Thursday, October 30, 2014

SAGA OF THE GRAY CLOUD


“Don't follow me anymore, Gray Cloud! When you are around anything that can go wrong does go wrong,” complained Downcast Pilgrim.

“That's not true. Murphy's Law is all in the mind. It's just your imagination. But it's a self-fulfilling attitude, you just wait and see.” Gray Cloud hovered closer above him.

“Because you are following me, all my friends are noticing. They are avoiding me.”

“Of course they will. I am visible to them, especially to people who also have gray clouds trailing them.”

“I didn't invite you to follow me,” countered Downcast Pilgrim.
“Yes you did! You took your eyes off of Jesus and that is an open invitation for us gray clouds to take over.”

“But I don't want to be like Joe Btfsplk in Al Capp's cartoons who had a bad luck cloud attached to him! It's like you're shadowing me.” 

“The devil helped out by giving you an invisible attitude string to tie me to you like a helium filled balloon. It's that simple—wherever you go, I go.”
“But that draws attention to me!”

“Don't blame me. In fact, I think you enjoy the attention you get by being under my cloud.”

“People are beginning to say that you remind them of the gray cloud that floated above Eeyore the old stuffed donkey who was a friend of Winnie-the-Pooh.”

“That was my cousin Achromatic Cloud. He is an expert in pessimism and critical attitudes. My expertise is raining depression on my clients and keeping them in my shadow. If all goes as planned, soon you'll be feeling sorry for yourself and wearing a permanent sad face. Remember that it didn't help Eeyore's attitude to tie a pink ribbon on his tail, and pink ribbons won't chase away your sadness either.” 

“Stop it! I'm already in a doleful slump.”

“Ah, good. We're getting somewhere. I can offer you many benefits,” Gray Cloud puffed himself up.

“Leave me alone!” moaned Downcast Pilgrim. “I have sad memories and regrets I want to worry about. I'm so discouraged....”

“Now you're on the right track. You are in luck. I just happen to be the ideal, convenient storage place for all your memories of what other people did to you for which you haven't forgiven them. I'm expandable. I have plenty of room in my gray cloud for all you can send my way. Of course, over time my cloud becomes heavier with your moanings, so I have to drop gray rain all over you until you become as gray as Eeyore. Fortunately, you can have access to my cloud anytime and put as many regrets and complaints into it as you wish. What's more, you can take them out again and reexamine the offenses against you and reopen wounds. They become as fresh and raw as the day they happened, I guarantee it. I even have room for fantasy offenses.”

“What's wrong with asking myself questions like 'Why did I make such poor decisions in the past? Why do bad things always happen to me?'”

“If you really want to know, dredging up such things affects your spiritual life. If you keep looking in the rear-view mirror of the past, it distorts your perspective. Your mental and physical health goes South too. You will soon find yourself taking a negative view of everything and contaminate everyone else around you. But that's exactly what I'm after! A negative attitude inflates my gray cloud like a balloon. I can become a monstrous storm cloud and completely obscure the sun.”

“Is that why I feel such a chill? I miss the warm sun!” said Downcast Pilgrim wistfully.

“I'd be sorry to leave you, but I have to tell you that you do have a secret power to make me leave. I'm sure there will always be someone else who will welcome a friendly gray cloud like me when they are depressed.”

“Nothing personal, but hurry and tell me the secret of how I can get rid of you,” pleaded Downcast Pilgrim. 

“If you invite the Son into your life again, I have to leave. He is the Light of the world and darkness can't exist in His presence. I work for the prince of darkness. Your invitation for the Son to return will cut the string by which we are attached and I'll float away up...and up...and up....” 

As Downcast Pilgrim lifted his hands and heart to welcome the Son to return, Gray Cloud's voice became more faint as he rose higher and higher finally dissolving into nothingness. And his chilly shadow left with him.

