Ben Palpant

Remember I told you that Zephaniah says “The Lord sings over you? Reading a poem by Ben Palpant I came across this stanza:

Sing to me, O my troubadour,
Let your songs echo
In the halls of my loneliness,
Even my shame,
So that I may sing back
and, perhaps, learn by heart.
Perhaps.

"Bright Fire" by Ben Palpant Sojourner Songs

I love his idea that he “may sing back and, perhaps, learn by heart.” I resisted piano lessons as a child because I could hear the music and play many melodies ‘by ear.’ And that is how I read this stanza of Palpant’s poem. I want to hear the songs of God and learn to play them by ear….

Help me sing those melodies back to You, my Lord. Help me sing those melodies to myself in times of struggle or discouragement. Remind me of Your holy music.

Gray Morning After a Rough Night 

22-9-13 Reactive to Booster #3©Molly Lin Dutina
 
Booster #3 delivered with dull needle
Went to PT without boot
Worked until my leg
Felt like jelly
Foot throbbed all night
Headache, chest pain, 
Jaws and shoulders Booster broadcasters
Extra muscle relaxer and Calm app
“Gently back to sleep”
Several times
Booster #3 rocked
My fragile boat
Night of winds and waves
Up by 6:10 AM
Without rejoicing

Others report no big deal
in contrast I am
Close to shipwreck
My heart is sad that this body is so reactive, 
sensitive to Covid boosters.
Thankful I have not gotten ill but 
wishing I had one of those constitutions 
that was not triggered by pain 
after immunization injection. 
Is there an injection for endurance and muscle strength?
Can I get a booster for well-being? Guess not.

But why stop writing there? Resignation is to be to God, not bowing to negative circumstances. 
In Acts 16:25-26 Paul and Silas praised God in prison. Won’t you raise a tune, Molly Lin?

Total Surrender © 2018 Molly Lin Dutina
Total surrender brings total power
Spirit of God in me,
Totally yielded to You every hour,
Until Your will I see.
Death to my passions and every desire,
Living wholly for Thee,
Have Your own way,
Spirit of God, 
Totally flow through me.

No time for wishing things were other than they are. 
Fix your eyes upon Him.
 Understand this temptation to self-pity is sin.
 Jesus the author and finisher of my faith
 is ABLE to keep me from sin, 
self-pity over ailments and frailties. 
Be chastened, corrected, purified,
refined and strengthened. 
Here is my well-being booster! 
This is your only body on earth – your temple for His dwelling.
I surrender to You, Holy Trinity. 
The yapping dogs out there remind me – LISTEN for His voice.
 Do not go with the clamoring crowd. 
Wait. Listen. Accept the present moment.
This is my life this hour. 
Rejoice in God and be made glad. 

“For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.” PS 92:4 NKJV

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  Hebrews 12: 1a-7

I pray this helps those of you who are looking for that booster for well-being. May the Lord Jesus Christ bring you to a place where you too can be “chastened, corrected, purified, refined and strengthened.”

Transitory Impermanence For All

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
  -  Robert Frost
Maple Trees Starting to change color | Maple trees just at t… | Flickr

Remember the first buds on the trees? I always think they predict the colors the leaves will take in autumn. Autumn is advancing here and the oak leaves out front are turning yellow then rapidly brown and falling to the ground. These deciduous trees should remind us of the impermanence of life. Things sprout, grow, endure, then change. Yet I am often surprised by the changes as if I were not 71 years old. I have seen this happen every single year I have been alive (except when I was in the California SF bay area for a year and a half. The seasons were strange. Daffodils blooming in January is just WRONG for a Midwestern woman.)

Why are we so surprised when we realize our very lives are impermanent? We expect childhood friendships to last forever. Rare occurrence in my experience. Our strength and flexibility wears down and sometimes even vanishes. Oh yes, they mean it when they say “Use it or lose it!”

