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Archive for August, 2020


Monday, August 31, 2020

Cornwall, England: Glendurgan Gardens

Cornwall, England: Glendurgan Gardens

Proverbs 3:5-8

In All Ways

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways be mindful of God, and God will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil; this will mean health for your flesh and vigor for your bones.

We need not over-simplify or over-complicate our relationship with God. The formula for eternal success is simple: trust God, rely on God’s wisdom, practice humility, avoid what we know to be wrong, and love God with all that we have and all that we are. This brings us peace and energy. This brings us health and a wealth that cannot be measured.

God says: I know that when you are frightened or weary or confused you want to rely solely on your own resources and yet even your greatest stores have limits. I am limitless. I know that when you are happy, relaxed and content you forget to invite me into your celebration and yet your joy is incomplete if you forget me. I want to accompany you in your sorrow; I want to join you in your delight. Trust in me. You need no other strength. Believe in me. You need no other god. My strength and serenity have unbounded depth and breadth and height. My love knows no bounds. Your body, heart, mind and soul will rest well when they rest in me.

In all ways we are to be mindful of God for what we now see as crooked we will then see as straight. In all ways we are to trust God for what we now experience as a labyrinth of sorrow we will come to know as the Kingdom of God. In all ways let us turn to God.


Image from: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/glendurgan-maze-horticulture-garden

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

pathways[1]Proverbs 2:9-11

Wisdom’s Companions

Then you will understand rectitude and justice, honesty, every good path; for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will please your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you . . .

We somehow believe that Wisdom travels alone or that she resides in some remote, ivory tower when in fact she journeys with friends and lives with her companions. The names of those in her cohort will not surprise us: Rectitude . . . Honesty . . . Justice . . . Knowledge of the Lord . . . Discretion . . . and Understanding. Can we say that we have the came companions?

pathways-report_img_9[1]God says: There are many good paths you might follow that will bring you to me and while they vary, they all have something in common.These paths are best found when you first put on honesty, discretion, understanding, rectitude, justice, and knowledge of your God. The path that nurtures these qualities will also nourish Wisdom for she eats and drinks of these values. And where you find Wisdom, there also will you find me.

We somehow believe that there is one true path to God’s Wisdom or that there is only one way to know God and yet our experiences tell us that this is not so.  There are many varied passages we humans make as we journey with and to God.  Spend a bit of time today reflecting on the nature of your own journey.  Think about how and where and when you find these companions of Wisdom.  And if this image of your journey and the names of these Wisdom Companions elude you, consider how and where and when you might best encounter them.


The images above from: http://craigspoems.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/pathways/

For a variety of beautiful journey images, click on the image below or go to: http://blog.zeemp.com/wonders-of-nature-enchanted-pathways/  Also see the Journeys of Transformation tab on this blog.

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

god_speaks[1]Proverbs 2:6-8

God’s Mouth

For the Lord gives wisdom, from God’s mouth come knowledge and understanding; God has counsel in store for the upright, God is the shield of those who walk honestly, guarding the paths of justice, protecting the way of the faithful.

We are often tempted to go our own way, convincing ourselves that we have enough personal strength, enough contacts, enough resources to protect ourselves. Yet when disaster strikes all of this power is useless.

God says, When I see you placing all of your efforts into temporal storehouses I love you all the more. When days and weeks and months go by without your speaking to me, I call to you. I come to walk among you in the person of Jesus to give you counsel. My Spirit dwells within you to serve as your shield, to guard you each day, to protect you from the disasters that will befall you. Jesus comes to you as My Word. Jesus brings knowledge and understanding from mouth to your heart. Open your heart to me.

God is not remote or detached. God does not watch us from a distance. God is around us in all of creation. God is within us giving knowledge and understanding. God’s wisdom reverberates in the hearts of those who walk with honesty and live faithfully. Although we cannot hear God, God speaks to us each minute of each day, bringing us knowledge and understanding.


Image from: http://christiancrosstalk.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-does-god-speak-to-us.html

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Proverbs: Mashal


Friday, August 28, 2020

King Solomon

King Solomon

Proverbs

Mashal

“There is no English word that adequately translates the Hebrew mashalIt embraces a broad category of literary forms: oracle (Nm 23,7); discourse (Jb 29,1); parable (Ps 78,2); taunt-song (Is 14,4). In each case there is a lesson to be learned, and for this reason the mashal might best be understood as ‘an example from life’ intended to instruct.  (Although some scholars understand mashal in the limited sense of a specific form, it will be used here as a general category unless otherwise indicated.) This is the word that identifies two major collections as “The Proverbs of Solomon” (10,1; 25,1) and from which the book itself receives its name.