As Downcast Pilgrim shaded his eyes to watch Gray Cloud leave, he saw that all the while Gray Cloud floated above him, the sun had still been shining brightly above the gray cloud! As he reveled in the joy of the warmth of the Son, all of his friends who had been avoiding him came running over to celebrate the Sonshine with him. And they sang a new song and danced a happy dance together while only white, fluffy clouds floated above them in the bright blue morning sky.

From THE RESOURCE BOOK

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence Psalm 42:5.

 “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But Thou, O Lord—how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Thy lovingkindness” Psalm 6:2-4; “I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” Psalm 7:17; “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; In Thy presence is fulness of joy; In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever” Psalm 16:11; “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness; That my soul may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to Thee forever” Psalm 30:11, 12.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

MONOLOGUE OF THE UPPER CRUST

Monologue: A talk or discourse by a single speaker. Any composition, as a poem, in which one person speaks alone. A dramatic soliloquy.

I am only fine-grained dust
feldspar mineral clay
found on the Planet's crust,
earthy material formed
from the erosion of rocks
over vast eons of earth time.
My flesh of sinews and bones
is made of earth's topsoil.
Dust I am and to dust I return.

Lord, You are The Other,
The Self Existent One,
Almighty, Immortal One,
Exalted Non-Substance,
not made, yet all and in all,
Creator, Father, Incomparable,
my Maker and my God!

Your hand molded my clay
in some inexplicable way
unknown and unrecorded
for future posterity.
In Your image You fashioned me
and apart from Your Word
nothing came to be.

Then You breathed on my clay
to give Life to me. And I became
animated dust!
Unfathomable mystery!

You are my Potter.
I dare not question
what You are making of me
or fret at the pressure.
At times resisting You
I haven't been malleable.
Oft marred in Your loving hands,
You've shaped me anew.
So be it done unto me
according to Your word!

You have made of me
a temple of the Holy Spirit
to carry a precious Treasure
in my earthly vessel of clay.
You bought me with the price
of Your only Son's sacrifice,
and destined me to be holy.

As an earthly tent is torn down,
and my dust returns to dust,
You've prepared a house for me
not made with hands
to dwell in the heavens eternally.
You've given my dust a destiny!

From THE RESOURCE BOOK

Some Bible versions translate “dust” as “dirt from the ground,” moulde of the earth,” “slime of the earth,” “small dust such as is on the surface of the earth,” and “topsoil of the fertile land.” Science informs us that the substance of human flesh, sinews, and bones consists of the very same relatively common elements as the soil which forms the crust of the earth.

“Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul]” Genesis 2:7. “...From it [the ground] you were taken; for you are dust...” Genesis 3:19. “The first man is from the earth, earthy....” 1 Corinthians 15:47. “...he who is of the earth is from the earth...” John 3:31. “...thou hast made me of clay...” Job 10:9. “...I too was formed from a piece of clay” Job 33:6. “...those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust...” Job 4:19.
“Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, 'He did not make me'; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, 'He has no understanding'"? Isaiah 29:16. “Woe to him who strives with his Maker, an earthen vessel with the potter! Does the clay say to him who fashions it, 'What are you making'? or 'Your work has no handles'? Isaiah 45:9. “Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand” Isaiah 64:8. “And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do” Jeremiah 18:4.
“...he [Jesus] spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay” John 9:6; John 1:3.
“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?” Romans 9:21. “...also vessels of earthenware...” 2 Tim. 2:20. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” 2 Cor. 4:7. “...earthly tent which is our house....” 2 Cor. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19, 20.







Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A TIME TO DANCE!


“Come and dance, My child,” invited Lord God. “It's time to whirl around with joy and hilarious celebration.”

“Oh, that's exciting, Father! What is the occasion? Will we join the 'welcome home' festivities for the return of the prodigal son?”

“That's an ongoing party for many prodigals who are returning to My House. Always there is joy in Heaven with angels rejoicing and feasting and singing and dancing by my children on Earth. But that's not the reason I've invited you to sing and dance.”

“Did the shepherd find his one lost sheep? Or the woman find the coin she lost?”

