and she said, “Olive, you will never believe what has happened!” She told me that she had been praying with many tears before God, and that Cynthia had called her son that morning, weeping and begging his forgiveness and said she wanted to come home. We were so happy and our faith was increased because of what occurred- in only a few days the whole situation was turned around!

~

Another time, I was having severe financial problems and I am the kind that hates to pray about money. It really bothers me because so many people pray for things they don’t really need. But I was really in trouble. So while I was in church for a Wednesday night prayer meeting, I decided to pray silently for God’s help. I have learned to wait for the Spirit to begin to move in the congregation before offering up my prayers. The House of God is a very powerful place during these times. It was a little after 8 o’clock in the evening in Florida when I began praying and I said, “Lord, I never come to you about money as you know, but we are really in a mess and we need your help so that we can meet our needs. If it is your will, please help us in your own way.” After prayer meeting had ended, I returned home and called the bank because I was afraid of getting an overdraft. But I noticed that my account had increased by several hundred dollars since earlier that day! I was very confused so I called the twenty-four-hour customer service line to find out what had happened. As it turned out, someone in Oregon who had owed me money for quite some time had made a deposit right after they got off work at 5 o’clock that evening. It dawned on me that there was a three-hour time difference between Florida and Oregon, and that just as I had started praying on the east coast, money was being deposited on the west coast! I would never make something like this up to impress people. This really happened!

Okay, here is one more incident: about three months ago, I had a mammogram. Normally if you don’t hear anything about it within two or three days, you know that everything is okay. So I thought I was cleared. I had planned a trip out of state about two weeks later. But two weeks later on a Friday afternoon, I received a very disturbing call about my results. A woman on the phone said the radiologist had spotted something and wanted more tests as soon as possible. I was shocked that it had taken so long for them to contact me. I asked if I could come in that day and they said it was too late and the doctor was gone for the weekend. I am a terrible worrier and I knew I had to go the whole weekend without knowing what was happening, and my imagination always runs wild in situations like this. Also, I was supposed to leave early Monday morning on my trip. So I decided I would leave later on Monday than planned. I called every praying person that I knew and requested their prayers. I asked them to pray that nothing serious was happening and that I would be able to go on my planned journey after my appointment.

My loved ones and I were sweating all weekend over this, and I was talking to people about what to do if something happened to me. Well, Monday morning came and I was a nervous wreck. I went in to the breast center and put on the little white waffle knit robe and waited, and the technician called me in. Usually I can remember faces, but I couldn’t see her through the fog of uncertainty that day. She took a series of pictures and sent me back to the waiting room. A wonderful sweet lady was waiting there too and I felt an immediate connection with her and we talked as if we had been close friends for years. It was so surreal in that room. Then the technician called me a second time and I broke into another sweat as she took more pictures. She sent me back to wait and the sweet lady was gone. A few minutes later the technician walked in and said, “The radiologist wanted me to check you thoroughly a second time because what he saw in the previous series two weeks ago seems to have vanished completely. There is nothing there now.” I don’t have to tell you how I felt or how my loved ones reacted. I even thought that God had placed that angel in the waiting room. All of the people who prayed for me were rejoicing because it increased their faith and I felt honored to be part of that.

~

I could tell you other stories and I will write them in the future, but the point is that God is really listening to all of us at the same time- and He doesn’t even get confused. He is truly amazing, and I am so glad to be His child by faith.

Shalom,

Olive Twist

~♥~

 

 

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Black Elk SpeaksI love this description by Black Elk of his vision in which he saw the son of Wanekia, the Great Spirit:

“They led me to the center of the circle where once more I saw the holy tree all full of leaves and blooming.

…Against the tree there was a man with arms held wide in front of him.  I looked hard at him, and I could not tell what people he came from.  He was not a Wasichu (white man) and he was not an Indian.  His hair was long and hanging loose, and on the left side of his head he wore an eagle feather.  His body was strong and good to see, and it was painted red…while I was staring hard at him, his body began to change and became very beautiful with all colors of light…He spoke like singing:  “My life is such that all earthly beings and growing things belong to me.  Your father, the Great Spirit, has said this.  You too must say this.” 

~♥~

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