The Return

Stillness, darkness, death.
Silent as the grave, they say.
And so it was. Life had gone out of
The Lord of Life.  A quiet tomb held
Him. Until the third day. On the third day
There was a stirring. Oh, much more than a stirring.
A cataclysmic shaking. A splitting of rocks, a rolling away
Of the sealing gravestone. Or maybe it didn’t just roll, maybe it
Was KICKED.  Kicked aside in disdain. A huge dominating angel
From on high came, shoving aside death with disdain, looking like a
Strike of lightening. Crackling and brilliant. It was the pivot of all time.
From the defeat of death to the Return of Rightness to the earth.
The balance of Peace, Everlasting Life.  The return of Truth and the
Wiping away of the stains of Deception, the tarnish of Rebellion.

He was up, out and away.
Set on the work of finding us.
Calling us and saving us.

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead,  just as he said would happen.”

The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 28 verses 1-6  New Living Translation

The Journey

I see myself in a field of mud; it is so “boggy”, that I can hear my shoes sucking air as they slog through this rich, brown, heavy mud.  It is deep and messy, but I don’t mind.  I am looking ahead to a waving field of green and white which is before me.  As I approach I see that it is a field of lilies!  Huge, tall crisp-stalked ones. I move in among them and see that I have to push them aside to walk through. They bump against each other, heavy and crisp with water filling their stalks and dew on their leaves.  The flowers are pure white and curl perfectly into shape.  Walking is easier now; I know I am going to a thrilling place.

Beyond the lilies, the earth is perfectly smooth and covered in a fine green grass.  A little further and I have walked into a forest of gigantic trees! It is so cool here.  Filtered light and a freshness in the atmosphere charm me.  I notice that the huge dark trunks are growing far enough apart to create a feeling of space and grandness of scale.  Beyond, I see the end of the forest and reluctantly walk on.  I am tempted to stay among these powerful tree trunks. It’s a place that radiates protection and rest. But, the light and openness beyond the trees beckon me on.  Walking out of the forest, the sky seems endless and deeply blue. I am in a big place and I can see forever! The open space and sloping plain of grass lead on.

Then I see it!  The path downhill leads to a small brown low-roofed cottage. The late afternoon sun is still warm and bright, but the cottage down the hill is in the shade now and has a glowing lamp lit in the window. I am glad to see it welcoming me. Dusk drops down quickly on me as I reach the cottage entrance.  The door is wide open!  I walk in unafraid through the low cottage door.

The interior glows with beauty…. burnished, well cared for and simple.  Of course, Jesus is there near the entrance, quietly waiting for me.  The only word to describe Him is PURE.  He offers me a beautiful silver chalice with wine.  He motions to a loaf of brown bread on the table.  He welcomes me silently, but his eyes direct me to look out a huge  window.  I see that the cottage is nestled on the edge of blue eternity… out there  blue mountains and endless blue space fill the distance and I know that we are going on to an indescribable place.  We simply step off into space together and the ultimate journey begins.

 

Saved by The Blood of a Lamb

The Lord Will Passover

 Exodus 12  verses 21 -28

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel together and said to them,

“Go, pick out a lamb or young goat for each of your families, and slaughter the Passover animal.  Drain the blood into a basin. Then take a bundle of hyssop branches and dip it into the blood. Brush the hyssop across the top and sides of the doorframes of your houses. And no one may go out through the door until morning.  For the LORD will pass through the land to strike down the Egyptians. But when he sees the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe, the LORD will pass over your home. He will not permit his death angel to enter your house and strike you. Remember, these instructions are a permanent law that you and your descendants must observe forever.

When you enter the land the LORD has promised to give you, you will continue to observe this ceremony.  Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’  And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’”

When Moses had finished speaking, all the people bowed down to the ground and worshiped. So the people of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded through Moses and Aaron.

Exodus 12   verses 40-42

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years.  In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the Lord’s forces left the land.  On this night the Lord kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. So this night belongs to him, and it must be commemorated every year by all the Israelites, from generation to generation.