“They both found what they were looking for and then called their friends and neighbors together for a big party. But that's not the reason I'm calling you to exult and be ecstatic with joy,” replied Lord God.

“Is it time for Your Son to 'descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God'? Will I dance with those who rise in the glorious resurrection and the living ones who will join in the jubilation?”

“That time has not yet come, but it's in My eternal schedule. It will come suddenly like a thief in the night, so be ready.”

“Well then, You are always following me with bountiful goodness and mercy all the days of my life, Father. I have tons of blessings to celebrate. Is that why we are going to dance?”

“It is good to 'come before me with joyful singing and to enter My gates with thanksgiving and My courts with praise.' But I have a new occasion for you to exult in Me and sing a happy song and dance rapturously to the accompaniment of stringed instruments. You may whirl around and turn cartwheels with joy, if you wish.”

“Oh Father, I can hardly wait for such a happy occasion! What are the words to the music that will be played for my dance?”

“Listen carefully then. 'Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls....'

“Oh no, Father! Those can't be the right words to sing with joy. Such things would be utter disaster, catastrophe, total calamity! How could such words accompany my dance! The music would instead be a dirge—a funeral song, a mournful lament!"

“My child, take your cue from my servant Habakkuk. Although total devastation faced his nation and enemy invaders were storming in to devour and lay waste the entire land and slay the people, and though he trembled with distress and his lips quivered, he waited quietly while trusting in My providence.”

“But Father, that was worst case scenario! Habakkuk said violence and bloodshed was running rampant over the land and wickedness, strife, and contention were everywhere. The laws were ignored, justice was never upheld, and the wicked surrounded the righteous. Moreover, the whole economy of that day must have been in shambles! He described horrible things in his book!”

“Not unlike conditions in your day, my child? Listen to My servant and learn how to sing and dance with holy joy even when facing your own worst case scenario—personal or national. 'Yet I will exult in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.'

“I am silent before You, Father. 'The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.' I don't understand how I can sing and dance under such circumstances, but I bow before You because I know You are working all things for good.” 

“I AM working on the eternal picture while you see only the miniature landscape before you. I have the nations and their leaders in My hand. In My omnipotent wisdom and loving judgment, I may even use godless nations as rods of chastisement for your nation. For I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

“So teach me to exult in You. Teach me to dance with holy joy because Your ways are everlasting!”

From THE RESOURCE BOOK

Various versions of the Bible translated the word “exult” as: rejoice, be glad, shout loudly, take great delight, sing a song of holy joy, sing a happy song, sing loudly, celebrate, rejoice with great happiness, engage in hilarious activity, jump about, truly find joy in, triumph in, proclaim victory, turn cartwheels of joy, whirl around in a dance, be ecstatic about.

Selections from the entire book of Habakkuk. Especially 3:17-19.
Luke 15:1-32; 1 Thess. 5:1-11; 4:13-18; Psalm 100; Rom. 8:28; Phil. 3:1; 4:4; Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Monday, October 27, 2014

"CZECHING" YOUR REQUESTS

TO ANSWER SOME OF YOUR QUESTIONS:

 YES, the third book (pictured below) of my more recent spiritual autobiographical TRILOGY of the "THE LAND OF MORE" series is on the press and soon to be available. I'll notify you of the release date soon. Hurry and order at the discounted pre-publication price of $11 plus s/h for your Christmas giving. See details in the column at the right.


  And YES, these books are in addition to my original autobiography (the thick one with 439 pages!--I had to cover my first 80 years!) 
Is CZECHING MY ROOTS: A Heritage Saga & Autobiography still available? YES AGAIN!

Originally priced at $17.95 I have discounted it to $12.95 plus s/h, the same price as single books of my TRILOGY. You may order through my email leonachoy@gmail.com.


Do you get one of these Czech hoodies as a bonus with each book order?
Sorry, NO!  I just put it on this page for fun!