“The root meaning of mashal is ‘likeness’ or ‘comparison’ as in ‘Like mother like daughter,’ or in the contrast ‘better safe than sorry.’  As a comparison, it usually consists of two parts in some kind of poetic construction”.  (Senior RG 256)

Solomon cannot have been more clear with his comparisons and explications. He writes with clarity and precision about the wisdom that guides him with the difficult and complex work as leader of a nation rising in stature and power. He shares all that he knows about how to avoid wrongdoing and how to keep to the narrow path that Wisdom lays down before us. The distractions of the world are many and they are deceptive. Temptation, when it succeeds in luring us away from God, comes to us gently, subtly, and in the guise of something or someone we love. Solomon warns us of pitfalls. He gives us clear words for success in God’s way; yet even Solomon himself ignores the very wisdom he imparts to us. We will want to avoid the fall comes to Solomon.

When we look at these chapters and verses we prefer to see their wisdom for change in our enemies and their wisdom of reinforcement for ourselves. We humans prefer that others adjust to our vision of reality rather than change anything about our own image as we take lesson from these mashal. And in this way of living we miss much of God’s Wisdom.

In the opening chapter several days ago, we have risen in full blossom with the beginning verses. Who among us does not see ourselves as intelligent and perceptive? And so we are. We yearn to be the wise one who gains sound guidance; we yearn for resourcefulness, justice and honesty. Yet also are we – from time to time at least – the ones who casts our lot with those who spread the net of gossip to gain an end. We are also – from time to time – among the number who love our own inanity. We petition God for wisdom, discipline, and security and this is what we find in these Mashal of Solomon.  We must step outside of ourselves to read these verses and to assess who we are and what we do. This, of course, takes wisdom.

If we read the story of this wise King Solomon we see what falls to him in the waning years of his life.  (1 Kings 11) Even this wise, and powerful, and wealthy servant of God falls victim to the wide road as he leaves behind the narrow path of God. So it is that we read the words he brings to us today, and we pray.

Good and wise God, we ask for knowledge rather than power. We ask for hope rather than fame. We ask for the ability to love you as you love us rather than the false security of this world. Instruct us in your narrow way. Save us from our self-willing inanity. Keep us ever in the presence of your Wisdom. Remind us of her value each day. Shield us from bitterness and anger, and remind us that you and your Wisdom are with us always, even as we call out for you. Amen.


For more on the Book of Proverbs, click on the image above or go to: http://mandyspath.wordpress.com/tag/proverbs/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 256. Print.   

Also see the Proverbs – Courage page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/wisdom/proverbs-courage/

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

wisdom-2[1]Proverbs 1

The Value of Wisdom

In the first chapter of Proverbs we find many references to knowledge as the source of wisdom and of how fools turn away from knowledge.  The last verses even describe God as one who mocks the foolish. In truth we know that we mock ourselves, we mock our creation as a Child of God, we mock the very image of God when we turn away from knowledge and understanding.

For as Isaiah reminds us (55:11), God’s word does not return empty.  My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will.  Jesus shows us this in his every act and word.

I am thinking about the hope that we hold and enact each time we step into our work day, each time we discipline ourselves, each time we enact the word we hear each morning on our rising from our creator.

In Proverbs 1 we see: words of intelligence, just and honest, knowledge and discretion, hearing and learning, wisdom and instruction . . . this is God’s Word to us.

In Proverbs 1:13 and 15 . . . All kinds of precious wealth shall we gain, we shall fill our houses with booty . . . My child, walk not in the way with them . . .

In verses 20 to 33 Wisdom warns us of the danger of rejecting her works. As we read these words we are reminded of the Gospels where we see Jesus, God’s Wisdom, rejected so many times because he did not conform to the culture of the corrupt hierarchy, because he called the comfortable to make room for the poor, because he turned the contemporary society on its head. He still turns us on our own heads today.  Each time we feel uncomfortable we know that we are called to take a look at ourselves, to listen to Wisdom, to live patiently and hopefully, to follow the Way Christ shows us. We are called to be Christ to others. We are called to express God’s Word to others to the best of our potential. We are called to share and enact the hope God has planted  in us.

