Who Keeps the Peace?

Our church today celebrated the second Sunday of Advent 2019 in a traditional way, lighting the Candle of Peace. Though there are different practices and traditions attached to celebrating Advent, this observation draws us to reflect on what’s truly important about Christmas (the birth of Christ).

Angels were the first heralds to announce “Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.” (Luke 2:14) But peace often seems out of our grasp. I’m reminded of Longfellow’s 1863 poem “Christmas Bells.” Each stanza echoes the words peace on earth, good will to men while the sixth stanza derisively proclaims “there is no peace on earth.

Continue reading “Who Keeps the Peace?”
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Papers, Please?

Since the passing of my mother-in-law on March 1st, my Beloved and I have sifted and sorted through the tangible mementos she left behind. There are photographs and slides aplenty, so I set myself to digitizing as many as possible to add to our (informal) family archive.

My mother-in-law with her mother-in-law, about 1948

Scanning the vast collection of photos/slides, etc. required lots of time … and I’m not finished yet! What’s more, the stack of photos seemed to multiply every time we opened another box! My initial enthusiasm diminished as the number of digital images grew and my eagerness took an unexpected turn to frustration.

I had a nagging sense something was missing. But what?

In my mind, the possibility of a personalwritten memoir (or several, if fortune smiled) would help flesh out an understanding of my mother-in-law that forty-seven plus years of being her daughter-in-law had not achieved. By digging deeper, I thought to solve the mysteries of Inscrutable Daisy. Continue reading “Papers, Please?”

Inscrutable Daisy

My mother-in-law died last week. She turned 94 last October, so her passing wasn’t unexpected. In addition to dementia (which prevented verbal communication), she suffered congestive heart failure. Bed-bound over the last six months, she slipped away quietly in her sleep. That was a blessing.

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Previously in this space, I’ve shared tidbits about the complex relationship betwixt my mother-in-law and myself. Certainly, I have always admired my in-laws for crafting a long-term marriage. I’m sure they had their share of struggles … but they celebrated 65 years together before my father-in-law’s death. Continue reading “Inscrutable Daisy”

My Days Are Numbered

Given the bleak title, people may automatically expect to read a wretched tale announcing I’ve contracted a dreadful (probably incurable) illness. Not so for this post, though there’s no avoiding the truth:  my days are numbered.

Frankly, so are yours. Though we try to forget it, we are all mortal. As 2016 wound down and the obits began to stack up, we became ever more cranky reading the list of friends, family, celebs and high-profile individuals whose days had ended, some whose days were seemingly “cut short.” Mortality sucks, doesn’t it?

Bad-temper seems incompatible with ushering in a New Year. Usually, it’s celebrations, parties, champagne and fireworks, plus people flocking to New York City for the Times Square Ball Drop. But this year, people expressed open animosity toward the waning year. A headline from WIRED proclaimed:  Goodbye, 2016. We Couldn’t Take It Anymore. Continue reading “My Days Are Numbered”

Here Lies . . .

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/4pktzx
FROM: http://tiny.cc/4pktzx

Two-thousand-fifteen is the centennial year marking the publication of the curious (though largely forgotten) volume of poems titled Spoon River Anthology.

Written by poet Edgar Lee Masters, the book is a collection of short poems (epitaphs) relating the lives of fictional small town characters (mingled with poems by several true-life figures) who share the same location … they’re buried in the Spoon River cemetery.

Except for the introductory poem, each poem/epitaph is written in the first person, each departed individual telling his or her story from the grave. The poems were initially a series of compositions published in a literary journal.

These compositions eventually became the anthology. Masters published numerous other works including biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and others. However, the Spoon River Anthology appears to have been his most notable and enduring work. Continue reading “Here Lies . . .”

Service To A Cruel God

Today’s news that the convicted Boston Marathon bomber had been formally sentenced to death didn’t surprise me. That awful atrocity from April 2013 cut short the lives of three people (one was an eight-year-old boy) and left 260 others injured, some maimed. They gunned down a fourth victim during the manhunt that followed the bombing.Boston-MarathonThese were despicable acts perpetrated by two radicalized Islamic individuals. (No, I have no intention of using either of their names.) Today’s proceedings in a Massachusetts courtroom included three hours of statements from victims and families of the victims before the convicted bomber broke his two-year silence. Continue reading “Service To A Cruel God”

Mighty To Save

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me

Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

The lyrics above are the first stanza to a song written by award-winning lyricist and contemporary Christian vocalist Laura Story. The song is titled Mighty To Save.power-of-forgiveness_tListening today to the statements of family members in South Carolina addressing the young man who murdered their loved ones during a Wednesday evening Bible study, I heard these people express willing forgiveness for the murderer and a steadfast refusal to be consumed with the kind of hate the perpetrator’s deed demonstrated. Continue reading “Mighty To Save”

Emanuel, God With Us

To the families of my brothers and sisters who lost their lives in Charleston, SC at a Wednesday night Bible study on June 17, we grieve with you and mourn the incomprehensible loss of your loved ones. May the great mercy of our Heavenly Father bring you comfort and peace.lily-[Converted]

An Elisabeth Elliot Smile

Posting Monday about the death of Elisabeth Elliot, I used a couple pictures of her … one was a familiar publicity photo and the other was a pen-and-ink sketch used on her website. In the World Magazine tribute noting Elliot’s death, they used the photo below. A follow-up post noted that some readers of World had expressed their dismay, wishing instead that the magazine had attached a more flattering picture, an image reflecting her youth and beauty.eliot

In response to its readers, World posted another photo of Elliot in her youth alongside the more current photo. World writer Mickey McLean titled his piece “Old and beautiful,” noting her “smile and twinkling blue eyes” reflected her “joy of living as a child of God.” I am in complete agreement! Continue reading “An Elisabeth Elliot Smile”

She Followed Far

ElliotElisabethElisabeth Elliot died today. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, I suppose she is best known for a tragedy that occurred almost 50 years ago – and her incredible courage in the midst of great personal pain. She and her husband, Jim Elliot, were living in the jungles of Ecuador doing missionary work with several other families.

Jim and four of his associates went further into the jungle where they knew an unreached tribe was known to live. The Huaorani tribe with whom they made contact killed all five of the men and disappeared back into the jungle. Jim and Elisabeth had been married little more than two years. Elisabeth was left to care for their 10-month-old daughter.

Details of the contact between the missionaries and the tribe are documented in a 2005 film, End of the Spear, and I referred to the film in a 2010 post. I won’t repeat what I wrote in that post other than to say I remember when the men were murdered. I was a small child and it left an impression on me. Continue reading “She Followed Far”