What is CZECHING MY ROOTS all about? I quote below from the
back cover:

"A LEGACY BOOK we all wish we could write!
* A Czech girl who didn't want to be Czech!
* Born in Iowa, she grew up in the 1930s and '40s.
* Spent a lifetime far from her heritage--in China!
* Finally embraced her ethnicity and searched for her own roots.
* Traced the immigrant experience of her Czech ancestors.
* Researched her valuable religious heritage back to the martyr, Jan Hus, and the Moravian missionary movement. 
* Chronicled her exciting adventures in China and the Czech Republic. 
* Shared her own spiritual journey of the Christian faith."   

My stock of CZECHING MY ROOTS is limited. Hurry to order for Christmas while supplies last!




PARABLE OF A MISGUIDED GIRL


A Fable about a Fable
A tongue-in-cheek look at the story of  
Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time, 1837 to be exact, a fairy tale began to be read to innocent little children in English nurseries. In the original version the main character was an unpleasant, malicious, intrusive, vagrant old woman who used bad language when things didn't suit her. The setting was a house owned by three bachelor bears. It ended with the woman jumping from the window. It's uncertain if she survived, at least she was never seen again. 

In 1849 the protagonist morphed into a charming kid at first named "Little Silver-Hair." The bears had milk in their bowls not oatmeal. From a fearsome folk tale that struck terror into the hearts of toddlers, it got cleaned up into a cozy, more family-friendly story about a girl named “Goldilocks.” It was somewhat reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the teenage girl was also an intruder whom the little people discovered under their roof. She had also fallen asleep in their absence. There must be something in the water. I'm not sure which fairy tale came first but a plot can't be copyrighted.

Later psychologists criticized Goldilocks as being a poor behavioral model for kids by acting out such emotional immaturity. She was obviously an unruly, greedy, delinquent, human child. Film makers, cartoonists, and Disney came along and decided to remedy that by projecting upward the age of Goldie to late teens. In some versions they added a boyfriend to the mix, altered the plot, and changed the bears into human wolves. Apparently this was intended to add spice and appeal for adolescent readers. 

So what can we glean of moral behavior from this story for kids of any age including adults? Perhaps we can learn something even from negative examples. Oh sure, the little girl was purported to have innocently wandered off while picking flowers. Who knows, this might have taken place in her mother's flower garden and that was just the beginning of her illicit actions. Little wonder that she took off into the woods to avoid being punished. We can assume that Goldilocks didn't ask her parents' permission to go off alone into the dark forest. Or perhaps she was warned of big bad wolves like Little Red Riding Hood encountered, but not cautioned about bears. From the beginning we can see that she didn't respect authority figures or property. 

Where were Goldie's parents anyway? They must not have been very alert or solicitous for their child's welfare since we don't see them rounding up a search party when their daughter obviously disappeared for an entire day. Do you recall those late night sound bites on TV? "Parents! Do you know where your children are?" I don't see those announcements anymore. Today we are more likely to ask, “Children, do you know where your parents are?” Of course this story was written before TV was invented so we'll give the parents a pass on that one.

One thing always leads to another. As the plot unfolds, we see that Goldie's misdirected curiosity led her to be guilty of trespassing. The bear family is not without blame. They shouldn't have left the house in the middle of a meal for a frolic in the woods just because of the temperature of the food. And they were certainly too trusting to neglect locking their doors—an open invitation for burglary. Ah yes, we should always be suspicious of so-called friendly, little cottages. They might not be so benign. They might become a crime scene these days as in days of yore. Visualize this: the occupants might actually have been at home, she might have surprised them, and bad things could have happened. You could be in big trouble if you skirmish with wild animals who are obviously hungry since their breakfast was delayed. If curiosity can kill a cat, it might have been fatal to the little golden-haired kid.