And so we pray . . .

Dearest Lord, when you send us your wisdom, also send us your infinite patience for we humans are impatient. When you extend your hand, we wish to take it. Make your hand visible to us for we humans have eyes but we do not see. When you call to us, make our hearts open to your voice for we humans have ears but do not hear. When you send us Your Holy Spirit, also send the courage and fortitude that we will need to enact your Word each day. For we humans love you dearly and wish to do your will. We wish to send your Word back to you rather than allow it to return to you empty. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection written on November 29, 2007.

Image from: http://jasonmin.wordpress.com/

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Strive to enter through the narrow door . . .

Strive to enter through
the narrow door . . .

Proverbs 1:31-33

The Self-Will of the Simple

Now they must eat the fruit of their own way, and with their own devices be glutted. For the self-will of the simple kills them, the smugness of fools destroys them. But the one who obeys me dwells in security, in peace, without fear of harm.

We delude ourselves when we look to God for mercy without justice for God tells us repeatedly through the prophets, and God tells us again through Jesus that the way we must follow is narrow. God tells us that we must do more than believe. We must act.

God says: Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us”. He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from”. And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets”.  Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from”.  (Luke 13:22-27)

We put off conversion thinking that there are many days ahead when we can change our ways, and so there may be. We delay transformation thinking that God understands our intent and forgives our close-mindedness. We postpone coming to fully know God, thinking that it is enough to eat at the table of the Lord, thinking that the Lord does not mind our lukewarm response to the call of the Gospel. In all of this thinking we see ourselves giving over to the self-will of the simple.


For another reflection on the narrow way of God, click on The Narrow Gate tab on this blog, or click on the image and go to: http://dailywalkheavenwards.blogspot.com/2011/10/narrow-door.html

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Sirach 22Fool or Friend

friends[1]This book of wisdom is full of wonderful, universal sayings that last though the ages; and Chapter 22 is no exception.  As we near the end of another year, we often spend time thinking about our relationships, from our most intimate to our most casual.  Yesterday we considered how and why we forge and maintain relationships.  Today we continue that introspection and we examine the friendships and the value-structure we build.

When we interact with others . . .

Do we take the time, do we practice diligence in reviewing what we say before we say it?  Can we look at ourselves through the filter of today’s reading which describes both the foolish and the true friend to place ourselves somewhere along this continuum?  Do we find ourselves among those who let friendship come and go like dry leaves before a wind or like small stones lying on an open height [that] will not remain when the wind blows?  Or can we say that we work at being a true and constant friend, demanding much of ourselves as we struggle to walk that fine line between openness to reconciliation and refusal to enable abuse?

Fools and friends. We are surrounded by all kinds of people and we are engulfed in all sorts of circumstances.  We ourselves are sometimes the fool, sometimes the friend. As we move through a global pandemic, we likely have images of fools and friends who both encourage and infuriate us. Foolishness and friendship at times blur into one another. At other times they are starkly different. When our vision is clouded by too much input and too little truth, we have a true, authentic, and constant Friend. Let us resolve to always look for reconciliation where there are rifts. Let us draw healthy boundaries that discourage abuse. Let us walk in the way shown to us by Jesus. Let us leave behind the habits of a fool and take up the mantle of a true friend.

And let us pray . . .

God creator, when you formed us out of the universe, you had in mind that we would look to you for wisdom and that we would commit to the work of befriending not only the faithful who walk with you but those who linger on the margins as well. Teach us to move away from the tempting life of doing nothing in order that we avoid error. Guard us from the impulsive life of speaking and acting before we think. Grant us the strength to risk even a bit of ourselves just as you have risked all you have in your relationship with us. Move us out of any spiritual sluggishness, and energize us with your Spirit. For our part, we will put aside our willingness to suffer fools lightly or to behave as fools ourselves. We will observe the careful lines between these worlds of fools and friends as we remain open to the reconciliation you ask all of us to seek. As we prepare to enter into a new season and a new cycle of our lives, we pledge this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


First written on December 28, 2010; re-written and posted today as  a Favorite.

