Crows on the cross

Crows, historically associated with death, are highly intelligent birds with powerful memory. In folklore they convene to determine capital punishment for wrongdoers—a murder of crows, apropos. Yet they mourn their dead and will even place small sticks or other objects around a deceased fellow crow, in a sort of funeral rite.

On Sunday morning, crows perched atop the steeple cross at church as congregants arrived. Harbingers of death? Casters of judgment? Consider the cross, an instrument of capital punishment, particularly of someone “who knew no sin” offering himself as a sacrifice for all the wrongdoing of humankind…For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17 NKJV); For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

So sit the crows
on the steeple cross
a judgment passed
a death sentence cast

yet overturned and overcome
so long ago
—one wonders what the crows know.

Endurance

inspired by Bible study of James 1:1-12

Crucible:
an earthen container
able to withstand
intense heat until
the precious metal
within is purified,
its imperfect portions
sparking off in the air

comes from medieval Latin
crucibulum
meaning ‘night lamp’
possibly one which hung
in front of
a crucifix

perhaps in
cavernous darkness
on crumbling stone walls
a feeble lantern
reflecting on the last
tangible hope
that weeping endures for
a night
but joy comes
in the morning
whether the current battle
is won
or lost

a flickering halo
in the shadows
where faith responds
while carrying
staggering loss
crushing burdens
utter depletion
still believing
still living by
the stillness in
the soul
still trusting in God
despite all

endurance

there’s holiness
in it

Endurance. Mohammadali. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

New Oxford American Dictionary

Spiritual journey: Community

When I think of community
two words come to mind:
commune
and
unity.

To commune
implies awareness
listening
appreciating
expressing
from a wellspring
in one’s soul.
Sometimes with words
sometimes with actions
sometimes in just being
and being
deeply connected.

Unity implies a connection
so profound
that many become one
a whole made strong
because of its parts
because of the desire
to be together
seeking the good
of all.
Unity wears the cloak
of altruism
and walks with
amazing grace.

That brings
another word
to mind…
communion.

In the end
community is
infinitely more
than proximity.
It’s a true work
of heart.

*******

1 Corinthians 1:10, various translations:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. —ESV

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. —The Message

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.—NIV

with thanks to Maureen Ingram for offering the prompt of “community” for our Spiritual Journey Thursday community of writers



Something sacred

Summer evening
after dinner
the three of us
are riding home
through the countryside

late-day sun
is amber-bright
when giant raindrops
begin to slap
against the windshield

Raining while the sun shines,
says my husband
from the passenger seat
(I’m in the back;
the boy is driving)
—there’s got to be a rainbow
around here somewhere

The boy makes the left turn
—There it is, he says

wide shimmering bands
hanging in the air
like a gossamer curtain
touching the road
right before us

breathless, we ride
right through it
to find another
and another
just ahead

so many rainbows
gleaming down through
the trees
over the fields

heaven’s glory bending
to caress the earth
a prismatic promise
poured out

all along
our way home

At the end of the rainbow. Mara ~earth light~. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

I didn’t get photos, alas, but the rainbows touching the road before us yesterday evening happened to be near the spot where my husband and I saw an eagle sitting majestically by the roadside back in early 2019. In this picture the background is dark whereas our scenery was vivid green in the amber-gold light of late day… but there’s an eagle, and the sojourning child carrying solace and security in the form of a teddy bear in a backpack speaks to me.

Something sacred is in this place.

Path to peace

Every day
has its gifts.
Learn to recognize them.
Give thanks for them.
Watch a new road
materialize before you
under a sky
of infinite
possibility.
The antidote
to despair
is not hope
but gratitude.

I do

Do you remember
how it stormed
on that long-ago morning
and your mother cried
because it was raining
on your wedding day?

I do.

Do you remember
that the ceremony
was over
in ten minutes
(my aunt looked at her watch)?

I do.

Do you remember
how hot it was during
the eternal photographing
(especially having to wear
a black tux with tails
in August)
and how much you hated
that part?

I do.

Do you remember
my going-away outfit
that my mother made
from sky-blue cotton
and how I wore
a big straw hat
with a big white bow
and that just before
we said our good-byes
she took off
her double-strand
pearlescent beads
and put them
around my neck?

I do.

Do you remember
as we drove away
from family and home
and childhood
toward all our new tomorrows
that the rain had stopped
and the sun had come out
and the clouds pillared
up from the horizon before us
like backlit rosettes
on wedding cake
and you said it was
all in celebration of
our just being married?

I do.

I remember it all
nearly four decades
two sons and
two granddaughters
later.
Even the clouds
in their radiant array
seem to remember
today.
While marriage
is sometimes
more blister
than bliss
I can tell you this:
I lift my eyes
to the eternal skies
with a heart
full of wonder
and gratitude
that ours has grown
deeper and richer
each day
since we vowed
I do.

The cover of our wedding album:
“God has created your spirits with wings to fly in the spacious firmament of Love and Freedom.”
—Kahlil Gibran

Excerpt from our wedding album, in a space commemorating the first anniversary.
I wrote, at age twenty-one: “We can’t believe it’s been a year since we’ve been married, but it’s been a happy one and a good one and God has indeed blessed us well – may He bless us for many years to come and let our marriage grow deeper and richer each day.”

—God has.

Milestone

Happy Birthday to the Baby Boy
a gogyoshi

You have been in the world
for twenty-five years
exactly 9131 days
and I am grateful
for every single one

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 
Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:27-28

Nurturing the summer soul: Spiritual journey

Peace

Last day at the beach
I wake far too early
but I make the coffee anyway
and take a cup to the top deck

I sit in the chair
facing east
drinking in
the deepness
of solitude
the blessedness
of silence

Earth stirs a little
and sighs
like a baby in its sleep

Just ahead, high over the sea
Venus glitters and winks

I am the bright and morning star
I know you are

My waiting soul
cannot think
of anything else it wants
or needs
as black silhouettes
of pelicans
fly soundlessly by
against the sky
pinkening with light

Sunrise
signifying the end
of night

My view this morning: Venus over the Atlantic just before sunrise

Pelicans, while not in this particular shot, are plentiful here. As the sky grew lighter they appeared in silhouette, gliding gracefully against it. The pelican is an ancient symbol for Christ, often depicted in Christian art.

Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, references the River and Tree of Life, the healing of the nations, the end of night, and the return of Christ with the words “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last…I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star(13; 16).

The best I can do is to describe this morning scene. The sense of peace, so often fleeting or not to be found when Earth is wide awake and churning, was honestly too deep for words. I shall hold these moments in my mind for returning to when my soul needs more nurturing, long past summer.

—with thanks to Carol Varsalona for the theme and for hosting the Spiritual Journey writers on this first Thursday in August.