There are other lessons that should be modeled for children. Patience, for example. If Goldie was so hungry after her long walk she could have politely waited on the doorstep for the occupants to return and invite her in for breakfast. But no, she had to barge right in and head for the kitchen. Such poor manners to taste the food in everyone's bowl! Goldie seemed to be unusually fussy and hard to please. Didn't her mother ever caution her about eating food in a strange place? Who knows what kind of weird ingredients mama bear might have cooked up to make that breakfast food? Bears might have their own version of "Animal Crackers" and they could have been “People Crackers!” Bears must be carnivorous since they are known to attack people! Goldie ate the whole bowlful of little bear's food. So greedy! When you dally with little samples of forbidden things, before long you are unable to control yourself and go off the deep end with other temptations.

Since she was unable to control her appetite for food, the next thing you know she was tempted to disrespect the property of others. Here comes a teachable moment. The story goes that her feet were so sore from walking such a distance in the woods that she simply had to sit down. When she broke the cub's chair, Goldie apparently didn't feel any remorse nor make an attempt at damage control. She wasn't a very good role model for kids since she didn't take responsibility for her actions or leave a note of apology or think about reparation for destroying furniture. Perhaps her conscience had not been well-formed and she was just a mean little girl from the git-go.

When Goldie tried out the chairs of both the parent bears, she must have displaced the cushions or mussed up things since the bears noticed the disarray as soon as they returned. Or else they were incorrigible neatniks so fastidious and obsessed with order that they got all bent out of shape over trivial appearances. These were obviously talking bears, and the high-strung cub kept screaming not unlike spoiled human boys and girls who stamp their feet and pout.

The bears must have been gone a long time to give Goldie a chance to fall asleep. Or maybe it was something in that oatmeal that made her drowsy. At any rate, taking the risk of sleeping in a bed that belonged to someone else—well, it's certainly not a good idea to curl up on other people's bed linens. Didn't her mother teach her anything? Bears are likely to have lice or fleas and she could have ended up scratching or worse. The story line goes that she "dreamed dreams of flowers and warm cookies”—yeah, right. Still no remorse.

When she was discovered, I don't blame her for panicking when she saw three hairy creatures hovering over her. (Remember, they had not eaten yet!) The story goes that she took off in a flash and made a beeline directly for her home (Ah ha! Goldie must not really have been lost, just making an excuse for wandering around in the woods. In the conclusion, she promised her parents that she would never go unaccompanied into the forest again. Here the author was moralizing and attempting damage control to counteract all of Goldie's bad behavior. Kids will promise anything to keep from getting punished. I guess at this point we are supposed to say, "And they lived happily ever after" which is the way most fairy tales end.

So, my take on this tale about a tale will also end because tails are always at an end. I hope that my readers will have learned a few lessons from a contrary, fair-haired little girl. She was just lucky not to have ended up in the bears' oven like the hapless kids Hansel and Gretel. Did you ever wonder why adults in past generations wrote nursery rhymes and fairy tales that were so gory and scary? And we think that there is too much violence on TV these days!

An epilogue-ish note: It was rumored among Dark Forest wild critters that Goldie, forever after, had a phobia about going to the zoo, especially anywhere near the bears' cages.









Sunday, October 26, 2014

URBANITES IN PARADISE


Based on the occasion of the author’s relocation from 
Washington, D.C. to rural Paradise, Pennsylvania in days gone by.
(Apologies to King James Version English)

It came to pass that a certain family of city dwellers who serveth the Lord transplanteth themselves from the Land of the Watergate to the beautiful countryside of Paradise which floweth with corn and soybeans. Yea, they discovereth they had many new things to learn.

They set about to build themselves a dwelling. “Where runneth the city water main?” inquired the Urbanite master of the household when the contractor appeareth with the plans. “We will need to turn on our many faucets, even to fill our bathtubs.”

“Thinkest thou that things are the same here as in the city of the Watergate? There is no city water out here!” declareth the contractor. “One must needs diggeth a well.”

“Proceed with haste then, lest thy delay costeth me more money than thou didst estimate.”

“First it must be determined where lieth the water. One cannot dig willy-nilly as a dog diggeth the earth seeking to find a bone that it hath long ago hidden.”

“Where then shall the well be dug?”

“For this cause an exact spot must be determined lest we excavate all the way to China and still not come upon water,” he patiently explained.