For another reflection about Friendship: The Space Between, click on the image above or go to: http://camryndarkstone.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/real-friends/

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Sirach 22Fool or Friend

220px-RWS_Tarot_00_Fool[1]This chapter opens with some marvelous images of those who are lazy: The sluggard is like a stone in the mud; everyone hisses at his disgrace.  The sluggard is like a lump of dung; whoever touches him wipes his hand.  Images of people I have known through my life move before me in a motion picture of stories I had forgotten.  They are awakened today as I read about unruly children, a hussy, fools – teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot, or like disturbing a man in the depths of sleep.  Still further on we are admonished to steer clear of brutes and stupid men, people with timid resolve.

Then we arrive at a wonderful didactic piece on friendship in which we are asked to remember that a contemptuous insult, a confidence broken, or a treacherous attack will drive away any friend.  And before flames burst forth an oven smokes; so does abuse come before bloodshed.  A final warning about the importance of friendship closes this song: From him who brings harm to his friend all will stand aloof who hear of it.  But this anthem to friendship seems to me to hinge upon verse 21: Should you draw a sword against a friend, fear not, you can be reconciled. 

Finally we read a simple prayer: Who will set a guard over my mouth and upon my lips an effective seal, that I may not fall through them, that my tongue might not destroy me?  This last verse of Sirach 22 is an effective morning prayer that any one of us might want to intone as we rise.  Who among us has not regretted words that were said in haste or without having undergone serious thought before leaving our lips?

As we consider Fools and Friends, we remind ourselves that the links we create with others and the manner in which we interact with others tell the world about our relationship with God.  We pause in our reflection to consider our relationships with others, including God.  We take some time over the next twenty-four hours to discover something old and something new about ourselves.  We consider what kind of fool we have been, what sort of friendship we nurture, and how much room we make for God in the bonds we forge in life.


To investigate how and why others forge relationships, go to the Blogroll in the column to the right on this blog and choose a link.  As we explore, we have the opportunity to discern something new and something old about ourselves; we are offered the opportunity to define the fools and friends in our lives, and what they have to tell us about ourselves. Tomorrow, Part II of Fool or Friend.

Image from: http://thefoolsquest.blogspot.com/

First written on December 28, 2008; re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Edward Gooch: Ezekiel’s Vision

Ezekiel 12:1-12

A Rebellious House

The prophet Ezekiel writes about the time of captivity when the people of Israel were conquered by their enemies. Leaders and the intelligentsia are carried away while a faithful remnant remains to live in the ruins of what was once a splendid city. A culture that had been the envy of all peoples goes underground and clings to the God who has lead and protected them through millennia. Chaos arrives when corruption flourishes, and those close to the center of power enable lies and deceit. Status, wealth and comfort trump charity, empathy and authentic living. This is, indeed, a rebellious house. And in the midst of pandemic, we take time to reflect on our own rebellious house.

They have eyes to see but do not see. Some of us persist in imagining a reality that does not exit.

They have ears to hear but do not hear. Sometimes we insist on imposing a point of view.

For they are a rebellious house. At times we are infatuated with our own importance.

Prepare your baggage as though for an exile. We affirm evil when we and neglect science and biology.

Migrate from where you live to another place. We must step out of our old selves to encounter the new.

I did as I was told. I set out in darkness and shouldered my burden. We must take responsibility for our silence or inaction.

The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness. The truth will always reveal itself.

Ezekiel lives in exile with an exiled people and many of us may feel as though we also live in a place and time that are unrecognizable. But our hope lies in the promise and grace of the God who loves and forgives, nurtures and heals. Our future lies in opening our ears more than our mouths, opening our hearts more than our eyes. There are times when we alone cannot resolve entrenched violence or evil; and it is at those times that we might take up the gift of God’s love as we head out into exile with our baggage prepared.

When we discover that we live in a rebellious house and fear begins to rise, as we prepare our baggage for the next leg in our journey, let us remind one another that there is always hope when we come together in solidarity for the truth. Let us arm ourselves with integrity, curiosity, empathy, and humility. Let us remember that in darkness there is always an opportunity for the light. Ezekiel tells us . . . Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house. Let us recognize Christ in one another, join our hands, open our hearts, and come together in the mind of Christ.


For another reflection on this citation, enter the word While they were looking on into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://www.learnreligions.com/introduction-to-the-book-of-ezekiel-701131

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