We age. We change. Our opinions change. Nothing gold can stay. I have been saying they told us after 40 it was patch, patch, patch. I think after 70 we just start to crumble! Yet I am alive and intend to make the most of whatever time I have left.

Been working in that book Everyday is a Poem. This morning my life did not feel like a poem, but then I realized why not write it out? So I did. I surprised myself at what could be mined from a gray morning after a rough night. Will post that another day.

Nothing gold can stay. Rough nights may lead to gray mornings. Sun blasts them both away. These are things we are going THROUGH. We likely will not stay this way forever. If we do, God will give us grace and strength to endure.

Remember Ephesians 3:16-19?

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

NKJV

Praying that you, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE – that you may know the love of Christ. In season and out of season. With leaves or no leaves. Be rooted. Grasp hold of His love, the love that is reaching for you in the midst of this transitory life. His unchanging, everlasting love.

Grasp tightly with your roots!

Kiss the Joy

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

William Blake

I likely had not read or heard this since high school. So true! And leads me to another bit of humor.

We have a niece who lives in England. She and her husband are expecting their first child in January. Since we are going to visit her mom in California next month, I needed to purchase some flannel and yarn for baby blankets. So I hit the sale at Joann’s fabrics.

A man entered the store after me. I overheard him ask an employee, “Where can I find the snaps?” Under my breath I laughed, “In Norwood!” You see, my mother’s maiden name was Snapp. Most of her family lived in the small town of Norwood, now completely surrounded by Cincinnati.

I was cracking myself up!

A few minutes later I came across him in the wrong isle. I told him my joke and he obviously knew where Norwood is. He cracked up, too. Then I showed him the correct isle.

“Kiss the joy as it flies, live in Eternity’s sunrise.” Wise man that Mr. Blake!

Physical therapy is a self-discipline that I am trying to rejoice over. Yes, I still have pain in my foot, but I am trying to walk more and stretch more in regular shoes. No easy feat after months in the boot. It reminds me of a prayer request I made to God many years ago. You are no doubt familiar with these retractable dog leashes? The owner starts on a walk and can push a button to let the dog run further and further ahead if desired. Pushing the button on the handle the leash begins to retract into the case.

When I first saw those I was , “Nope. Not for me.”

More my style, in fact, this is what Lucky uses. (Colored circles indicate colors to choose from)

My prayer became, “Lord, keep me on a short leash. I want to stay by Your side. Do not let me run too far ahead of You or lag behind. Please, keep me on a short leash.”

I pray you are doing your spiritual and physical disciplines. I hope you can rejoice in staying at the Master’s side on a short leash. I find I stay out of trouble that way!

While We Blithely Ride our Bikes

Have you noticed? Have you seen? Are your eyes open to things around you?

It has generally been in the high 70s to 80s here lately. More rain than we desire, but we have no control over that! I realized as Bob M. rode past my window as I write this blog that many of us are like children choosing to ignore the changing seasons until they are actually upon us. Then we resist jackets, coats, hats, gloves, but delight in car seat warmers. (I just want to know when are all cars going to have car seat coolers?)

Gloomy Ohio Morning Bob M.
Earth Declaring ©Molly Lin Dutina 22-9-3
Found a red maple leaf on deck
Driving I saw a falling leaf
Around the block two more leaves fell
Neighbor’s backyard
Looked as if someone smashed
Orange pumpkins
O. Leaves on ground
Earth is declaring
Unfolding of new season

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease

Genesis 8:22 AMP

Fifth Grade Book Learning

At times I entertain myself reading Junior Fiction, quick stories told on a simple level about life with specific themes. Number the Stars is the book one Fifth Grade class is reading this year. I decided to read it, too. As the cover reads, “Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town.” There is nothing I know less about than that era in Copenhagen so I found the story interesting.

Copyrighted in 1989 by Lois Lowry it is a great quick story. This book also won a John Newberry Yearling medal. The author researched part of the book reading of the Resistance leaders in Denmark. She came across an account of a young man named Kim Malthe-Brunn, eventually captured and executed by the Nazis when he was only twenty-one years old. I found the paragraph written ‘by that young man, in a letter to his mother, the night before he was put to death’ as a great challenge to American thinking today.