Immediately the contractor calleth upon a dowser person (which being interpreted was a man engaged to “smell for water” underground). Not many hours after, a certain old man of the county of Lancaster appeareth with a divining rod made of a peach tree branch which was said to mysteriously bend of itself to point the location where water lieth deep beneath the ground.

The Urbanite householder did scoff at such a primitive method, regarding it as sheer nonsense and superstition. Nevertheless, it was known unto all that even modern contractors calleth on dowsers in the province of Pennsylvania, particularly the county where the Lancasterites were wont to dwell. Still shaking his head with disbelief, acknowledging that it was indeed a great mystery, but being persuaded that he must go with the flow, [no pun intendeth!] the master of the household gave permission.

Behold, in the sight of all the neighbors assembled to watch, even while they looked steadfastly at him, eventually the dowser person cometh upon water as he promised.

The contractor lifteth up his voice and declareth, “The well must needs be dug down 225 feet to provide for thy needs.”

Now when he heard this, the transplanted Urbanite did not leap for joy but bowed himself down with sorrow. His heart was pricked within him as he complained, “What meaneth this? That will cost too many shekels. Lo, our neighbor’s well hath not needed such depth. Verily, he declareth so to me by the words of his own mouth.”

The contractor saith unto him, “Thy situation is unlike his. All property is not the same and each man severally hath his own needs. Furthermore, remember that the contour of thy land differeth; the size of thy dwelling is greater than thy neighbor's, and the people of thy household are more in number. Dost thou plan always to dwell alone with thy family?”

“Nay, others will come often to our dwelling, guests from far and near, even distant relatives in great numbers might descend upon us during vacations and holidays to sup and take rest in our guest rooms,” he admitted.

“Then truly thy well must have sufficient depth not only to quench thine own thirst, but for cooking, to cleanse thyself and thy household, to wash thy canine, even to wash thy laundry and vinyl floors. In days to come thou shalt need much water for thy landscaping and lawn, yea, even to water the trees which thou art planting from seedlings, that they might bring forth leaf and fruit abundantly. Moreover, hast thou not plans for a large garden?”

Thus convinced, the former Urbanite gave a nod, and it came to pass that the well was dug to the depth required, pipes laid, and a submersible pump installed with an electric motor. Oh, so silently and unseen was the operation that no man knew three gallons per minute floweth on demand to draw up the water.

“Here is thy guarantee,” saith the contractor. “Unlimited is thy water source, sufficient for all thy present and future needs and desires. Thou knowest, of course, that thou wilt have to turn on the spigots before water will flow, just as thou didst when living in the Land of the Watergate. And be not so foolish as to waste water by letting it flow forth for no reason or while thou dost brush thy teeth. When thou dost want hot water for thy pleasure, behold, thou hast it. Yea, and cool water for refreshment. Both are filtered and pure.”

For some time after they moved in, the Urbanites continued happily to enjoy abundant water. But one Sabbath day the man and his wife gazeth at one another in perplexity, then were seized with panic because certain faucets seemeth not to have even a drip for their need. The garden hose lieth limp without a dribble. The teenage son of the household complaineth that there was naught a trickle for the long showers that he requireth. 

“Alas! The well runneth dry!” they lamented with one accord. “Was it not written in the guarantee that our water will flow sufficient forever?” Truly they began to doubt what was promised them in former days by the contractor.

They perceived that quickly they should cry in their distress unto a Plumberite. He agreeth to come but gave them warning that he needs must charge time-and-a-half since he cometh on the Sabbath day in this emergency. Soon he arriveth in a large van loaded with tools and machinery with three assistant Plumberites.

With dollar signs dancing in his head, the Urbanite householder crieth with alarm, “What meaneth this? Why bringeth such an astronomical amount of equipment and persons with thee?”

The Plumberite answered and said unto him, “If thou mightest have humongous problems, so it becometh us to always come prepared.”