From the New Living Translation

Darkness in the Garden

There was darkness in the Garden. A double darkness. There was the intense natural darkness among the olive trees that night. No torches lit the way and no one was expecting to go to the heavily leaf-ed grove across the Kidron valley, away from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem on a Passover evening. But He knew where he was going.

There was also the second darkness.  The darkness of the horror of the cross. The darkness of sin, not imagined but keenly felt by the One who knew no sin.  It’s a wonder He didn’t stumble, panic and run away.  But He didn’t.  He prayed, He lay on His face,  asking for the strength to follow through.  To go all the way to an undeserved death…to the facing of the terrible separation, never known before.

Finally, there was  confusion in the darkness, as there usually is.  Someone lost his ear.  But identity was established and there was a kiss in the darkness.  How confusing! Many ran away from that place terrified.  One was bound and led away.  A Lamb to the slaughter.

Zuni

 


Zia Country by John Farnsworth   oil on canvas

ZUNI

Wanted to see Zuni

Wanted to share a piece of their bread

And red, red sunset.

Wanted to drive off into Nothing Land, Empty Land

But full of nature life

Wanted to stand up tall on Acoma

Wanted to pore over jewels of the desert.

Maybe take one home

To string around a white man’s neck

Wanted to feel the space and distance all around

Stretching out to the infinity of stars

Wanted to see if Christ, Lord of all

Has come that far

And what He has done, in the Nothing Land

I’ll go one day

And maybe time will work backwards

In that timeless land.

By CVE

Enter Into His Gates

Enter Into His Gates

With Thanksgiving

And Into His Courts

With Praise…

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead telling them, “Go into the village in front of you and you will at once find there an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. Should anyone say anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them’, and he will send them immediately.”

All this happened to fulfill the prophet’s saying—‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold your king is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey’.

So the disciples went off and followed Jesus’ instructions. They brought the ass and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and Jesus took his seat. Then most of the crowd spread their own cloaks on the road, while others cut down branches from the trees and spread them in his path. The crowds who went in front of him and the crowds who followed him all shouted, ‘God save the Son of David! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! God save him from on high!’

And as he entered Jerusalem a shock ran through the whole city. ‘Who is this?’ men cried. ‘This is Jesus the prophet,’ replied the crowd, ‘the man from Nazareth in Galilee!’…”
              Matthew 21:1-11   The J.B. Phillips Version of the New Testament

 

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, Israel

 

There Is So Much Good

“There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly behooves any of us
To find fault with the rest of us.”

This little saying was printed on a plaque displayed in my grandmother’s house her whole life.  At least as much of her life as I knew.  It was a powerful statement, mainly because she actually lived it.  These kinds of mottos were common encouragements, spurs to do good and a striving to do better, which were popular in the early twentieth century.  My grandmother was a woman of this time, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, a woman active in civic organizations, a zealous, responsible housewife, a stalwart friend.  She shunned gossip, always trying to look for the best, the positive in things in people and events.  Pushing for achievement.  A modern woman. From her I got the big idea,”Don’t be going around pulling others down!”

The motto above is attributed to a man named James Truslow Adams, an American businessman and free lance writer especially active in the 1930’s. He was first a banker, then moved into a new career writing magazine articles, essays, and commentaries on American history. It was Adams who coined the phrase we are still focused on today…”The American Dream”… and who also wrote about this idea in his book,”Epic of America.”

Adams described the American Dream this way:
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

It is clear that Adams thought the “American Dream” meant a freeing from Old World judgments and class-race distinctions.  So, the idea is, you don’t need to be holding people down, classifying them or disdaining them, if you want this place to be a great nation, a nation which fulfills it original promise and God-given place in the world. Just get on with your own doing and your own goals.

I like it.  It seems American to me.  It seems right.


