Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying change is the only constant in life. A native of Ephesus, he was born in 535 BC and died 475 BC. His saying has also been translated that the only constant is change.

Heraclitus, depicted in engraving from 1825, Wikipedia

And then there is: Change is inevitable. Come to expect it.

Recently I heard Joseph Goldman teach “Awareness of change and impermanence leads us to greater ease in our lives.”

I have a very long way to go before I accomplish what Goldman was teaching. Aware, yes. Accepting, much much harder to get there. How are you doing with all the changes in our lives these days? Have you been able to find the latest Covid-19 data in the midst of other news? Outbreaks of the virus barely being reported or commented upon. SO many people here in Ohio running around in public with no masks and no intention of wearing a mask.

There are many things that this country needs to change. I agree with that. Getting humans to embrace change gracefully is another matter all together.

Can we become pliable in the hands of God and embrace changes as they come to us? We often said that my mother-in-law would have been happier if she could have embraced changes instead of fighting against them as they arose. Wondering now if Bob and I will be enabled to embrace what we must as this pandemic rolls on and the years catch up with us.

As my dear Episcopalian brothers and sisters taught me, “I will, with God’s help.” And I knowingly emphasize, “ONLY with God’s help.”

 For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Hebrews 13:8 MSG

Flag Day

In 1975 we were about to celebrate Flag Day with my mother. I was nine months pregnant. I tried to tell her not to travel to Lexington as the Doctor said I was not going to deliver anytime soon. She drove down from Cincinnati anyway. When she arrived, she wanted to go shopping and had me drive her car. I remember just barely fitting behind the wheel of her used Plymouth. (No adjustable steering wheels back then!)

As we traveled around the Lexington “Circle Freeway” to our destination she sang me a hymn she had recently heard. The title was “How Great Thou Art.”

Mom had brought food in a Styrofoam cooler. After we put the items in the refrigerator, we rinsed the cooler and placed it on our tiny apartment porch to dry. She arrived Friday night and we stayed up late watching Johnny Carson. He hosted Seals and Croft and they sang “We May Never Pass This Way Again.” I went to bed exhausted. Bob and Mom finished the show. Bob helped her pull out the sofa bed and made certain she had everything she needed.

Saturday there was a Flag Day parade in town. We had decided to attend. Here is a link reminding us of what Flag Day stands for https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/flag-day

Saturday dawned bright, but there was a breeze kicking up outside. Mom was not awake yet, but I decided to tiptoe through the living room to the porch and bring her cooler in before it blew away. As I passed the bed, I knew.

Stunned, I realized she was not breathing. I captured the cooler and walked through again. Certainty about crushed me. I woke Bob and made him go check her. By that time he had been working in a hospital for quite a while and had sometimes gone into a room in early morning to draw blood only to realize the patient had passed.

The rest of the day is a blur. The biggest shock of my life so far. It was years before I could hear “How Great Thou Art” without bursting into tears.

She never met my children. We will never celebrate things on earth again together. Though we had our problems, I do believe I will know her again in heaven, where she is singing How Great Thou Art among the many other hymns that she taught me.

Romans 8 Portion

Many years ago I made a retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. Bishop Gore was the speaker. He had taken a sabbatical and used the time to study Romans 8. He shared with us his translation of a portion. Read it below.

“His love is our security. And that love is so strong that nothing on earth can come between us and it. The sea of troubles that a Christian has to face, hardship and persecution of every kind, are powerless against it. For I am convinced that no form or phase of being, whether abstract or personal, not life nor its negation, nor any hierarchy of spirits, no dimension of time, no supernatural powers, no dimensions of space, no world of being invisible to us now, will ever come between Jesus and us now – will ever come between us and the love which God has brought to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Now and then, I just need to be reminded of this eternal truth. Be encouraged. Cling to this.

Wrought iron sculpture in Cleveland, Ohio (I think)

Find the Focus

Some days as a writer and one who journals it is difficult to get my footing and direction as evidenced in Find the Focus© 2014 Molly Lin Dutina

Cannot find the clipboard
poems in process of revising.
Cannot find the journal
life in process of being noted.
Where is my concordance
trying to find that verse
never finished notes in my Bible
negligence has made this worse.
Too often cover important
With mundane and lowly
Help me find the focus
to tell forth the eternal and holy.
Fighting back the darkness
bearing forth the Light
partake in eternal struggle
get any pen, any paper
note on computer
the calling compels you to
herald the glad tidings:
God wins.

Retreat 2011

The theme was icons and how to use them for deeper communion and prayer. This is what I heard as result of that experience. Retreat ©2011 Molly Lin Dutina

“Yes, my dear, I AM the teacher
and so much I have yet to teach you.
You want to, now will you
incline your ear to Me?
“Will you turn your heart from
lesser things to feast upon Me?
Will you take My discipline and correction
that your soul may live in fatness?
“Christ, the Teacher, is the icon I AM
chose for you. I AM your Teacher.”
Yes, my Lord,
come and teach me.
Show me the discipline I need to embrace.
Help me to feast upon Your correction.

The Anchor

Hebrews 6:18-20 (NIV2011)  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,  where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Our hope is an anchor for our soul. The following image is created through filet crochet. This method is very similar to cross stitch embroidery. You create an open or filled box following a charted design.

My hope, an anchor for my soul. Streams in The Desert entry for May 11 reads:

“Psalm 66:12 We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into a wealthy place.