When the Plumberite had thus spoken, he consulteth privately with his three helpers. Then with a simple wrench he adjusteth the pressure valve on the tank while his assistants stood leisurely by holding a large tool box in readiness. Immediately the water floweth again with a great gush from all faucets.

With a loud voice he declareth, "Let not your hearts quake with fear. Fully sufficient and abundant continueth thy water supply, oh ye of little faith. Wherefore didst thou doubt? Only take care that no dirt or obstruction hindereth the flow. Yea, from time to time thou must cleanse the pipes and adjust the pressure. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, if thou wilt do according to my saying, thou shalt have no more water trouble.”

Having spent at most ten minutes at their dwelling, the Plumberite handeth the householder a bill of great figures. Written in his own hand, it readeth: “For mileage and labor costs on the Sabbath. Emergency service call.” And he departeth forthwith in a cloud of dust and a screech of the van tires.

And it was so in the days to come, even as the Plumberite prophesieth, for they took heed to keep their pipes clean and water pressure adjusted so peradventure they would not soon need to call on the expensive services of the Plumberite. 

Behold, it came to pass that the transplanted Urbanites lived happily ever after in the Land of the Lancasterites and were known far and wide for their well-watered luxuriant landscape, manicured green lawn, and bountiful garden. Yea, the former Urbanites in due time were awarded a prize by the township for having the most frequently shampooed collie dog.
****

Not exactly from THE RESOURCE BOOK
(Adapted from John 4:5-15 and 7:37, 38 by the author)

“He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. For the Master of the Divine Water System hath declared, 'Verily, verily, I am He who giveth the Water of Life severally unto each man which believeth in Me. He that believeth on Me shall never thirst. Behold, I am the Well springing up in them, even the Rivers of Living Water, the Abundant Source of Eternal Life. I am sufficient for all thy needs, even unto the days of thy children’s children for generations to come. Be not faithless but believing.'”

Saturday, October 25, 2014

PARABLE OF THE DISORDERED EGG

A Fable about a Fable

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the kings men
 couldn't put Humpty together again.”

In the late 1700s, this little ditty began as an English nursery rhyme about an anthropomorphic egg. It seems that Humpty had a mishap. What was he doing on the wall in the first place? Whose wall was it? Was Humpty perchance disobeying someone's rules about wall climbing? Was this wall around a garden that he wanted to peep into but lost his balance? Did someone push him off? Did he jump? The rhyme doesn't tell us. And kids don't ask such questions anyway.

Too bad he was such a softy. It would have gone better for him had he been hard boiled. Some say the rhyme had political overtones, that perhaps it was about King Richard III who was defeated in battle. Such a pity that his entire army couldn't help him. The analogy has been exploited in political cartoons around the world. Ole H.D. has even been used to demonstrate the Second Law of thermodynamics describing a process known as entropy—about the order and disorder of properties.

But the point of this is to explore the matter of order and disorder in our Christian lives using a personified Humpty Dumpty and his newsworthy event as a launching pad. What does it say about our human condition?

"Order" has many definitions. It is an authoritative communication or command, as in giving an order. It also describes something that is working well, as in good order. Or an orderly system of arrangements in a sequence, as in lining up in order or according to priorities. Order can mean a state of neatness or efficiency, as in putting one's affairs in order. Or denoting inner orderliness and peace, a sense of spiritual harmony.

Humpty must have experienced most of those definitions in his own eggish way by his catastrophic tumble. It certainly rearranged and disordered his properties—there was the CaCO3 shattered shell, the vitelline membrane, germinal disc yolk and chalazae spattered all over the place. It wasn't very pretty! Actually a mop was needed, not a military attempt for damage control. After such total egg disorder and disharmony, it figures that no one could help him reconstruct his former standing—or sitting, in his case. It permanently changed Humpty Dumpty's integrity.

Thank God that in salvation history the "great fall" of our first parents didn't permanently change our integrity! God created man in perfection and destined us to live with Him for eternity. Although long-term disorder did set in, God, in His infinite love and mercy, didn't leave us without hope. He is in the business of spiritual reconstruction and into the miracle of unscrambling eggs. 
 