James Truslow Adams  1878-1949

 

Secret Music


A Childish Tale for Grown-ups

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a unique and curious land where a peculiar people dwelt. Somehow in the past each member of this race had suffered a terrible injury. As a result, each one had lost the knowledge of who he was, how he had come to live in this land and what it was he was to be about.

The name of this place was the “Land of Rend”, though no one seemed to know why it was so called. Life in the Land of Rend was paradoxical, to say the least. Although the land itself was very beautiful and hospitable by one view, it also had at times a threatening and dangerous aspect. This was due to the fact that those who lived there seemed to have lost the sense of how things worked in their land, along with their own past histories. In this beautiful but dangerous setting, the inhabitants of Rend, named “Rendeds” by general agreement,  pursued their lives. Often, to their own horror, they would commit the most hideous crimes upon one another, even upon those they held closest in life. They knew these acts were atrocious, but they could not seem to remember why or how to keep this from happening.

Walking through the Land of Rend, one could see the remains of Rendeds who had been killed by other Rendeds…carnage among fields of flowers. The hungry and ill were completely ignored and untended in the midst of jovial feasts. Some Rendeds sickened and died for no apparent reason. Others leapt from buildings to destroy themselves or performed acts of self-mutilation. Stranger still, some lived unhampered lives in the very midst of chaos. Laws and systems were proposed but no one could agree upon what laws were right.

The greatest paradox of all was that the entire Land of Rend was filled with the most mysterious and beautiful music. There was nowhere one could go and not hear its haunting sound. The music provoked only mild interest in most Rendeds; few questioned or even recognized its beauty in the midst of their unfathomable world. As the horror of life in Rend increased, many Rendeds, stunned or preoccupied, failed to hear the music any longer, or only heard it faintly. At last, many Rendeds could no longer hear the music at all. They could hardly be called dull-witted, but rather they seemed to be listening for something else and therefore could not hear to sounds which were coming to them night and day.

Some Rendeds eventually denied the existence of any music at all. They supposed that “hearing music” was just another of the aberrations to be found in their own kind and finally declared for the benefit of all Rendeds that the land of Rend………was silent. Sometimes tidy and lovingly made signs appeared on walls stating, “Silence is Golden”. But the music… never changed or stopped at all.

A few Rendeds, especially the sort who had always found comfort in finding a lonely spot and just listening to the music, became even more depressed at this testimony about silence coming from the others. They became even more restless and uneasy in their uncertain world. They just KNEW they were hearing music; they knew it somehow soothed. They began to get up from their corners and resting places, and tried to follow the sound of the music. It must come from somewhere! Some of these lost interest along the way, but others continued to follow, to try to find the source of the music. The sound grew stronger and clearer as they went, though often they seemed to lose track of why they were searching. Eventually, many came to the source of music.

Strangely, finding the source was not always the same for each. Some just took a turn in a grove of trees and there they were, at the center of the music. Others heard it from far off and traveled through many hardships to reach their goal. But, the source was the same for each. As they sat basking in its resonance, it filled them to the brim. They began to tap their feet to the rhythm; then slowly, grins began to spread over their faces. They began to look around at one another. They began to remember who they were and from whence they had come!  Their smiles turned to chuckles.

They began to try something they had never before thought of….they began to sing along with the music. The better and more joyfully they sang, the more they laughed, until finally the whole land rang with their laughter. They laughed until they cried. They got up and began to dance to the music with a new energy.  After a long time of celebration, one by one they lay down upon the grass and slept, deeply, profoundly, for the first time……..in the Land of Rend.

These Rendeds,  now renamed themselves, “Mendeds” (and called their land, “Mend”, instead of Rend.)  Everyday they stole back to the source of music. There they had another uproarious laugh, a dance, and a time of pure rest. When they went back among the Rendeds sometimes their mere presence kept anything horrible from happening. Some Rendeds seemed to regain their hearing in the presence of Mendeds; these set out on their own for the source of music and found it. The Mendeds were always going among the Rendeds, asking them, “Don’t you hear it? Don’t you hear it now?” Sometimes the Rendeds, over-taxed already, would become irritable at this Mended-prodding, replying, “Why do you keep on talking about this so-called music? If you really knew anything, you would get down here and help us solve all these problems!” And they would turn away. Some Mendeds even tried to take down the “Silence is Golden” signs, but for this they were severely chastised, and even beaten, especially by Rendeds who were in charge of the keeping of signs.