…and I want you all to remember – that you must not dream yourselves back to the times before the war, but the dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for, something every little peasant boy can look forward to, and with pleasure feel he is a part of – something he can work and fight for..

Kim Malthe-Brunn

Yes, that in 2022 America might create a country of human decency! Lois Lowry continued

Surely that gift – the gift of a world of human decency – is the one that all countries hunger for still. I hope that this story of Denmark, and its people, will remind us all that such a world is possible.

Afterword, Number the Stars

It is possible. We must all strive for that world to come into being. We must adjust our individual attitudes to be as inclusive as possible to others who seem different from us. Just think, the tattooed, the rich, the pierced, the old, the poor, the young, the infirm, those who worship in ways other than ours, the dark and the light skinned, the olive and red skinned, the ones with interesting eyes that do not run in our family, the left, the right, the indifferent, those who seem invisible in our circles. The world contains so much that we do not understand. Rather than shame, blame and accuse those who are different, can we make a world of decency where they are simply allowed to be as they are without our criticism and attempts to change them to be like us? “An ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one.” The Bible also has much we do not understand. My intention here is not to offend anyone. This is solely my opinion.

How will we answer the Great Shepherd when we face Him?

I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must also bring them together, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd.

John 10:16 CEV

We speculate on much of the meaning of Scripture. I, too, am uncertain of the meaning at times. Repeatedly we conjecture the meaning and then it is as if the Holy Spirit shows a vast swath of the church an enlightened meaning. I do not presume to understand John 10:16 thoroughly. I am, however, open to the instruction of the Spirit to teach me and show me what the words recorded as having been said by Jesus my Lord mean.

The Divine Image
William Blake - 1757-1827


To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress:
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God, our father dear:
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, & Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

My Poetry

I have published a bit of my poetry on this blog. Recently I finally ordered a new-to-me book that I have wanted for a couple years. It is titled Every day is a Poem, by Jacqueline Suskin. If I want to be a good poet I need to practice and work on that skill. This book is already helping me take that discipline seriously.

On one of our recent vacations to North Carolina the shelling where we were staying was lousy because they were dredging to fill in the shoreline only a mile or so from our Air B & B. My eyes are always peeled for not only shells, but stones and other things that draw my attention and speak to me. I found a lovely yellow rock with I think a bit of quartz in it. The rock went nto my hand, then eventually as hands got busy, into my pocket. Then into my suitcase. Now in my bedroom windowsill. (I just love that Bob paid to have a few windowsills built and installed for me!)

Here she is on the kitchen counter in the brightest light.!

Palm Rock © Molly Lin Dutina 22-8-23

Palm rock
Yellow power
Absorbs light
Cannot pass it on though
Too dense
But glows

Flat side rests upon
Curled fingers or windowsill nicely
Curved side delights my palm
Absorbs my heat

Where have you been for eons?
What forces formed you?

You absorb
Calm, smooth me out
Thank you for
Coming home in my pocket

Resting on the sill
You gather the light
And glow
Reminding me to look
Observe
Note 
Write

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:37-40 NIV

Praise Him and rejoice that He gives us the Word of God, stones and shells, countless ways to praise the God of heaven and earth.

Eye of God

Did you ever go to camp and make a “God’s Eye”? I did not but my kids did, even in public school art class.

Here is an elaborate example from on-line:

This one is from our paper money.

This website explains it https://www.hobbyistgeek.com/what-is-the-eye-called-on-the-dollar-bill-explained/

The Eye of Providence. The all-seeing eye of God. It’s a symbol that has been used by many religions and cultures over the years.

But what does it mean?

There are many theories about what the eye on the dollar bill means, but no one knows for sure.

What we do know is that the Eye of Providence has been used as a symbol by many different religions and cultures over the years.