Through His plan from before the foundation of the world, reconciliation with God was offered to us through the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We could become new creations in Christ and experience His Holy Spirit's indwelling. Our disorder, our need to be put together again, could be remedied through our repentance. Forgiveness of our sins, peace, harmony, and order could be restored.

King David described this marvelous spiritual restoration in the Psalm-songs as being redeemed from the miry pit and set up on a rock. Our "Rock" isn't the material wall of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, but the solid Faith Foundation of Jesus Christ as our Rock. God intends for us to keep abiding safely on that Rock-wall in close communion with Him. 

No analogy is perfect, of course. The compounding problem is our generous gift from God of our free will. Moreover, we have to keep living in a fallen world. Even as new, restored creations we have the freedom to jump off of our Rock-wall. Or we might inadvertently slip off of it. When we do, we become uncomfortable and feel out-of-order. That is as it should be. It can happen to us even during the course of a day when the stresses, responsibilities, the unexpecteds, and interruptions threaten to overwhelm us and throw us off kilter. Our peace flies away if we give in to anxiety. If our priorities get skewed, pressures of life can push us off the solid foundation wall of trusting and abiding in God. We can lose our balance by not keeping our eyes focused on the orders for the day that God has given us. 

Humpty's summons of all the material and military resources of his human (or barnyard) kingdom didn't do him any good. Unscrambling scrambled eggs was above their pay grade. Vain is the help of man or of poultry. But our situation is never hopeless in Christ if we find ourselves temporarily out-of-order. Our King of kings wants to draw us back to Himself, and He has provided a way out of our discombobulation and disarray.

He wants to keep us lovingly close and abiding in Him on His wall. If perchance we wander from the paths of righteousness or deliberately take detours from what we know to be His will, we are not irretrievably scrambled again. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Lord draws us gently back to Himself.

It is easier if we keep short accounts with God. Throughout the day we can carve out slices of quiescent stillness to simply sit in God's presence and let Him listen to our hearts while we listen to His. We need to remind ourselves to “be still and know that He is God” and we are not. We must hush our hearts so that He can examine them and we can hear His whisper as He restores us to His good order again.

In the secret garden of His presence we can recollect ourselves and gather our scattered thoughts and activities to integrate and unite our spirits again with His and restore peace and order in our private worlds.

ORDER MY PRIVATE WORLD

Propelled by the winds of my times
my inner world whirls with unrest.
I’m driven by impulse and pressed
by the tangible, the visible,
the temporal commitments
and duties that pull at my spirit.
Responsibilities wrestle me to the mat
disintegrating my spiritual discernment
clouding my perception of God’s will.

Lord! I can’t hear You
if my outward world shouts so loudly
that my inner, private world is askew
without order and balance!

Not in the whirlwind of my life,
not in the earthquake of circumstances,
nor in the thunder of my activities,
not in the lightning of my urgencies,
nor in the fire of my passions
for accomplishment and success,
can I sense God’s peace and direction.

Only when I withdraw
to my secret garden
within the hidden chamber of my heart,
my innermost place of rest
where Christ abides
and graciously beckons me,
can I settle down attentively
with a hushed heart
to listen to His still, small voice
without the maelstrom of stress
and tension of my outward burdens.

When I sup with Him
privately, intimately
and in communion with His Family
as He breaks the Eucharistic Bread,
His Body given for me,
He nourishes me so tenderly,
helps me sort out the disorder of my life,
and blesses me with peace and focus.

Only then can I go forth
and * “let my ordered life confess
the beauty of Thy peace,”
and I can confidently face
the public day ahead,
or the year ahead, or my next step
as God opens it before me.
****
*From the Hymn: “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
Text: John G. Whittier

From the RESOURCE BOOK

1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1, 11, 35; Romans 14:19; Psalm 27:5; 62:7; 46:10; 2 Samuel 22:3, 47; 1 Corinthians 15:22