Sunday, December 17, 2017

Joy Advent Sunday Three

As we study the Advent stories in the first two chapters of Luke and in the second chapter of Matthew we note that joy permeates the account.  Mary visited her cousin Elisabeth to tell her of her pregnancy by the Holy Spirit.  Elisabeth related that as soon as she heard Mary’s voice, the babe within her womb leaped for joy!
Upon the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the angels announced to the shepherds that they were bringing good tidings of great joy!  The wise men from the east followed the star.  When it stood over the place where Jesus was, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy!
How we desire to be filled with joy and peace!  Yet how often it seems we are unable to receive the blessing.  I was prepping the motor home for our excursion into a quiet place.  One of the many tasks is the filling of the water tank.
I placed the hose in the filler pipe and had it running at a good volume. It takes several minutes to complete the fill. I stepped around the rig to tend to another item.  Presently I heard water splashing on the ground.  I went to the hose and found the tank was not taking the water, but allowing it to spill to the earth.  I removed the hose and the tank burped.  I replaced the hose, and in a matter of a few seconds it overflowed again.  Removed hose, tank burped.  I knew the vent tube was plugged but could not imagine why.  I tried again, same result.  After the fifth burp, when I reinserted the hose, a brilliant metallic-blue mud dauber crawled out of the vent tube!  Aha!  She had plugged the pipe.

I set the nozzle to fine-stream, top power and shot the water down the vent tube.  The pipe cleared and the filling process proceeded in a normal fashion.

As I completed this task, I was thinking that in spite of our desire for the joy and peace that the filling of the Holy Spirit brings it is too often the case that our inner being, our tank, in a manner of speaking, is filled with air, trivial and meaningless matters, that must be vented to allow room for the infilling of the Spirit.  Yet we have somehow allowed the wasps of worldly cares to plug the vent.  We hold onto what must be expelled, and thus fail to receive the joy and peace that should be ours.
How to correct the problem?  Our faith in Jesus is the jet-stream that will clear the vent-tube of the soul so that we can receive the joy of the Lord!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cousin, Cousin

My cousin, Eunice, passed away this fall.  She was the oldest living descendant of Samuel Harvey Morrell, my grandfather.  So now I am the patriarch of the clan, if primogeniture has any bearing.

Once about every third whip stitch a meme pops up on fb reminding us that our cousins were our first friends.  And that may well be true for many people, but not all human experiences are shared by everyone.  There are, for example, those whose parents had no siblings and thus they have no cousins. Or, in my case, I have forty-eight first cousins, some of whom I never met and never will, for some of them are gone now.*

The circumstances of various lives determine friendship and acquaintanceship.  In my case, the parents moved from the community of my nativity when I was but six months old.  Moved a good long way away, too.  Most of my father's siblings either stayed in that locale or moved themselves a good way away to somewhere we weren't.

My mother's people all packed up and moved to California when I was about five years old, and there went that opportunity to develop a "best friend" relationship with any of my maternal cousins.  Over the years I met all those cousins and even developed friendships with some of them.  To this day there are three of them who are facebook friends and another three or four who are "Christmas card" cousins.  But all of them reside on one coast or the other.

During my early years there were three of my dad's siblings with whom we exchanged visits and I came to know their children.  Uncle Wayne and his family even lived in the same town we did during my teen years.  Uncle Ben's son is a fb friend and his sister and I correspond on occasion.

Otherwise the familial relationships were characterized by a cousin whom I met via the expediency of stopping in his town while on a trip several years ago.  When I was met at the door by his wife it was clear that she had little interest in who I was or what I wanted, but she did call her husband to the door.  We made arrangements to meet in a restaurant for supper after BBBH and I checked into a motel.  We met, neither of our wives joined us.

During the course of the visit he remarked, "We Lacys aren't very sociable."

Pretty well summed it up, at least so far as family interactions are concerned.

*Thirty five on Dad's side, 13 on Mama's side.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Reason for the Season

The Cat and the Christ Child

The cat crept into the cave. Stripy, she was, in the daylight.  But now, well past sunset and the settling of darkness, she was as black as any other cat.  The tabby's left ear twitched, cocked over her left shoulder as she heard the rustling in the straw strewn over the floor.  A great ox lying nearby snorted softly as he dropped his head to the ground.  His horn made a clack! as it made contact with the rock.  He exhaled.  His nares vibrated briefly then all was still.

The cat remained motionless.  Long moments dragged slowly by.  In the distance an owl called to its mate.  Then the rustling began again as the mice resumed feeding on the loose grain in the straw.  The cat's right fore paw inched forward, settled softly, then the left paw raised, advanced, soundlessly touched the rock, then pounce!  Her prize in her claw, then between her jaws, she nestled close to the belly of the ox and dropped the mouse.  Stunned and addled but still with a will to live the creature staggered and attempted to run.  But the cat casually reached out, dragged it back.  Again she released it, this time allowing the creature to "get away."  But the cat sprang, recaptured the mouse and lay down again.  She played her cruel game with the small captive for several minutes, but finally tired of it and overcome with hunger she crunched its skull between  her teeth, then dined on her catch.

So Stripy, sated, slept.