Still, many Rendeds were Mended and mainly, the music never changed or stopped at all.

“THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING THE GLORY OF GOD, AND THE FIRMAMENT PROCLAIMS HIS HANDIWORK.”   A Psalm of David

 

Being Truly At Home

To be at home… and really be home.

It must be one of the joys of heaven.

The quiet cup of coffee,

The sun shining through the leaves of backyard trees.

The hose laid on the grass,

 sparkling and filling up the yard with pools.

Grackle birds talking their talk from the trees above.

Hanging a damp and sweet-smelling quilt out to dry,

Digging a hole and touching the earth

These must be some of the peaceful joys of heaven.

Green, humble, plain and quiet.

The true and final refuge

From all madness, pushing and doing.

To be home

 and really, truly, be home.

by CVE

 

Sheila

Daniel, the main character of DANIEL~THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY,  has a mother… well sort of.  Here in an excerpt from the novel,  is your opportunity to get a view of Daniel and Sheila’s relationship in action.

“Later that morning, Daniel returned Sheila’s call. Yes, she wanted a reservation, but no, not for lunch.  She was coming for dinner, she was bringing special clients.  There was a big deal brewing.  Could Daniel make sure that everything would be just right tonight? He bristled at this. “I make sure that everything is just right for everyone, every day, all the time,” he shot back.

“Well of course you do, Daniel.  Of course you do. Thanks so much.”  She hung up without any further chit chat, as usual.

He tried to calm down, but she could always get to him.  It was her attitude of dominance over something that was not hers, so imperious.  It was his restaurant.  She had no clue about how he ran it or how much of himself he put into it.  And, she did not care.   Finally, he brushed it off and spent the rest of the day there, serving as host at lunch, which was very busy and pleasant.  People loved the specials and were commenting on them, especially the new Brussels sprout cole slaw.  Lots of talking, lots of people coming and going.

After lunch, he visited with the staff in the kitchen.   They rested their tired feet perched on the kitchen stools, talking and eating bowls of the chowder. Then he went on into the office. His office was small and neat, windowless, with red glossy-painted walls and English antiques.  His glass-topped desk was small and immaculately clear of papers and mail. On the credenza behind the desk, wicker dividers held all the essentials and current paperwork, neatly filed.  A small Oushak rug in gold, tan and red accented the floor.  Henry was dozing there in his basket. Daniel listened to some music for a while, with only one table lamp lighting the room.  Then he stretched out on an old brown velvet sofa he had there for just such a purpose between service hours. He seldom went back to the condo during the day, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Today, he had a sound nap but woke feeling groggy.  A mood of anxiety had dropped onto him. He tried to analyze it. There was his father to think of, and his illness.  There was the problem of Thomas, which he had been successfully shoving to the back of his thoughts, ignoring his growing discomfort in the relationship.    Then there was the on-going irritation with Sheila.  He knew he needed to address these worries, but not now. It was time to get going for the Friday dinner crowd.  He went to the private bathroom just off the office and freshened up.  Then he went out onto the dining floor and began preparing. Most people wandered in after 5:00 PM to start with cocktails.