“Paradoxical though it be, only that man is at rest who attains it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.

“It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed,who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.”

Though I had sewn an anchor with filet crochet method, I had no idea the pointed ends were called flukes. Now I need to Lord to help me realize the anchor-flukes of my faith are able to grasp and hold by whatever life may bring me.

Even so, Lord, I trust You to be my salvation.

Fallen But Still Growing

There is a trail we often walk at Harsha Lake, which we have always called East Fork Lake. It is truly our favorite trail though there are few wildflowers there. Recently we noticed a tree had fallen across the stream. We commented how sad it was that this tree would mess up the photos we take trying to capture the changes in the water.

We returned to our trail a few weeks later and wow was I surprised! This pandemic struggle has been very difficult for me emotionally. I guess I am what is referred to as a melancholic depressive. I want to be an optimist, but I am more like Eeyore!

So there is the fallen tree. Sprouting leaves now in the sun and sudden heat of 80 degrees, constantly watered by the stream.

This tree is not upright as we are accustomed to seeing them grow. It must still be rooted though! Obviously, I have no idea how long the tree can survive. But I am going to take this image as a reminder to hope. Hope that a new day will come. Hope that until then, we are sustained by our loving Father.

Happy are those whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. “ Psalm 1: 2-3

1983 and 2020

Reading Facebook the other day I came across this quote.

How, then, shall we live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning all of our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward him who calls in the deeps of our souls.

Thomas Kelly

Inward surrender. Yes. I need me more of that. So frustrated. Tried to buy a car. Since it is likely the last new car I will ever purchase we decided to go for the interior I wanted. They told us, “No problem. We can get that brought in from another dealer.” Well, big problem. No one else had one. So, “No problem! We can order that from the factory.” So whenever the factory reopens and is able to make that on the line, we will eventually have a new car. Thought for certain I could use up at least a week or two learning the electronics of a new car. Grateful we have the means, but no distraction from a new car any time soon.

Oh yes! Bob agreed that I could get a dog if I wanted. We had to put our aged beagle down a few years ago. I miss her to this day. So I began looking on line for a dog. The tiny one I was most interested in is oh, 2-3,000 dollars. Nope. Can’t see that happening and there were none available now. Could send a deposit and wait on a litter. Have never spent that much money on an animal companion. Surely there are some dogs in shelters waiting for our home.

Guess again! Shelters closed because of pandemic. The one I am most drawn to came from a hoarding situation and they have no idea when she might be ready to adopt out. There are plenty of big (40 lbs. plus) pit bull mixes. No thanks. Bob doesn’t want a tiny dog that yaps all the time. A new dog to nurture, to cuddle with, to train.

So our daughter met a dog that seemed perfect. He was being fostered at the same home where her new adopted dog came from. The foster mom thought we would be a great match. We applied. Very excited. Within a few hours we were denied the dog. Never saw that coming!! We do not have a fenced yard. It is VERY hilly and would be next to impossible to fence. His bio said he would need another dog to live with. No other dog here.

Inward surrender. Yes. I need me more of that. Surrender to WHAT IS, rather than hanging my hopes on what could be. Once I was directed to a powerful book entitled Radical Acceptance. Yes, I need to go to that place again. That motivated me to try to remember a quote I used for many years to remind myself to surrender to the Lord.

William Law wrote a book entitled A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. I first read it in 1983. I found the title from a journal entry I wrote when our daughter was 7 and our son was 4. ANCIENT history!

Stand turned to a patient, meek, humble, resignation to God when your own impatience, wrath, pride and irresignation attacks yourself. This is a higher and more beneficial performance of duty than when you stand turned when attacked by the passions of other people. Wholly give yourself to be helped by the mercy of God. Patience to expect it all from God.
Nothing brings you so near to divine relief as the extremity of distress.

Give myself to be helped by the mercy of God. Especially when my own impatience, wrath, pride and irresignation attacks ME. I did not remember the quote in that context. Still earning, thirty-seven years later.

Radical acceptance.

Patient, meek, humble resignation to God. Higher and more beneficial performance of my duty.

“Nothing brings you so near to divine relief as the extremity of distress.”

Okay. I am at that extremity. Come, Lord.

LET Us Lay Aside and Run

Hebrews 12:1 reads

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us

When was the last time you threw something off? Like the covers in bed, or your coat when you entered a warm room? The author of Hebrews gives us a graphic picture of how we are to respond to hindrances in our walk with God. “Let us throw off everything that hinders!”(NIV) If you haven’t thrown off a sweater or sweatshirt lately, go do it now. Do it again thinking of all the things that keep you from your relationship with God. Throw it off!

“And the sin that so easily entangles.” Have you ever taken a walk through a field that was overgrown with shrubs and vines and plants with thorns? That’s what I think of when I read “the sin which so easily entangles.” You start off thinking “this will lead me to what I want” and soon you are up to your lower leg in tangles and sin is tripping you and tears your pants legs, sending stickers and burrs into your socks. How do you get out of the mess? Throw it off! Get back to the path trod by the great cloud of witnesses. Back to where you can run the race with perseverance. Remove yourself from the sin that so easily entangles. get prayer from your part of the Body of Christ, and refuse to go that way of entanglement again. Millions of people who lived before you chose Christ as their Way, their Truth, their Life. You can do this!

Jesus, lead me in Your paths. Help me run the race with perseverance and joy. Amen.