It is a reminder that God is always watching us. And that’s probably why it was chosen as the symbol for the US dollar bill.

hobbyistgeek.com

I learned a prayer from the author Macrina Weiderkehr many years ago. It is pasted in the front of my most frequently used Bible. It reads:

All-Seeing One,
above me, around me, within me.
Be my seeing as I read these sacred words.
Look down upon me
Look out from within me
Look all around me
See through my eyes
Hear through my ears
Feel through my heart
Touch me where I need to be touched;
    and when my heart is touched
    give me the grace
    to lay down this Holy Book
    and ask significant questions:
Why has my heart been touched?
How am I to be changed through this touch?
All-Seeing One,
I need to change
I need to look a little more like You
May these sacred words change and
transform me.
Then I can meet You Face to Face
     without dying
     because I've finally died enough
To die is to be healed
     a little more each death
     until that final death
     when I'll be healed forever.
It will be a healing that will last.
Your words are healing
     although they bring about my death.
O Eye of God, look not away.

Father I pray this prayer will be true of my life. Help me keep yielding to Your touch. Show me how to ‘meet You face to face without dying.’ I need to change.

In A Tree Full of Angels Macrina wrote saying “There is a quote from Benedictine Abbot Marmion that has become a guide for me as I spend time in Divine Reading each day. He says,”

Read under the eye of God until your heart is touched, then give yourself up to love.

Don Marmion, Union with God, trans. Mother Mary St. Thomas, (St. Louis: B Herder, 1949)

Read asking the Lord to help you see and understand the words of His text. then stop when your heart is touched. Stop and give yourself up to His love. Stop and let Him instruct you further on the matter. This is yielding. God is watching me with His all-seeing eye. And I am grateful.

Mercy Abounds

Last Sunday (8-7-22) I posted about a fisherman pastor and mercy. The theme came to me again this morning during my prayer time. When Bill Moyers offered a PBS television series on poetry he featured Coleman Barks. Barks is a renowned poet in his own right and a scholar on Rumi translations. Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic born in 1207. He died 1273.

I can just hear you commenting, “Leave it to Molly to find these ancient guys!” Well at times these ancient guys express what my heart says in better words than I can find. Back to Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi.

In a poem entitled “Cry Out In Your Weakness” I was touched. My weakness has been brought very clear to me this past few weeks. If you have never experienced helplessness or weakness in your physical frame you might not be able to relate well to this post.

I began reading Rumi a few years ago when I found others quoted him repeatedly. Besides I like poetry. On Page 156 of my paperback copy of “The Essential Rumi” this poem translated by Coleman Barks is found. Here are a few lines.

Like Mercy itself, they run toward the screaming …

And don’t just ask for one mercy. Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.

Give your weakness to one who helps.

Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent with your pain. Lament! And let the milk of loving flow into you.

-Rumi, Cry Out In Your Weakness

If you want to hear Rumi’s poem read, look for Rumi – Cry Out in Your Weakness on You Tube.

During my prayer time I sensed again, do not stop at asking for one mercy. Ask for every mercy. Gather them up. Let the One who helps bind them up and help carry them back with you.

Lord, I need all of your mercies … new every morning and each day and night… I need healing mercy and faith mercy and writing mercy and inspiration from You mercy. I need behavior and patience mercy.

Yes, God’s mercies are new every morning. He blesses us with mercy and forgiveness, comfort in our suffering, grace in our humility. As we cry out He does what William Law spoke about. We yield to Him in patient, meek, humble resignation and He is there to bless and assist us in every way. Not perhaps our every wish, but the ways we truly need His help.

One interpretation of the poem: “A dragon was pulling a bear into it’s terrible mouth.” Discouragement was pulling a Christian into it’s terrible mouth. As one author wrote about discouragement, “I have discovered only one solution to this problem, ignoring my emotions. It doesn’t mean that I do not acknowledge my feelings, but rather that I do not allow my emotions to dictate my life. My faith in God, my love for God, is more important than how I feel. This is exactly what it means to die to oneself.” (https://leadersthatfollow.com/how-christians-can-deal-with-discouragement-and-disillusionment/) Hey! William Law and Andrew Murray taught me that same thing!!