At exactly 5:30, Sheila and company came through the doors.  Daniel saw her come in. He was near the kitchen doors, putting away a cart and did not immediately come out to greet her.  She had brought along Mary Ann, her secretary and Jeff, her assistant.  Apparently, the important clients were meeting them there later. Daniel took the opportunity to silently assess Sheila as she moved along to her booth. She never sat at the bar. She was a short, one might say petite, woman, 50ish.  Maybe petite was not the right word for her as she was fine-boned but curvy, with a round pretty face, a small waist and rounded hips, rather busty, with shapely legs.  Fine-boned, but strong, full of energy. She always wore the most impractical high heels and he could not remember ever seeing her in pants during the business week.  Her preference was a fitted, tailored suit, the skirt falling right at the knee. Today her suit was collarless in baby blue light wool. Her hair was exactly the same ash brown tone as Daniel’s, but unlike his fine straight hair, hers was a short cap falling in loose curls.  She had the same large, wide, gray intense eyes. In a whimsical frame of mind, he sometimes compared her with the classic cartoon character, “Betty Boop…”  Yes, a fair haired version of “Betty,” right down to the face-framing curls. Quite a feminine appearing woman. This, however, belied her nature and personality, which included a stern outlook on life, dogged strength and a razor sharp wit.  Adorning the whole image was an array of stunning and very expensive jewelry, most of it Italian.

Her movements were dainty and somewhat darting, like a swallow.  She would swoop in, find her place, all the while engaging in a fast friendly banter.  Once seated, she “reigned” with a calm authoritative manner among the staff and with her people.  Watching her, Daniel could not deny the strong physical resemblance he bore to Sheila, the creamy skin, the hair, the gray eyes, and something about the nose, but that is about as far as any feeling of affinity with her went.  She had always been an enigma to him.

Still, Daniel knew that Sheila was proud of him, proud of the restaurant, though she never said as much. He knew she talked him up among her clients and sent him a lot of business.  She was a regular client, coming in about twice a week, usually for lunch on Friday.

Finally, he went over to greet her at the table.  He put on his welcoming smile.  She smiled back.  Mary Ann and Jeff looked up from their menus and greeted him too.

“Good to see you, Daniel.  You are looking well.”

She had put on her cordial face to match his smile, but he could see her mind was preoccupied.

“The halibut is special tonight,” he offered. “And the Sole in Papelotte is always good too.”

“Oh! The sole sounds wonderful,” Sheila replied looking over the menu.” We will have a hard time deciding.  We’re waiting for our guests first, of course.” She smiled up at him again, a dazzling smile. He was dismissed.

“I hope you have everything you need,” he said. “Just let us know when you’re ready.” No sense of familial relationship had been expressed.

He moved away, mentally shrugging his shoulders, leaving her party to the waiter.  “That’s enough said,” he thought.  A few minutes later, he saw the clients arrive.  A man and a woman, mid- fifties, sophisticated, dressed with a somewhat East Coast dark formality.  They huddled over their drinks and business. He left them to it.  Soon they had ordered and were laughing it up over dinner.  Daniel watched Sheila do her magic, as she held their attention with stories and expressive gestures. Her face and jewelry were sparkling. They were mesmerized.  He shook his head and went on to the foyer to say goodbyes to departing diners.

Sheila’s party stayed late, relaxed now and slowing down their talk over coffee and night-caps.  Soon, they made their way all together out to the doors.   They had enjoyed their time and the food, Mary Ann and Jeff said.  Sheila turned to him with a flourish.  She introduced her clients briefly, now having linked arms with them both.

“And, this is my son, Daniel,” she said. “We owe our lovely dinner to him and his staff.  He is the proprietor here.” Still smiling, she swept her arm around the room. “Don’t you love the drama of this theme?” she said, “Daniel designed the décor himself.”

He smiled and nodded. “Please come again, won’t you.  You are always welcome at The Prow.”

The clients glanced around again appreciatively and murmured their thanks for a lovely evening…  And then they all departed together, conversing intently.

Daniel picked up a glass and napkin left there on a bench in the foyer.  The same old emptiness came over him. As usual, he felt like a little child, looking in from the outside on the life of his mother and the things and people which were important in her life, as she swept by, not ever having really seen him.  Or so it seemed to him.  Sometimes, he wished she just wouldn’t come at all.  This was his place.”