A ruckus arose within the stable.  A pair of human creatures shuffled into the space, one carrying a blazing fagot in one hand as with the other he supported the woman who staggered in and collapsed on the floor.  A donkey followed them.  Then entered a large nondescript dog close on the heels of the ass.  He went to the female human creature and started licking her cheek while the man wedged the torch into a notch in the wall that served as a sconce. The presence of the canine got the attention of the sleeping cat, which started and sprang to her feet.  She scaled the flank of the ox where she settled, thus attaining a full view of the goings-on.  The ox slept on.

Soon there was frantic activity, the man bustling around the woman, the woman writhing and screaming in obvious pain. All the creatures in the stable stirred restlessly, the sheep bleated, and even the ox raised its head and voiced his concern.  Following a protracted episode of heavy breathing and intermittent screams, everything fell silent for a few moments.  Then suddenly the mewling of a new man-child pierced the quiet.

The man patiently worked at cleanup chores, handed the infant to its mother.  Everyone except the man, the woman, and the cat finally went back to sleep.  Then the woman cradled the tiny human creature in the straw the man had laid in a manger. The tabby, her tail erect and switching from side to side drawing esses and zees in the air, left her perch on the ox and sauntered casually toward the small human.  As the cat approached the child, the dog lifted its head, raised itself up on its two forelegs.  The cat made not a sound but gave the canine the evil-eye.  The dog lay back down.  The cat circled the child and we might imagine that she was thinking, "Big deal.  Just another human." Then she went back and snuggled into the warmth of her bovine friend again.

 Which all took place before the gaggle of rough and ragged men began to fill up the space, babbling about a Heavenly Presence that came to them in the fields praising God and telling them that this child  in the stable was The Christ!

The cat was wrong.

Merry Christmas!
and let there be peace, at least between you and me. 

©David W. Lacy 2015

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joy to the World!

In the spirit of the season of "peace and goodwill," I won't be offended if you wish me "Happy Holidays!" Please don't be offended when I wish you a "Merry Christmas!" Thank you.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Still Standing

Today the Old Dame
stumbled, but did not fall

The Old Dame three years ago.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Peace Advent Sunday Two

There can be no peace among men until there is peace within the individual.  That peace cannot exist apart from Jesus Christ.

Pascal suggested that there is a God-shaped hole in the heart of everyone and the only thing that can fill it is God.*  This condition developed upon the very first instance of man's disobedience to God's instructions.  "They saw that they were naked." (Genesis 3:7) The righteousness with which man in his original state was clothed fell away immediately upon the commission of the sin of disobedience to the Creator.

Yet God in his infinite love so yearned for reestablishment of fellowship with the Creature that he gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrificial atonement for man's sin. Peace returned to the world through this gift, yet the hole in our hearts can only be filled by accepting the gift.

Seeking frenetically for something to fill the void within is futile, no matter the excitement of the entertainment or the glitter of worldly possessions.

Peace, Jesus said, I leave with you.

Avail yourself of the Peace!

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  --John 14:7

 *“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Philosophers I Admire, Part 1

.My three ayem ponderings led me to thinking about Doug Marlette and Rev. Will B. Dunn.  This morning I looked back in the archives to see what I had written about these characters.  Is it an irony that this was originally published to String Too Short to Tie on this date, nine years ago?

The philosophy I study on a regular basis depends greatly on, but is not restricted to, the comics. By comics I mean the daily strips, the funnies, that appear in newspapers and that should be read on a regular basis.

The first philosopher I wish to showcase is deceased and his political cartoons and his comic strip are missed. This is Doug Marlette whose comic strip "Kudzu" served as a guiding light for me. The characters in this funny were painted true to life in character and hilarious in their demeanor. While Ida Mae; Nermal; Veranda; and Kudzu, after whom the strip was named, as well as infrequently appearing minor characters all lent panache and vibrancy to the world in which they lived, the real hero of the story was Reverend Will B. Dunn.

Dunn, whether sitting on a hillside studying the stars, or in the pulpit bumbling his way through a sermon or ceremony, always had on a hat and cowboy boots with his trousers tucked into them. His advice column was classic. "Dear Preacher, your biggest problem is you can never admit you're wrong. Disappointed." "Dear Disappointed, I may not always be right, but I am never wrong." Sitting on a hillside with Nermal, Nermal says, "Preacher, do you believe there are alien beings out there?" Dunn replies, "Son, I'm not worried about alien beings out there. I'm worried about the alien beings in here." (Points to his heart.)

The irreverence of his political cartoons often earned him the outpouring of rancor from those whose point of view he skewered. This quote is his response to such attacks.

Those who have attacked my work, whether on the right, the left, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, all seem to experience comic or satirical irreverence as hostility and hate. When all it is, really, is irreverence. Ink on paper is only a thought, an idea. Such people fear ideas. Those who mistake themselves for the God they claim to worship tend to mistake irreverence for blasphemy. --Doug Marlette 1949 - 2007

Douglas Marlette gave of himself not only through his art, but through public service. On his way to a rehearsal of a high school drama club who were preparing to present an onstage "Kudzu," Doug's pickup crashed and he was killed. RIP

Other Marlette posts here and here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

History Lesson

Remember Pearl Harbor
Never forget.

 USS West Virginia, December 7, 1941
Image: Wikipedia.  Article here.