A courageous man went and rescued the bear.” His name is Jesus. He went to the cross and rescued us from all the merciless places in our lives. “Like Mercy itself, (He) ran toward the screaming.” Perhaps you have not been screaming out loud, but the Lord knows even your internal screaming. Call to Him. He is faithful to respond.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
    ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

Lamentations 3:22-24 NRSV

I do not find it difficult or even sacrilegious to relate to Rumi’s poetry. I truly believe what Paul declared in Ephesians 4.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:4-6 NRSV

I pray you, too, will cry out to God, even screaming, and receive His help and deliverance from the mouth of your particular bear.

As Matt Redman wrote “May I never lose the wonder, oh the wonder of Your mercy. Hallelujah!”

Disarm me with Your Love

Have you ever been naughty and you knew it while you were being naughty. Not just in childhood, but have you done things as an adult that you knew were not good for you? But you did them anyway.

Recently we were watching the “Untold story of C. S. Lewis” about how he resisted and ran from being a Christian for much of his early life. How he used reasoning and thinking to try to avoid the Living God. I was delighted that authors like George MacDonald introduced him subtly to the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning I opened another old devotional book that is a collection of quotes, poems and stories. This one was collected by Mary Wilder Tileston entitled Joy & Strength. First copyright was 1901. She quotes a poem by George MacDonald.

Lord, to Thy call of me I bow,
Obey like Abraham;
Thou lov'st me because Thou art Thou,
And I am what I am.

Doubt whispers, "thou art such a blot
He cannot love poor thee,"
If what I am He loveth not,
He loves what I shall be.

Isn’t that wonderful? Paul wrote in Philippians 3: 12 “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” God has plans for us. He loves us and what we shall be.

Tileston went on to quote a paragraph by Juliana H. Ewing.

We may hate ourselves when we come to realize failings we have not recognized before, and feel that there are probably others which we do not yet see as clearly as other people see them, but this kind of impatience for our perfection is not felt by those who love us, I am sure. It is one’s greatest comfort to believe that it is not even felt by God. Just as a mother would not love her child the better for its being turned into a model of perfection at once, but does love it the more dearly every time it tries to be good, so I do hope and believe our Great Father does not wait for us to be good and wise to love us, but loves us, and loves to help us in the very thick of our struggles with folly and sin.

Juliana H. Ewing

Juliana was on to something here. God wants us to try and keep on trying to be obedient to what He tells us. He does not love us less when we fail. Someone coined the phrase “God will never love you more than He does right now.” Yes, He loves to help us ‘in the very thick of our struggles.’

I have always believed that God disarms me with His love. If I dig in my heals about something He does not fight with me. He loves me and melts my armor and my arguments against Him. I can resist and pout if I want. He is still moving towards me with love.

Can you see some of the chains you have put upon yourself? For years Lewis determined to have nothing to do with ‘religion.’ He resisted the Father and the Son, but he was no match for the Holy Spirit. God loved what Lewis would become. He disarmed Lewis with His love.

God has plans for your life, too! He loves you now. He will love eternally. Have you yielded to His love for you? Are you willing to bend your ways to His? Lewis was not enamored of church. Let’s face it, Anglican hymns leave SO much to be desired. Yet he went where he thought he should go to find God.

There is great value in being with other Christians. You will not like all of them. If there were a perfect church and I walked into it, it would not longer be the perfect church. Yet we need each other. We need to grow and learn and pray and struggle together.

We each have failings we likely have not recognized up to now. Go to church anyway. Start watching a variety of sermons on line until you find a local place to attend. Then go regularly and find ways to grow there. The Trinity will rejoice and eventually you will, too!

Ewing wrote: “our Great Father does not wait for us to be good and wise to love us, but loves us, and loves to help us in the very thick of our struggles with folly and sin.”